Friday, February 19, 2010

Making The Perfect Seafood Paella

According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, paella is a saffron-flavored dish made with varying combinations of rice, vegetables, meat, chicken and seafood. The Dictionary also explains that in the Old French and Catalan languages, paella means frying pan or pot. The traditional paella pan is flat and of large diameter, it can also have handles on each side.

In fact, paella is one of the most versatile dishes to make. Paella also has the advantage of being great to clean out the fridge and use up leftover meats and vegetables. Any combination will eventually be great the secret is in the chemistry. Paella is a dish that is generally made to feed several people. Moreover, paella is quite flavorful the next day as the tastes have had time to mix together and become stronger.

This article is not a recipe but rather an outline that describes the three basic steps to follow to make a wonderful paella while leaving the reader (the chef!) the latitude to be creative and to make the dish their own by customizing it to their taste.

First the rice.

Select a type of rice that you are comfortable using. Feel free to experiment but know that paella contains a lot of ingredients and if you are unhappy with the end result with a particular type of rice, you might end up with a lot of waste. Basmati, brown or a mix with wild rice can add great taste and texture. Follow the instructions on the package with regards to washing and cooking the rice. Finely chop some onion, garlic and tomato. Heat a saucepan and add olive oil once the saucepan is hot (make sure that the oil does not start smoking. Burnt olive oil is carcinogenic and quite unhealthy). Once the oil is hot, throw in the uncooked rice. Frying uncooked rice gives it a nutty taste. Let the rice fry in the saucepan for a minute or so. Add the chopped onion, garlic and tomato until they soften, mixing constantly. Spice with saffron, salt and pepper. Feel free to experiment. Cumin, Cayenne various fine herbs or even a bit cinnamon or cloves can easily be added for a flavoring of your own. This mixture should not be on the stove for more that three to five minutes. At high heat with constant mixing, none of the ingredients should stick but they should mix well together and soften. Once all the ingredients are combined, remove the saucepan from the burner and mix in some frozen peas. Add enough peas to make a well balanced mixture.

Second the meat.

In a frying pan at high heat, brown some pieces of chicken. Upper thighs, drumsticks,'s all good. Do not cook the meat completely but brown the outside. Once browned, set the meat aside. Lamb can also add great flavor to your paella.

Third combining it all.

Cover the bottom of the paella pan with the uncooked rice mixture. Add the browned chicken pieces on top. Add uncooked Merguez (spicy lamb sausages) and small fish filets rolled up and fastened with a toothpick or string. Use any type of fish but make sure that its flesh will hold well together. Pour some chicken broth on top (if the broth is warm the cooking time will reduce). Note that you can also add wine for more flavor. Cover the paella dish and cook for about 45 minutes at 350F or until the rice is cooked. At this point you can add raw shrimp or muscles and cook uncovered for another five minutes.

In short, the secret to preparing the perfect paella is to make it your own!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Seafood Recipes

Cod Tacos with Salsa
1 cup fresh orange, peeled and segmented
1/2 lb. avocados, peeled and pitted
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
Salt (to taste)

6 Cod Fillets
4 tbs. olive oil
Lemon-pepper seasoning (to taste)
1 oz. fresh lime juice
Corn tortillas

Prepare salsa: cut oranges and avocados into 1/2 inch chunks. Combine with lime juice, onions and cilantro in bowl. Add pepper flakes and salt to taste. For each serving, sauté a cod fillet in 1/2 tablespoon oil; season with lemon-pepper. Sprinkle fillet with 2 teaspoons lime juice. Break cod into chunks.

Spoon cod and approximately 2/3 cup salsa onto a double layer of tortillas. Fold over to serve.

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Asian Grilled Salmon
Salmon Fillets
1 1/2 tbs. brown sugar
2 tsp. butter
2 tbs. Dijon mustard
1 tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. grated ginger
1 tbs. soy sauce

In small saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar. Whisk in Dijon mustard, olive oil, grated gin and soy sauce. Construct a "tray" for salmon fillets out of aluminum foil. Place fillets on aluminum foil, and pour sauce over salmon. Place on grill (medium heat) and cook for approximately 20 minutes.

