scallop paella and andalusian gazpacho

His·pan·o·phile
n. An admirer of Spain or of Spanish-speaking countries or peoples.

Doing my own half-baked reverse engineer on the Greek root here, I figured that if Philadelphia is the city of brotherly love, my philia for all things Hispano at our little dinner gathering last night was like drinking too much at a family reunion and then finding out at breakfast the next morning that the guy you’d been flirting with all night was your husband’s cousin. Meanwhile Italy, my Number One Dude, had been compelled to spend the evening brooding at the far end of the table in the guise of an experimental panna cotta (beet, to be exact — photos and tale of woe forthcoming), gloomily observing the all too frequent flash of my wine-stained teeth, my foolish giggling, and the lightning-speed sedentary can-can of my legs uncrossing and crossing in response to florid accounts of sunsets in Barcelona. Damn you, Spain! — he thought, covering one eye with white chocolate ganache in the hopes of making himself seem more attractive to the other party goers — What’s your game? You’re not the only one rolling your R’s and carbo-loading! Sure, she thinks you’re hot stuff now, but when she wakes up in the morning she’ll realize that paella IS JUST YELLOW RISOTTO.

I went all-out for this meal, starting with a pretty killer (if I do say so myself) gazpacho before bringing out this saffron-tinged Busby Berkeley number. I’ll include the recipes for both, even though JM didn’t get a chance to take pictures of the soup. And Pops, just so you know: there are no shortcuts on these dishes in the carb department, so don’t even ask. The idea is that you’re just too tipsy to notice and wake up feeling guilty — because that’s what inappropriate flirtation is all about.

Scallop Paella
(Serves 6)

Ingredients:
-1/4 cup of olive oil
-1-2 cups of medium-sized scallops
-1 onion, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, diced
-2 cups of arborio rice
-1/2 to 1 cup of dry white wine
-4 cups broth (I used vegetable)
-a pinch or two of saffron, for color (turmeric also works)
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 or 2 roasted red bell peppers, sliced into strips
-1 cup of artichoke hearts, marinated in fresh lemon juice
-1 lemon, cut into wedges (for serving)
-1 tbs chopped parsley (for garnish)

*Note* You’re going to need a cavernous pan for this dish. Seriously. Take the biggest pan you have and water it with Miracle Gro for a week before even attempting this funny business. You know why? Because paella multiplies, and very quickly. It is the rabbit of the dinner food kingdom.

Act I: Okay, got your man-sized pan? Good. Put it over high heat and pour in half of the oil. When it’s good and hot, throw those scallops in there and cook each side for about a minute. Take the scallops out and put them aside in a bowl, also pouring out any liquid left over in the pan.

Act II: Pour the rest of the olive oil in the pan and reduce the heat to a healthy medium flame. Sautée the onion and garlic for about five minutes, and then add the rice. Stir it really frequently to make sure it doesn’t burn. Actually, the paella will pretty much own you for next 30 minutes, so make sure you’ve got your wine glass, your TV, and your fire extinguisher handy so that you don’t need to go anywhere. Stir, stir, and stir some more. After another five minutes, add the wine. Stir, stir, stir. Add the salt, pepper, saffron, and stir. Now start adding the broth incrementally, letting the rice soak up the liquid but being sure not to let it dry out too much. After about ten minutes, add all but a few strips of the bell peppers (which you’ll need for garnish). Stir, stir, stir. Add more liquid and stir. You’re almost there, so don’t give up hope. After another ten minutes have passed, taste your handiwork. Is it salty enough? No? Add some salt, then. This all depends a lot on the broth you’ve used — I like low sodium broth, because A) I like to control how much salt goes into my food, and B) because I like the challenge of transforming something that tastes like dirty water into culinary artistry. Anyway, go on and toss the artichoke hearts in there, stir, and then add the scallops and stir. See, the whole tasting exercise a few stirs ago was also designed to bring you up to date on how done the rice actually is. You want to add your artichoke hearts and scallops 3-5 minutes from donezilla.

Act III: This is where your knowledge of Busby Berkeley will come in handy. As you set the lemon wedges, additional pepper strips, and parsley on the serving dish, you’ll want to have ‘Gold Diggers of 1933′ or ‘Dames’ playing on that TV you brought in earlier. Think symmetry. Think a cat’s whiskers. Think wine-induced OCD. You need to make the meal’s looks worthy of its flavor.

