Edamame and Grilled Corn Salad

>> Sunday, June 18, 2017

Edamame and Grilled Corn Salad

This quick salad is fresh and full of healthy ingredients. It's perfect with Veracruz-style Tilapia grilled in foil packets - one of our favorite ways to cook fish.

We like to use the edamame without pods in the frozen vegetable section of the grocery store. I made the vinaigrette with a Mexican lime-infused olive oil that my sister gave me for Christmas. Beth and my mom visited the Queen Creek Olive Mill in Phoenix, AZ in December, and also brought me feta-stuffed green olives. I think I'm going to raid the olive jar when I'm done with this post!

If you don't have any Mexican lime-infused olive oil handy, try 1 tbsp of lime juice and plain olive oil - or mix in whatever flavor you do have. This salad recipe is very flexible.


3 ears corn
12 oz. frozen edamame
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup red bell pepper

For the Vinaigrette

1/4 cup lime olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cracked black pepper
2 tsp salt


Heat the grill to medium. Shuck the corn and brush with a little oil. Grill on all sides, turning frequently, for about 10 minutes, until the corn is barely cooked and lightly browned. Allow to cool, then cut the kernels from the cob.

Steam the edamame in the microwave or on the stove until tender, about 15 minutes. Rinse with cold water to chill, then let it drain thoroughly. Stir in the corn, pepper, and onion. Shake together the vinagrette ingredients and pour over the salad. Let it chill for at least an hour before serving so that the flavors blend together well.

Serves 4-6.


Braised Fava Beans with Pancetta (Stufato di Fave, Stufato di Baccelli)

>> Sunday, June 4, 2017

Braised Fava Beans with Pancetta (Stufato di Fave, Stufato di Baccelli)

If we were in Italy right now, chances are we'd find a dish of fresh young fava beans braised with pancetta, broth, and tomato on our dinner table. This is a classic early summer dish that's just popping with flavor. It also works well with butter beans or limas.

For a few weeks now, I have been seeing fresh fava beans in the pod at our local grocery store but didn't have a craving or a specific recipe in mind. Then the other day, I saw a large heel of cured pancetta (half a pound!) in the reduced section of our deli. The price was irresistible, and I began thinking of braised fava beans.

But when I went back to the store with the beans, not a single fresh fava was found. I bought a frozen package, finally, since I wasn't going to give up my stewed bean craving that easily. The shelled frozen beans tend to be more mature, so I blanched them and slipped them out of their skins so they'd be tender. Fantastic.


1 pound fresh shelled fava beans, or 20 oz. frozen favas
1 tbsp olive oil
4 oz pancetta, finely chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
ground pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup water


If using frozen fava beans, boil a small pot of water. When it reaches a boil, put in the beans and cook for 1 minute. Soak the beans in ice water for one minute, then peel off the outer skins. I found it easiest to pull off the dark stripe at the top; the rest of the skin comes right off with that strip.

Heat the oil in a medium frying pan, then cook the pancetta and onion until soft and slightly browned. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the beans are tender and the sauce has thickened.

Serves 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a main meal.


Blanquette de Veau (French veal stew with white sauce)

>> Sunday, May 28, 2017

We first had this classic French veal stew at Froggy’s CafĂ© – you know, that French place we rhapsodize about. We consulted with Julia Child on the recipe and experimented a little on our own to come up with the recipe here.

While this is technically a basic stew, it's upscale enough for a fancy dinner party. The lovely creamy sauce and tender, buttery veal are a treat for special friends. 

We’ve noticed that some classic French recipes can be rather one-note. For example, the original recipe called for cooking the veal with a carrot, celery stalk and onion, but then discarding everything. The result is the stew contains just meat, mushrooms, and the very flavorful gravy. We switched it up a bit so that we keep all the vegetables in the stew. You might want to play around with this too – but perhaps experiment on something cheaper than veal!


