Saturday, August 22, 2009

Here’s my late post of the Daring Cooks August Challenge. We returned home Saturday, the day after the reveal date and were back to school and work on Monday. Yikes, it’s a wonder I got anything on the table let alone a Challenge recipe.

I didn’t have to work on Wednesday and Olga’s challenge paella was scheduled for dinner, we were looking forward to it. My son spent part of last summer in Spain where he became of fan of paella. The anticipated treat was a disappointment, to say the least. To start with, there was not enough seafood for us … 2 cuttlefish for 4 servings? And nothing else? And, no fault of the recipe but the pan reacted with the food and turned an awful grey green color and had a metallic taste to it.

But there were a few positive notes, the Sofregit was good and the recipe made enough for several future paellas. I will freeze it in portions and use it next time. The recipe did work and I can use it as a template to make paella in the future. The Paella pan in the middle of the table got my son talking about his trip to Spain and the food he enjoyed there. I loved our lively conversation and look forward to sharing Spanish inspired meals with him.

Photos: José Andrés recipe begins with very pretty ingredients. But I’m already worried … not enough seafood for us, I’m sure. Recipe for Sofregit, the sauce at 5 o'clock in the photo made 2 ¾ but I only needed about ¼ cup. I’ll freeze the rest for future Paella.

Looks great, right? Do you see the artichoke beginning to turn black? ....

Boo. The entire batch turned an awful gray green. The saffron couldn't even shine through.

Andrew made the best of it and had 2 helpings. Found as much squid as he could and pushed aside the mushrooms. We had a great discussion about the Paella he had last summer in Spain and what he liked about it ... 4-5 types of seafood, peas, carrots, and red pepper. Next time, now that I have the rice and the Sofregit.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Michael Pollan Inspired Spanish Tortilla

After reading Michael Pollan's article in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine I have vowed that I will do more cooking at home. In fact, until we leave for vacation there will be no take-out or restaurant meals. We don't eat out much but we often pick-up burritos or something else from local taquerias and Mexican markets. I will do as much as I can from scratch but I also want to use what I have on hand in the pantry and freezer. There are homemade beans, sauces, and stock in the freezer but I also have commercial versions of these items and they need to be used. I am notorious for making food in large batches, portioning it out, freezing it, and forgetting about it. This has got to change, not the freezing just the forgetting. Frozen items will be eaten as is, enhanced or yes, heaven forbid, tossed out. We don’t eat of a lot of packaged convenience food but we do eat some and we need to cut down here and eventually eliminate … this will not go over well with my 16 year-old son.

I’m fortunate enough to work in the Test Kitchen at Sunset Magazine and I often bring home leftovers that can serve as a base for a dish or even an entire meal. I will make better use of this delicious benefit.

Today’s dinner is a great example of making use of something from the Sunset Test Kitchen. We are currently working on recipes for our Thanksgiving issue and the leftovers are delicious and plentiful … just like Thanksgiving at home. I don’t have the entire meal, just grilled fingerling potatoes. The potatoes were cooked on the barbecue with olive oil and dill. The potatoes were sliced and combined with sautéed onions and a few eggs for a Spanish Tortilla.