Isn’t it just sods law that the moment that you have a holiday planned , suitcases packed, air tickets booked, hunna hunna hunna, a major spoke, the size of the frikken Empire State Building gets harpooned into your front tyre. You know the tyre that steers you gently through life – the one that takes care of the bumps in the road. All our plans came to a ‘chalk board’ screeching halt for a moment or two yesterday.
Last Saturday Max arrived home with a bloodied red and purple shnoz the size of a newborn baby elephants trunk. That once proud straight Roman Italian Gladiator of a nose, was now facing between twenty and twenty-five to seven. All I could do was stare at it! I just couldn’t take my eyes off it! I have seen this new nose before – it’s the nose of a fifty-five year old has-been of boxer who looks like Mikey Rourke. It’s kind of collapsed on one side – like I had wacked it with my rolling pin.
I don’t go and watch Max play rugby any more. On this occasion his team were playing the curtain raiser to the Sharks vs. the Stormers game at Absa Stadium. That last sentence, in my world, roughly translates into, “Max has a new girlfriend and is playing at Absa Stadium which means he is going to come out of the gates like a hyperactive bad tempered rhinoceros and will feel the need to run THROUGH, OVER AND AROUND the opposition like a lion on crack!” I wasn’t wrong!
I was one of those nervous wrecks of a mother who was never actually facing the field, watching the game. I was either in a corner, on my knees, praying and invocating the good energies of whichever deity would listen or I was in the bar! Simple – I could be located in a flash to go and scrape my ‘lunatic’ of a son off the field. I have seen the inside of too many hospital emergency rooms. I have been told by esteemed dokotella’s that my sons neck is broken and I have waited outside operating rooms while Max has been surgically altered to ‘TranforMax’ – as the surgeon inserted a few kg’s of Titanium in his right arm where once he had bones. The list just goes on and on.
Instead of going to the Wild Coast Sun to celebrate Max’s birthday this weekend he shall be spending about an hour or so with a surgeon this morning as he operates on his nose to straighten it and attempt to restore it to its former situation and Roman glory!!
So what does this mean??? It means that ‘newnoseMax’ will spend the week in Mauritius on a lounger – NO jumping out of aeroplanes, NO parasailing, NO diving with sharks – on a lounger!!! I may just really enjoy this holiday!!!!!
Chicken & Prawn Paella
Serves 8 peoples
Every culture has its signature rice dish. The Italians have risotto, the Indians have biryani , the English have rice pudding and the Spanish have that glorious sun kissed golden pan of Paella!
From my experience the object of any of these rice dishes is to optimise and pack in as much flavour as possible. It’s a one pot dish – and that tickles my fancy no end.
2 large onions chopped
6 cloves of garlic chopped
2 small red peppers
2 small yellow peppers
400g mushrooms quartered
10 bone in and skinless chicken thighs
1 spicy courizo sausage sliced
1tbs of smoked paprika
2 red chillis (optional)
1kg of prawns – shell left on but de-veined
Mussels – cleaned and de-bearded
2 sachets of saffron
2 cups of dry white wine
Fresh thyme, basil & rosemary
6 cups of chicken stock
3 cups of Arborio Rice
Fresh Parsley chopped finely a good handful
Lemon wedges for serving
Green & black Olives
You can vary your veggies and meat considerably. I have used fish and tomatoes and peas in my paellas.
There are no hard and fast rules – it’s an excellent way to use up bits and bobs in your dew bin.
Firstly – in a large bowl combine the skinless chicken thighs with the smoked paprika by massaging it in with your hands. Set aside for later.
Secondly – make 6 cups of chicken stock and add the two sachets of saffron to the water to steep. You need about 1tsp of saffron – which is 2 sachets. Set aside for later.
In a large frying pan –
Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the frying pan and brown the onion and garlic together
on a medium to hot heat.
Then add the red and yellow peppers and fry for two minutes
Then add the mushrooms and lightly brown.
Remove to a bowl – I use the frying pan lid to put all of the browned ingredients in – less washing up!
Add a touch more olive oil to the pan and brown the chicken on the hottest setting well on both sides.
All of this browning is building a wonderful layer of caramelisation – which is pure and utter flavour in your pan and is going to be lifted off the bottom when you add the wine later.
Remove the browned chicken to the bowl you marinated it in.
Now add the sliced chorizo sausage and red chillis to the pan and lightly brown.
The chorizo will start to release its paprika and turn the oil in the pan a reddish colour. Remove to the lid.
Now add the rice to the pan and for about 1 minute – stir it and bring it up to temperature – and add enough wine (about 2 cups) to cover the rice and scrape the bottom of the pan to lift the browning off the bottom of the pan and flavour the wine.
Cook all of the liquid out – you MUST ensure that you cook out all of the alcohol otherwise your paella will have a bitter alcohol flavour to it. You are going to add the chicken stock now so don’t worry about the pan being dry.
Add plenty of black pepper and fresh thyme.
On top of the rice layer the chicken pieces
Then the Courizo Sausage
Then the veggies on top of that
Cover with the stock – DO NOT STIR !!!
NEVER STIR A PAELLA!!!
Put a tight fitting lid onto the pot and bring to a boil and then turn right down to a slow simmer for 25minutes.
Add the prawns and mussels and put the lid back on and steam them for 10 minutes.
Turn the heat off, put the lid back on and don’t open it until you are ready to serve the
paella. This dish should ideally stand for at least half an hour at this point
to allow the flavours to infuse and the meat to relax.
Just before serving add a good handful of parsley – lemon wedges and some olives.
Many Spanish families make paella on a fire outside the Pueblo – by cooking over a fire the Paella developes a crispy crust on the bottom of the pan – and the family is known to fight over who gets it!!!
I served my Paella to friends who came for dinner last week so I didn’t have the heart to stop
the evening while I tried to take photographs !!!
We put the pot on the table – poured many many glasses of fabulous Nitida Limited Release Vionier and really didn’t have pretty plates of food – mostly we ate right out of the pot “casalinga” style.
Hubby uses the table cloth as a napkin – so now our friends have taken to doing it too!!
I just love it!!
I love food!
I will be off on holiday in Mauritiusfor the next 10 days –
nursing King Nose, worshipping the sun and drinking many many glasses of fabulousness
with my awesome Sis-in-law Rosa (aka my partner in all crimes of an alcoholic nature!) and
I shall try my best to bring back a great Creole recipe for you.