Monday, March 27, 2017

How to make an elegant Paella in six steps

Today is National Paella Day and I decided to celebrate it with a large pan of seafood paella. Paella is a versatile dish that contains seafood (shrimp and mussels), chicken and rice; they are all mixed with a cooking base which looks like a thicker soup broth with vegetables and spices added. Paella has saffron; as it is already included in the Aneto Seafood Paella base, I didn't need to add any more.

Here are the six easy steps to make an elegant paella with very few ingredients. 

You will need:

1 cup Matiz Paella Rice
1 container of  Aneto Seafood Paella base
2 bell peppers (or vegetables of your choice cut in small pieces)
1 pound of shrimp
1-2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper (if you wish)

Step 1
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a paella pan and let it cook for 3 minutes

Step 2
Add the Aneto base, let it come to a boil

Step 3
Add the rice and let it boil for a few minutes, then turn it down to medium heat

Step 4
Add the shrimp and peppers. Let them cook in medium heat for 20 minutes 

Step 5.
Let it cool for 10 minutes. 

Step 6
Serve in plates and enjoy!

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Trader Joe's crazy love with pumpkin

During my last visit at Trader Joe’s a couple of weeks ago, I walked by a massive basket of pumpkins that seemed to be fresh  and good looking. When I entered the door, just across me was the new gluten free pumpkin cereal sitting just next to the pumpkin jam. While shopping at the store for my TJ's favorites, I counted over 30 items that feature pumpkin in any shape, flavor or form and some of them were: Pumpkin Spice Granola Bark, Petite Pumpkin Spice Cookies, Sticky Pumpkin Cake with Hard Sauce, Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds & Walnuts, Pumpkin Spice Scone Mix with Maple Flavored Icing, Pumpkin Soup Crackers, Pumpkin Panettone (sic), Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter, Assorted Belgian Chocolate Pumpkins, Pumpkin tortilla chips, Pumpkin seed brittle, Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Baking Mix, Pumpkin Pancake Mix and many more! I am not sure if these products are still available, some are definitely there on the TJ’s shelves, others have gone.

This obsession with pumpkin this time of the year is insane. Not only because I don’t like it but because it does not pair well with everything. Making pumpkin the quintessential ingredient is rather unnecessary. Enjoy a slice of pumpkin spice cookie or a pumpkin latte and stay there. Do you really need the pumpkin soup crackers or the pumpkin panettone?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

What to eat at the Washington's State Fair

State Fairs are known for their greasy, fried and unhealthy foods together with the fun rides, silly toys and animal shows. You still have nearly a week to visit the Fair at Puyallup and here are my suggestions on what tasty but bad for your cholesterol foods you should try even if you have a couple of hours.
Bypass please the healthy option of the gluten and bun free meals, low fat and low calorie –you will get them later when you return in you kitchen.

Start with a treat at the quintessential sweet snack place- Fisher’s for a jam scone. The line will be long but this must-eat at the Fair is worth it. This small, yellowish pastry filled with raspberry jam and coated with whipped butter is the Fair’s favorite for both kids and grown-ups alike. As you can’t find them easily in any bakery in the city, get stuffed or buy the baking mix and make them at home. There are a few Fisher stands in various locations so you won’t miss it.

Cotton candy is also a ubiquitous sugary treat in an array of colors so go for it if this is your thing.

A bowl of fried onion and curly fries are two of the signature foods at the Fair. The curly fries come in a huge plate and look glued together which makes them funny looking. Be ready to share with friends and family because the portion is huge and you will need help. The beer batter fried onion rings come handy in a smaller portion and are really tasty. You get those dishes pretty much everywhere at the Fair so keep your eyes open.

Continue with more exotic foods and maybe put some spice on your palate
This year the Fair brought exotic meats at the Burgers and Exotic Meats stand. If you are brave enough, go for an alligator burger or rabbit and python sausage. If strange animal foods is not your cup of tea, go for at the beef lumpia at the Fried Rolls stand, a type of spring roll eaten in Philippines and Indonesia. My lumpia came with spicy mayo, salsa and a sweet vinegar dip that was delicious and paired perfectly the greasiness of the roll.

