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Sharing The Family Tradition Of Authentic Spanish Paella

November 5th, 2010

From the day I was born, I pretty much grew up eating Spanish food. My Grandmother always made typical Spanish food, as did my Mother and also my Aunt. All Spanish women, they took on my Grandmother’s fantastic cooking skills.

I remember as a child, my Grandmother force feeding me and my cousin her special soup with a huge ladle sized spoon. Making us nice and plump, constantly feeding you as most European families do. Those were the days.

Not much has changed, except for the fact we can feed ourselves. When we go to my Nona’s place, it’s all the best in Spanish cuisine, albondigas con tomate, patatas bravas, croquetas… the list goes on. But the one thing, that remains a specialty in the family is the World famous, Paella.

Again since children, we were all forced to eat it. As we got older, it became a love. It has now become a special dish that all the grown-up’s know how to make, passed on from my Grandmother. Using their skills gained of many years, they have now perfected the art of making the perfect Paella. It takes alot of time, skill and hard work to get it right.

So what is Paella? It’s a risotto-like seafood dish. Authentic recipes contain saffron, rice, chicken, peas, beans, prawns, calamari, mussels, capsicum, onions and more. But you can pretty much take out or add in anything you want. Add lobster and Moreton Bay bugs, take out the onion and peas if you wish. But the base ingredients mentioned really are required. Typically, a Paella is cooked in a paellera, a huge round metal pan. There are many sizes available, all of the families within my family have multiple sizes from 30cm up to 1m in diameter! The World’s largest is just over 20m in diameter!!

So I thought I would share with you a version of the ‘Marquez Family Paella’ which can be cooked on the BBQ or on the stove in a large pan.

PAELLA (serves 10 people)

Ingredients:

1 x large onion (chopped)

4 x cloves garlic (chopped)

A handful of flat parsley (chopped)

Juice of two lemons

Half a kilo of Calasparra rice or short grain rice (not Arborio)

1 x can diced tomatoes

Saffron

Fresh fish stock 1 litre

1 kg medium green prawns (peeled and deveined)

Half a kilo of small black mussels

2 x calamari tubes (cut into rings)

3 or 4 scampi cut in half  (alternatively, Balmain bugs or lobster)

1 x red capsicum cut into long strips

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Method:

If possible, use round paella dish (paellera) with even heat all around, otherwise use a round deep frying pan, or electric frying pan.

1. Add olive oil to pan, add onions, garlic, parsley and tomatoes and make a sofrito, cook for about five minutes.

2. On another frying pan, cook capsicum strips in olive oil until soft (place aside).

3. Steam mussels and bugs for about 4 minutes or until they open (discard any unopened).

4. Add to sofrito calamari and prawns, cook for 3 minutes, add rice and stir, add fish stock and saffron, salt and pepper to taste and lemon juice.

5. Cook rice until soft (usually 20 minutes) do not stir whilst cooking, just shake Paella dish or frying pan from handles, when rice is cooked arrange, mussels and bugs as pictured.

6. Add capsicum strips on top, cover entire Paella with a tea towel and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Serve with a fresh green salad and lemon wedges.

Photos by Adrian Erdedi

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March 14th, 2010

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