Christmas Eve Paella (Also: New Year's Eve Paella)


Paella is one of our family's favorite dishes, and even though I've heard it's "easy," there are many ingredients and the assembly is tricky. Ron's dad had a great recipe that goes back three decades (which uses the oven), and I found a fantastic version by Janet Mandel, a Spanish cooking authority (which uses the stove top).  I put the two of them together, and also added my own touches.  I decided to use a large earthenware casserole dish and the oven method.  (Note: Assembly time: about an hour; cooking time, approximately another hour. Give yourself ample time, don't rush and enjoy the experience!)

Ingredients:
4 small chicken thighs, bone-in
4 small chicken breasts (or two breasts cut in half), bone-in
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
10 strands of saffron, steeped in boiling water
2 cups long grain white rice
8 cups chicken broth
1 green pepper, cut in 1/2" x 1/4" strips
1 ripe plum tomato, chopped
1 lb. Spanish chorizo (sausage)
18 raw, peeled and deveined shrimp
18 mussels
18 littleneck clams
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large Spanish onion, chopped (approximately 1 cup)
1/2 box frozen peas
4 oz. roasted red peppers

Note: Prepare your mis en table in advance; chop all tomatoes, onion, pepper, garlic, clean all seafood, etc. so the cooking and assembly process goes smoothly.

Preparation
Cook the chicken: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Salt and pepper both sides of all pieces of chicken in oven-proof frying pan. Sauté in olive oil on both sides until deep golden brown.  Pop into oven for 20 minutes.

Cook the chorizo: Fry chorizo in non-stick pan. When cooked through, cut into small pieces. Drain pan of excess fat. Return chorizo to pan. Add onion, garlic, chopped tomato and green pepper, adding olive oil if necessary. When onion and garlic are translucent, remove from heat and set aside.

Steep the saffron: Bring one cup water to a boil. Remove from heat, add saffron. Set aside.

Assembly
When chicken is cooked, arrange around edges of large open casserole or paella pan.  Sprinkle with rice and add chicken stock, chopped tomato, chorizo/onion/pepper mixture, saffron with water, stir and cover tightly. Cook for 40 minutes, stirring half way through.

Remove from oven, uncover, stir. Add peas, roasted red peppers and shrimp. Cover, put back in oven for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, add mussels and clams. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, or until clams, shrimp and mussels are cooked. Shrimp should be firm and pink. Discard any mussels or clams that are not open.

Serve with salad and crisp white wine, such as Pinot Grigio (or Sangria, for you purists).

Paella also makes a fantastic party dish, as perfect for a crowd on New Year's Eve as on Christmas Eve.

Coquilles St. Jacques (Scallops in Cream Sauce)


Elegantly Simple ... And Simply Elegant.

If you are musing over what to serve on Christmas Eve and/or New Year's Eve, here's a surprisingly easy yet exquisite dish that works for two, four or six. Served over ris au four (baked rice) and accompanied by a chilled white wine or Prosecco, and garlic-sautéed haricots vert, it is a memorable meal for a special night. With abundant thanks my muse, master chef Pierre Franey, for his inspiration.

Ingredients

Coquilles (Scallops in Cream Sauce)
1-1/2 lbs. fresh bay scallops, well rinsed and patted dry
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sautéed in 2 tbsp. butter (can be done ahead)
1 shallot, minced
6 tbsp. butter
3 leeks, washed well, and chopped finely
2 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp. flour
1/4 c. dry white wine, such as a Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay
1 small shallot, chopped finely
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 tbsp. Sambuca (or Pernod)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Baked Rice


1-1/2 c. white rice
2-1/4 c. water or low-sodium chicken broth
1 small sweet onion, chopped finely
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme and 2 sprigs fresh parsley
1 small bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Process

Prepare the rice first:
Preheat oven to 400F degrees.

1. In a small Le Creuset or similar casserole that can go from the range top to the oven, sauté the onion and garlic in butter until translucent. Stir in the rice and coat well.


2. Add water or broth, and all ingredients.
3. Cover with a lid and bake at 400F for 15 minutes.

While the rice is baking:
1. Sauté the leeks in butter until wilted. Add wine, and cook for a few minutes until it has given up its alcohol. Stir in cream, flour, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over low heat to reduce and thicken, stirring frequently.


2. As cream mixture simmers, sauté shallots, salt and pepper in a large separate non-stick sauté pan. Add the scallops when shallots are translucent and sauté to a golden hue.

3. Add Sambuca and heat until it has given up its alcohol.
4. Combine scallop mixture with cream sauce, bring to a boil, and add remaining butter. Serve with baked rice.








More Turkey Leftover Ideas - Turkey Pot Pie


Rich and spicy, filled with turkey, vegetables, potatoes and a smooth cream sauce, topped with a crusty, buttery pastry, this turkey pot pie is a wonderful way to serve the leftovers from your Thanksgiving feast.