My favorite of all was the Nashville hot chicken that comes with fries and pickles. This fried, amazingly spicy and crunchy chicken goes down fast with the ketchup dipped potatoes. Hands up to Nashville people who invented it and made it a national trend.

Finally, close the day with an elephant ear, another timeless Fair favorite. Watch how they make it at the Elephant Ears stand. Yes, it is dipped fried, then buttered and topped with sugar and cinnamon and jam on the other side if you want. But it is so warm and comfort-y that you will ask for seconds.

Now the only thing missing is an oversized coca cola drink with an oversized  straw. Who says that the Fair should be healthy?

Check out foods at the Washington State Fair here:

Friday, July 22, 2016

My Fat Dad: a new food memoir, recipe and giveaway

There are numerous cookbook and diet books arriving at bookstore shelves every day featuring regional and national cooking traditions, easy-to-make recipes well packaged with large colorful photos. Weight loss books describe specific diets and all the benefits that can come by following them. Despite the number of culinary books that I have read and reviewed, I haven’t really found a book that is so revealing and personal about the relationship between food, a daughter and her father.

My Fat Dad: A Memoir of Food,Love, and Family, with Recipes has a clear and descriptive title but it goes beyond that. In a series of chapters taken out of her childhood, Dawn Lerman talks about her father’s serious weight problems, the serial diets he used to be on and off, her appetizing relationship with her grandmother and adds amazing and unique recipes for the readers to try. In this fast-paced, moving personal story, only healthy food and love are the winners.

As one of the food bloggers taking part in  My Fat Dad: A Memoir of Food,Love, and Family, with Recipes blog tour, I chose the Sweet Potato Hummus as it is a paleo-friendly recipe and super easy to make:

Sweet Potato Hummus
Yields: 6 servings

1 large sweet potato (about 9 ounces)
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
5 tablespoons olive oil (plus additional, as needed, for thinning)
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch of nutmeg

Position the baking rack in the middle and heat oven to 425 degrees. Wrap the sweet potato in foil and bake in shallow baking pan until it can be easily pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow the potato to cool completely. Peel the skin off the sweet potato and transfer to a food processor fitted with a blade. Add the chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, coriander, cumin, salt, and nutmeg, and process until smooth. If the hummus is too thick, add a little extra olive oil, or water and process until the desired consistency is reached.

Reprinted from My Fat Dad: A Memoir of Food, Love, Family, and Recipes, by Dawn Lerman, Berkley Books, 2015. Find more about the author here:

Giveaway for US readers only! Write a comment why you should get this freebie and you are automatically entered. I will only need your name and email address. The winner will be announced on Monday July 25th. Good luck!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Cooking with the Muse

Cooking with the Muse is a new book by Myra Kornfeld and Stephen Massimila. This 500-page cookbook that features 150 recipes, 200 photos , numerous  culinary poems and easy to read essays about the history of food –all meet together to educate, entertain and provoke all five senses.

The one-of-a-kind cookbook is divided in main four chapters, each corresponding to a season. Each recipe is paired with a poem, followed by the poet’s note at the end. We can’t tell if the recipe is inspired by the poem or the poem by the recipe but it does not really matter. The outcome is a pleasing pairing of food for the stomach and food for the brain with the poet’s comments adding extra historic facts about the ingredients, the dish or the poetry. In its introductory pages, you will find a detailed presentation of food and poetry throughout the centuries, from the Ancient Greeks to Modern Americans, a chapter detailing the ingredients used and  cooking techniques and foundation recipes.  The  book closes with a glossary, plenty of resources and an extended bibliography.

