Paella and the Celebration of a life

The Paella

Today's recipe is: Paella
One would think that living on a farm with your nearest neigbour almost a kilometer away would be “oh so boring”, but this is so not the case in the south west of France. We have to fight for a night in, in front of the telly. And this last week has been no exception - in fact the last 3 months have been no exception. We’ve had visitors or been out 9 times in the last 2 weeks!! I need some time to lie on the sofa, I mean, write this blog, for goodness sake. Well, that’s it. This week I’m here to stay and finally post some (hopefully) interesting stories and recipes. Just have to answer the phone quickly and I’ll be right back………….

That was Krista and Reinhardt who have just arrived from Germany for the Easter holidays to invite us for coffee and cake this afternoon. And it seems that their satellite dish got damaged in the hurricane we had at the end of January and there’s a very important soccer/football match on TV tomorrow night so I have invited them for a “Supper ‘n Soccer” evening….come on, that’s what good neighbours do! And Sally sent an email that it’s Girl’s Day Out in the big city on Wednesday which one CANNOT miss. Where do people find time for real jobs?!?!

Saturday night we went to a Celebration party in remembrance of a friend who sadly passed away far too young, a year ago. David had a wicked sense of humour and definitely would have wanted this Celebration rather than something more formal. We “did him proud” and had good fun in his honour.

Anne David

As you get to know me, you will discover that I have a mouth that operates without actually needing any operation of the brain. I personally wish the two would work together and had hoped that possibly the one advantage of getting older would be getting wiser, but alas, this is not to be. David would pick up on all the mindless things I say and not let me forget them. For instance, the reason his wife is called “Fatty Stinky Donkey Poo” goes like this….

On one of the first occasions I met Ann and David, we were discussing my never-ending battle-of-the-bulge and my next new diet. Ann mentioned that she too would like to diet and I said,
“You can’t go on a diet, because I don’t want to be the only fat person…..”

No, I’m not joking. I actually said this. It was out before I could stop the words. David fell about laughing while I desperately tried apologizing and reassuring her that I absolutely don’t think she’s fat, without actually making it way worse. I went by the next day (to take my picture off the dartboard) to grovel a little more, and as I walked in the door, all 7 of her puppies pooped on the floor. She had just given them de-worming stuff and it really worked a treat! And considering that “Ane” is donkey in France, Ann got christened “Fatty Stinky Donkey Poo”.

But back to Saturday night and The Paella. Ann had catered for 100 people and the paella pan was the size of a pool table. I should have taken a photo, but after kissing my way through 70 people and finding a spot at a table, the entertainment had started and I forgot. One had been asked to bring a salad or a dessert and the salad buffet was superb. Soon as I’ve gotten hold of some of the other guests, I will give you recipes for two couscous salads and a sweetcorn crab salad which was very different and good. And later on, the dessert buffet was great too with, amongst other things, chocolate tarts, tiramisu and a Swiss roll made with nuts, orange zest and white chocolate (recipe to follow soon).

The paella was very good, especially considering the quantity. The unfortunate part was that the caterer had misjudged the quantity of liquid and the food was 2 hours late. I know what that is like. 70 guests, the foods not ready and no matter how hard you will it to, it still doesn’t cook any faster. He used saffron powder instead of saffron threads, which does lessen the flavour and just a little too much salt – hey, I’m a blogger and am allowed to split hairs!! There was loads of seafood, chicken and pork in the paella, as well as red and green peppers/capsicums, peas and tomatoes. A joy to the eye and the palate as you can see in the photo up top. Living a mere hour from Spain does mean that we regularly go over for lunch and (if I have my way) paella. They tend to use the spicy chorizo sausage as well, an addition which I adore.

Every region of Spain has its own version of Paella and I have no shortage of recipes either so here is one for you to try. You can either use the traditional 2 handled paella pan or any frying pan big enough to hold everything works just as well.

60ml (1/4 cup) sunflower oil
1 – 1 ½ kg chicken pieces
500g pork pieces, preferably on the bone
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 EACH green and red pepper/capsicum, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
2,5ml (1/2 tsp) saffron threads OR powder soaked in 30ml (2 tbsp) white wine OR stock
250ml (1 cup) white wine OR stock
750ml rice, preferably Arborio rice
1,75lt (7 cups) heated chicken OR fish stock
5 tomatoes quartered OR 1x410g can of tomatoes, chopped
1 chorizo (or other spicy) sausage, sliced
20 large prawns
20 mussels in their shells or out
250ml peas, fresh, frozen or tinned

Heat the oil in your chosen pan and brown the chicken and pork, then add the onions, garlic and peppers/capsicums and sauté for a few minutes.
Add the saffron and its liquid, the salt and pepper, and the wine (or same quantity of stock) and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the meats are almost done.
Add the rice and the stock and simmer for 20 minutes more, adding more stock if necessary, until the rice is almost done.
Then add the tomatoes, sausage, seafood and peas and simmer for another 10 minutes, again adding more stock if necessary.
In Spain and France, you serve it with baguette to mop up the juices at the end.
Serves 10-12.

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