Love and Romance Around the World, Paella Valenciana

Our journey in Italy continues. We are having a fantastic time with my older brother and our son is beside himself spending time with his cousins and the extended family. Lunch under the terrace for twelve it’s an everyday affaire, a blessing, and we love every seconds of it.

In the mist of this big family group, there is also a chef, Riccardo. Him and I can spend hours talking food. He loves new flavors, blending spices and using new ingredients and he is always looking for a new way to create a new dish for the restaurant he owns, Dixie Duke in Alessandria.

Somehow we got to talk and Paella come up. Next thing I knew all the ingredients were on the kitchen counter in my brother kitchen and the preparation began.

Chopping, roasting, talking, steaming shellfish. The soccer game was on, it’s Italy after all, and Italy was playing. I can only let you imagine the vivid conversation that was taking place while we were in the kitchen and since my brother has an American style kitchen, I had no choice to partake in the game.

Dinner was enjoyed outside under the beautiful Italian sky. Plates being filled, glasses with wine were clinking and laughter could be heard from afar.

Enjoy this wonderful Paella Valenciana. The recipe is for twelve persons and not a kernel of rice was left behind.


paella finished copy


2 pounds or 1 kg rice Arborio or Spanish rice

4 small envelopes of saffron (50 mg)

1 red pepper

1 yellow pepper

¾ pound or 350 gr French strings beans

1 pound or 450 gr baby small peas

1 ½ pound or 700 gr or 1 large chicken breast, skinless and boneless

1 ½ pounds or 700 gr chorizo sausage – mix between hot and mild

¾ pound or 300 gr rabbit

4.5 pounds or 2 kilos mussels

2 pounds or 1 kg clams

10-12 large shrimps

400 gr prawns -scampi or langoustine

6 calamari, fresh, sliced into ½ inch disks, save the tentacles

10.5 cups (84 oz) 2.5 liters’ chicken broth

Olive oil


Preheat the oven to 400° and place the bell peppers in a cookie sheet and roast them for around 35-40 minutes or until the skin is roasted and comes off. When ready, peel the skin off under cold water, remove the inside seeds and cut the pieces into chunks.

roasted bell peppers.copy JPG

Cut in small dices the chicken and rabbit – about 1 inch thick.

chicken adn chorizo copy

Remove the casing from the chorizo sausages and slice into small pieces.

Put clams in cold water and add salt to the water. This process will open them and will clean them. Shake them and toss all the broken pieces.

Remove the brown beard or strings from the mussels and toss all the broken pieces.

mussels.copy JPG

Blanch the green beans in salted water for 5 minutes. Drain and let it set in cold water with ice until ready to use to keep the green color.

De-shell the prawns and leave the tail intact.

Cut the back of the langoustine with scissors.

cutting the langustine copy


In a large skillet add olive oil, couple of tablespoons of water, mussels and steam them covered until the mussels are open. Around 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside.

In a large Paella pan, add olive oil, chorizo pieces, chicken and rabbit. Cook over medium high heat and break down the chorizo with the back of a spoon.

chicken adn chorizo copy

Add the peas and mix well.

Add the calamari, green beans and mix.

Add the rice by forming a cross and spread evenly around the pan by adding the chicken stock.

rice paella copy

Meanwhile in the hot oven, at 400°, place the langoustines in a cookie sheet and cook in the hot oven for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Add the saffron to the rice until the rice is golden yellow. You may want to add more saffron if needed. Mix well and carefully to insure that the mixture will not go overboard.

paella 1 copy

Assemble the dish:

Open 1/3, or 20 pieces, of the mussels and split the half shell and keep the mussels in the other half shell.

Take the other shells, open them, remove the internal mussel and add it to the cooking juice. Add the juice and mussels to the rice pan.

Add he shrimps to the rice mixture.

Place the langoustines around the rice dish as well as the half open mussels.

Place in the warm oven for around 10 minutes or until the rice is dried out.



