Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Quinoa Paella

So I signed on to Yahoo! tonight and saw a feature on Paella. Of course, I immediately wanted to make it, but I thought I would give it a bit of a twist. Since Quinoa is such an awesome grain and leaves me feeling much more light and less stuffed than rice does, I figured I would try making a Paella out of it. It came out awesome! Since I used an oven safe pan and finished it off in the oven, it even got this beautiful "socccarat" which is the term for the crispy layer of rice (or in this case quinoa) that forms on the bottom of the pan. It really makes a difference baking the paella vs. just cooking it in a pot. Also remember, if you don't like seafood or want to save some money, you can always just make this dish with some chicken and chorizo or sausage (the seafood really makes it though).

Quinoa Paella

12 Sea Scallops (Cleaned w/ lemon and water and Cut in Half)
12 Large Shrimp (Cleaned w/lemon and water and Deveined)
3 Chicken Sausage Links Cut (or 6 oz of Chorizo if available)
2 Cups Quinoa
1 Can Diced Tomatoes (14oz) (no flavoring or additives)
1 Medium Onion or 2 Small Shallots, Chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, Chopped
2 Cups Chicken Broth
6 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tsp Paprika
1 Tsp Saffron (if available)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large, oven safe paella pan or deep fry pan, saute garlic, bell pepper, and onion over medium heat until onions are translucent and garlic begins to brown. (about 3 mins) Add chicken sausage (or chorizo) and continue to saute over medium heat. (If using chorizo, make sure chorizo cooks through.) Add scallops and shrimp and cook until shrimp and scallops are no longer raw on the outside (about 5 minutes). (Do not overcook seafood as it will continue to cook in the oven.) Add paprika, safron, and dry quinoa and saute together for a couple of minutes. Add tomatoes and chicken broth and stir. Cover and place in oven. Cook for 30-40 minutes stirring occasionally, until quinoa absorbs all water and is light and fluffy. Let rest, fluff with fork, and serve. Serves 4.

Brine Baby Brine!

Brining is perhaps one of the best ways to keep meat moist and juicy while cooking. Everyone hears a lot about brining during Thanksgiving time and Christmas when everyone and their mother (literally) is frying a turkey in the backyard. I am happy to see my friend Sharon is keeping the brine tradition alive throughout the year with this great recipe she concocted. Sharon recommends baking the chicken with potatoes that have been boiled, but if you want to throw in some carrots, sweet potatoes, or other root vegetables, I am sure this will be delicious as well! Let us know what you think.

Brined & Roasted Garlic Chicken (Serves 2)

Brine Base:
½ cup Salt
1/8 to ¼ cup Sugar
4 Bay Leaves
3 Garlic cloves smashed
4 Peppercorns
Pinch of coriander
Pinch of nutmeg


2 Chicken Breasts
4-5 Potatoes
6 Cloves Garlic
1 Tablespoon Dried Thyme
White Cooking Wine
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Brine 2 chicken breasts with above mixture for 24 hours
Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Boil water with a pinch of salt and add 4-5 new potatoes. Boil potatoes for about 10 mins, remove and rinse in cold water and slice potatoes into quarters.

Add about ¼ to ½ cup of white cooking wine to bottom of baking dish. Add chicken and sliced potatoes (sprinkle mixture with pepper, salt and dried thyme), 6 cloves of garlic and cover with tin foil.

Bake for about 45 mins or until juices of chicken run clear and potatoes are nicely cooked. Serves 2.