Thursday, February 25, 2010

*we all sigh for paella*

...alas, i am currently baking cupcakes whilst listening to the arcade fire on my flour encrusted ipod...but the cupcakes will have to patiently wait for their turn on the blog...because just last week I attempted to make VEGETABLE PAELLA!!!!! its true...
now paella is commonly known as a hearty&cozy thick stewlike Spanish dish brimming with crusty rice goodness & schools of I am sadly allergic to shellfish, & one of my lovely dinner guests was a impressively faithful vegan, it would be best for all involved to not include the fish...but I wanted to desperately achieve the satisfaction of making something hearty & rich that we could all enjoy & where one could see & taste the effort & love that went into the food...basically I wanted to prepare a passionate meal...I view cooking as art...not only in the way it is presented but in the way it tastes....trying out new flavor profiles, varying combinations, figuring out what foods truly complement each other, & not merely just following directions, but instinct...
I had seen a few segments on the Food Network and the Travel Channel, where foodies prepared & savored paella dishes & was undeniably excited to try my own...I researched about ten different recipes & each one had its own unique take on the dish...I was sure of 2 things... no fish, & plenty of rice! Some of the ingredients from the recipes included red&green peppers, onions, garlic, celery, carrots, a multitude of colorful & expressive spices...some called for preparing the paella stovetop, then baking it for its popular hot&crusty texture...others suggested simply serving it from the stovetop...I contemplated...& then set to work, taking bits & pieces from the recipes, spinning through out extravagant spice rack, chopping furiously, tasting, stirring, shaking, mixing, dancing, tasting again...i started with a ginormous pot, guestimated a few tablespoons each of vegetable and extra virgin olive oil (sorry Rachel Ray! I HATE saying EVOO...i cringe each time i try. the extra 3 syllables are not a hassle for me to say)...i cleaned, scraped, & faithfully chopped bunches of garlic, yellow&red onions, celery & carrots & sauteed in the up...peppers! I wanted my paella to be resplendent with rainbows, so I used red, greed, & yellow! one of each immediately added flavor& vibrant color...2 cups of long grain white rice joined the party...once all was fully coated with the oil, I added 4 cups of vegetable broth&1 cup of water...a handful of raisins jumped in, 1 bag's worth of chopped-with-the-skin-on baby red potatoes were very happy to join in, & then 2 cups of peas...already the apartment had filled with the magnificent scent of passionate cooking...the spices came next, causing the hallway to fall victim next to the marvelous one and no place was safe from these aromatics...i shook, spooned, & measured:sea salt, black peppercorns,rosemary, thyme, cumin,chives, & fennel, yeah...that scent i was speaking of before, became this overwhelming blanket of goodness that you never wanted to take off... the veggie paella cooked, produced aromas of pure delight, & just simply increased our hunger's anticipation of dinner, my fabulous roommate jenny was preparing a beautiful roast chicken...i also made tostones, one of my absolute favorite things to make ever...peeling the green platains, slicing them into inch-thick circles...frying in vegetable oil until bronwed on both sides...i did not have a tostoneria to smash them with, so i found a glass jar with a perfectly flat bottom that would do just fine...I took pleasure in pressing down firmly on each piece, only to drown them again in the cracklng oil to a crip delightful golden brown...then a brush of garlic&olive oil with a light dusting of worth the plantain skin still wedged in my nails from the peeling...tostones are always a welcome addition to any heaty meal...our lovely friends Tovah&Meredith came bearing gifts fit for feasting:wine for toasting & crusty bread to soak up the paella's goodness...we were set for an evening of open hearts, conversation, & washing off the dust of the day in each other's company...there truly is nothing better.


  1. How can I be salivating when I just finished my dinner?? Did you make the paella completely on the stovetop or also in the oven.

  2. gail! i made it completely stovetop! i think next time i will finish it up in the oven for the crusty texture!