Wednesday, January 14, 2009

At the Market today.....

One of my favorite pieces of cooking equipment is my 18" paella pan. Granted, I don't use it often, and it does require a special place to store it, but when it comes time to make paella, I need this pan! Paella is traditionally made over an open fire outdoors, having originated in Spain. I have made it over a grill, but generally speaking I cook it centered over 2 burners on my gas cooktop. I have actually tried maybe 6 or 7 recipes for Paella and I think this one is the best. If you don't want the expense of buying a paella pan, try a large roasting pan, then remove cooked paella from pan and place in large beautiful bowl. Paella is traditionally served in the center of the table and everyone helps themselves. The round paella pan is perfect for this, but is not necessary for the actually cooking part.

This recipe serves 4

Seafood Paella

1/2 cup Somerset Ridge Chardonnay

1 large red onion, chopped

12 to 15 mussels, cleaned

1/2 cup olive oil, Spanish if possible

1/2 red onion (extra) finely chopped

1 thick slice Jamon, Spanish ham, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

1 ripe tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped

3 to 4 ounces chorizo sausage, thinly sliced

a pinch of cayenne pepper

1 cup medium grain rice

1/4 teaspoon saffron threads

(yes, it is expensive, but oh so worth it!)

2 cups heated chicken stock

1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas

12 to 15 large shrimp, peeled and deviened

6 ounces skinless firm white fish (I use Haddock)

2 tablespoons finely minced Italian parsley

Heat the wine and 1st red onion in a sauce pan. Add the mussels, cover and gently shake the pan for 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat, discard any unopened mussels, drain, saving the liquid.

Heat the oil in a large paella pan, roaster pan, or big heavy skillet. Add the extra onion, ham, garlic and red bell pepper, cook for 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomato, chorizo and cayenne pepper. Season. Stir in the reserved liquid, then add the rice and stir again.
Blend the saffron with the hot stock, then stir into rice mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes without stirring.
Put the pease, shrimp and fish on top of the rice. Push them down into the rice , cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, turning over halfway through, u ntil the rice is tender and the seafood is cooked through. Add the mussels for the last 5 minutes to heat through. If the rice is not quite cooked, add a little stock and cook for a few additional minutes. Leave alone for 5 minutes to rest, then add the parsley and serve.


One of a chef's many jobs is to find the very best, the freshest foods possible to cook with. Going to the Farmer's Market in the summer time is a wonderful way to have the best produce available, but we need to rely on suppliers and grocery stores the rest of the year. Right now, we are fortunate to have beautiful, juicy pears at our disposal. One of my favorite ways to serve pears is poached in Somerset Ridge Ruby Red Wine. They are a perfect ending to a perfect meal.

This recipe serves 4

Pears Cooked in Ruby Red Wine

4 firm, ripe pears, peeled and cored

1/3 cup lemon juice juice

1 cup Somerset Ridge Ruby Red Wine

2 cinnamon sticks

1 cup sugar

8 slices lemon

1 cup water

Rub the pears with the lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Put the red wine, cinnamon sticks, sugar, lemon slices and water in a saucepan over low heat and simmer gently until sugar is dissolved. . Bring syrup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the pears and simmer for an additional 20 minutes, carefully turning occasionally to cook evenly and to ensure even coloring. Remove pan from heat, but leave the pears in the syrup overnight, . Remove pears from syrup, the and then simmer the syrup until it thickens slightly.

Serve the pears whole, drizzled with the syrup.

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