Category Archives: Spain

Paella Valenciana Recipe

Paella Valenciana
Paella Valenciana


Serving: 4-6 People ; Time: 2 hrs and 3o minutes
· 4 Cups of Bomba Rice. Calasparra or Short Grain Rice

· 1 pounds of Medium Frozen Shrimps
· 1 Dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
· 1 Dozen mussels, scrubbed

· 1- 3 pound Frying Chicken – cut into pieces or 4- 8 Combination Chicken Thighs & Drumsticks
· 2 Spanish Chorizos, casings removed.

· ½ cups frozen peas
· ½ pound French Green Beans; trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
· 1 onion, chopped
· 4 Garlic Cloves- crushed
· 2 large tomatoes- 1- (150z) Can of Whole tomatoes, drained and crushed.
· 1/2 Jar of Piquillio Peppers or 1 Red Peppers julienned

· 1 tablespoons saffron or generous pinch
· 3 tablespoons of pimentón paprika (Smoked Paprika)
· 1/2 Teaspoon Oregano
· ½ Teaspoon Rosemary
· 1 Teaspoon Thyme
· Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
· 1 sprig of Fresh Parsley

· ¼ cup olive oil
· * Bomba Rice NEEDS MORE STOCK- 12 cups ( 3 Quarts) of homemade or store-bought chicken stock
· * If using Short Grain Rice = 8 Cups ( 2 Quarts ) of homemade or store bought chicken stock.
· ¼ cup white wine
· 1 lemon – cut in wedges

1. Place cut up chicken chunks in a large bowl and add 4 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle chicken with Paprika, Rosemary, Oregano and Thyme and 1 teaspoon salt; turn chicken to coat. Cover chicken and let marinate, refrigerated, at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
2. Pour Chicken Broth in a bowl, crush saffron between your fingers and add to broth. Doing this allows the broth to be infused with the saffron giving the paella a very fragrant flavor.
3. Place a 20-inch paella pan with 3-inch sides over desired heat source. Once the oil is hot sear the chorizo . Remove and Reserve.
4. Sear Chicken until well caramelized, about 4 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and reserve.
5. Take out the Chicken and Chorizo and place aside, leaving the frond of the Chicken and chorizo in the pan.
6. In the same pan, leaving the frond of the chicken and chorizo, sauté the sofrito. Making a sofrito- Spanish mire poix ( onions, tomato and garlic) , add onions sauté until they are translucent, then, add half of the garlic and then the tomatoes sweat until they are caramelized. Sweat the sofrito for 5- 10 minutes, until the flavors meld together in a jelly like consistency.
7. Add the rice making a cross in the Paella pan, fold in the rice with the sofrito making sure that the sofrito coats the rice and the flavors of the sofrito meld together.
8. Add the stock along with the white wine to rice mixture. Turn up the heat until it boils, rotating the pan for even cooking, without stirring, as the stock begins to simmer and the rice begins to absorb the stock. Continue cooking, rotating the pan often, as the rice swells and absorbs the stock. Cook until the rice is almost tender. Do not mix the rice too much. *If using Bomba rice or Short Grain Rice add the stock to the mixture gradually as you would if you were making a risotto.
9. Add haricort verts or French Green Beans cut in half
10. Give the Paella a good shake, do not stir rice. When you see that the rice is cooked al dente, put the chicken and chorizo back in the pan, tucking the chicken pieces and chorizo neatly inside the rice, give it a bit of swirl with a spoon, but not too much.
11. When the rice starts to fill up the pan, Add the clams and Mussels. Fold into Paella. Arrange mussels around outside edge of pan, pointing up. Mussels are done with they open. If they don’t open discard.
12. Add the shrimps, fold into the Paella, they will cook in 8 minutes, they are done when they are pink.
13. Add the frozen peas for about 5 minutes more fold in as Garnish. Scatter peas on top of paella. (If the liquid evaporates before the rice is tender, add more hot stock.) Cook without stirring, allowing rice to absorb all of the liquid
14. Remove pan from fire and let it sit. Put aluminum foil or tea towels on the Paella, let it sit for 5 minutes.
15. Unfold aluminum; add piquillo peppers as a garnish. If you can’t find piquillio peppers, use julienne strips of red pepper is a nice substitute. Smoke red peppers on a grill with a high flame, when they have black on them they are smoky, take them off put them on a plate or directly put onto Paella like a wheel.
16. Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges.

Voila you have yourself a wonderful Paella that will taste better the next day !

Bueno Provecho !

