Friday, November 1, 2013

An authentic paella for two, after cooking lessons in Barcelona


Tonight, in Manila living a Travelife, someone came over for dinner.

So I decided to make an authentic Spanish meal, with a British dessert to end.

Last month in Barcelona, you see, I'd taken the time to take private lessons in Spanish cooking with a very well-regarded Catalan chef.

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A HYBRID OF A PAELLA

Since then, I'd been hankering to try a revised version of my paella and his paella -- meaning, to keep on doing my style of paella, but with some add-ons in technique based on what I had learned from this Catalan chef.

Unfortunately, after returning from Spain, I had less than two very busy weeks in Manila, and then it was back on a plane for a very nice holiday in Tanzania.



WATCH OUT FOR OUR WONDERFUL TANZANIA STORIES
in the Dec 2013 - Jan 2014 issue and onwards


So I'd not been able to truly put my Spanish cooking lessons to good use until tonight.

A long holiday and a receptive and hungry audience of one was good enough an excuse to lay out the works.

GOODIES FROM SPAIN



I opened one of my precious vaccum-packed Joselito ham packages from Barcelona.

I usually buy an entire leg, but this time I realized it's better to have the jamon store slice out the jamon and then vaccum pack everything into serving portions.

This way, you don't have problems properly storing something as precious as Joselito ham.

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ADDICTED TO BREAD AND TOMATOES

I also did a quick pan con tomate -- meaning crusty bread rubbed with garlic and juicy tomatoes.

I never liked this on previous trips to Spain. But after doing it myself during this Spanish cooking class in Barcelona last month, I literally became addicted to pan con tomate.


The secret is in getting very good bread, tomatoes and olive oil.

I also made a spicy gazpacho and, of course, the paella.

A REAL DEAL OF A PAELLA


Suitably inspired to cook because of the holiday today, I made the paella from scratch.

I made a soup stock from fish, vegetables, and shrimp heads, which I crushed with a mortar and pestle for more flavor.



The saffron I'd brought back from Spain also went under the mortar and pestle.

SWEET ENDINGS

For dessert, I made sticky toffee pudding, just because I'd been hankering for it myself.

I won't bore you with the details except for the paella.

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Everything was very good, but it was honestly quite easy to make.

However, the paella from scratch was a bit of a labor of love.

PANS OF ALL SIZES



In Spain, I'd bought paella pans of all sizes so I could make paella for any number of people -- from two persons to 12 or 14 persons.

Tonight I made a paella for two.

I cooked everything on the stove, and then I finished it off in the oven so that the entire plate would cook evenly.





THE GUEST'S IMPRESSED

The Dinner Guest was terribly impressed.

He had four servings -- so either he was being very nice, he was very hungry, or he really liked the food. I like to think it's the latter.

We downed everything with champagne.



Midway, he even asked me to reheat the paella to get the burnt rice underneath. I really usually do this midway, anyway, as lots of people really like that burnt rice.

The sticky toffee pudding was fantastic as well. I was so happy with my efforts.

But that's another story for another time in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.

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