Andalusian Gazpacho
(Serves 6)

Ingredients:
-5 tomatoes, blanched, peeled, de-seeded, and diced
-1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced (reserve the other half for garnish)
-2 large cloves garlic, chopped
-2 stalks celery, chopped
-1 piece baguette, soaked for a few minutes in water
-1 shallot, chopped
-salt and pepper
-roasted red & green peppers, peeled, de-seeded, and chopped
-splash balsamic vinegar
-1/2 tsp cumin
-1/2 – 1 tsp smoked paprika (regular also works)
-1/4 cup olive oil (a little less if you’d like to use oil for garnish)
-1/2-1 cup water (depending on desired consistency)

This one is way less intensive: Put everything except the water, salt, and spices in a bowl and puree. Add the spices to taste, and thin out with a bit of water. Boom. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill — both the soup and your fine self. Top with finely chopped cucumber before serving, and bring out some bread for dunking. Gazpawesome.

70 comments

  1. Bodoc

    Wow — you’re really upping your game!

    Yes, I’m trying to control carbs. How about exploring a cioppino recipe?

    The gazpacho is a must-do here, for sure.

    I will dream about the paella….

  2. wildgourmet

    as–one of the nicer gazpacho recipes i have seen in a long time. i never understood the ones that called for chicken stock…and i hate that i have fallen behind in reading blogs…hope all is well

  3. Mikalee Byerman

    OK, now I’m just annoyed. I’m perusing Freshly Pressed later than usual today, which means it’s now almost lunch time. And I’m hungry. Like WAY hungry…

    And this post is completely unfair!
    ;)

  4. Tamie

    I love Paella….Yum. I once made it for a special guest, whom I had never met before personally, only to find out that he had just returned from Spain and had been a Chef at a very prestigious hotel…ARGH… He praised my version of paella…but I am sure that he was just being gracious. Your recipe looks and sounds wonderful…thanks for sharing.

  5. Mariela C

    I loved your picture and the recipes! My mother”s family was from the same region, so I really know how to make a great gazpacho! I am glad that you like Spanish cuisine, the best chefs and restaurants are located in the northern part of the country ( Barcelona ).

  6. Aisiri

    did this WITHOUT the scallops, since I am vegetarian… it just had something missing :( Any idea what?
    And is there any replacement for artichoke hearts? It’s hard to find in India.

    • secretmenu

      It’s amazing to get a comment from India–the land of beautiful rice dishes! I imagine you could make a really wonderful fusion with a variety of Indian ingredients: firm-fleshed pickled vegetables to replace the artichokes, and maybe even some chickpeas to replace the scallops. It wouldn’t be any less paella-like than my own invention, which is very American as it is!

  7. cinquecentoproject

    Congrats on Fressly Pressed!

    Love your comedic style. I can just picture Italy in the corner. Being that I’m currently living in Italy and love Dirty Dancing, I kept saying “Nobody puts Italy in the corner!” LOL.

  8. Pistrucci

    You have- how to take a great dish make it better and write a recipe with imagination and creativity down to an ART form.
    Amazing!

  9. TOMMYENLASIERRADEMADRID

    Good for you and your good managing of mediterranean rices.
    Scallops is in my opinion one of the best main dishes to put in any seafood rice. Anyway, i would recommend to use a fumee ( a good fish stock ) to increase the taste. That´s the old recipe of the fishermen all over the world.

  10. Damommachef

    Definitely going to try the gazpacho. I am severely allergic to shellfish. Do you think chicken, Salmon, or Tilapia might work as a sub? So far, Salmon and Tilapia are the only sea food that I don’t have a reaction to.

    • secretmenu

      Thanks for your comment! I think tilapia would be fantastic, though I’d recommend incorporating it into the paella at the last possible minute, and very gently. It’s such a delicate fish, it might shred to pieces! You could also serve it over the top of the rice, sprinkled with lemon juice and paprika, topped with garnish…mmm.

  11. lulu

    Paella of any kind is a favorite, and with access to fresh seafood here, it is a frequently made dish. Yum! Gazpacho is also a favorite, and I like the spice twists to your recipe. Beet pana cotta…I’ll have to wait and see on that.
    I enjoyed browsing your site.

  12. aliciaenvivo

    And here I thought I was something special… but, apparently there’s a word for me. Here’s to being an entirely definable hispanophile! lol.

    Thank you thank you for the paella recipe. It has officially become a must.

  13. Michael

    I tried to make this last evening and my kitchen exploded. That’s when I realized that I wasn’t born with any culinary skills.

  14. PCC Advantage

    Oh my…that looks and sounds amazing!! I would love to attempt the recipe, but I’m pretty sure I’d be one of those chefs who would require a fire extinguisher at all times… ;)

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