Honey Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Honey

Summer is officially over. Well almost! When you live in Arizona you never feel as your summer ends.
We have had a fantastic summer and this year we decided to take the summer off to enjoy some great travels and spend as much time with family as possible. With that said we also had a great time eating our way thru our vacation. No guilt eating, is the best!
While home, we made it a point to prepare some new fun dishes in our kitchen as well as some old time favorite recipes.
I will start with this new recipe, “Honey Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Garlic” that I have found in an old magazine long ago. I have modified to our taste and also due to the fact that we were not able to locate some ingredients. Isn’t that the fun of cooking after all? Creating, been adventurous with new flavors and most of all… have fun.
The strong flavor of the garlic and the lemon, required some side dishes that will blend well together while not overpowering each other. Milk peas and lime cilantro rice were just that, perfect side dish. The cumin from the rice blended well with the cilantro in the rice. The pea’s light and tender flavor was the perfect balance between them. Love it and could not get enough of it.
Do not be taken back by mi picture of the Roasted Chicken, the skin got a bit caramelized too much, however the flavor was not just perfect. Juicy chicken breasts, soft caramelized garlic.
A great meal for the whole family that is easy, delicious and a bit different.
Bon Appetit!

Honey Roasted Chicken Breasts with Lemon and Garlic
Milk pears
Lime Cilantro Rice


2 large skin on bone in chicken breasts – about 2 pounds
1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
1 lemon cut into quarters, separate the rind
¼ cup good quality honey
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
10 garlic cloves, crushed and halved

Preheat the oven to 375°.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper and sprinkle cumin both under and on the skin. Carefully tuck 2 quarters of lemon rind under the skin of each breasts. Pour honey under and over the skin of each
Heat a large 10 inch cast iron skillet over medium high heat for a few minutes. Add the oil and the butter to the skillet. When the oil is hot and the butter melted, add the chicken skin side down. Arrange the garlic in the pan so the cloves all make contact with the bottom. Cook for 7 minutes, then turn the chicken, skin side up and transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear, about 25 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the oven, and let the chicken cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Serve the chicken cut off the bone with all the caramelized garlic pieced and the thick sauce underneath it.


¾ teaspoon cornstarch
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 ½ cup frozen peas, thawed
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup half and half
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
½ tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

Mix 1 tablespoon of the butter with the cornstarch and set aside.
In a saucepan set over medium heat, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Add the garlic, and cook until the garlic begins to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the peas and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and cook the peas until they turn bright green, about 1 minute.
Add the half-and half and cook until it bubbles in the center, about 30 seconds.
Add the cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring until the content of the pan thickens and the peas are tender.
Add the lemon zest, parsley and tarragon. Taste for salt and pepper, and adjust if necessary. Serve immediately.
You may want to remove the garlic cloves before serving.


2 cups water
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup Jasmati or long grain white rice
1 teaspoon lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
½ cup chopped cilantro

Bring water to a boil, stir in the butter and rice into water. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.
Stir the lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro into the cooked rice just before serving.

Rice with Dried Cranberries

It feels for ever since my last posting and I notice that I have new recipes that I have made and yet did not post them. I guess time to catch up is here.

Let’s start with a new recipe that I prepared couple of nights ago.  As I was working out with a couple of friends I was offered a sample of Slavosalt to try. An Arizona based company specializing in all natural seasoning. I accepted the sample and started thinking in my head how to use it. As you all know, I do not wonder too far when it comes to seasoning, but this intrigued and I was excited to put it to good use.

Evening is upon us, and the infamous question of what for dinner is lingering in the kitchen. I have great pork chops from my favorite man, Pete, and something needed to be created to go along. Rice has not see my kitchen in a while… and dinner was formulating in my head.

Easy adaptation of one of my dad favorite rice with a twist: rice with dried cranberries and parsley.  Cooking along, time for seasoning was here.  The rice tasted sweet so why not add the new Slavosalt to it and see what happens.  I must say, loved the flavor. Not too powerful on the garlic yet giving the rice the sweet-sour flavor that needed. Great combination and well accepted by my little man.

Decided to season my pork chop as well with it and loved the flavor.  Steamed broccolis where requested and salad for the adults.

