Much Ado About Stuffing

Much Ado About Stuffing

Herb Garden Gazpacho & Authentic Wood Fired Paella

Happy 4th of July!

Artisinal treasures brought from foreign lands

Paella, which you, my loyal followers know, is a passion of mine, was originally a peasant meal, cooked over a campfire. Although my kitchen paella (check left sidebar) is delicious, cooking it over wood is AMAZING.

Smokin’ Paella!

The process is the same. The only change I made was grilling the veggies a bit before they were added to to pan. It takes a bit longer to cook, but hey, who ever complained about spending too much time around a campfire on a gorgeous summer evening with people you love? Cook it over a hot, flaming fire, and after you add the rice, don’t stir it. You want to develop the crusty bottom called “socarrat:, the best part. When the rice seems almost done (bite a grain, you should feel a tiny bit of hardness at the very core), remove from the fire, and place a clean kitchen towel over the pan to allow steam to complete the cooking process. (The Spanish farmers use newspaper. but, I’m not in Spain, and I prefer my printing ink on my fingers, not on my lips.)
You will find this Paella Primer to be as useful as I did. (don’t ask me about the “naked whiz” part, I just do the research, I don’t invent it.)

Whenever we travel I buy local ingredients in the markets.  This is the market in Istanbul where I bought the Bahranian Saffron. The Bomba rice was purchased in the Born Area of Barcelona, during a fabulous half day walking tour we arranged with Marta Laurent, a wonderful foodie-guide. Check her blog. You can read about this hand milled, rare product here. The wonderful shop, Casa Gispert, is a MUST for food fetishists (like me). In a pinch, you can use any Bomba rice or Goya short grain “Valencia” rice. Look in your local gourmet shop (Balducci’s locally here in Westport.)

So we started with some sangria, slice up some oranges (a blood orange is a nice touch) lemons, cube up an apple, stir in a bottle of wine. Let the fruit get to know the wine.

Gazpacho seemed the perfect first course. Here is my favorite recipe, I love it because you get to use all those yummy herbs you have been growing:

(serves 6-8)
1 small bunch of celery
1 cucumber, peeled
3 carrots
1 small red pepper
1 small green pepper
1 small onion
4 cups tomato juice (bottled, or fresh tomatoes, pureed and strained)
fresh basil, fresh tarragon, fresh dill, fresh mint fresh parsley – about 1 Tbs. of each
1 Tbs. fresh or dried oregano
2 fat cloves fresh garlic
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. sugar
1Tbs. worcestershire sauce or Balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp salt
fresh pepper

  • Process the cucumber, celery, carrots, peppers, onion, garlic and herbs in batches in a food processor until well chopped but not completely mush.
  • Add  remaining ingredients
  • Adjust salt and pepper to taste
  • Allow to rest and chill in the refrigerator until serving.
  • Keeps 2 days
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