Thursday, September 12, 2013

Oven-Roasted Shrimp and Sausage Paella

The genuine article as seen in Spain
Paella is, hands down, the dish most associated with Spain.  Prior to the emergence of tapas on tables everywhere and Ferran Adria’s molecular gastronomy, I’d venture to say, it was the only food most people thought of when they thought of Spanish cooking. However, in that country, it’s a dish associated with one province: Valencia on the East Coast.  Valencian cooks regard it as one of the identifying symbols of their province.   It’s one of those dishes that has so many variations, it’s possible to call any dish made with short-grained Spanish rice a Paella.  This is particularly true since the word “Paella” actually refers to the pan the dish is cooked in.  From there, it gets even more complicated because Valencians use the word “Paella” for all pans, including the specialized shallow one used for cooking Paellas. Plus, there’s no master recipe for Paella. Every cook seems to have their own version and sticks rigidly to their family recipe as the only way to cook paella. Recently, we were having a dinner party for more guests than usual. Because of all I'd read about Paella, I felt I had permission to go with something of my own creation. I liberally borrowed from several recipes to end up with what made the dish popular in the first place:  Because it makes for a great party.

Monday, September 9, 2013

North African Lamb Boulettes and Amy's Pomegranate Cumin Salad Dressing


I love a good meatball.  And that’s exactly what a boulette is in French.  So I cached away David Tanis’ recipe for a North African version that appeared in the NY Times almost a year ago.  You only have to look at the most recent posts here to realize it’s been a seafood summer.  We’ve been cooking and enjoying fish and shellfish every chance we get.  But last week, we decided to break our pescatorian diet and out came the City Kitchen article and recipe. Now Chef Tanis allowed as how he had created his recipe from many.  But at their core, this is a meatball with its roots in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.  All of these are former French colonies and if you’ve been adventurous in Paris and gone into Tunisian or Moroccan restaurants there, you’ve undoubtedly seem them in several guises on menus there.  They’re often an appetizer, or a side dish but they reach their full glory in a fragrant main course ‘tagine’ accompanied by couscous. You can make these with beef or lamb and Mr. Tanis has even made them with ground turkey.  I went with lamb because Lord knows we may have had a lot of fish this summer but we’ve also indulged in a hamburger or twelve.  With our tagine, I served a simple red leaf lettuce salad with a dressing laced with cumin and pomegranate that was a perfect complement to the North African flavors of the boulettes and there’s a story there too.