A Taste of Spain

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Tonight, my husband and I are supposed to meet a friend at a restaurant called La Fonda Latina. There are several here in Atlanta, and they serve some basic Cuban/Mexican fare. One of my favorite dishes – and what we will probably order tonight – is Paella. Theirs is not a fussy paella, but they do have two kinds: regular and seafood.

The first time I remember having paella was in the best place: Spain. That was in 1985, I think. I really loved it, and had it every chance I got while I was there. Last year, for my 40th birthday (I just turned 41 two days ago…), my mother and friends gave me a party, and my mother prepared a paella recipe from Cooking Light magazine. To make it, she had to borrow the paella pan given to me on another occasion, which I have yet to use myself! I am determined to do so this year! Here is the recipe she used, I think:

Seafood Paella

INGREDIENTS:

Broth:
3 cups water
1 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon saffron threads
2 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice

Herb Blend:
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
2 large garlic cloves, minced

Paella:
1 pound monkfish or other firm white fish fillets
16 unpeeled jumbo shrimp (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, undrained
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups uncooked Arborio rice or other short-grain rice
1 cup frozen green peas
16 littleneck clams
1 (7-ounce) jar sliced pimento, drained
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

INSTRUCTIONS

To prepare broth, combine the first 4 ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

To prepare herb blend, combine parsley and next 4 ingredients (parsley through 2 garlic cloves); set aside.

To prepare paella, trim connective tissue from monkfish; cut into 1-inch pieces. Peel and devein shrimp, leaving tails intact. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large paella pan or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish and shrimp; saute 1 minute (the seafood mixture will not be cooked through).Remove seafood mixture from pan, and keep warm. Add onion and bell pepper to pan, and saute 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, paprika, crushed red pepper, and 3 garlic cloves; cook 5 minutes. Add rice, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in broth, herb blend, and peas. Bring to a low boil, and cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add clams to pan, nestling them into rice mixture. Cook 5 minutes or until shells open; discard any unopened shells. Stir in the seafood mixture, and arrange shrimp, heads down, in rice mixture. Arrange pimento slices spokelike on top of rice mixture; cook 5 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Remove from heat; cover with a towel and let stand 10 minutes.

YIELD: 8 servings (serving size: 1-3/4 cups paella, 2 shrimp, and 2 clams) Calories: 445

I believe that she used mussels, too, since we were trying out these frozen mussels we found at the Buford Highway Farmers Market. I think that they didn’t all open. We’ll use fresh next time! Margaritas were served, mixed expertly by my bestest friend with the expensive tequila, and we had lovely desserts prepared by my favorite French bakery in Marietta called Douceur de France. They were raspberry mousee cakes with charlotte fingers around them, and my mother in law paid for them. My husband picked them up, after having to return home for a check after he was informed that credit cards were not accepted. It was a great party, with my best friend and a college friend flying in for the occasion – yes, I was surprised!

If you are interested in paella, and in Spanish food, check out this page on Martha Stewart.com, where many Spanish recipes, including Paella for 45 people (Leave it to Martha to overdo!) are to be found. I am contemplating that my next party might be paella, because August’s Martha Stewart Magazine had a yummy-looking recipe for sangria made with peaches. Check it out:

Prosecco Sangria

In a pitcher, combine 1 peach, 1 nectarine, and 3 apricots, all pitted and cut into wedges. Stir in 5 ounces peach brandy; let sit at least 1 hour. Stir in 1 750-ml bottle chilled Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine) and 1 cup peach nectar. Add superfine sugar, if desired. Serve chilled. Makes about 2 quarts

Doesn’t that sound super?!! I might substitute cava for the prosecco, since it is a Spanish meal, but I think that the bubbles are lighter in prosecco… There are two recipes on her site, but your are going to have to wait a while until they post the recipes from this month’s issue. I love this variety, because I am not too fond of the traditional apple and grape garnished sangria – although I will drink it in a pinch! šŸ˜‰

As you can see, I am in planning mode! For dessert? Flan, of course! I could serve some olives, manchego cheese slices, sausages, and other tapas – like treats for appetizers, and a salad for the terminally healthy! Okay, when’s the party?!

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