Having a houseful of people for days at a time can be tough to figure out just what to feed everyone. I love quick and easy dishes that don’t require a lot of my time or attention. Once you get all the ingredients into the pan, it’s an easy go. You don’t even need a paella pan, a regular sauté pan or even a large electric skillet works beautifully.
You’ll want to use Spanish rice and Spanish saffron if you can for the best flavor but any short grain rice will do nicely such as an Italian Arborio which can be found in your local supermarket. Sauté a little shallot, preferred, or onion, garlic and infuse some chicken or vegetable stock with the saffron to start. Choose some protein to mix into the rice such as chicken, shrimp, scallops, mussels or chorizo and the dish comes together quickly. Follow the recipe or be creative and enjoy your company for the weekend! Mangia~
Chicken and Shellfish Paella
1 package chicken thighs
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 shallot, minced or ½ onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, reserve some for garnish
½ cup white wine
1 (15-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed
4 cups short grain Spanish rice
6 cups stock, warmed with a generous pinch of saffron thread
1 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1-2 pound mussels
1/2 cup sweet peas, frozen and thawed
Lemon wedges, for serving
Heat oil in a paella or sided sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to the chicken and brown skin-side down both sides. Remove from pan and reserve.
In the same pan, make a sofrito by sautéing the shallot, garlic, and parsley. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes on a medium heat. Add the wine and cook until it reduces some, about 5 minutes, stir in the rice and stir-fry to coat the grains. Add the crushed tomatoes and stock and simmer for 10 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid. Add chicken, clams, mussels and shrimp, tucking them into the rice. Let the paella simmer, without stirring, until the rice is al dente, for about 10 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, when the rice is filling the pan add the peas.
Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges.
I met Barbara and Bill Spencer sometime around 2004 when I was scouting heirloom tomatoes from Paso Robles farmers market. Barbara invited me out to the farm and so my husband and I trekked out there one morning. We didn’t want to disrupt their farm work but yet they stopped working when we arrived and gave us a thorough tour of their lovely little farm. It is such a peaceful unique farm you just want to lie down in the grass and daydream watching the clouds pass by. But a farmers work is never done and we wanted to get out of their way so they could return to their chores. Absolutely not! They insisted we stay for lunch and Bill pulled a beautiful roasted mutton out of the refrigerator and a loaf of freshly baked bread, yes Bill makes his own bread! Barbara foraged for greens and veggies for a salad and whipped up a delicious little dressing. We ate and chatted about life and the farm for what seemed like all afternoon and with sadness had to depart and leave this magical place.
I host several tours to Cambria and Paso Robles and I always finish the tour on Sunday with a day at Windrose Farm with Bill and Barbara. No-one ever wants to leave! I wish all of you could join us for a weekend discovering food and wine and a central coast lifestyle but if you can’t, I’d like to share a piece of Windrose Farm with you. Following is an excerpt from their website and a glimpse inside the magic of Windrose Farm. Join us Oct 24th – Oct 26th for a trip that includes a visit to Windrose.
Windrose is a small family farm located east of Paso Robles and tucked into a unique valley of 50 acres, 12 are in vegetable rotations, 6 are in apples and stone fruit and 5 are sheep pasture. The rest is habitat – full of animal, bird and insect life.
Owners Bill and Barbara Spencer have been certified organic from August 1999 to 2009, but are currently transitioning to biodynamic! The farm has been “clean” for twenty years; since its purchase in 1990.
In 1993 Windrose began going to the Farmer’s Markets with produce from their first small market garden. Having already discovered the enjoyment of growing many “specialty” varieties of vegetables – most particularly heirloom tomatoes and potatoes, they also found they loved selling to wonderful restaurants as well as to their friends at Farmer’s Markets.
In addition to tomatoes and potatoes, Windrose grows onions, garlic, green and dry beans, peppers, eggplant, winter squash, carrots, turnips, beets, cucumbers, melons and many varieties of greens. They also have apples and stone fruit. Their little valley is a unique micro-climate that is good for the diverse crops of lilacs, apples, super-sweet onions and melons.
