Sunday Family Dinner

Sunday Family Dinner Celebrates the May Babies!

May 2016 Fam Din
Last weekend, Sunday Family Dinner celebrated the May babies in our immediate family — Dad and I!

It was a casual menu for the evening with an iteration of surf and turf — my fav! We didn’t choose any dishes that required long periods of cooking and we managed to do a lot of the mise work earlier on in the day.

May 2016 Fam Din
So when it came time for the actual “cooking”, it was pretty easy peasey. Which freed up my time to make/sip pre-dinner cocktails and snap a few photos.

And can we talk about how GINORMOUS these strawberries were???

May 2016 Fam Din
I also wrangled Lucas into staying still for a moment to snap a pic with his fur-cousin. He looks so handsome with his fresh hair cut….what a cutie-patootie. And I intend to call him that until he’s at least 50 years old.

Me? Oh…I’ll still be 21 at that time.

Extra bonus points for those of you who caught the red SOLO cups target pyramid in the background.

It was a target…..

May 2016 Fam Din
…..for their NERF gun competition.

And let’s talk about this pic below. I told them to give me a fierce, rugged look.

Lucas nailed it….Nina, um….not as much.

May 2016 Fam Din
Bella hadn’t seen her Gramps in quite some time so she wanted to make sure that he wouldn’t forget what she looked like.

Grampa–do you see me?!?  PET ME!!!  Give me treats!!! And by treats, I mean–STEAK!!! HELLOOO–I’m right down here!!! Look at me, look at me!!!

She’s not needy at all….

May 2016 Fam Din
Remember when I mentioned cocktails?

Yea…we had a few of them.  And how could we help ourselves? They were so pretty in pink!

I called them Minty Blood Orange Sparklers. It started off with me making a batch of fresh mint simple syrup. After it cooled, I added a splash or two over crushed ice and threw in some vodka, fresh lime juice, Blood Orange flavored Italian Soda and some mint leaves.

Fruity, minty, citrusy, summery……

And the kiddos got MOCKtails—all of the ingredients mentioned above minus the vodka.

May 2016 Fam Din

Speaking of kiddos, we put Maya to work this month. She helped her mom prep our appetizers for the evening — Grilled Flatbread with Ribeye Steak, Tomatoes, Burrata and Italian Salsa Verde.

Here she is whipping up the salsa verde in the mini food processor.

May 2016 Fam Din
Her salsa verde had fresh cilantro, parsley, jalapeno, garlic lime juice, oil and S&P. Usually we add some capers and anchovies to the party too but we opted to nix them this time around –so it was kind of akin to a chimichurri sauce.

But who cares—it was fantastic!

And yes, there’s another one of those Yogurtland spoons…..we love prepping with them!

May 2016 Fam Din
Beef time!

We tasked our B.I.L., Curtis, with grilling up the steaks for the flatbread.

Hello Beautifuls…..

May 2016 Fam Din
And VOILA! The finished product!

Seester T lightly oiled the grates and threw some pizza dough that Maya and Nini had rolled out over them. After it had cooked through, she topped it all with the sliced steaks, ripe Roma tomatoes, burrata and salsa verde. It was lovely! Tons of flavor and would be a great summer meal on its own with a chilled glass of vino.

You could also sub out skirt steak for the ribeye and fresh mozz instead of burrata. But for me, I’m obsessed with burrata and love how creamy and luscious it is.

May 2016 Fam Din
Earlier when I mentioned that dinner was easy peasy, I failed to say it was because we tasked the two older kiddos with the actual cooking of our main entrees – Paella! Paella seemed like an ideal way to get the “surf” component into our meal with lots of shrimp, clams and scallops all in one pot. Plus the chicken and chorizo added the “turf”.

YUM!

Nina and Nini our pros at making Paella and since we had to make a bunch to feed the crowd, we decided that each gal would make their own pot as a competition! They each got a Le Creuset dutch oven to use and all the same ingredients.

And then they were off!

May 2016 Fam Din
This is Nina’s finished product….look at all of those colors!

May 2016 Fam Din - Nina
And here is Nini’s….I could dive right on in!

May 2016 Fam Din-Nini
They both were picture perfect right? And I was hard pressed to tell which niece made which pot.

Wondering who won in the end?

Maya did…….with this picture.

May 2016 Fam Din

Okay, okay…. it was a tie.

Both were delicious and had lovely crispy socarrat. It would have been impossible to choose one from the other. My nieces are so talented and it’s rather comforting to know that they can cook for us as we get along in years.

Oh!

And during dinner, we enjoyed a lovely Caymus Vineyards 40th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon –  THANKS Curtis!

May 2016 Fam Din

Then it was time for BIRTHDAY CAKE!!

Normally I’m a chocolate gal but sometimes a light and fruity cake is just divine! So this month I asked Seestrah N to fix up a white cake with fresh berries and fluffy frosting. She came up with this behemoth of a layered cake with ginormous strawberries and frosting made of whipped mascarpone cheese and heavy cream.

Isn’t it lovely????

May 2016 Fam Din
By the time we finished with presents, desserts and dishes….Dad was ready to head home. But we convinced them to stay for just a big longer…..

to PLAY BINGO!!!!!!!

Yup BINGO!  Seester had gotten a BINGO set as a white elephant present and it was high time we cracked it open.

May 2016 Fam Din
And the winners got lottery scratchers!

