Sunday, June 20, 2010

What to Eat Where You Are

I'll admit I am not like most people when I travel on vacation. Usually people like to get away from the domestic chores that they are obligated to at home. Vacation is the time to let someone else do the cleaning and cooking. Not for me. When I travel (within driving distance mind you..) more than half my car is loaded up with food and cooking equipment. I never know what type of wonderful food I am going to find at my destination, especially with the bounty of summer upon us in the Northeast. This held especially true for my most recent vacation to the Southern coast of Maine. Known for their bountiful seafood selection, I couldn't wait to get there and get cooking.

I actually already had a plan before we even left Connecticut. I knew that I wanted to make something with lots of different types of seafood. I also knew that this dish needed to be easy (I was on vacation...) and impressive and quickly decided on Paella. Paella is a very adaptable dish. You can pretty much make it with anything you have laying around or access too. I obviously knew that I would have fresh lobster, clams, mussels, shrimp and scallops readily available. All I needed was a quick trip to Whole Foods before leaving for vacation. There I picked up basmati rice, Spanish onions and chorizo, then grabbed a few pantry staples (garlic, saffron and olive oil) and freezer basics (chicken stock) from home. I was ready to travel! (I did forget my paella pan, but luckily remembered before my in-laws had left LI and brought one for me.. WHEW!! Close call!! )

We made the Paella on a Saturday, and spent most of that day scouring the Maine roadside for my fresh ingredients. My husband Mike and I were quite a sight on our bikes, peddling around picking up our seafood. We found the lobsters at the farmer's market and had them cooked right there for only $1. Into my bike basket. Next stop was finding a good fish market to pick up the rest. After finally getting a tip, we almost ended up getting killed while biking down a main 4 lane road. After arriving and picking our littleneck clams, mussels and scallops (all locally caught), we had them packed on ice and in they also went into my basket. The bike ride back to the house left the top half of my body drenched in sweat and the bottom half drenched in the ice melting out of my basket. I was quite a sight, but the trip was well worth it. Dinner turned out amazingly and we now have a great tradition to repeat again next summer.

Beach Vacation Paella

Serves 6

3 TBS extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 package Spanish chorizo (cured), sliced
2 large Spanish onions, halved and thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 cups basmati rice
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp saffron, crumbled
1/2 white wine (use whatever you plan on drinking with dinner! I like Albarino, a Spanish white more on the fruity side that goes great with seafood)
1 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 dozen mussels, scrubbed and debearded
6-8 sea scallops (you could also use bay scallops if that is what you had), sliced in half if really large
2 1 pound chick lobsters, steamed, and meat removed (or equivilant), cut into bite size chunks
2-3 TBS Italian parsley, finely chopped

Preheat over to 375

Heat 2 TBS oil in 15 inch Paella pan (brazier) or heavy bottomed roasting pan over medium heat. Add chorizo and cook 5-6 minutes, or until chorizo is browned on both sides. Add onions and garlic. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until onion are all softened. Transfer chorizo mixture to a bowl.

Add another TBS oil in same pan and add rice. Cook until lightly browned, 5 minutes. Add stock, chorizo mixture, saffron, seasonings and stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for 15 minutes uncovered.

Meanwhile, bring wine to a boil in a small saucepan. Add clams and cook 3-5 minutes or until shells just open. Remove with a slotted spoon and repeat with mussels. Throw away any that do not open. Reserve cooking liquid.

Nestle lobster meat, clams, mussels and scallops into rice. Drizzle wine/shellfish liquid reserve over rice/seafood. Bake at 375 on lowest spot in oven for about 10 minutes or until lobster is heated through, scallops are cooked and all liquid is absorbed.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

1 comment:

  1. My mom travels with her own pots and pans etc too when they go away on trips like that! too not so much. I even own pots and pans? :-}