Saturday, August 22, 2009

Traditional Spanish Paella

Paella is a best loved signature dish of Spain. There are many different variations of Paella, but all are centered around what is readily fresh and available. Paella has a very humble origin as a poor man's meal, but we know that it is so much more than that.

The name paella comes from the special kind of iron pan that is used to cook it. The traditional paella pan often made of cast iron, and is round and shallow with handles at each end.Even if you do not have a traditional paella pan, you can still make delicious paella with the cooking utensils you have available.

Once rice was commonly used in Spain, peasants were known to have made rice dishes with locally grown ingredients such as onion and tomato. On special occasions, or at times when meat or chicken was available, it would be added to the rice dish.This typical Valencian rice dish eventually came to be known as paella valenciana.

Traditionally, paella is a family dish, intended to be shared at a big Sunday gathering. The ideal paella is often cooked over an open fire, although most of us today settle for the kitchen stove with adequate results. In Spain, grandmothers can still be found making it in the back garden for the family on a special occasion.

Each geographic region of Spain has it's own characteristic way of doing paella, so depending on your flavor preferences you kind find the paella that is just right for you. You can emphasize meat, seafood, or a little bit of everything. The most important factor is the enjoyment.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pasta e Fagioli

One of the most popular and traditional plates in Italy, you can find it pretty much in every region. The obvious variable is the primary ingredient. Beans. This precious vegetable came to Europe in the 16th century with the return of European colonizers from the Americas. Fresh beans are not always easy to find, but some farmers market might easily carry them when they are in season. The following video will explain step by step how to make this delicious and simple soup. Do no forget a little sprinkle of oil of olive before serving.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer Minestrone

When most of us think of minestrone, we envision the hearty soup of fall and winter. This is a summer minestrone that is actually very fresh, light, and easy to make. We should never be afraid of soup in the summer, as it is often the time when we get the best fresh vegetables.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 small carrots, finely chopped
2 zuchhine, finely chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 basket cherry tomatoes cut into quarters
32 oz. vegetable broth or stock
salt to taste

serves about 4

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and carrot. When they begin to soften, add the zucchine, tomato, and peas. Saute for 5 to 10 minutes, until vegetables begin to become soft and slightly golden in color. Salt to tasts.
Add broth to vegetable mixture and bring to a boil, then let the soup simmer for about 10-15 minutes. According to the consistency you prefer, you can add some water to the soup to thin it out. A boullion cube can also be added for additional flavor.
Soup is ready to be served. It is well accompanied by a nice baguette, or some croutons or crostini if you like.

Nothing could be simpler, so ENJOY!!!

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