For the Bouquet Garni (Herb bundle)
3” cheesecloth square
Kitchen Twine
1 tbsp parsley leaves
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
1 tsp fresh thyme
6 black peppercorns

For the Stew
2 lbs. boneless veal shoulder, cut into 1″ chunks
2 stalks of celery cut into 1″ pieces
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup pearl onions
1.5 cups baby carrots cut in half
10 oz. of mixed mushrooms, such as shiitake, white, crimini, and oyster, sliced
¼ cup sherry
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 12 tbsp. flour
½ cup heavy cream
Salt and white pepper to taste
Cooked white rice, for serving
Parsley leaves, to garnish


Wrap the herbs in the cheese cloth and tie with the twine. In a large pot, place the veal, onions, carrot, celery, broth and enough water to partially cover the food. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat, and simmer one hour. Skim off the scum as it forms. Be careful not to overcook the veal as it will turn to mush!

Add the mushrooms and sherry and cook until the vegetables are tender. Remove the meat and vegetables to a platter and keep warm; return the broth to the pot.

 In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and stir in one cup of the veal broth, stirring until smooth. Slowly stir the white sauce into the large pot, add salt and pepper to taste, and simmer gently until it is thickened. Stir in the cream. Return the meat and vegetables to the pot and heat through. Sprinkle with parsley after plating.

Serve over white rice, noodles, or alone with crusty bread.

Serves 4.


Bulerias Tapas Restaurant, Chicago

>> Monday, May 15, 2017

We've been to Bulerias twice, once for a birthday celebration and once for Mother's Day lunch. I really want to love this place - it has so much going for it - but I'm not in love.

First, it's hard to tell online whether the dancing shows are ticketed/paid or free. Luckily for us, the first time we reserved the downstairs area and got to see the show, which is really spectacular. Unluckily, we were so close to the stage that the dancer's fringed costume swept through my food a couple of times. Blech.

On our recent visit, our group of seven made reservations ahead of time and then confirmed it in a later phone call, but they didn't have our reservation. They sat us anyway, though, so it's all good.I would note though that the tables are small and close together; if our server hadn't been on top of our used plates, we would have had trouble!

The food is wonderful. My favorites are the bacon-wrapped dates, mild grilled octopus, and flank steak on crostini with blue cheese. Oh, and the potatoes alli olio! Good sized portions, well-prepared, and all the tapas came quickly after we ordered. They have a nice wine list and good sangria. One of our guests is on a restrictive no-cholesterol diet, and while he wasn't able to share some of the tapas us fat-lovin' people ate, he found some satisfying items to order.

We spent a long time at lunch and it would have been much more enjoyable if we could hear each other talk. We really wanted to catch up with each other but it was difficult. We were in an alcove and the music was extremely loud; even the waiter had trouble hearing us and made some ordering mistakes because of it. We asked him to turn down the noise but he said he couldn't do anything about it. That seemed strange, since he said he could turn the TV to any game we wanted...but couldn't adjust the volume of the music.

There are many tapas places in Chicago so once they have the food nailed down, it's the extra touches of service and atmosphere that determine where people will dine. Bulerias has some problems that could easily be fixed.  I hope they get on it!

Bulerias Tapas Bar is at 3656 N Ashland Ave. Chicago, IL 60613 


Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Rollups

>> Sunday, April 30, 2017

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Rollups

My bio-dad, Rick, was an avid fisherman in Southwestern Michigan. His first fishing boat, the Cricket, was a little four-seater that he took out on the small sleepy lakes that speckled our county. On foggy early mornings, a thermos of coffee for him, hot chocolate for me, our gear and a good book, we were off into the lilypads and quiet inlets of Little Paw Paw Lake.

I don't remember whether I actually caught any fish, and I have a hunch than my dad might have allowed me to claim that the fish I'm holding in the picture were ones that I bagged. I didn't like the whole fishing process - I felt sorry for the worm, sorry for the fish, and grossed out by touching the bait. But I did love to drowse in the sun with a good book and hang out with him. He was not very talkative on the boat but could tell a good story.

Later on, he traded up into a bigger boat, the SherAn (a combo name of his daughters Sheryl and Angela). I can't tell you anything about boats or sizes but the engine was bigger, there was storage under the seats instead of lake water, and there was a glass windshield. There was also a Fish Lo-K-Tor and downriggers that Rick hand-machined and lovingly attached. He was taking this one out on the big lake.