Bon Appetit!!


Tonight’s dinner:

Rice with Dried Cranberries
Oven Pork Chops
Steamed Broccolis


½ medium onion finely chopped
½ cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Basmati rice
1 tablespoon Olive oil
Low sodium chicken broth
Place the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and gently sauté them until tender and translucent. Add the cranberries and mix well for a minute. Add the parsley and rice, mix well until all the rice is covered with the oil and blended with the onion mixture.
Add the chicken stock and mix well. Boil the chicken stock down and add as needed to keep the rice moist and cooking.
Taste and season with Slavosalt .
Serve hot.


Soy Glazed Pork Chops

As my passion for cook books continues, my friends are adding to it. At Christmas I received this beautiful book from a friend that she purchased for me during one of her trips in New Orleans. “ Crescent City Cooking” by Susan Spicer is just a wonderful book filled with mouth-watering recipes as well as pictures. Tonight recipe is adapted from her book. 
As I do not eat  too spicy of food, therefore feel free to add more sambal to it as you wish. The marinate is easy to prepare and I had a bit of free time to put it together in the morning while I was fixing breakfast.  However under time constraints, poking the meat with a fork before marinating, will help the flavors to penetrate in the meat.
The pork chops came out as tender as they could be. Nasi goreng rice was the perfect side dish.
Bon Appetit!


Tonight’s March 13, 2013 dinner:

Soy Glazed Pork Chops
Nasi Goreng

4 6 ounces center cut pork chops
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon sambal (chili paste, optional)
Equal parts of: pepper, paprika, ground clove and cinnamon spices
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon oil for cooking
Use paper towel to pat dry the pork. Mix all the other ingredients in a small bowl, except the oil for cooking. Place the pork chops in the bowl, cover them with the marinate and let it marinate at least 30 minutes, up to 12 hours’ time permitting in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 375°.
Use paper towel to pat the pork of any excess marinade.
Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over high heat, add the pork chops and reduce the heat to medium-high.
Seat the pork on both sides, 2 minutes each side, and then baste them with the marinade. Place the pan in the oven.
Cook for about 10 minutes, turning once and basting generously with marinade.
Remove from the oven and tent the pork in aluminum foil until ready to serve.





Olive oil
2 garlic cloves minced
3 ½ cup cooked rice, stir it to remove lumpiness
3 eggs, omelet scramble
Salt and pepper
Ketjap or soya sauce
½ teaspoon finely chopped chili (optional)
1 small carrot, cleaned and cut in small dice
½ cup peas
½ cup thinly sliced cabbage
½ cup water
Prepare the omelet with the scramble eggs and set aside until cool to the touch. Cut in thin slices and set aside
In a wok or large cooking pan over medium heat fry the carrots and the peas with the olive oil until lightly brown.
Add the garlic, the cabbage and water.
Add the cooked rice. Keep stirring until the rice brown lightly.
Add the ketjap or soya sauce and give it another minute.
Remove from heat and add the thin slices of the omelet.
Season with salt and pepper and fry for a few minutes.
Stir and serve.

Prawns with Lemon, Chives Butter Sauce

Peoples have “writer’s block”, last night I had  “kitchen block”. I had absolutely no idea what I was going to make, even less had any suggestions shared with me.  I was on my own with my refrigerator. Luckily for me, Pete at Personal Gourmet Foods keeps my freezer well stacked with all sorts of wonderful meats and fishes, something that I recommend to every one, therefore my quest did not last too long. Prawns were it. A basic shallots, wine, butter sauce with chives, and please do not get scared by the amount of butter, trust me it is worth it, our dinner was prepared rather quickly. Rosemary or tarragon can be a good replacements for the chives. Make sure you taste and decide the amount of flavor you like, tarragon may be too pungent if too much is used.
Start cooking the rice before preparing the prawns as it takes the longest.
I decided to put the sauce on the side for dipping and slightly drizzle over the prawns. Something fun and different and I hope you will enjoy it.

Bon Appetit!!


