Olga of Las Cosas de Olga and Olga’s Recipes is our hostess for this month’s Daring Cooks Challenge. I was excited to see that she chose one of Jose Andres’ recipes, for the obvious reasons. He is Jose, and because we love all the cuisine from this part of the world.
August has been a very busy month for us, so I was not sure when I would get a chance to make this dish at home. Now when I say busy, I am really not even sure why I am staying busy. Work is terribly slow, reminds me of 6 years ago when we started the company, never the less, we are busy trying to get busy. I guess you could really say, the past few months have been challenging for us. We are in the process of making decisions about work, where to live and basically the next step in our lives – BIG! Anyhow, while we have this extra downtime (not working a whole heck of a lot), we have been taking a long weekend, to head to the mountains to camping, regroup and to enjoy some warmth. You see … San Francisco is not the city to be in if you love warm summers. Anyhow, I knew or at least I hoped this recipe would be perfect for one of our weekend excursions……
We planned this cookout according to a “group” camp weekend up in Tuolumne. We are very adventurous with our camp cookery but we have never made anything remotely like Paella. This would be a challenge – may be!
We checked into our bear equipped camp late last Friday, yes, I said bear equipped. As mentioned this was supposed to be a “group” camp weekend, so we had to check in with a ranger, who proceeded to tell us Smoky and the gang had just waltzed through our site about 2 hours before. Now bears are kind of like sharks in my book, it is fine if they are around where I am playing, just don’t play on my playground! We got to our site .. no other peeps were there! So we did the next best thing, popped open a bottle of red wine, set up camp and got our campfire going; did I mention … it was freezing! It was time to tackle Paella!
The easy thing about eating “gourmet” or “very well” when you are camping is to be prepared. I pre-measure everything I am going to use before leaving. I freeze the items that can be frozen and the rest we keep on ice in a small cooler. As well we have a box that is filled with a couple pans, a couple plates, utensils, glasses, etc… It is basically ready to do at the drop of a hat.
I was a little nervous about making a paella while camping so I prepped a little more than I usually would. For instance, I made the Sofreigit before leaving the city and froze it. This definitely helped with the actual cooking. As well I used canned artichokes since the fresh ones were pretty pricey – $3.49 each! Next time, I will spring for fresh. Not only was it romantic to cook over the campfire, but it was a lot of fun … sizzling calamari, sauteed mushrooms! I used a brown short grain rice, you know, to keep it healthy. The problem with cooking rice at altitude, it took ALONG time, a whole bottle of white wine, and 2 cups of water and the entire jar of Sofreigit. I think the best part of the evening was Lenny making the alioli by using his “big cannons” and a mason jar. He came very close but not quite there … regardless, it is a must for this dish!
Be sure to check out our highlights of the adventure as well as all the other Daring Cooks.
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Rice with Mushrooms, Cuttlefish, and Artichokes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
- 1 Chopping Board
- 1 knife
- 1 medium saucepan
- 1 Paella pan (30 cm/11” is enough for 4 people. If not available, you may use a simple pan that size)
- 1 Saucepan
- 4 Artichokes (you can use jarred or frozen if fresh are not available)
- 12 Mushrooms (button or Portobello)
- 1 or 2 Bay leaves (optional but highly recommended)
- 1 glass of white wine
- 2 Cuttlefish (you can use frozen cuttlefish or squid if you don’t find it fresh)
- “Sofregit” (see recipe below)
300 gr (2 cups) Short grain rice (Spanish types Calasparra or Montsant are preferred, but you can choose any other short grain. This kind of rice absorbs flavor very well) – about 75 gr per person ( ½ cup per person). Please read this for more info on suitable rice.
- Water or Fish Stock (use 1 ½ cup of liquid per ½ cup of rice)
- Saffron threads (if you can’t find it or afford to buy it, you can substitute it for turmeric or yellow coloring powder)
- Alioli – optional
Cut the cuttlefish into little strips. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and put the cuttlefish in the pan.
If you use fresh artichokes, clean them as shown in the video in tip #7. Cut artichokes in eights. Clean the mushrooms and cut them in fourths. Add a bay leaf to the cuttlefish and add also the artichokes and the mushrooms.
Sauté until we get a golden color in the artichokes. Put a touch of white wine so all the solids in the bottom of the get mixed, getting a more flavorful dish. Add a couple or three tablespoons of sofregit and mix to make sure everything gets impregnated with the sofregit. Add all the liquid and bring it to boil. Add all the rice. Let boil for about 5 minutes in the heavy heat. Add some saffron thread to enrich the dish with its flavor and color. Stir a little bit so the rice and the other ingredients get the entire flavor. If you’re using turmeric or yellow coloring, use only 1/4 teaspoon. Turn to low heat and boil for another 8 minutes (or until rice is a little softer than “al dente”). Put the pan away from heat and let the rice stand a couple of minutes.
Sofregit (a well cooked and fragrant sauce made of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and onions, and may at times different vegetables such as peppers or mushrooms)
Cooking time: approx. 1 hour
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 5 big red ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 2 small onions, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
- 4 or 5 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 cup of button or Portobello mushrooms, chopped (optional)
- 1 Bay leaf
- A touch of ground cumin
- A touch of dried oregano
- Put all the ingredients together in a frying pan and sauté slowly until all vegetables are soft. Taste and salt if necessary (maybe it’s not!)
- Alioli is an optional part in the recipe. I highly recommend you to try a traditional one. Alioli is served together with the rice and it gives a very nice taste.
Alioli (Traditional recipe)
Cooking time: 20 min approx.
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- Pinch of salt
- Fresh lemon juice (some drops)
- Extra-virgin olive oil (Spanish preferred but not essential)
- Place the garlic in a mortar along with the salt. Using a pestle, smash the garlic cloves to a smooth paste. (The salt stops the garlic from slipping at the bottom of the mortar as you pound it down.)Add the lemon juice to the garlic. Drop by drop; pour the olive oil into the mortar slowly as you continue to crush the paste with your pestle. Keep turning your pestle in a slow, continuous circular motion in the mortar. The drip needs to be slow and steady. Make sure the paste soaks up the olive oil as you go. Keep adding the oil, drop by drop, until you have the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise. If your allioli gets too dense, add water to thin it out. This takes time—around 20 minutes of slow motion around the mortar—to create a dense, rich sauce.