Rick caught steelhead trout, coho salomn and sturgeon on Lake Michigan, and went smelting in the spring off the St. Joseph piers. One of the most scary and exhilarating sights was to head off from a storm barrelling across the lake, when there was only the boat, the gray water, the rain, and the sky. The horizon was a seamless blend of lake and air. Seems like we always came home ravenous.

One year he bought a four-shelf smoker about three feet tall, and began smoking the fish for a change of taste. His smoked coho salmon was brown-fleshed, rather than the bright color of ocean salmon, but densely flavored and tender.

Recently, a friend gave me a gift of home-smoked salmon, and it brought back all kinds of memories of boats and reading Zilpha Keatley Snyder and Native American legends and steaming rich plastic cups of cocoa, and my dad telling me pay attention, I had a bite.

Fishing season has begun on Lake Michigan, though I no longer have a boat. If you have avid fishing friends with access to a fish smoker, they might offer you a few pieces of fresh-smoked coho or steelhead. I made these smoked salmon rollups with my friend's fish, and each morsel was a taste of the past.


1/2 cup chives, chopped
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 tsp lemon zest
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
4 oz smoked salmon
1 small cucumber
12 spikes of green onions
8-10 flour tortillas


Mix well the chives, dill, lemon zest, and cream cheese. Slice the salmon as thinly as possible. If you have a kitchen mandolin, this might help. My salmon had been frozen and was rather crumbly when I defrosted it, so I shredded it instead.

Thinly slice the cucumber lengthwise. I bet a kitchen mandolin would work well for this too, but I don't have one so I used a vegetable peeler.

Bend the package of tortillas back and forth a couple of times to prevent them from sticking together. Microwave the package for about 30 seconds until they are pilable. Usually I would heat tortillas on a dry griddle, but this recipe needs soft, moist flour tortillas.

Spread about 1 1/2 tbsp of the cream cheese mixture on each tortilla, making sure you spread it clear to the ends of each one. Place the salmon, cucumber, and green onions lengthwise in the center half of the tortilla. I added a little more dill because I love it fresh. Starting at the left side, tightly roll up the tortilla to the other side, stuffing in the ingredients if they start to roll out. Seal the seam with the cream cheese on the other side of the wrap. Chill for 30 minutes.

Slice each roll into 1-inch pieces. I cut off the misshapen ends where there were few ingredients and Joe and I quality-checked those. It was good. We served them on their sides so you could see the spiral design of the salmon rollups. Yum!

Makes approximately 60 little rolls.


Pork Chop Valdostano (stuffed pork chop)

>> Sunday, April 2, 2017

Pork Chop Valdostano (stuffed pork chop)

Joe and I were looking through cookbooks for some new recipe ideas, and I pulled down a cookbook from Rao's, a famous Italian restaurant in New York City. The original recipe was made with veal chops, prosciutto, and golden raisins, but we made it a little more budget-friendly with Virginia ham, black raisins, and boneless pork chops. Joe gave the recipe a few more tweaks for our taste, and he says that next time he makes this, he'll try a bone-in chop for ease of stuffing, and golden raisins for a prettier presentation.

6 6 oz, 1 1/2 inch thick pork chops, trimmed of all fat
12 pieces of ham or prosciutto, thinly sliced
1/2 cup black or golden raisins
6 thin slices of mozzarella cheese
2 cups flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sliced white mushrooms
1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. butter
2 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup Marsala wine
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
3 tbsp. chopped Italian parsley

For the egg batter:
2 large eggs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
2 tbsp. minced Italian parsley
dash of salt and pepper

Cut each chop open horizontally to the bone, splitting it open like a hamburger bun. Pound the meat very thin. Layer the inside of each chop with a slice of ham,  a spoonful of raisins, a slice of mozzarella, and another slice of ham. Fold the top of the chop down and pound the edges together until sealed.

Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Dredge each chop in flour and then dip the chops into the egg batter. Cook the chops five minutes on each side, then place on a platter and keep warm in the oven.

Sprinkle the onions with flour and then saute in the saucepan until soft. Add the mushrooms and saute until tender, about five minutes. Stir in butter, and when it is melted, return the chops to the pan.

Pour in the broth and wine and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Place a chop on each plate and pour several spoonfuls of sauce over the top. Sprinkle with parsley and Parmesan before serving.

