Guest Post Louisa Edwards

One of the questions I’m asked the most often is “How did you learn to cook?” I guess when you write culinary-themed romance novels featuring hot chefs as the heroes (and often the heroines!) it’s natural that readers are curious about my history in the kitchen.

And the truth is, I’ve never worked in a restaurant kitchen. I didn’t go to culinary school. But I grew up with two parents who both love to cook, to experiment with new techniques, and explore the world through ethnic cuisines. My mom and dad taught me a lot about food—not just how deliciously satisfying it is to take raw ingredients and turn them into a nourishing meal, but also about the deep connections forged between people who sit down to that meal together.

The recipe I’m sharing below is from Hot Under Pressure, my most recent release. It’s the conclusion of the Rising Star Chef trilogy, which has followed a team of chefs through a high-stakes culinary competition to the final challenge, where strong, silent, ex-Navy chef Henry Beck must go head to head with his estranged wife, hippie chef Skye Gladwell.

So here’s Beck’s Paella, which is one of the recipes you’ll see him use in the Rising Star Chef competition—but you’ll be the savvy readers who know that this is actually my wonderful father’s recipe, honed and developed over years and happily tested by my family. Enjoy it with your families! And let me know how you like it. You can email me your thoughts on the recipe, or on Hot Under Pressure, at Louisa@louisaedwards.com. Or you can connect with me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter!

Beck’s Paella (Serves 6-8)

Paella is a generous, informal dish that is perfect for parties and large family gatherings! It’s very forgiving when it comes to proportions and ingredients—basically, it’s all about making it the way you like it. There are a few steps to go through, but I promise, it will be worth it when you wow your guests with the finished dish.

Stock Preparation

½ cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon saffron

5 ½ cups stock, fish or chicken

¼ teaspoon ground coriander

1 bay leaf

Mix white wine, lemon juice and crushed saffron in a small bowl and let stand to allow the saffron to bloom.

Bring stock to a simmer in a 3 quart saucepan. Add wine, lemon juice, the saffron mixture, coriander, and the bay leaf to the hot stock. Hold at simmer while preparing vegetables and seafood.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Meat Preparation

¼ – ½ pound diced ham or bacon

1 pound spicy sausage, such as linguiça or Spanish chorizo

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks

Remove the sausage casing and sauté the sausage in olive oil in a skillet until lightly browned. Break into bite-sized pieces while cooking. Remove browned sausage to a platter.

Sauté ham or bacon and remove to platter with the sausage.

Add chicken pieces to the skillet, brown on all sides in the pork fat and remove to platter. Reserve the pork fat.

Seafood Preparation

2-4 small lobster tails (1/2 tail per person)

1 pound large shrimp

1 pound squid (tubes)

½ pound mussels

1 pound clams

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Salt and pepper

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon dried oregano

Cut lobster tails in half lengthwise; you can use kitchen shears to cut through shell.

Peel and devein shrimp.

Toss shrimp and lobster tails in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and the lemon juice and seasonings.

Clean and wash squid. Slice squid tubes into ½ inch rings and add to bowl with shrimp and lobster tails.

Place paella pan or large, oven-proof skillet, on stovetop over medium high heat. Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of reserved pork fat.

Once the oil and fat are hot but not smoking, add lobster tails and sauté for 2 minutes. Remove to platter.

Add shrimp and squid and sauté for two minutes. Remove to platter, then discard fat from paella pan and wipe with a clean towel.

Clean and wash mussels and clams.

Vegetable and Garnish Preparation

1 onion, sliced into ½-inch strips from pole to pole

1 red bell pepper, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 medium tomatoes (in season) or one can diced tomatoes, drained

1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika, hot or sweet

8 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 cups Spanish Arborio rice, or other medium-grain rice

1 cup frozen green peas, thawed

1 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped

lemon wedges

Mince garlic and mash to paste with 1 teaspoon sea salt in a small bowl.

Peel tomatoes and remove seeds. Dice and place in a bowl. Stir in smoked paprika.

Heat oil in paella pan over high heat, then add onions and peppers. Stir fry the vegetables for two minutes, until they begin to soften.

Stir garlic and salt paste into paella pan and stir fry for 1 minute, until the mixture becomes fragrant.

Add tomatoes and paprika to paella pan and stir fry for 1 minute.

Add uncooked rice to paella pan and stir with tomatoes, onions and peppers to coat.

Final preparation

Measure hot stock and add stock or water as needed to make 5 ½ cups. Stir hot stock into rice, tomatoes, onions and pepper mixture and bring to rapid boil on stove. Stir gently and cook about six minutes until liquid thickens and rice appears on surface. You know it’s thickening when your spoon starts to make tracks exposing the bottom of pan.

Turn off heat and add sautéed meats from the platter, then stir in shrimp, squid and peas.

Add lobster tails and push them partly into the rice. Push mussels and clams partway into rice, hinge end down, then drizzle juices accumulated on the platter over the top.

Bake 10 – 15 minutes uncovered on center rack of oven until liquid is absorbed and a crust forms. Rice should be slightly too al dente.

Remove paella pan from oven, cover with aluminum foil or kitchen towel and let stand for 10 minutes. Rice will continue cooking and firm up.

Sprinkle paella with parsley and decorate with lemon wedges. Serve with a simple green salad and a nice, crusty bread to soak up the juices!

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2 Comments

  1. Pat L.

    Thanks for the recipes. Have been waiting for this book.
    patoct@yahoo.com

    Reply
  2. aurian

    Thanks for the guestpost Louisa 🙂 I am certainly not a fan of cooking, and although I would love to tray Paella one day, I just don’t like shrimps.
    But I do love to read about cooks, or watch a cooking show (Hells Kitchen for instance), and this series has been on my wishlist a long time now 🙂 Someday, I will read them.

    Reply

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