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Thursday, January 31, 2013

[Paella Mixta] Delicious Spanish paella with chicken, shrimps, chorizo, & mussels

Well, I know that it's kind of hard, but if you really have to choose one, What is you favorite source of carbohydrate? I like pasta, quinoa, oats, and all sorts of wheat product, but my favorite of all is couscous. I just love couscous. 
One of my favorite couscous recipes is here:
[Algerian Couscous with tomato sauce]

Rice is not my favorite types of carbohydrate, but there are some great rice dishes I adore, one of which is Spanish paella. I had my first paella at Takeout corner(Traiteur) of Carrefour supermarket in Annecy, France, more than 15 years ago. I couldn't tell if it was a great quality paella since it was my first paella experience. 

One of Colleen's favorite rice recipes is here:
[Afghani Chicken Pulao]


But, it must be not too bad as I liked paella immediately. If our holidays plan works as planned, we will go to Spain in 2017. I can't deny that a big part, if not the biggest, of attraction we are drawn to is food, i.e. paella, seafood and endless tapas... :)

The paella recipe I'm writing now is a mixture of Spanish friends' family recipe and my personal experiments I accumulated for more than a decade. When I make paella, there is anything left for the following day's lunch box. The type of paella what I make is not Valencian or seafood paella. My(?) paella should be called paella mixta or mixed paella that use both white meat and seafood. I guarantee~ It's really good :) (sorry for bragging about it, but it is very true :)) It's amazingly delicious.


The most distinctive flavour and colour of paella is coming from this saffron.
Without saffron's exotic flavour, you can't make a real paella.
It looks reddish, but it makes everything it touches yellow.

Paella has two different meanings: 
i. the specialized shallow pan used for cooking paellas. and 
ii. Valencian rice dish which non-Spanish people consider "Spanish" rice dish. In reality, paella is Valencian specialty.

Here goes Colleen's Paella Mixta / Mixed paella recipe:

Ingredients
4 Cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon saffron
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 chicken drumsticks or 4 thighes
2 Chorizo, sliced (12 ounces in total)
1/2 onion
2 tomatoes
1+1/2 Cups Arborio rice or paella rice
15-25 mussels, depending on the sizes
12-15 shrimps
salt, pepper

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350F (or 180C)


2. Have ingredients ready: slice chorizo, chop tomato and onion.

3. Meanwhile infuse the chicken broth with the saffron. 

Simmer over the low heat. Add paprika and continue to simmer for another 7-8 minutes


4. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. 


5. Heat a little olive oil in a paella pan or a large pan and fry the chicken until golden brown on both sides. 

6. Push chicken to the corner of the pan and add the sliced chorizo and fry until browned and crispy.

7. Then add the onion and garlic and cook until soft. 

8. Add tomato and mix well.

9. Add rice and stir well with other ingredients.

10. Add infused chicken broth and leave to cook on a medium heat, stirring from time to time.
Add 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Simmer for 10 minutes. Rice should be almost cooked by now.

11.  Turn off the heat and add mussels and shrimps.

12. Place the paella pan in the preheated oven and cook/bake for 10-15 minutes, or until all the broth will be absorbed completely.

Take out paella pan form the oven and leave it for another 10 minutes before serving.
I forgot the lemon, but paella mixta is even better with a wedge of lemon.

It's much easier than it looks, isn't it? Hope you like it as much as I do. Enjoy!


Paella Mixta

Sunday, January 27, 2013

[Winter fun in Ottawa] Skating on Rideau Canal and Beavertails

It was seriously cold in Ottawa. Outdoor temperature has been consistently between -25C and -30C (=-10F and -22F) in the morning. Temperature went up to -15 ~ -18C (= 0 ~ 5F) in the afternoon. Car consumed much more gas in this kind of weather. When I woke up at 3:30 in the morning everyday last week, to watch evening matches of Australian Open, I read 55F (13C) on the thermostat! (Note: we turn off heating when we go to bed) It was literally freezing cold! Yes I know I'm a bit extreme. But, I'd rather have lack of sleep than miss important second week matches of  a Grand Slam.

Fortunately(?), arctic air mass, or arctic windchill, is temporarily gone. As temperature in the Saturday afternoon was mild at -12C (10F), we rushed out to Rideau canal for skating. I already wrote about Rideau Canal skateway last year:

See last year's posting:
I find last year's photos were better due to the time of the day, which was early afternoon.

This time, as we parked the car at 3:30 p.m., the light was not optimal. It's always great fun to skate along the waterway. I love skating on the Rideau canal where I can continue skating along the skateway instead of turning around the rink.

I didn't know how many skaters will be there as the temperature in that morning was -24C.
Well, lots of Ottawa people must have felt the same thing that we did. We just wanted to enjoy a relatively warm(?) afternoon on the ice. There were so many people on the canal.

Mr. D and I go skating to enjoy skating itself. Remi and Pablo have different interests: Their primary interest on the canal is Beavertails. They are reluctant to give up their desserts after dinner, no matter what. (You can have only one dessert per day in my household) But, they don't have any regret ceding evening desserts, to have a big flat fried dough.