This recipe makes six-eight servings, so this is a perfect meal you can enjoy with house guests who stay past the holiday. Goes nicely with a crisp salad and a cold glass of Pinot Grigio.
Ingredients

1 pkge. refrigerated pie crust (two crusts)
1 lb. fresh mushrooms, sautéed in 2 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. olive oil, until brown and all of their liquid is evaporated
1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. flour
1/3 c. onion, chopped finely
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. good quality paprika
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
Freshly ground nutmeg
1-1/4 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. heavy cream or whole milk
2-1/2 cups cooked turkey, cut in bite-sized pieces
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed - OR - 2 cups fresh peas, chopped carrots and corn kernels
Egg wash: One egg + 1 tbsp. cool water, beaten slightly with fork

Process
1. Sauté mushrooms and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
3. In saucepan, melt 1/3 cup (remaining) butter, add onion and sauté until translucent but not brown.
4. Add flour, paprika, salt and pepper, blend to a light roux.
5. Add heavy cream (or milk) and broth, and cook, stirring, until bubbly and thick. Add parsley and a light grinding of fresh nutmeg. Stir to combine.
6. Stir in turkey, sautéed mushrooms and mixed vegetables. Set aside.
7. Generously butter a deep dish pie plate and gently fit one of the pie crusts into it, stretching over edges to form lip.
8. Spoon mixture into crust. Brush edges with water, top with second pie crust, seal and crimp.
9. Cut slits in top crust, and brush with egg wash. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. (If desired, to keep edges from darkening too much or drying out, cover with foil for last 10 - 15 minutes of baking.
10. Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Hot and Healthy Turkey Vegetable Soup


All it took was some leftover turkey from Thanksgiving and about an hour of time for the inspiration of this amazing turkey soup. It's sweetly simple to make, loaded with flavor, perfect for lunch or a light dinner, serves four generously.

Here's how:

Ingredients

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, chopped (generous 1/2 c.)
3 medium stalks celery with leaves, chopped (generous 1/2 c.)
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 lb. carrots, cut into 1/2" pieces
Approx. 1-2 cups turkey, cut into 1" pieces
Two turkey wings
Bouquet garni made of three sprigs each of fresh parsley, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary
1 can chicken broth
6 c. water
2 cubes chicken boullion
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Process

1. Sauté onion, garlic, celery and carrots in butter and oil until wilted and soft, but not browned.
2. Add turkey, chicken broth, water and cubes of boullion. Bring to a boil over high heat.


3. Add turkey wings. Skim fat and other residue as soup simmers.
4. Lower heat, simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
5. Serve alone or with hot bread and a salad.




We Give Thanks

The many things we give thanks for this year are the love of our family and friends, and the bounty on our table. As always, the turkey -- roasted to a golden brown and stuffed with savory bread and sausage stuffing -- is the centerpiece of our dinner table.

Next, the all-time, most-requested favorite -- sweet potato and pecan casserole -- again, from an old Southern family recipe. Both crunchy and smooth, sweet and savory, this casserole can be prepped two days in advance and cooked up in 45 minutes on Thanksgiving Day. Recipes below.

Here's our table, set for 10, before the food and guests arrive:
May you have a blessed Thanksgiving Day, filled with good things, loving family and faithful friends.

Grandma's Turkey Stuffing
(For 18 lb. bird)

Ingredients
1 package seasoned bread crumbs for turkey stuffing (Arnold)
1 stick butter
1 to 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1 lb. good quality Italian sausage, out of casing
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmegianno Reggiano cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 eggs, slightly beaten with fork
Onion and garlic salt -- approx 1/8 tsp each
1 cup white raisins (optional)

1. Sauté sausage until cooked, about 10 minutes. Drain fat from pan. Set aside.
2. In large deep sauté pan, melt butter and broth. When butter is completely melted, add breadcrumbs, stir to combine until all liquid has been absorbed.
3. Pour breadcrumb mixture into a large deep mixing bowl.
4. Add seasonings, cheese, eggs and spices, mix well to combine.
5. Add sausage. Combine.

Stuff bird, reserving any extra stuffing for casserole to bake separately @ 400 degrees for 35 minutes.

Southern Sweet Potato & Pecan Casserole
Preheat oven to 400F degrees.


Ingredients
For casserole:
6 cups cooked sweet potatoes
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
2/3 cup butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs, beaten with fork
For topping:
2 cups flaked coconut
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2/3 cup flour
2/3 cup butter, melted
2 cups chopped pecans

Roast sweet potatoes for 40-60 minutes, or until soft. Cool, remove skin, and mash in a large bowl. Combine sweets with next five ingredients. Mix well. Spoon into a lightly-greased 13" x 9" casserole (or oval casserole of similar size).

Reduce oven temperature to 375F degrees.

Combine remaining ingredients, and sprinkle over the top of the sweet potato mixture. Bake @ 375F for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Yields 12+ servings.

Oven-Dried Bread Offers Stuffing Shortcut

So says the ProChef Smart Brief, quoting the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).

A handy way to make stuffing from same-day bread. You and trust the experts!

Here's the link and the article:

http://www.seriouseats.com/2016/11/stuffing-use-oven-to-dry-bread-instead-of-stale.html