In my 8/30 In the Kitchen column in the Princeton Packet, I (a) confess that I have always been disappointed by paella (even in Spain), (b) tell where it is I finally encountered a version I can get behind (hint: Princeton), and (c) share a recipe for same.
Click here and all will be revealed. And here’s the recipe:
Courtesy of Spain GourmeTour magazine, via www.tienda.com (Directions adapted and expanded)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 roasted piquillo peppers, coarsely chopped if whole
1 large Bermuda or Vidalia onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
1-1/2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika (Pimenton de la Vera)
5 to 10 strands of saffron
1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into large cubes
4 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1-1/2 cups short-grain Spanish rice, such as bomba or calasparra
3 cups vegetable stock, heated and kept warm
Finely minced parsley
- In a 13-inch paella pan heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the piquillo peppers, onion, and bell peppers. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the onion is translucent (but not browned).
- Add the garlic, smoked paprika, saffron, zucchini, and tomatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a simmer, and simmer for 10 minutes more.
- Stir in the rice and warmed stock, raise the heat, and bring to a boil. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper if needed. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until most of the stock is absorbed. While paella is simmering, heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cover pan with aluminum foil, place in heated oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.
- To serve, sprinkle with parsley and decorate with lemon wedges.
Wonderfully Funky Thai Meal in Berkeley
Actually, the meal itself wasn’t funky, but the setting delightfully so. Berkeley Thai Temple Brunch (or Lunch), as it is colloquially tagged, takes place from 10 am to 1 pm every Sunday in the backyard of the Wat Mongkolratanaram Buddhist temple, which is located in a residential area of South Berkeley.
The fare, made by temple volunteers, consists of familiar Thai restaurant dishes like pad Thai; red, yellow, and green curries; beef noodle soup, fried chicken, tofu, etc. All are more akin to homemade than commercial, and are uncommonly fresh, delicious, and inexpensive.
Which is why folks line up well in advance of the 10 am start and why the 200 seats at plastic picnic tables and metal folding chairs fill up fast.
The system is quirky. The Religious do not handle money, so you trade in your cash (credit cards not accepted) for silver-colored tokens worth $1 each. Our group of 4 bought $40 worth and wound up not using them all. (You can trade them in for a refund or donate the surplus to the temple.)
You stand in one of several lines – long, but they move quickly and are made up of friendly, laid-back folk (this is Berkeley after all) – and order from what is almost too many options, including many vegetarian ones. They allow mixing and matching, so we shared one plate loaded with Panang curry, chicken with cashews, and mixed vegetables, and another divided between pad Thai, yellow chicken curry, and pork. Here are massive Vietnamese-style summer rolls filled with tons of fresh mint, shrimp, and shredded carrot:
We topped our meal off with not-to-be-missed mango sticky rice (with coconut custard and both white and purple rice) and Thai iced coffee and iced tea.
Nature Conservancy‘s “Nature’s Plate” Restaurant Contest Comes to the Garden State
Which restaurant do you consider to be our state’s greenest, most eco-friendly dining destination? With the tastiest, most health-conscious food? The Nature Conservancy is betting that it’s one that uses fresh, locally grown and raised ingredients from our state’s fields, pastures, orchards, vineyards, and waterways.
From September 3rd through the 16th, you can nominate your choice. Voting begins on October 1, and winners in 19 states will be announced on October 17.
The NJ “Nature’s Plate” winning eatery will be promoted to Nature Conservancy members throughout the state and nation, and will receive an award plaque, public relations support, and more. And one lucky voter in the finalist round will be picked at random to receive a $100 gift certificate to the winning restaurant. That could be you! To nominate your favorite, visit www.nature.org/naturesplateNJ