Saturday, July 27, 2013

Paella Valenciana

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
This is my second paella recipe on the blog. Inspired by my friend's exploits while in graduate school in Barcelona, I suddenly had the craving for authentic paella. While trying to create a version that will satisfy somebody who has tasted the real deal in Spain, there was a bit of pressure on making sure that I cook this dish right. I found a recipe online claiming to be an authentic version of the paella in Valencia and two things were a big issue from the get go. One, where do I find edible snails? Second, where do I find rabbit meat? The answer, do away with both and just use chicken. 

The last time I made paella, I finished the cooking process in the oven but since I'm going for an authentic version, I want to cook everything in my aluminum wok hoping against all hope that the rice will come out perfectly cooked. It will be a challenge as I have not dared to do this before although I have seen it done a number of times by my Mom when she used to make the Filipino version of paella. The trick is to use the lowest setting of your burner and make sure that the top is covered well to allow the proper steaming of the rice. Overall, I made this dish in just under two hours and well, it was amazing. 

Paella Valenciana - Adapted*

2 lbs chicken thighs, skinned
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 onions, diced
4 tomatoes, diced
1tbsp safflower petals
1 tbsp Spanish paprika
1 14-oz white beans, canned
1 14-oz brown beans, canned
1/2 lb green beans, edges trimmed and cut into 1-inch dice
1 green pepper, cored and diced
salt and pepper
1 tsp rosemary, dried
8 - 10 cups chicken broth
4 cups short grained rice
4 tbsp olive oil + more for drizzling

1. In a large heavy wok, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Season the
    chicken pieces with salt and pepper and fry until browned on both sides. 
    Set aside. 

2. In the same wok, saute the garlic and onions. Season with salt and pepper 
    and cook until softened. 

3. Add the safflower petals, rosemary and the paprika and cook for 30 
    seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook for another minute. 

4. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil. Return the chicken pieces and lower 
    the flame to medium heat. Cook for ten minutes. 

5. Add the green pepper, the green beans and the rice and stir well. If 
    needed, add more broth. 

6. Spoon in the brown and white beans and combine well. Cook until almost 
    all the liquid has evaporated. 

7. Flatten the paella and drizzle with olive oil all over and cover with 
    aluminum foil. Secure the foil with a heavy pot cover and lower the heat to
    the lowest setting to allow the paella to cook until the rice is tender. 

8. Serve in the cooking wok with lemon wedges. 

*Paella Valenciana of Restaurante Galbis.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Pesto Burger

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
I have been basil crazy the last few weeks after having had a taste of Afrique's pesto burger. I decided to look for a recipe of a pesto burger that would rival what I considered was a pretty good burger but with a bit more of a gourmet touch. Enter this turkey burger flavored with pesto sauce and topped with more basil leaves. The final touch which was a drizzling of balsamic vinegar sold me within seconds before even reading the entire recipe. It got me excited and intrigued at the same time. 

I made the real deal a few weeks ago and was excited to take a picture and then, the blackout. To recreate the burger, I had to redo it again. Unfortunately, there were no basil leaves sold in my local grocery stores so I ended up using store-bought pesto. I also had to use organic lettuce leaves instead of fresh basil leaves again due to unavailability. However, if you have access to basil leaves, use them. Lettuce leaves pale in comparison to basil leaves when paired with this burger. Also, make your own pesto sauce. It really makes a big difference. 

Pesto Burger - Adapted*

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1/2 cup pesto sauce
salt and pepper
tomato slices
basil leaves
Gouda cheese, sliced thinly
balsamic vinegar
pesto mayonnaise

1.In a large bowl, add the ground beef and pork with the pesto sauce and 
   season with salt and pepper. With your hands, mix it until just combined. 
   Do not overmix. 

2. Divide the mixture into 10-12 portions and shape the patties. Set aside.

3. In a skillet over medium high heat, cook the patties for about 4 minutes 
    on one side before turning them over and cooking for another two 
    minutes. Top with a slice of Gouda cheese and as soon as the cheese 
    melts, scoop them out of the pan. Cook the rest of the patties. 

4. To assemble the sandwich, mix equal amounts of mayonnaise and pesto 
    sauce and apply a thin spread on the burger buns. Lay one patty on the 
    lower bun and top with a slice of tomato and a layer of fresh basil leaves. 
    Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and cap with the top half of the bun. 

5. Serve immediately with cold beer or your soda of choice. 

*Turkey Pesto Burger: Confections of a Foodie Bride.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Chicken with Lentils

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
The recipe is a take on Nigella Lawson's recipe of poached chicken with lentils and tested by Jennifer Bain of the Toronto Star. I took it a little further and infused it with a hint of Morocco while taking a small turn towards the Indian continent. Lentils was my go-to substitute for mung bean while still living in the US. Although usually cooked until just tender, I would normally cook it until it is very mushy which is also how I like to cook my mung bean in a stew. However, I have also come to appreciate lentils as they are when I prepare Indian food and I do adhere to the proper way of cooking them which is almost al dente

Although it started out as a light fare, I pumped up the flavors by marinating the chicken in harissa. Frying the chicken until browned brought out the flavors of the marinade which was both spicy and sweet . I also used cilantro to finish the dish giving it a pungent aromatic scent which I do like since I'm not too partial on mint leaves that the original recipe called for. Overall, this was a successful experiment and between the five of us who partook of the dish, we lopped it up until we were full to the brim. Undo my belt please, I'm too full! 

Chicken with Lentils

2 lbs chicken cut up
1/4 cup harissa
1 lemon
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, diced
2 medium-sized carrots, diced
1/2 lb bacon
1 cup French green lentils
4 cups chicken broth
1 tsp mustard powder
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
4 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper

1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add the harissa. Zest the 
    lemon and cut in half. Juice the lemon halves and remove the seeds. Add 
    the zest and the juice to the chicken. Mix well and allow to marinate for 
    an hour. 

2.  Brown the bacon in a large pan over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to 
     a plate and set aside. 

3. Add the oil to the bacon fat and increase the heat to medium high. Brown 
    the chicken pieces. Do this in batches. Transfer the chicken pieces to a 
    plate and set aside. 

4. In the same pan, saute the garlic and onions and season with salt and 
    pepper. Cook until just softened. 

5. Add the mustard powder and the lentils and mix well. Return the chicken 
    pieces into the pan and add the broth. Stir to mix. Bring to a boil and 
    cover. Cook for 10 minutes. 

6. Lower the heat to low and bring the pan to a simmer. Check occasionally 
    and stir to make sure the lentils do not stick to the pan. Cook for another
    10 minutes. 

7. Add the diced carrots and check the stew for flavor. Adjust when 
    necessary. Add more water if it gets a bit thick. Cook until the lentils are 
    tender but still hold their shape.

8. To finish the dish, slice the bacon into smaller pieces and add them to the 
    stew. Check for flavor one last time and adjust accordingly. Stir in the 
    chopped parsley and cilantro just before serving.