The determination of the kids to eat Beavertails has made us skate about 2 km non-stop. 
As we got used to the indoor ice smoothed by zamboni or for the season, it was kind of hard when you hit rough outdoor ice for the first time of the season. But, after the first couple of hundred meters, you become more natural.

Beavertails is really expensive. I'm pretty confident that their direct material cost per fried dough would be less than 50 cents. But! you pay $4 for a very basic/classic fried dough, and $5 for a dough with fancier topping.

BeaverTails(Queues de Castor in French) are a Canadian-based chain of pastry stands. It started in Ottawa in 1978.

It received international attention when US president Barack Obama 
stopped at the ByWard Market in downtown Ottawa on his way to the airport specifically to buy a BeaverTails pastry on February 19, 2009.

Well, it is really good, even though the price is outrageous.

Kids always have the same things. Remi orders fried dough with Nutella topping which Pablo can't have because of his nut allergy.

Pablo always orders one maple butter topping.

As this was the quasi sole purpose they came skating, this was kids' favorite time on the ice.
I like the bonfire on the ice, by benches.

 (Frank Clair Stadium(for Canadian Football): Ottawa will have a CFL team again, from 2014)

Once we were done, we skated back to the Dow's lake where we started. We passed the spot we had started and got to the end of the Dow's lake.

It was already getting dark by the time we changed skates and climbed the snow hill to get to the parking of Carlton university. We usually park at Carlton and cross the street  to get to the canal. It sounds like a penny pincher, but I do not want to spend more money on parking. I prefer parking at Carlton at $2 to paying $7-8 to park at a closer parking.
And, it's actually fun to go over a little snow knoll ~

Hope we will be able to skate on the canal for a longer period time, preferably until March. The season last year was too short. Skating on the Rideau canal and having a fried dough on the canal are one of the best treats of the winter in Ottawa, for sure.


Skating on Rideau Canal & Beavertails

Thursday, January 24, 2013

[Tofu lasagna] Healthy Vegetarian Lasagna

Have you tried tofu?
It's a great source of protein, and a surprisingly versatile food that can be used for lots of different dishes.
 When you get used to tofu's firm & soft texture and plain taste,
you may fall in love with tofu. :)

Even if you are not a big fan of tofu or not familiar with its taste,
you might actually like this tofu lasagna.
As a lasagna monster, I don't have any problem eating this vegetarian lasagna for three meals in a row. :)

Here are some more lasagna recipes I posted:

And here goes the tofu lasagna recipe:
(adapted from AllRecipes.com)
As always, I don't pre-cook lasagna noodles.

Ingredients
9 uncooked lasagna noodles
400g (12 ounce) package firm tofu
 2 eggs
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups tomato sauce (homemade or jar)
 2 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon oregano
 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celcius).

2. Shred mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

3. Crumble tofu. Potato masher does a good job. :)

4. combine tofu, eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg, parsley, oregano and parmesan cheese.

5. Spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.
As noodles are layered dry, be generous with sauce.

6. Layer 3 dry noodles. Don't overlap the noodles. When they are cooked, noodles expand quite a lot.

7. Cover tofu mixture over the noodles

8. Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce over tofu mixture.
9. Repeat the steps 6-8.

10. Add the last 3 noodles and top with remaining tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.

11. Tent the baking dish with aluminium foil and bake about 35-40 minutes.

12. Then, uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes.

 (Optional) For the last 1 minute, switch to broiling mode and broil the top, to brown the cheese.

 Let stand 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Like all my lasagna recipes, this is a time-saving lasagna without fuss.
Hope you like tofu lasagna as much as I do. :)
Bon App├ętit!


Tofu Lasagna

Monday, January 21, 2013

[Apple Crumble] A Classic Comfort Dessert - Anytime favourite dessert

Canadian winter calls for warm "and", not or, sweet food.
Apple crumble falls in the said category just perfectly.

It really does warm me up  on cold winter days. It is a personal favourite of mine. I can eat this anytime, including for breakfast~

This is recipe from Suzanne, girlfriend of my school mate Geoff. She served it after a great English dinner. It was more than a decade ago. Wow. Time flies. Anyway, it was the best apple crumble I had in my life. She was so nice to share the recipe with me. :)

Here goes the recipe.


Ingredients

4 big apples or 5 medium size apples
1 + 1/4 Cup flour
1/2 Cup sugar
1/3 Cup butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Vanilla ice cream (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. 


2. Peel and core the apples, quarter and cut in to chunks.


3. Put the apples into a 9x9x2-inch glass baking dish with the 1/4 cup sugar, and sprinkle cinnamon.



4. Place the flour  in a medium size bowl and mix well. 
(I added cinnamon in flour mixture as well. It was by accident, but the result was quite decent)



5. Cut the butter into small cubes and add this to the flour. Mix with your fingertips until it resembles an even crumb texture. 


6. Add the sugar and mix through. 


7. Cover the fruit with the crumble mixture. 


8. Bake for approximately 45 minutes until the crumble is golden and the apple hot.


Serve warm with cream or vanilla ice cream.

One of the most simple desserts fills your house with such sweet aroma that you will see everybody in the house entering the kitchen.

This luscious dessert is well served with thick cream or custard. But, I always do serve it with French vanilla ice cream~

Apple Crumble