Not too long ago, the taste of Europe was brought to life at a small dinner party for a few of our friends. If we can’t be in Spain, might as well bring Spain to us. Tapas parties are a great way to spice up the usual potluck affair. The variety of dishes is endless, and the combinations of flavors are unforgettable. There are a few things that must always be on hand for a proper tapas party–paella is one of them. Sangria is another. Oh, and a little something sweet to finish it off. Like a bit of cake. But it’s not good to have dessert before dinner, so cake will have to wait.
Many paellas are studded with seafood gems like mussels and shrimp. Or there are land versions with chicken and chorizo. There are as many variations as there are Spanish towns–they differ by region and also family tradition. The one thing they have in common is rice–a short grain rice that soaks up moisture. Calasparra and Bomba are preferred if you can find them. Our local grocers only had arborio, which is a fine substitute. The cake is a dense, spongecake with a light lemon flavor. And it’s not overly sweet, which makes it a great companion for fruits. And maybe a bit more sangria. We’re sending the cake recipe right over to Sandy for the Bake Your Own Bread (BYOB) Challenge.
Chicken Paella – Serves 8-10
1 pound chicken breast tenders
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
14 ounces chicken broth
14 ounces diced tomatoes
2-2 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup parsley
Saffron (8-10 threads)
1 1/2 cups water
1. Pour a bit of olive oil in a very wide and deep pan. Cook chicken until juices run clear, approximately 5-8 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
2. Add onions, garlic, bell peppers and tomatoes. Cook down until soft, approximately 8-10 minutes.
3. Add chicken broth, canned tomatoes, rice and saffron. Cover and allow to simmer, approximately 15 minutes. (Check halfway through and pour in one cup of water. Add a bit more if needed.)
4. Add frozen peas and half of parsley and fold into rice. Continue cooking on low until peas are warm, approximately 5-10 minutes.
5. Upon serving, sprinkle with remaining parsley. Salt to taste.
Bizcocho de Límon – Serves 16-20
1 cup sugar
8 ounces lemon yogurt
½ cup of grapeseed oil
1 cup milk
3 cups self-rising flour
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1. In electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar in a bowl until creamy.
2. Add the yogurt and oil. Continue to mix.
3. In a small bowl, sift flour with lemon zest. Add flour and milk slowly to wet ingredients in electric mixing bowl, alternating between the two.
4. Poor into a buttered and floured fluted tube pan. Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 45 -55 minutes.
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