Family Style

We had the last family dinner at my house before the summer party season moves over to the family estate. Upcoming events include Junapalooza, where we will celebrate my birthday (4), Erica’s (5), and Rio’s (11). Like Jessica’s birthday this year, the celebration will take place on my actual birthday, since it is conveniently located on a Saturday, when we are all available to celebrate. Then there will be Kalli’s traditional Birthday Camping Party in July (not to mention Megan and Rob’s 25th anniversary).

There’s lots to look forward to!

On the day of our family dinner, I came home from work to the welcome sight of Megan already in my kitchenette, chopping things up. Our brother’s giant lethal weapon cast iron pan was on the stove and the cookbook Dad made me was open on the table:

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I love how it’s decorated with his drawings, and his inscription to me:

cookbook1

Not to mention the practicality of having the recipes in plastic sleeves, which can be wiped off, unlike paper.

For the last family dinner, we made a recipe from Rio’s mother, and this time, we made one of Dad’s: paella. He always said it was just the thing for a party, and so it was.

Of course, this party consisted of opinionated cooks and picky eaters, so the following modifications were made. Peas and mussels were axed because some of us don’t like them, and the pork shoulder was deemed unnecessary since chicken, shrimp, and garlic sausage were already in the dish. Here is our father’s original recipe:

Paella

6 chicken thighs [we used boneless, skinless breasts chopped into pieces]
1 onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
6 tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped, or tinned chopped tomatoes work well [guess which we used?]
4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
4 oz. boneless pork, chopped [we omitted this]
4 oz garlic sausage, chopped
1 & 1/2 cups white rice
4 cups chicken stock
12 mussels [omitted this]
12 prawns [we added more prawns to make up for it. Peeled them though recipe doesn’t say to]
1/4 teaspoon saffron
4 oz peas, fresh or frozen [skipped them too]

Fry the chicken in olive oil until brown. Remove to a plate. Cook onions, garlic, pepper and pork over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until onion and pepper are cooked. Stir in rice and saffron, cook for a few minutes, and add stock. Bring to a boil. Add chicken and sausage and mix. Add mussels, prawns and peas to the top of the pan, cover, and cook gently for about 20 minutes. All the liquid should be absorbed and the rice should be tender.

As I said, we didn’t use the mussels or peas, but 20 minutes seems like a long time for both of them. I don’t think we cooked the shrimp more than 10 minutes and they were perfect.

I hadn’t had it in some time, and I had some concern that the only spice being saffron, known more for its expense and color than flavor, would not be enough. But the dish was delicious and flavorful and I am sorry to say that there were no leftovers, which I secretly hoped for.

Jonathan brought a lemon tart with him, made from lemons Rio had brought back from a trip visiting her family in her native Southern California. This time, he added a little lemon juice and almond extract to the shortbread crust, which was magically delicious.

I was having so much fun that I totally forgot to document this in photos. But maybe that’s the sign of a really good time.

A YEAR AGO: Speaking of families, Stella officially joined ours.

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2 thoughts on “Family Style

  1. What wonderful memories you will always carry with you my dear friend. Such passion and excitement in your words, it’s truly inspiring, the proof, forgetting a photo that you did shows how much the magic of it all just absorbed your thoughts.

  2. Guy has such a wonderful way with words…I say Amen to all that he has written. Also, I would like to say thank you for the Paella recipe….I love this dish and look forward to making it.

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