Tonight’s March 5, 2013 dinner:
Prawns with Lemon, Chives Butter Sauce
Butter Rice

1 pound prawns, shelled and cleaned
Olive oil
¾ cup white wine
3 tablespoons diced shallots
2 tablespoons chopped chives
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
Creole seasoning
Salt and pepper
Rinse the prawns well and season them with Creole seasoning, salt and pepper. In a large skillet heat a tab of olive oil. Sauté the prawns for a couple of minutes to slightly pink, 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove the prawns from the heat and place them in a bowl, cover tight with aluminum foil and set aside.
Return the skillet to the heat and add the wine, shallots and chives.
Cook stirring until the wine is almost evaporated.
Remove the skillet from the heat and add the butter. Swirl to melt and whisk to thoroughly incorporate and the sauce thickens and looks creamy.
Stir in the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately over prawns.

Gorgonzola Risotto with Pork Chop

Something new from my kitchen last nigh: Gorgonzola Risotto. We love risotto, we love gorgonzola, the combination of the two was wonderful.  The recipe was an adaptation from the cookbook “ Gourmet Today”. 

The recipe requires sweet gorgonzola. I had a bit of both in the house last night, I am French and we always have cheese in the house, so I did a test taste.  I split the heavy cream in two and prepared one with sweet gorgonzola and the other with the more pungent gorgonzola. Split the rice at cooking end and added the cheese cream to it. Result: two wonderful flavorful tasting risottos.  I loved the pungent gorgonzola, my personal preference, the rest of the family liked the sweet gorgonzola.

TIP: If using the more pungent gorgonzola make sure that you taste it before seasoning it with salt, as the cheese is already salted.

Perfect side dish to a pork chop from Personal Gourmet Foods, and of course our tireless steamed broccolis.

Bon Appetit!!


Tonight’s February 5, 2013 dinner:

Caprese salad

Gorgonzola Risotto with Pork Chop

Steamed Broccolis


5 cups chicken stock, low sodium

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 ½ cup Arborio rice

1 1/3 cup heavy cream

6 ounces Gorgonzola, dolce (sweet and creamy)

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ cup finely grated Pamigiano-Reggiano

Bring stock to a simmer until warm. Meanwhile in a 4-5 quart heavy pot, heat 2 tablespoons of butter and oil over high heat until foam subsides.

Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes.

Add all the stock to the rice and cook, stirring frequently to prevent rive to stick, 15 minutes.

In the stock pan just used, add the heavy cream and the Gorgonzola and over low heat stir until all the cheese is melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

When rice has cooked add the cream sauce and simmer, stirring until the sauce is absorbed and the rice is tender, and the risotto is thickened.

Remove from heat, fluff with a fork and add the Parmigiano, the remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Mix well and serve immediately.

Champagne Rice

Happy Halloween Everyone!!

Rice is so much fun to prepare.  I had half of a bottle of Champagne in the refrigerator and, as we all know, no matter how we do, the bubbles have tendency to subside after a couple of days. When preparing rice I always put a bit of white wine or champagne with the onions and bacon, why not prepare the whole rice dish with it? The result was a very pleasant combination.  Taste before seasoning would be my only advise while preparing this dish. I did not add any salt to it.

Bon Appetit!!


Tonight’s October 31, 2012 Dinner:

Champagne Rice with New York Steak
 Steamed Broccolis
Ice Cream


Long grain rice

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

½ onion, thinly sliced and chopped

4 slabs of bacon cut in small slices

2 cups champagne

Chicken broth, sodium free or water

Salt and pepper

In a heavy bottom pan melt the butter and add the onions. Cook for about 3 minutes and add the bacon.

Cook until the onions are translucent and the bacon is starting to crisp up.

Add a 1/3 cup of champagne to the pan and let it cook for a minute.

Add the rice, stir well until all the liquid is absorbed by the rice.

Add the remaining champagne, stirring and insuring it will not overspill as it may do to the effervescence of the champagne.

Lower the heat, semi-cover with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally and add chicken stock if becomes too dry.

Season with salt and pepper.

Cook another 10 to 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked to desired doneness.