Quarantine Paella

~ This is Day 15 ~

It’s almost April!!! The month of March seemed like it took forever to get by. Oh my gosh… What will I do for the entirety of next month???

I’m calling this “quarantine paella” because ingredients are difficult to come by. I try to only go outside to grocery shop when I absolutely need to, i.e. when the fridge is empty. Grocery stores such as Whole Foods Market has all the basic stuff but sometimes the things that I want are out of stock. There are also limits on certain things that you’re allowed to buy. I had hoped to buy 15 lbs of AP flour today but I was only allowed to buy 1 unit, which was 5 lbs. There is no “2-day” prime delivery on Amazon anymore. Everything takes the old regular amount of time (5 business days) or now, even longer to arrive! Jeff Bezos should reimburse us with some Prime membership fees! Totally not going to happen though.

Anyway, with my limited resources and ingredients, I made this paella last night and I’m so glad that I can cook! Thinking about my friends who cannot cook as well as I do… what are they eating? All I want to do is share!! I usually make soffritto ahead of time and just keep a quart in my fridge – it’s good with everything, especially rice! But again, don’t have the excess of ingredients to do things ahead of time. I only put head-on shrimp and bay scallops in this paella, the least variety of sea creatures that I have done in my paella history.

Octopus with Two Sauces

I can’t believe how well this saffron and chamomile sauce turned out. How did I pair saffron and chamomile together? I was sick a week before and I had chamomile tea bags hanging around… saffron is often one-sided because it is such a strong flavor. Chamomile is very light and somehow very light + very strong equals a delicious aromatic mellow flavor.

The other sauce is a purée that is more classic (in terms of pairing), pea and tarragon. I love pairing seafood with tarragon, especially non-fish.

This is a piece of grilled Octopus, with a Pea Tarragon Purée, a Saffron and Chamomile Sauce, and Piquillo Peppers.

 

Paella Mixta

I’ve never been to Spain but I love its cuisine. Spain and Portugal are high on my travel destinations! Paellas in NYC are always so expensive for such a small amount of food so one day as I was shopping, I saw a good quality paella pan on sale and that was it. I started making a lot of paellas at home.

This was the first paella that I’ve ever made. It’s a mixture of seafood, i.e. shrimp and mussels, and spicy chorizo. It was so much satisfying eating this at home, with good wine, and with my brother!

Duo of Asparagus

Spring! The best season for chefs because the farmer’s market is blooming with fresh produce from spring garlic to real market strawberries to a million different edible flowers to fresh chickpeas and fava beans… The Union Square Greenmarket is truly a sight to see if you’re in NYC during the spring season. Albeit, I generally loathe going there because there’s just so many people – taking pictures. It’s like, I’m trying to BUY stuff!!!!

Here is a Duo of Asparagus, White from Holland and Green from the Market, with Saffron Aïoli, Parmesan Croqueta, Pumpernickel Soil, Dragon Mizuna Greens, and Pansies.

Skate Wing with Barley Risotto

I feel like skate is such an under-appreciated fish. I love skate wing. I love the texture of the flesh, the chewiness of it, and how gelatinous it is. A classic way to cook skate is with brown butter, thyme, and garlic. It’s perfect every time. I don’t think I’ve had it any other way.

This Skate Wing is served with a Barley Risotto, Rock Shrimp, Garlic Chives, a Riesling Saffron Sauce, Mascarpone Foam, and Saltwort.

Roasted Beet & Red Endive Salad

Remember that red beet and endive salad from Valentine’s Day? Well, it was so well received that I put it as the “salad” on the a la carte menu, with a few minor changes. It stayed on the a la carte menu for three months. Now, it’s May 31, and a new salad just replaced it… fitting with the current weather and season!

This was a Roasted Beet and Red Endive Salad, with Saffron Aïoli, Pumpernickel “Soil”, Sunflower Seeds, and Pea Tendrils.

Recipe: Saffron Aïoli

Traditionally, aïoli is an emulsion of oil and garlic. When I use the term “aïoli”, it is an emulsified sauce containing oils, egg yolks, water, and flavorings, such as saffron or paprika.

Creates 1 pint.

  • Pinch of saffron
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 pint neutral oil, such as grapeseed
  • Salt
  • Iced water, as needed

In a small bowl or container, infuse the saffron threads with the lemon juice. In a food processor/Robot Coupe, add the yolks and the lemon-saffron mixture, pulse until combined. Add the oil very slowly, in a steady stream, drop by drop until an emulsified base has formed. *Add a tiny splash of iced water (1 tsp). Once the yolks and oil have formed a stable base, you can pour the rest of the oil in. Season with salt and taste/adjust.

*Adding iced water to aïoli prevents it from breaking and also it thins out the aïoli, if you don’t want your aïoli to be too thick.

Sample dishes:

Red Endive & Roasted Red Beets

Don’t they look like little sailboats?

I created this vegetarian salad for our special Valentine’s Day tasting menu. Since then, this salad has been on our a la carte menu with a few adjustments.

This is a Red Endive Salad with Roasted Red Beets, Saffron Aïoli, Pumpernickel “Soil”, Sunflower Seeds, and Micro Bull’s Blood Beet Greens.