Are you looking for some new distraction? Maybe some direction of what to cook during these endless days of (good) home cooked meals? A few years ago, on some e-mail newsletter or foodie calendar I read about “National Food Days.” I have no idea where these came from. I imagine they are a marketer’s ploy to sell something or other. Nevertheless, it’s fun to use them for making fun meals.
I actually went as far as researching National Food Day on Google (maybe it’s time for an update). I marked my calendar with the ones I knew Constant Companion and I would enjoy. Last Monday, the start of Week Six/Stay at Home (April 27), was National Paella Day. So last Monday, paella it was!
I’d been making this dish for a while. It’s a good catchall. And we enjoy rice. For paella aficionados, I’m sure it’s a pale imitation of the real thing – my recipe is from the Joy of Cooking, what do you expect? As follows:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Chop about 2 cups of cooked chicken (good use for leftover). Prepare 4 cups of hot chicken stock. Dissolve a small amount of saffron in the stock.
In a casserole, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add 2 cloves of garlic. I chop mine and do not removed it. I also add about 1 cup of chopped onion. Add 2 cups of rice (I use long grain), stir around to thoroughly coat with oil. Add the hot stock. Add 1 cup of peas (I use thawed frozen peas), 2 sliced red peppers (6 artichoke hearts, if wanted), 8 thin slides of chorizo (being pork averse, I use 1/2 pound of sliced turkey sausage). Arrange the chopped chicken on top of everything.** Cover and bake for 15-20 minutes.* After about 15 minutes, add the shelled shrimp.*** Remove from oven after about 5 minutes. Serve with a nice salad.
*I’m bad at following recipes. You can see I make adjustments and additions. I have always just cooked this on top of the stove instead of the oven. I did the oven this time and it was terrific.
**I had a package of mini/baby zucchini in the fridge. I sliced them in half longwise and arranged them on top of everything before putting the casserole in the oven.
***I usually make a stock with the shelled shrimp. If I have some on hand (in the freezer) I use it instead of the chicken stock.
And here’s a few other dishes we’ve been enjoying as the great seclusion continues:
Frittata. A few weeks ago, I enjoyed a zoom presentation on Sephardic food by Susan Barocas, a Sephardic cook and author in Washington, D.C. She was making a quajado which reminded me of a favorite dish of mine. My frittata is simple … cottage cheese, feta, grated parmesan, one or two eggs, and leftover chopped broccoli. Mix a whole container of cottage cheese, a bunch of feta (maybe ½ cup), and a handful of parmesan thoroughly. Add the beaten egg(s), add the broccoli. Put in oiled pie tin and bake for an hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tip: no need for salt because the cheeses are salty. Use white pepper in this dish, so you don’t have black dates.
Note: By the time I got to prepare my recent frittata, the leftover broccoli had been eaten … I used thawed, frozen in its place. My mistake – cook the broccoli first.
Pizza. In our seclusion, Daughter has been mentioning pizza. Maybe in her years living away from home she got used to eating this, something Constant Companion and I rarely eat. I know pizza dough is relatively easy to make, especially in the faithful food processor, but on the weekly foraging trip to the grocery store I passed the bakery and saw the ready made dough. The next night we had a great cheese pizza courtesy of Daughter.
Tomato paste. A few posts ago (see April 21 post), I wrote about roasting grape/cherry tomatoes. I was visiting a home bound friend with whom I swap food bank goodies. She had followed my recommendation to roast her little tomatoes. Another friend suggested she make it into tomato paste. I followed her lead with my leftover – put them straight into the food processor (added nothing) and swirled away. Some of it went into a stew I failed to photograph and won’t bore you with. The rest is in the freezer; there are no preservatives in it, no telling how long it would last in the fridge.
In case you need some entertainment, enjoy this – a blast from the past:
Enjoy adventures in cooking and continue to stay safe.
Ps, the next two National Food Days in my agenda are May 9, National Shrimp Day and May 29, National Coq au Vin Day! Enjoy!