Serves 6.

Find more of Rao's recipes here.


Mushroom Barley Soup (Zupa Grzybowa)

>> Saturday, March 11, 2017

Now that we live in a heavily Polish neighborhood of Chicago (Jefferson Park/Portage Park), we're trying to learn about traditional dishes. One of the most exciting Polish traditions is the paczki (PUNCH-key), a heavenly jam-filled donut you see everywhere at the beginning of Lent. This soup is another popular one - and we'll be learning how to make Dill Pickle Soup soon. 

Mushroom Barley soup is a classic Polish dish using barley grain, dried or fresh mushrooms, and sometimes a dollop of sour cream. In Polish, it is called Zupa Grzybowa, and its filling, healthy, and satisfying. The soup can be made quickly, or it can slowly simmer all day in a crock pot. Either method is flavorful, hearty, and easy. Add some cornbread, hot crusty bread, or a salad for a solid filling meal.

We recommend using a several kinds of fresh mushrooms for maximum flavor. The soup can be made with vegetable broth for a Meatless Monday or a fasting holiday, or it can be made with beef stock for extra flavor.


2 tbsp oil 
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup sliced white button mushrooms
1 cup chopped portabella mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced shiitake or porcini mushrooms
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
5 cups vegetable or beef stock
1 cup pearl barley or quick-cooking barley (use quick-cooking barley if you're going to make this in a crock pot)
1 1/2 cups sour cream (optional)


Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan. Add onions and mushrooms and fry until slightly browned, about 10 or 15 minutes. 

If using a crock pot, transfer to the crock pot, add the rest of the vegetables and the beef stock and cook at low heat for 6-8 hours or high heat at 4-6 hours. Fifteen minutes before serving, cook the quick-cooking barley separately according to package directions, then stir into the soup. 

If cooking in a soup pot, add the rest of the vegetables and the beef stock and heat to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the pearl barley and simmer for 30 more minutes, or until the barley is tender.

Remove the bay leaf. Serve in bowls with a dollop of room-temperature sour cream, if desired.

Serves 4-6.


Skinny Chicken Piccata

>> Saturday, February 25, 2017

Skinny Chicken Piccata

The original recipe for this light chicken piccata came from LaaLoosh, a delicious and healthy food blog for people on Weight Watchers. She says one serving is 4 points + in the Weight Watchers system.

I made a few changes, like omitting the wine, since I was making this for our dinner but also taking dinner to a friend who is just recovering from serious surgery.

We don't mind eating lighter as long as it's this easy and tasty!


1 tbsp light butter
1 10oz package white mushrooms, sliced
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp paprika
Dash salt and pepper
1 tsp oil
2 cups fat free chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
2 tbsp capers, rinsed
2 tsp cornstarch stirred into 1 tbsp cold water


Heat the butter in a large frying pan. Saute the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender and slightly browned. Set them aside in a separate plate.

Stir together the flour, salt, pepper, and paprika, and place in a shallow plate. Cut the chicken breasts in half, then cut them through the middle to produce 4 thin cutlets. Press them into the flour until they're covered on all sides.

Heat the oil in the pan, then add the chicken and brown on all sides. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 15-20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thickened.

Serve over rice pilaf or with a side of vegetables.

Serves 4.


Osso Buco

>> Sunday, February 12, 2017

Osso Buco

Our love story begins with the post "He Cooks for Me", on Angela's life blog, angelawd.wordpress.com.

“I’d like to cook for you,” He said, a few months after we started dating. “Why don’t you come over for Easter dinner?”

I was excited. News of his prowess in the kitchen had spread throughout our circle of friends at both churches. My girls, according to the alternating visitation schedule, would be with their dad, and my family was too far away to visit. I was glad I wouldn’t spend another holiday alone.

When I got to his condo, I could smell dinner all the way down the hallway – a rich, garlicky aroma. “It smells delicious,” I said. “What are we having?”

“Osso Buco”, He said, wiping his hands on his personalized apron.

He owns his own apron! I shouted to myself. “Osso Buco, that’s great!”

“Have you heard of it before?”

“Uh, no, actually not.”

“It’s braised veal shanks. A classic Italian recipe.”