Chefs Note:

Turn up the flame for the last 15 minutes to have a nice socarrat, a nice crustiness on the bottom of the paella. Try not to stir rice too much, because it will get funky.
You can find Bomba Rice or Piquillo peppers at Spanish stores or specialty cooking Shops. Bomba rice is best, but if you can’t find it, use short grain rice. It’s best to use Bomba as it absorbs the stock the best, making a flavorful rice. Also, it expands to three times the size.
PLEASE NOTE – IF YOU USE BOMBA RICE, You will need 3 times the liquid.
You can also use artichoke hearts and white beans.
Optional: you may de-seed tomatoes by grating them and then straining them, but it’s not necessary. Being careful not to burn the garlic. You may add green peppers to your sofrito.

Special equipment:
You’ll need a 26″ paella pan and a long spoon. If you can’t find a paella pan, a large skillet will do.
Ingredient info: Spanish chorizo, pimentón, and calasparra, Valencia, or bomba rice can be ordered from La Tienda or at the Grove at Little Spain

Recipe Created by Chef Sabrina Rongstad de Bravo

Part 1: History of Chocolate: Ancient Civilizations and the Cacao Bean

The divine drink, which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink [cocoa] permits a man to walk for a whole day without food.” Montezuma II (1502-1520)

Cacao Bean before it gets processed into Chocolate
Cacao Bean before it gets processed into Chocolate

In the book,The True History of Chocolate, authors Sophie and  Michael Coe make a case that the earliest linguistic evidence of chocolate consumption stretches back three or even four millennia. The history of chocolate begins in MesoamericaChocolate, the fermented, roasted, and ground beans of the Theobroma cacao,can be traced to the Mokayaand other pre- Olmecpeoples,with evidence of cacao beverages dating back to to 1900 BC.

Near the beginning of the 16th century, the Aztecs were believed to first make chocolate, although it goes back much farther. The Mayans wrote about cacao ( Ka-Kow) a Mayan word on their pottery as early as 500 A.D., but some believe chocolate dates back to a much older time during Olmec civilization, which preceded the Mayans.The Mesoamerican civilization’s chocolate a bitter drink made from a variety of local ingredients mixed with ground cacao beans.

An officer serving with Cortes observed Motecuhzoma, who was the ruler of the Aztecs.  They found that Montezuma was drinking 50 flagons of chocolate every day. This beverage, which was sometimes made with wine or water, could be seasoned with chili pepper, vanilla, and pimiento.  It was known to cure diarrhea and dysentery.  It also was believed to be an aphrodisiac.  Cortez is known to have tried the beverage, but he found it too bitter.  However he did write to King Carlos the first of Spain, calling “xocoatl” a “beverage that builds up resistance and fights fatigue.” Etymologists trace the origin of the word “chocolate” to the Aztec word “xocoatl,” which referred to a bitter drink brewed from cacao beans. The Latin name for the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, means “food of the gods.”

Bean of the gods
Bean of the gods

For several centuries in pre-modern Latin America, cacao beans were considered valuable enough to use as currency. One bean could be traded for a tamale, while 100 beans could purchase a good turkey hen, according to a 16th-century Aztec document.

Both the Mayans and Aztecs believed the cacao bean had magical, or even divine, properties, suitable for use in the most sacred rituals of birth, marriage and death. According to Chloe Doutre-Roussel’s book The Chocolate Connoisseur, Aztec sacrifice victims who felt too melancholy to join in ritual dancing before their death were often given a gourd of chocolate (tinged with the blood of previous victims) to cheer them up.
Roasted Cacao Beans

Sweetened chocolate didn’t appear until Europeans discovered the Americas and sampled the native cuisine. Legend has it that the Aztec king Montezuma welcomed the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortes with a banquet that included drinking chocolate, having tragically mistaken him for a reincarnated deity instead of a conquering invader. Chocolate didn’t suit the foreigners’ taste buds at first –one described it in his writings as “a bitter drink for pigs” – but once mixed with honey or cane sugar, it quickly became popular throughout Spain.

Both the Mayans and Aztecs believed the cacao bean had magical, or even divine, properties, suitable for use in the most sacred rituals of birth, marriage and death. According to Chloe Doutre-Roussel’s book The Chocolate Connoisseur, Aztec sacrifice victims who felt too melancholy to join in ritual dancing before their death were often given a gourd of chocolate (tinged with the blood of previous victims) to cheer them up.

Chocolate after Colonialization
By the 17th century, chocolate was a fashionable drink throughout Europe, believed to have nutritious, medicinal and even aphrodisiac properties (it’s rumored that Casanova was especially fond of the stuff).But it remained largely a privilege of the rich until the invention of the steam engine made mass production possible in the late 1700s.

  •  “The True History of Chocolate”, authors Sophie and Michael Coe
  • “The Chocolate Connoisseur” Chloe Doutre- Roussel.
  •  “Traités nouveaux & curieux du café du thé et du chocolate”, by Philippe Sylvestre Dufour, 1685.

 More about the History of Chocolate and Chocolate Recipes in Mexican Cuisine in next installment  of Sabrina’s Latin Kitchen.