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Paella Project

So, the other night I went out for dinner with my girlfriends Erica and Colleen. After much deliberation we ended up at Table 10, a new restaurant just behind my house in the Cathedral (used to be Crushed Grape). The menu is very nice. It has some more interesting and inventive dishes rather than the same old things you find on almost every menu in this city. I was VERY excited when I saw Paella. I love Paella and have some pretty good memories of eating it in Nice. My Paella was pretty good, not life changing but good. Everyone’s else meals were good too. I think Erica had the snapper and Colleen had mussels.

As we were eating and chatting about our usual topic of conversation, our delight and frustration with photography (we’re all photographers) I declared that I officially only really care about food. I’m kind of, shall we say… BORED with photography at the moment and am playing around with some different ideas of things I may want to pursue. Colleen suggested I start a food blog to occupy my mind and Erica aptly named it Tongue in Cheek (I think cause I’m kind of bitchy) and here we are!

Anyway long story short. My paella was pretty good as I said, but the portion in proportion to the price was not so appetizing. I’ve already stated I’m kind of a cheap skate so when i have to pay $23 for small plate of food that is 80% rice, that kind of pisses me off. I don’t like that feeling of being ripped off. So then I thought. What the hell do I know? I’ve never run a restaurant, I don’t know about food costs and overhead, blah, blah, blah. I’ve never even made Paella! Maybe it takes great skill and is labour intensive or time consuming. So I though I’d give it a whirl for one of my fathers days supper’s I had to cook. Below is a few photos and some basic guidelines. I would have taken more but I got into the cooking and kind of forgot. Will work on that…. My sister Gina was here helping and visiting and she took pictures with her phone so I’ll see if I can get those.

Oh and by the way, Paella is a Spanish dish in origin, kind of like a casserole cooked in a huge pan over an open flame (I obviously used my kitchen). It can have chicken, sausage, rabbit, beans, and tonnes of seafood (in Nice mine had whole baby crabs! yum) and of course VERY IMPORTANT, saffron. I do not believe my $23 Paella had any saffron as it was rather pallid.

  • I roasted red peppers and skinned them.
  • Marinated and bbq’d chicken thighs. Normally the chicken would start out in the pan but, hey, it’s summer so I thought that would be fun. You only need to brown and crisp the skin as it will finish cooking in the paella later.
  • In the pan: olive oil, brown some chorizo, remove from pan, add onion and soften, add red peppers.
  • Add green beans, garlic, put chorizo back in, and add 2 cups of rice, and your saffron. Season with salt and pepper. Nestle your chicken in the rice and add 5 cups of liquid, could be water but chicken stock is better. Now with Paella, unlike a risotto, you are FORBIDDEN to stir. Once the party is in the pan, you can give it a shake, but then no touching!
  • When the chicken is just about cooked through I added mussels and prawns on top and covered for the last few minutes until they were done. That’s all folks.

It was DELICIOUS, EASY and I made enough to feed 6 people to stuffed and had leftovers twice, for maybe $50 (that might include a bottle of wine:)

Don’t be afraid to get skin really black when roasting peppers. Thats where all the flavour comes from and the skin peels off easier.
Finished product. Note the beautiful colour from the saffron. Unfortunately, I shot this the next day and all the chicken and sausage was eaten previously but you get the idea!
If you’ve done a good job, this is the end result.
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Mayo My!

Home made mayonnaise is above and beyond anything what you buy in the store. It’s satiny, bright yellow and creamy and extremely easy and quick to make. Also, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a cheap skate deep down and I hate spending money on sauces and dressings and all those bottled things. Mayo is something that you can use as you normally would or transform it in just a few seconds into a spread or dressing. Plus, you can leave it plain (boring) or add pretty much anything you want to flavour it (yum).

The only thing you need is egg yolks (I used 4 here), oil (I use sunflower, but you can use whatever you want. I do find olive a little to heavy and bitter for mayo though), salt and an acid (lemon, vinegar, whatever) and voila! It’s the technique that is important when making it. The only thing you need to know is GO SLOWLY. That is the only rule. Here is how I made mine today. Everything is to taste and you make your yours how you like so no measurements, sorry! Just taste as you go!

Start whisking your 4 yolks (Yes by hand. You can use a blender, but why haul all that out when this pretty fast and more reliable.) It’s helpful to make a ring with a tea towel to hold the bowl while you whisk.

Get a teaspoon and as whisking add your oil DROP by DROP. If you add it too quickly, your eggs will separate and curdle. It’s fixable so don’t worry, but just literally go drop by in the beginning until it starts thickening, then you can add in a more steady stream.

After a few minutes it will thicken and become glossy and lovely. Unlike the gelatinous goo that you buy in the store you can control the thickness of this. I prefer mine a little runnier, but if you don’t just add more oil till you get  what you want. 

At this point I added salt, mustard powder, red wine vinegar and whisked a bit more, thickened a bit more with oil. For a finishing touch I added cilantro (left over from fresh rolls the other day and lime (zest and juice).

I love cilantro mayo in summer. It’s fresh and clean tasting and goes really well with anything coming off the bbq, fish, salads, etc. I suggest people try this. It’s super easy and totally awesome.

* Other flavours options are endless. Rosemary, basil, parsley, sage. Chile powder, garlic, curry, pepper. Anything. Really. Try it!

FIXING SEPERATED MAYOSo you added the oil the too fast. What did I tell you? All you need to do is get a clean bowl, put a fresh egg yolk into it and start adding your curdled mixture drop by drop as you whisk. It should incorporate smoothly again. And really do it slowly this time!

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autsy - June 28, 2011 - 10:02 pm

i love homemade mayo! Never thought of using cilantro though! YUMMY!
Another con of using the blender is it’s almost impossible to get all the mayo off the blades and all the nooks and crannies. If you’re a cheap skate like me (and you apparently) this will take so long to get it all into the jar!

viennahi - June 29, 2011 - 6:58 pm

I put mine on BBQ steak last night. Wow!

Fresh Rolls

I have tried unsuccessfully to make fresh rolls for about a year now. I was starting to wonder if there was some secret I was unaware of to make the rice paper stick to itself. Disheartened by flimsy, unsticky wrappers in which all my filling fell out of left me discouraged and I shoved the rice paper wrappers to the back of the cupboard. My next trip to Viet Thai was going to include me begging Bruce to let me in on some need-to-know secret! I, however, did not have to lower myself to begging. The “secret” (thanks to my new roommate) lies in nothing other than the rice paper itself. Rose Brand Rice Paper Wrappers. Buy them. You will be eating fresh rolls all day long happily and easily rolling with a smile on your face. Seems simple and anti-climactic, I know, but I can’t have been the only person to stumble upon sub-par rice paper that was driving me crazy. And so, I pass along this little nugget of information to you.

*Instead of cucumber I used purple cabbage, finely sliced and marinated briefly in some red wine vinegar and added some pickled ginger (some chopped and some juice). I love the kimchi-like sourness and the purple from the cabbage showing through the rice paper is very pretty. These also had shrimp, carrot and a teensy bit of cilantro.

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Colleen Leonard Photography - June 23, 2011 - 12:04 am

mmm yummy. congrats!

autsy - June 23, 2011 - 12:47 am

Why didn’t you do this blog sooner? I love your ideas and because I love them so will everyone else! You inspire me to cook, you always have:)

dgate - June 23, 2011 - 4:41 am

WOW….looks delicious!

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