Bill & Barbara state that “The longer we farm, the more enthralled we are with the old traditional seeds and plants. We strive as much as possible to use open-pollinated or heirloom varieties and have begun our own seed-saving program. Every day brings us more knowledge and a stronger belief in the principals and practices of sustainable organic farming. It is complex and labor-intensive – but the burst of life in the soil and the habitat of our little valley is astonishing.”
Barbara and Bill have often sought to better explain their philosophy about the environment that is Windrose Farm.
In this years Biodynamic calendar we found the following by Patrick Holden, a soils expert, long time organic farmer and advocate of the ‘biodynamic‘ philosophy:
“We subscribe to Rudolph Steiner’s* philosophy that the farm should be seen as an ecosystem in its own right, and that our striving should be to move towards building and maintaining plant and animal communities, which are ecologically suited to its unique combination of soil, climate and place.”
Barbara and Bill cherish their time at the ecosystem that is Windrose and sharing the bounty that it produces.
* Rudolph Steiner founder and creator of the “Biodynamic philosophy and principles.
Visit Windrose Farm at www.windrosefarm.org
Join Chef Debbi and The Debettes for our
Fall Farm, Food and Wine Tour
of California’s Central Coast
for more info click here
Central Coast Fall Harvest Adventure
October 24th – 26th, 2014
Join Chef Debbi on another Farm, Food and Wine Adventure
Stay at the lovely Cambria Pines Lodge
Join Chef Debbi & her Debettes for a dinner party/wine tasting Friday evening
Be escorted by The Wine Wrangler experts around Paso Robles to visit:
Pasolivo Olive Ranch for a tasting of local olive oils & more
Rangeland Ranch and Winery
Take a hay ride around the sustainable ranch and vineyards with owner Laird Foshay
Wine Tasting and Vineyard lunch with Lisa & Laird on the patio with a panaromic view of the hills
Wine tasting on Vineyard Dr. as we make our way back to Jack Creek Pumpkin Farm where you can pick up holiday pumpkins, gourds and more
Sat. evening explore local cuisine on your own and rest up for Sun!
Sunday we’ll caravan to Windrose Farm for a biodynamic tour of Bill & Barbara Spencers mystical farm
Chef Debbi, Barbara & Debettes will create a farm feast for you with what we’ve found on the farm that day
In season usually we can find luscious heirloom tomatoes, shishito peppers, potatoes, all kinds of greens and it’s apple season!
Don’t miss this limited seating tour. Drive yourself up the coast and meet Chef Debbi & her crew for a Farm, Food and Wine Adventure!
$675.00, per person, double occupancy
I also have a special suite for a party of 5-6 ppl, call for a special rate
All rooms have fireplaces, hot buffet breakfast is included
$650.00 total fee if paid in full by Sept 1. Payment plan available, contact Chef Debbi @ info@debskitchen for billing
There will be a 2.9% fee added (listed as a ‘tax’) but it is a credit card fee that goes to Paypal
A Little Glimpse Into Fall 2013 Tour
Sorry we missed you. Check back for upcoming Tours
October 11 -13, 2013
Fall Harvest Tour
Cambria & Paso Robles
California’s Beautiful Central Coast
Accommodations at Cambria Pines Lodge
Did you know October is Scarecrow Harvest Festival in Cambria, don’t miss them!
Friday Evening Events
Incredible Cambria Fall Farmers Market
Self-Guided Tour, Optional
Italian Style Dinner Party Cooking Class
Learn to make your own mozzarella cheese
Your own handmade grilled pizza
Italian Salads, Local Wine & Fun!
10:00 – 3:00 (approximately)
Tour with Wine Wrangler
Vineyard Wine Tour and Tasting
Private ‘Vineyard’ Lunch and Tasting at Croad Winery
10 – 2 (approximately)
Biodynamic Farm Tour & Lunch
Join Bill & Barbara Spencer for a unique farm tour and learn all about Biodynamic Farming and why it should be important to you and your food supply. Spend a few hours on a real working family farm then relax under the huge oak tree with a seasonal farm to table lunch prepared with ingredients that are found on the farm that day. Well, maybe a few extra treats thrown in! It’s a day you soon won’t forget