In Autumn, corn, pumpkin, squash and apples are celebrated as well as seasonal holidays like Halloween. The was intrigued by the essay  On Corn: Of American Gods and People and the well-thought pages on John Keats’s The Autumn. My favorite recipe of Autumn?
The massaged "halloween" kale salad with party mix and roasted delicate squash and this is the poem I picked, a Halloween haiku by Massimilla himself:
Carving crack-toothed grins
Heaven-scent of orange flesh.
The cat climbs in to feast.

The Winter chapter features healthy dishes like oatmeal and French toast for breakfast, potatoes, roasted vegetables, pies, and stews as well as Moroccan dishes like harira and some sugary desserts. The notable essay on  On Keats’s The Eve of St. Agnes: A Moroccan Feast will travel you to the country of exotic spices while preparing my favorite recipe, the celery root puree.
Chosen poem for the Winter:
Yam by Bruce Guernsey
The potato that ate all its carrots,
Can see in the dark like a mole,
Its eyes the scars
From centuries of shovels, tines.
May spelled backwards
because it hates the light,
pawing its way, padding along,
there in the catacombs

Spring is an ode to artichokes, onions, greens, asparagus and peas and that of British favorite, the rhubarb. Spring welcomes you with the On Robert Frost’s Putting in the Seed essay that is refreshing and sweet. My favorite recipe of the chapter is the innovative pea cakes with sesame crust
And my chosen short poem by Enrico Caruso
Artichoke? It’s a good food. You eat, you drink,
You wash your face

Finally, here comes the Summer, with salads, fresh fruits, fresh fish and ceviche. I recommend the On Robert Frost’s  Blueberries essay that will bring the summer in your kitchen. The cherry-ripe almond smoothie will be my favorite and easy-to-make recipe. Just make it when you read the Cherry-ripe by Robert Herrick
Cherry-Ripe! ripe! ripe! I cry,
Full and fair ones, come and buy:
If so be, ask me where
They do grow? I answer, “There,
Where my Julia’s lips do smile;
There’s the land, or cherry isle,
Whose plantations fully show
All the year, where Cherries grow!”

This gargantuan effort to pair recipes, photos and poetry together with culinary history is a treasure that needs to be added to everybody’s bookshelf. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Savory Yogurt from Fage

Savory yogurt is getting fast into the American market. We first saw the carrot, sweet potato and beet flavors from Blue Hill; then it came Sohha selling yogurt with poppy seeds, pine nuts and sesame from their store in New York's Chelsea Market; other companies like Chobani tried to bring some flavors of saltiness in their fruit yogurt line by adding Chipotle Pineapple and Sriracha Mango Flip. And Pret A Manger, the British sandwich chain added curry yogurt sauces to their sandwich line.

Fage, the Greek dairy product company with a significant presence in the US, launched just a few weeks ago its savory Greek yogurt line under the name Crossovers that comes in four distinctive flavors:

Carrot ginger with pistachios
Tomato Basil with almonds
Olive Thyme with almonds
and Coconut Curry with Cashews

I tried them all and they taste great if you like savory flavors in your creamy, strained Greek yogurt. I don't have a favorite yet but I need to do a second round of tastings. The said to be chef-level snacking is indeed true!

Thursday, May 05, 2016

The Texan Signature Rosé from Llano Estacado

Very few people from the West Coast know the wines from Texas and even less have tried them. I first found out about this one-of-a-kind wine region when I was traveling cross-country from New York City to Los Angeles via I5. A stop at the Hill Country Wineries was a pleasant surprise- I liked most of the wines and the warmth of the people.

I recently received the 2014 Signature Rosé from Llano Estacado, located in the Panhandle region. I consumed it in a record high temperature day -87 F on May 2nd in Seattle - in Lincoln Park. It was the perfect day for the delicate, aromatic and refreshing roséa blend of Mourvedre, Cinsault and Grenache. As it was a last minute decision, it was only paired with lentil and veggie chips and raw pizza crackers that turned to be a delicious pairing. But if you have more time, prepare a salad or fish tacos!

The wine is available online here: