Valencian Paella Night!

The Friday Night Dinner group was lucky enough to get an authentic Valencian Paella recipe from Victor Claver, a member of our beloved Portland Trailblazers and the Spanish national team. When we asked him for the recipe, he sent it to us and said “I hope you can make a good one ;)” and oh man. It was delicious.

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I’m only going to give a brief overview of the paella making here — it was quite a long, eventful process and it would take up a lot of room on this blog. I will, however, post a step-by-step recap of the paella making over on Bryony Cooks tomorrow so you can see pictures of the entire process. Taylor and I had too much fun making it.

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With the recipe being a true Valencian paella recipe, we decided to go all out and make the entire dinner a Valencian affair. We went to World Foods, a local international grocery store here in Portland and they had an entire stack of shelves dedicated to items from Spain. We got some real paella rice, chocolate, and a couple of other snacks. I could have bought everything there though. Amazing.

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Our dinner consisted of paella (duh), a spinach salad to lighten things up, a Valencia orange cake, and agua de Valencia (warning: it’s not actually water ;)) We had such a great night looking at dresses, making plans for a concert we’re going to next week, cooking, talking and just having a really fun time. And like true Spaniards, we didn’t eat dinner until 9:30pm.

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This paella is time-consuming, but I recommend you all try it. It was absolutely delicious and I speak for the whole FND crew when I say thank you, Victor, for sharing this incredible recipe with us!

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Paella Valenciana:
Via

Ingredients:

  • 700g (1 1/2 lb). chicken, sliced and slightly salted
  • 300g (2/3 lb.) rabbit, sliced and slightly salted
  • 1 tablespoon ground paprika
  • Saffron, to taste (or yellow food colouring)
  • 12 tablespoons grated fresh tomato
  • 400g (14 oz.) Ferraura, rotjet, or wide green beans
  • 100 g (3.5 oz.) Garrofón (Lima Beans)
  • 3 or 4 artichokes (we used a can of artichoke hearts, a lot easier)
  • 100 g (3.5 oz.) white beans or tabella
  • Water
  • 150 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 320g (11.3 oz.) rice (paella rice is preferable)
  • Salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Pour the oil in the middle of the paella pan and heat the oil over a high heat.
  2. When the oil begins to smoke, add the chicken and rabbit and brown carefully over medium heat. Paella success depends a lot on successful browning of the meat.
  3. Add the chopped vegetables (beans included) and sauté for a few minutes.
  4. Make a hole in the centre of the pan, setting aside the meat and vegetables. In the gap, incorporate the tomato, fry for a few minutes, then add the paprika. Let it cook for another minute and be careful not to burn the paprika.
  5. Pour in the water close to the edge of the pan. You want the pan to be almost full of water. Add some salt and allow it to cook for about 20 minutes, adding more water if necessary.
  6. After 20 minutes, you should see that the water/stock of the paella comes halfway up the rivets on the side of the pan.
  7. Now test the salt. The broth should be slightly salty as the rice will absorb some while it cooks. {The recipe translation says you should have a guest try the broth to determine saltiness, then you can blame them if it is too salty ;)}
  8. Now incorporate the rice. Make a slight groove with the rice, going diagonally across the pan. You want the rice to stick out about an inch from the stock. Add the saffron or dye on top of the rice. Uniformly mix the rice into the pan and cook over a strong (medium-high/high) heat for about 7 minutes, or until half cooked rice begins to appear.
  9. Now lower the heat to low/medium-low and cook for another 4-5 minutes. {Make sure the paella isn’t burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan; if you need to slightly stir it to move around the grains to prevent burning}.
  10. Once the liquid has been absorbed, check to make sure the rice is cooked. If not, add a little more water and continue cooking, just make sure not to burn the rice.
  11. Finally, rest the paella for about 5 minutes, then enjoy!

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Spinach Salad with Apples and Bell Peppers: 

Ingredients:

  • Box/bag baby spinach
  • 2 apples, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • Dressing of your choice (we used balsamic)

Directions:

  1. Place salad ingredients in a bowl, toss. Add dressing and toss again.

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Valencia Orange Cake:
Via

Ingredients:

  • 2 organic Valencia oranges
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Directions:

  1. Place two whole organic Valencia oranges in a pot with enough water to cover them. Add a tightly sealed lid. Let them simmer for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. When you can easily guide a toothpick or fork through them, they’re ready.
  2. Cool the oranges for a few minutes, then slice them into wedges, removing any inedible parts (keep the peel, it is edible and adds great flavour).
  3. Process the oranges until you have a smooth orange paste with no lumps.
  4. Preheat the oven to 325°F (300°F if using a convection oven).
  5. To get a slightly lighter cake, separate the egg yolks and egg whites, and then whip the egg whites separately until stiff peaks form.
  6. In a bowl, beat eggs (or egg yolks if separated) until well blended, and then beat in the honey and dry ingredients (baking soda, salt, and almond flour).
  7. Fold in the almond flour and orange paste into the egg and honey mixture and blend well.
  8. If you whipped the egg whites separately, here is where you want to fold the egg whites into the rest of the batter.
  9. Use a spring form pan or a well buttered baking pan. Butter or oil the
    bottom of the spring form pan. No need to butter the sides of the
    spring form pan.
  10. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Make sure to bake it thoroughly, especially in the center, or it may settle when it cools. Even if it settles, it still tastes wonderful.

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Agua de Valencia:
Via

Ingredients:

  • 200ml orange juice
  • 50ml gin
  • 50ml vodka
  • 700ml Cava (or Champagne)
  • Pinch of sugar

Directions:

  1. Pour the orange juice into a pitcher.
  2. Add the Cava, vodka and gin.
  3. Add the sugar, according to taste.
  4. Refrigerate before serving.
  5. Pour into glasses and enjoy!

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Happy eating, everyone!

Spring Fling!

Sorry this post is so late – I had finals Monday and Tuesday and wanted to focus on them. On Saturday we had a pretty wonderful FND (SND?). It was only Mary, Taylor and I but we brought in the spring season in style! Some really delicious, spring foods complete with fresh fruits and vegetables from our local farmer’s market. From a springtime vegetable frittata to refreshing strawberry bruschetta and individual baked cheesecakes with raspberries; everything was so fresh and so, so good.

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We had our usual good conversations – I swear we never, ever run out of things to say. We’re constantly talking and laughing, always having a wonderful time.

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After dinner we went to Kells, an Irish pub here in Portland. Taylor hadn’t been there before so we introduced her to the wonders of Kells — beer, bagpipes and live music. The bagpipers were probably the highlight of the night. While the band was taking a break they came walking through the doors playing some beautiful Irish music on the bagpipes and the drums. I’m not going to lie, they played 4-5 songs and most of them sounded the same but it was a lot of fun to watch. There’s absolutely no way I could do what they do.

I definitely recommend you all try out these recipes. They were all so easy to make and tasted absolutely delicious!

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We have a very exciting dinner planned for this weekend and I can’t wait! It’s going to be so much fun and will (hopefully) taste good too 🙂

Springtime Vegetable Frittata: 

Ingredients:

  • 1 leek, white & light green parts thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • Jerusalem artichokes, sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 2 tbsp. chopped chives
  • Kale rabe
  • Parmesan

Directions:

  1. Sautee the leeks and onion until translucent in extra virgin olive oil, then add in the garlic and cook for 3 minutes, giving the pan a good shake/stir every now and then.
  2. Then add the 5 beaten eggs, scraping the eggs from the edge of the pan to the center with a spatula, letting the raw egg coat the pan so it can cook. Finish fritatta in the oven on broil.
  3. While frittata is finishing, sauté artichokes for about 8 minutes in EVOO. Once fritatta has finished, sprinkle artichokes, chives and Parmesan on top. Season with some salt and pepper.
  4. To prepare the kale rabe, wash and cut off ends. Sauté in EVOO for a few minutes and season with salt and pepper. Serve alongside frittata.

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Strawberry Ricotta Bruschetta:
Via

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/3″ slices
  • 8 slices rustic country bread
  • 1 container ricotta cheese

Directions:

  1. In large bowl, stir brown sugar, vinegar, and vanilla until sugar dissolves. Stir in sliced strawberries. Let stand 1 hour.
  2. Toast bread until golden brown. Cool completely.
  3. Spread 2 tablespoons ricotta on each bread slice. Arrange strawberry slices on top. Drizzle strawberry juices over top and serve.

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Baked Raspberry Cheesecakes:
Adapted from 500 Cupcakes Book

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries, plus extra to decorate

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a muffin pan with 12 liners.
  2. Put the cracker crumbs into a medium bowl and stir in the butter. Spoon tablespoons of the crumb mixture into the cups, pressing firmly into the bottom. Chill until set.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the ricotta until smooth. Add the cream cheese, vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar, blending until smooth. Slowly add the eggs, blending well. Add raspberries and combine. Spoon into prepared liners.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then remove to wire rack to cool completely. Chill until ready to serve.
  5. Serve with extra raspberries, if desired.

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Happy eating, everyone!

Luck of the (Not-So) Irish

We had big plans this week to have a really good, traditional Irish FND in honour of St. Patrick’s Day. Then we realized if we did that it would consist of the exact same dishes we had for our Irish dinner last year so we expanded the Irish idea to include green things too (because everyone knows if it’s green, it’s Irish 🙂 )

To start off our dinner we had some bread from a local bakery with a variety of German cheeses sent to Taylor by her godparents. Oh man, they were all so good. If you give the FND crew some cheese and wine we’ll pretty much be the happiest people in the world and last night our stomachs were singing it was so delicious.

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IMG_6215Christina just moved back up to the Seattle area for her job so we skyped her into our dinner and it was just like she was there with us. She had her food and Irish decorations and we had ours. Sometimes technology is awesome. Here in Portland our dinner consisted of a Spring minestrone with lots of delicious green vegetables, a roasted Brussels sprouts dish with apples and pancetta and a blackberry and apple crumble which is apparently actually an Irish thing. Who knew? I was trying to avoid desserts with alcohol I wouldn’t drink so this was the perfect dessert to make. And I used an English custard from World Market to top it off. YUM.

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As always we had some really good conversation. Some really deep, philosophical kinda talk and some equally important silly girl talk complete with some discussions about attractive men. Ya know, all the good things to talk about 🙂 We had such a great time and even though our dinner wasn’t really Irish, the spirit was there and we were all wearing something green to tie it all together.

Try out these recipes, you won’t be disappointed!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apple and Pancetta
Via

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved or quartered
  • 2 sweet cooking apples such as Gala or Fuji, cored & cut into wedges
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 3 oz. finely chopped pancetta or cooked ham
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a 9×13 baking pan with foil; set aside. In a large bowl combine Brussels sprouts, apples, onion, pancetta, oil, salt, mustard seeds, and pepper. Transfer mixture to the prepared baking pan. Roast, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes or until sprouts are tender, stirring once.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together balsamic vinegar, honey and Dijon mustard. Drizzle vinegar mixture over stout mixture. Gently toss to coat.

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Springtime Minestrone
Via

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 leek, sliced thin
  • 1 quart chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 bulb fennel, chopped
  • 1 cup small pasta (such as alphabet or orzo)
  • 1 can cannelloni beans, rinsed
  • 1 large bunch rainbow chard, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 lb. sugar snap peas, chopped in half
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • Fresh grated Parmesan, for serving
  • Squeeze of lemon for serving

Directions:

  1. Roast the poblano pepper either over the flame on your stove (if you have a gas stove) or under the broiler until black and charred. Set aside to cool and then remove the seeds and chop.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large pot or dutch oven. Add the leek and cook for five minutes, until the leek is bright green and soft.
  3. Add the stock and the pasta and bring to a simmer. Let cook for another five minutes and then add the sugar snap peas, fennel, chard, beans, salt and pepper. Simmer for only a couple of minutes before adding the roasted poblano pepper, peas and mint. Continue cooking until pasta is just tender.
  4. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a squeeze of lemon.

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Blackberry & Apple Crumble
Via

Ingredients:

  • 65g (2 1/2 oz.) butter
  • 175g (6 oz.) fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 50g (2 oz.) soft brown sugar
  • 60 ml (2 fl. oz.) golden syrup
  • 2 lemons, freshly grated zest and juice
  • 50g (2 oz.) ground almonds
  • 50g (2 oz.) chopped almonds
  • 450g (1 lb.) blackberries
  • 450g (1 lb.) cooking apples, peeled, cored and finely sliced

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an ovenproof dish with a knob of butter.
  2. Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan and sauté the breadcrumbs for about 5 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Set aside to cool.
  3. Combine the sugar, syrup, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and gently warm through. Add the breadcrumbs together with the ground and chopped almonds and mix well.
  4. Arrange a thin layer of blackberries in the base of the dish, top with a thin layer of crumb mixture, another of apples, and another layer of crumbs. Repeat the process, alternating apples and berries until all used up and finishing with a layer of crumbs. The mixture should be piled well above the top of the dish as it will shrink during cooking. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden and the fruit is soft.
  5. Serve the crumble warm accompanied by a jug of hot custard.

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IMG_6233Happy eating, everyone!

 

Girls Day!

I just realized it’s been a long time since the last FND dinner post. With the snowpocalypse we experienced a couple of weeks ago and Valentine’s weekend being last weekend, our regular FNDs have been a little disrupted. We decided this weekend we would do a “girls retreat” with the ladies of the group. It had been a long time since we’d all got together and just talked, laughed, had fun, and just been able to be our silly, goofy selves.

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We all met up at Taylor’s apartment before heading over to OMSI. I seriously can’t remember the last time I was at OMSI. Christina was able to get the 5 of us free tickets for both the OMSI museum and the movie theatre they have there. We had a lot of fun doing all of the interactive activities OMSI has available. And we spent some time in their chemistry lab, wearing super attractive goggles and doing some blood typing.

After our OMSI experience we headed back to Taylor’s apartment for some margaritas (it was National Margarita Day and we just had to celebrate that!). These few hours were quite possibly my favourite hours of the day. We sat around Taylor’s table and talked about a variety of things that you can only talk about with your girlfriends. We bounced from topic to topic telling stories, laughing about things, just having the best time.

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Taylor made most of the food (recipes below), a delicious soup and a quinoa salad. I made Eat, Live, Run’s crock-pot Mexican hot chocolate (actually, my crockpot did most of the work) and we rounded out the night with some Tahitian vanilla gelato and Parisian chocolate. It was a very international dinner!

Mary brought her guitar and played some beautiful music while the rest of us sat on the couch in one big cuddle pile listening. Seriously, you all should listen to Mary play and sing. So, so good. We’ve all already decided she’ll be providing the music at everyone’s weddings. Yeah.

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Carrot-Coconut Soup: 

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 13.5oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add carrots and onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until carrots are softened, 15–20 minutes. Stir in broth, coconut milk, and 2 Tbsp. chili sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very soft and liquid is slightly reduced, 40–45 minutes.
  2. Let soup cool slightly, then purée in a blender until smooth. Reheat in a clean saucepan, thinning with water to desired consistency; season with salt and pepper.

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Red Quinoa and Black Bean Vegetable Salad: 

Via

Ingredients:

Salad

  • 1 cup uncooked red quinoa
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh corn
  • 1 small avocado, chopped into 1-inch pieces

Dressing

  • 4-5 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

Directions:

  1. Cook 1 cup Red Quinoa according to package directions.
  2. While quinoa is cooking, prepare the chopped vegetables and whisk together the dressing.
  3. Allow quinoa to cool after cooking for about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Add the beans and vegetables and toss well.
  4. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss well with salt and pepper to taste. Bring salad to room temperature before serving. Keep fresh in a sealed container for 1-2 days.

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Crock Pot Mexican Hot Chocolate: 

Via

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup half ‘n’ half
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out OR 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Pinch sea salt

Directions:

  1. In your crock pot, whisk together the half n’ half, milk and sweetened condensed milk. Add chocolate chips.
  2. Turn heat to low and cook for 1 1/2 hours. At this time the chocolate should be melted. Add vanilla and whisk in the cinnamon, cayenne, sea salt.
  3. Serve with whipped cream and cinnamon or marshmallows or both!

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Happy eating, everyone!

PDX Snowpocalypse 2014

We had big plans for dinner this past week. Mary turned 24 on the 5th and we had a whole classy FND planned to celebrate it with her. Then, the snow came. IMG_6007

Portland rarely gets snow and when we do, we’re so unprepared for it that the whole city basically shuts down. When the snow started falling in the valley Thursday morning we were optimistic we’d still be able to have our dinner. However, it didn’t stop falling all day Thursday and most of Friday. With many of us stuck in our houses/apartments we made the decision to postpone Mary’s celebration.

And boy, am I glad we did. I’ve got at least 6-7 inches of snow at my house after snow Thursday-Saturday and after an ice storm last night there is now a thick layer of ice on top.

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I’d already made her birthday dinner dessert (“Mary” macarons) so instead of letting them go to waste, my family and I have been chowing down on them, sorry Mary!

This weather did provide the perfect opportunity for some snowy pictures, so I’ll leave you all with some of those 🙂

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