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Tilapia with Brie & Tomato
Brie & Tomato Pasta
1/4 lb. tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 lb. Brie cheese, cut in 1/2" cubes
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup onions, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Grilled Tilapia
tilapia fillets
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup basil, chopped
1/4 tsp. garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Mix in large bowl: tomatoes, cheese, basil, onions, oil, pine nuts, salt and pepper; cover and set aside.
Cook pasta according to product directions; drain well. Toss hot pasta with tomato/cheese mixture. Mix oil, basil, garlic, salt and pepper until well blended.

Brush oil on fillets and grill or broil until cooked. Serve 1 cup pasta with tilapia.

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Italian Tuna Steaks with Fennel
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced or put through a press
4 small to medium-sized fennel bulbs, thinly sliced salt and freshly ground pepper
tuna steaks (4 to 6 ounces each), about I inch thick
1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
lemon wedges for serving
Serves 4

Heat the olive oil over low heat in a wide lidded skillet and add the garlic. Cook for a few minutes, until the garlic is transparent and the oil fragrant. Add the fennel and salt and pepper to taste, cover, and sweat over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Set aside.

Lightly salt and pepper the tuna steaks and cook in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat for 30 to 45 seconds on each side. Place the steaks on top of the fennel in the other pan. Cover the pan and place over medium heat. Let sweat for about 1 minute, then turn the steaks and cook 1 minute on the other side. Check for doneness by pressing the steaks with your finger. They should be slightly pink in the middle and supple and soft to the touch. Be careful not to overcook or the tuna will be as dry as cotton.

Sprinkle on the parsley and serve with lemon wedges on the side. Leftovers will keep a day in the refrigerator. nl 4/10

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Roast Grouper with Sautéed Mushrooms & Garlic Broth
4, 7 oz. filets of
Black Grouper
1 qt. fish fume
2 tbs. of shallots, chopped
8 oz. mushroom stems
2 bunches of sage
2 bunches flat leaf parsley
8 oz. white wine
2 heads garlic, roasted
4 oz. butter

Serves 4

Sweat shallots, leaks, and mushroom stems in a little butter, add roasted garlic, sage, and parsley.

Sweat further, add white wine. Reduce by 1/2. Strain and place in blender. Add about 4 oz. of butter. Salt and pepper to taste.

Blend and strain. Finish with chopped sage and parsley, place mushroom sauté (oyster shitake and button mushrooms) in center of bowl. Place fish on top.

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Powerful Health Benefits of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids

Adding fats to your diet is essential if you want to live a healthy lifestyle that results in feeling and looking great, but it has to be the right kind of fats. Essential fatty acids fall within this category and are a crucially important addition to anyone's diet.

Omega-3 essential fatty acids are made up of two components: DHA (which stands for docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).

The best source of DHA and EPA are fish, especially salmon, seaweed, shellfish and algae. Furthermore, you can also get omega-3's from unrefined whole grains, dark & leafy greens and certain nuts and seeds like walnuts, flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds. This second group contains ALA (alpha linolenic acid) which your body then converts to EPA and DHA.

Your best bet, however, is to get your omega-3's from seafood because your body converts only about 15 percent of dietary ALA to EPA and much less to DHA.

What do you do if you don't like, and absolutely refuse to eat, seafood? Well, fortunately you can get omega-3's in capsule form. Not everyone's stomach can handle these capsules, but try them out for one month. It's an extremely convenient way to add omega-3's to your diet.

When purchasing omega-3's in pill form, you'll notice some products also contain the other two components of essential fatty acids: omega-6 and omega-9. Stick with the products that contain only high amounts of omega-3's. Most people already get high amounts of these two fatty acids from their diet, and it's this lack of omega-3's that is potentially the culprit behind many health problems today.

When adding omega-3's to your diet through pills, look for 1,000 mg pills and take 3-9 per day with food depending on your current health status and healthy living goals. Your physician should be able to consult with you about this.

So now you have a good introduction into omega-3 fatty acids and the different ways to add them to your diet, but what are the health benefits associated with them?

Plenty! Here's a quick list and you can also easily do some research by searching for "benefits of omega-3" in your favorite search engine.

- stabilizes blood sugar levels and lowers insulin levels
- boosts your immune system
- encourages your body to burn fat and decreases appetite
- improves your mood and attention span - reduce inflammation - improve your skin tone and radiance

If the above doesn't get you excited about this proven, inexpensive and easy-to-get fatty acid supplement, then check your pulse!

It's an addition to your diet that will help improve your health by leaps and bounds.