I was utterly impressed. Guys took me out to steakhouses or seafood places; when they cooked a fancy dinner for me, it was inevitably a steak, a baked potato, and some wine. No one had ever cooked me a meal I’d never even heard of before.

I watched him sprinkle chopped fresh parsley in a delicate pattern over our dishes, and then serve steaming veal with a thick red sauce onto each plate. There were candlesticks and placemats, and a wine that he had to explain before I even had a taste. Something Italian and as dark red and rich as the meal; he had chosen it to complement the veal. I appreciated the explanation. I was used to $3 bottles of White Zinfandel.

When I could eat no more, I sat back and rubbed my stomach.

“What do you think?” He asked.

“I think I love it,” I said, meaning the meal, the wine, the idea of a man who cooks especially for me. Two years later I married him, and in September we celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary.

Wiping away Joe's tear after he said his wedding vows.

Joe actually calls this version of his recipe "Fauxo Buco", because it uses beef shanks rather than the astronomically expensive veal shanks. I call it delicious.


2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 cups onion, chopped
2 cups carrots, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 to 7 pounds beef or veal shank sawed into 2 1/2 inch sections
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup beef stock
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp fresh basil
1 tsp fresh thyme
3 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 bay leaves

For the Gremolata (herb topping)

1 tbsp grated lemon peel
3 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, minced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced


In a large casserole or Dutch oven, melt half the butter and oil over medium heat. Saute the onions, carrots, celery and garlic until tender. Remove to a separate plate.

Stir together the salt, pepper, and flour, and roll the meat in the mixture. Melt the rest of the butter and oil in the Dutch oven, then brown the meat on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Add the vegetables to the meat.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Pour the wine and broth into the casserole pan, and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the basil, thyme, tomatoes, parsley sprigs and bay leaves; the liquid and vegetable should halfway cover the meat. If it doesn't, add more broth or water. Bring the pan to a boil, then cover and place in the center of the oven.

Braise the meat for about 1 1/2 hours, basting it with the juices occasionally, until the meat is very tender and the sauce is thickened and stew-like. Serve the meat arranged on a serving platter with the vegetables and sauce. 

Alternatively, you can pour some creamy polenta onto individual plates, then arrange a shank and the vegetables over the top. Sprinkle the servings with the gremolata—the piquant garnish of lemon zest, parsley, and garlic.

Serves 6-8.


Aloo Mattar (Indian Pea and Potato Stew)

>> Saturday, February 4, 2017

Aloo Mattar (Indian Pea and Potato Stew)

Aloo mattar (AH-loo mah-tar) stew is a super-easy and filling vegetarian dish full of a lot of complex curry-like flavors. You can make it as spicy or as mild as you like. It was very much a comfort food on a cold day, and our home smelled fabulous while we were cooking it. As simple as the recipe is, we were surprised that it tasted just like the one made in the restaurant by Indians.

My friend Sheilja recommends buying spices like cumin, coriander, and cardamom as whole seeds and then grinding them as you need them, so that they retain more flavor. They really smell amazing when you grind them fresh! She uses a Magic Bullet, but our electric coffee grinder works just as well. Again, try a Hispanic or Asian grocery store for the spices if you have trouble finding them at your supermarket.


4 medium russet potatoes
1 tbsp oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small green chili pepper, minced (bell, jalapeno, serrano, or other, depending on how much heat you want)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander seed
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp garam masala powder (you can substitute good curry powder, but the taste will be different)
1 plum tomato, chopped
1 cup water
2 tsp salt
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped


Scrub the potatoes, then cut them into 1" cubes. Boil them until slightly tender, then drain.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil, then add the onion, garlic, and pepper and saute until tender. Stir in the cooked potatoes and the rest of the ingredients except the cilantro  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes and peas are tender and the sauce has thickened. Stir in the cilantro.

Serve over rice with naan or puri flat bread on the side.

Serves 4-6


Big Game Sunday Party Food

>> Sunday, January 29, 2017

Super Bowl Sunday appetizers

I love me some good fattening appetizers, full of cheese and bacon and other gooey, unhealthy things, especially when a football game is involved. Big Game Sunday calls for lots of finger foods, right? Here's a roundup of some of the most drool-inducing appetizers recipes I found around the web for a football party, or any appetizer-worthy occasion.