Here’s the birthday boy scratching away after winning a round of BINGO. Initially he said they’d only stay for one game…..but that one game turned into five 🙂

May 2016 Fam Din
And wouldn’t you know it, neither of the birthday babies won the final blackout round — that went to my B.I.L. Rick!

Talk about happy camper! BINGO winner gets a BINGO scratcher!

May 2016 Fam Din

All in all, it was a great Fam Din –which incidentally was the 4 year anniversary of our Sunday Family Dinners Isn’t it rather wonderful that our siblings’ tradition has carried on?

Can’t wait for next month – and neither can the pups ❤

May 2016 Fam Din

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails:  Minty Blood Orange Sparklers and Vino
Appetizers: Grilled Flatbread with Ribeye Steak, Tomatoes, Burrata and Salsa Verde
Entrees: Paella
Dessert: Mile-High Fresh Strawberry and Cream Layered Cake

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Pork · Poultry · Seafood

Cook’s Illustrated Paella

Spanish Paella prepared in a Dutch Oven

I’ll tell ya…..the holidays were quite productive in our kitchen. From sweets to savories to old time classics and new Foodventures. What a whirlwind!

On one particular evening, we were able to check off another dish off my “must make” list—PAELLA! We turned to Cook’s Illustrated version of Paella since it didn’t require the traditional paella pan but used a heavy dutch oven instead. It was perfect because although I love the look of paella pans I don’t have the storage space to keep them.

We were all very happy with the end results of the dish. Especially because we achieved the coveted soccarat–the crunchy rice that forms at the bottom of the pan!

I did have two “uh-oh” moments that were completely my fault. First, we added much more seafood than the recipe called for. When it comes to seafood in my family—more is better. As a result of the extra seafood, we had so much excess liquid in the pot. We ended up having to spoon out some of the liquid because too much moisture equals no soccarat.

The second challenge we needed to problem solve was that I left the lid on during step 6. The lid trapped the steam into the pot and would have never allowed the lovely soccarat layer to form. Per my sister’s quick thinking, we took off the lid and returned the pot into the oven under the broiler setting. The paella was left under the broiler until it browned and then we switched it back to the stove (lid off!) to complete step 6. PHEW! Luckily it all worked! Lesson learned.

This Paella was just a Pot of Goodness. You’re going to want to make this one. For Reals. Like right now.

Just learn from my mistakes and read each step carefully 🙂

Cheers Friends!

_______________________________

Paella
From Cooking at Home with America’s Test Kitchen 2006

This paella recipe calls for making it in a Dutch oven (the Dutch oven should be 11 to 12 inches in diameter with at least a 6-quart capacity). With minor modifications, it can also be made in a paella pan. Cured Spanish chorizo is the sausage of choice for paella, but fresh chorizo or Portuguese linguiça is an acceptable substitute.

Soccarat, a layer of crusty browned rice that forms on the bottom of the pan, is a traditional part of paella. In our paella, soccarat does not develop because most of the cooking is done in the oven. We have provided instructions to develop soccarat in step 5; if you prefer, skip this step and go directly from step 4 to step 6.—the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated

Ingredients:

1 Pound Extra-Large Shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
Salt and Ground Black Pepper
Olive Oil
8 or 9 Medium Garlic Cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (2 generous tablespoons)
1 Pound Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs, each thigh trimmed of excess fat and halved crosswise
1 Red Bell Pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut pole to pole into 1/2-inch-wide strips
8 Ounces Spanish Chorizo, sliced 1/2 inch thick on the bias
1 Medium Onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
One 14.5 Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes, drained, minced, and drained again
2 Cups Valencia or Arborio Rice
3 Cups Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
1/3 Cup Dry White Wine
1/2 Teaspoon Saffron Threads, crumbled
1 Dried Bay Leaf
1 Dozen Mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1/2 Cup Frozen Peas, thawed
2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves
1 Lemon, cut into wedges, for serving

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position; heat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Toss the shrimp, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 teaspoon of the garlic in a medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper; set aside.

2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the pepper strips and cook, stirring occasionally, until the skin begins to blister and turn spotty black, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the pepper to a small plate and set aside.

3. Add 1 teaspoon oil to the now-empty Dutch oven; heat the oil until shimmering but not smoking. Add the chicken pieces in a single layer; cook, without moving the pieces, until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn the pieces and brown on the second side, about 3 minutes longer; transfer the chicken to a medium bowl. Reduce the heat to medium and add the chorizo to the pot; cook, stirring frequently, until deeply browned and the fat begins to render, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the chorizo to the bowl with the chicken and set aside.

4. Add enough oil to the fat in the Dutch oven to equal 2 tablespoons; heat over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes; stir in the remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes; cook until the mixture begins to darken and thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook until the grains are well coated with the tomato mixture, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, wine, saffron, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Return the chicken and chorizo to the pot, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven; cook until the rice absorbs almost all of the liquid, about 15 minutes.

5. Remove the paella from the oven (close the oven door to retain heat). Uncover the paella; scatter the shrimp over the rice, insert the mussels hinged-side down into the rice (so they stand upright), arrange the bell pepper strips in a pinwheel pattern, and scatter the peas over the top. Cover and return to the oven; cook until the shrimp are opaque and the mussels have opened, 10 to 12 minutes.

6. Optional: If soccarat (see headnote) is desired, set the Dutch oven, uncovered, over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, rotating the pot 180 degrees after about 2 minutes for even browning.

7. Let the paella stand, covered, about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that have not opened and the bay leaf, if it can be easily removed. Sprinkle the paella with the parsley and serve, passing the lemon wedges separately.