If you try any of these for a party, leave me a note and tell me how you liked them!


Vegan Creamy Cucumber Rollups

Bacon Double Cheeseburger Dip

Buffalo Chicken Mini-Meatballs

Won Ton Chicken Tacos

Jalapeno Poppers with Chorizo and Chihuahua Cheese

Snickers Dip

Apple Pie Fries


5 Fabulous Meatless Meals

>> Monday, January 16, 2017

Vegan vegetarian

The Hungry Lovers have been looking for meatless Monday inspiration, especially since we're in the glorious days of summer garden bounty. This summer in particular, the produce seems more abundant and luscious than many years. This is a perfect time of year to explore new vegetarian meals.

I've rounded up some tasty meat-free meals for you to try, from some food sites we enjoy reading. If you'd like, please share with us your favorite meatless dishes, too. We always love trying something new.

Capasso Kitchen, Broccoli with carrots and cashews. We love a stir fry. We REALLY love cashews.

Honey B's and Birch Trees, Spicy Black Bean Burgers. "Spicy" and "Black Bean". Two of our favorite food words.

Bon Appetempt, Almond Tofu with Snap Peas and Soba Noodles. I bet this is fabulous with peanut butter, too.

The Reluctant Bean, Barbecue Lentil Sandwiches. You know they're good when teenagers are wolfing them down.

LaaLoosh, Lemon Spinach Chickpea Pasta. Laaloosh creates dependably awesome recipes that are healthy and Weight Watchers-friendly. 


Paella (Saffron Rice with Chicken and Seafood)

>> Friday, January 6, 2017

Paella (Saffron Rice with Chicken and Seafood)

Joe and I have talked about making this signature dish from Spain for a long time, but paella always seemed so daunting. I mean, the list of ingredients is huge, and the explanations for preparing all the seafood seemed like too much bother. And then there's the special paella pan, a wide shallow skillet that traditionally Spaniards used over an open fire.

Our Spain/Portugal cookbook has two pages of directions for this recipe, but it also told us we were overthinking the whole dish. At its heart, the recipe for paella is basically a rice stew with seafood, vegetables, and meat, and cooks probably threw in whatever they had at home or whatever was fresh or on sale. The cookbook has a photo of a family cooking this over a little bonfire in a park, and then eating it straight out of the pan.

So here's our recipe. I'm not going to get all Julia Child on you and describe how to cook a live lobster or scrub the beards off mussels. Choose the things you like or look good at the store, then be sure to savor each one of the flavors and scents as you cook the stew - it really is an experience! Next time you make it, the mix will probably be completely different.

P.S. This makes a big pot of paella. It's perfect for a bunch of friends. If you get each of them to chop one ingredient, it will all come together quickly.


2 lbs meat: cut-up chicken pieces, serrano ham, hard garlicky sausage such as andouille, salami or Spanish chorizo, bacon, boneless pork

2 lbs. seafood: raw shrimp, lobster, clams, mussels, snails, crawfish, calamari, crab claws, and cubes of firm-fleshed fish

4 cups vegetables: peas, sweet pepper strips, hot peppers, garlic, chopped onion, chopped tomatoes, and green beans

1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1 tsp ground saffron or turmeric
1 tbsp hot paprika
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 bay leaves, crumbled
6 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups short-grain Spanish rice
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Salt and pepper to taste


In a big, shallow pan, brown the fresh meat in half the oil, then set aside on a warm platter. Saute the vegetables in the remaining oil. Prepare the shellfish as needed, then add to the sauteing vegetables. Cook 3 minutes, then remove all to the platter with the chicken; keep warm.

Heat the broth with the wine, saffron and paprika. Bring to a boil, then keep it hot until ready to use. Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Saute the rice with the remainder of the oil so that it's coated and slightly browned. Pour in the broth, bay leaves, and parsley. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, then add the vegetables, meat, and seafood, pressing the large pieces into the rice.

Place the skillet in a 325 degree oven, uncovered, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover with foil, and let sit for 10 minutes or so, until the rice absorbs all the liquid and is fluffy and tender. Squeeze the lemon wedges over the rice before serving.

Serves 6-8.

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