Sunday, June 18, 2006

Manola's Paella

manola's paella

Manola doesn't usually write about food, but today is father's day and instead of thinking about Colin Farrell's penis, she is cooking for el viejo. Mind you, the old man only likes to eat the following: sugar with café con leche, butter with cuban bread, and salt with the following: steak, rice, black beans and fried plantains. Feed this to her father and he will be a happy, silent and satisfied man. Deprive him of this and he will turn into a seventy-something curmudgeon or a three-year old spoiled brat, depending on the tenor of the complaints.

Speaking of which, after spending nearly three weeks in Spain complaining about the food, no sooner did Manola's father arrive in Miami that he prepared himself white rice and black beans for supper. It's true, you can take the Cuban out of the rice and beans but you can't take the rice and beans out of the Cuban!

Occasionally, however, Manola's father will take a wild culinary foray into paella, because Manola's is simply the best in the world, period. Try it at home and make sure you put lots of love in the pot!


Manola's paella is not cooked in the traditional open flat pan. In all her travels, she has yet to try a traditionally cooked paella that is any good -- the seafood tends to be overcooked and the rice underdone. Hence, Manola's paella is an easier version of this peasant dish from Spain that is basically glorified rice.

Note: it helps to wear a pair of Manolo Blahniks while cooking, but it's not absolutely necessary. If you have a man in the house be cautious, as it is a universally known fact that men become frisky at the most inconvenient time. Before he props you up on the counter top for wild, passionate sex, make sure you have already sauteed the garlic, as you must be very attentive during this phase of preparation!


Bring water to a boil and then let simmer until cooked your choice of fish, preferably something meaty like mahi-mahi, until done. If you are a wealthy mogul, you can add lobster, but the paella will not suffer without the buggers. Do add shrimp, however, remove from heat and let stand. The shrimp will cook automatically yet remain tender as the broth cools. Drain, conserve the broth and set the seafood aside.

In a large pot over low heat, sautee chopped onions in gobs of the best possible olive oil until golden, just at the point when the house starts to smell really good. Add chopped bell peppers, preferably in a variety of colors. Continue sauteeing until slightly tender. At this point, tell your man that if he touches you again, you will clobber him with the wooden spoon.

couple cooking Manola's paella

After you clobber him, add an outrageous amount of slivered -- not chopped -- garlic. Simply toss it around the pot until it has released its flavor and you become intoxicated with the delicious scent of sauteed garlic. THIS PART OF THE PROCESS IS CRUCIAL: DO NOT LET THE GARLIC OVERCOOK AND BURN. If you do, start all over again, trust me. And yes, it will provoke another round of man-clobbering.

Next, add red pepper flakes to taste, a generous dash of paprika and Valencia short-grained rice. Stir around to coat each grain of rice thoroughly in the sofrito, or seasoning base, you just prepared. Then add the broth, a bottle of clam juice, Pomi chopped tomatoes, a can of beer -- yes, beer -- salt, pepper and a few threads of the best possible saffron to the mix. Saffron is the KEY INGREDIENT: if you don't have saffron, don't even bother making the paella. If available, add your choice of raw shellfish now and if you like, some frozen peas. Bring to a boil and then let simmer until the rice is done.

Now pour yourself a glass of wine and get drunk on the heady aroma of garlic and saffron. This is also the appropriate moment to please your randy man without even having to take off your optional Manolo Blahniks. Just make sure you dramatically sweep away any sharp objects from the countertop. Besides, the family will be coming over and you want to make sure you have sex BEFORE they ring the doorbell.

(Manola will skip this step as she has yet to find a hurricane season boyfriend.)

In a large, round oven-proof ceramic platter (the Spanish terracota style is classic), fold together the cooked rice, bite-sized pieces of the fish, the shrimp, Spanish capers and finely chopped Italian parsley. Make sure you FOLD and not stir, because you don't want the various components of the paella to become gruel. You can add canned Spanish mussels at this point, even if you have used fresh shellfish, because they contribute wonderful flavor. Keep warm in the oven.

When ready to serve, drizzle the top of the paella with olive oil. Garnish with white asparagus, green olives stuffed with pimentos and a few parsley sprigs.

Manola's dad is not a regular drinker but he would enjoy this dish with a cold, piss-water beer like Miller Lite.

Manola, however, recommends you serve the paella with copious amounts of good Spanish red table wine mixed with tonic for an "instant" and not-too-sweet sangría.

Oh and most importantly, serve it with a smile and lots of love!

Buen provecho!

P.S. Al, what do you think of Manola's paella?


Wide Lawns Subservient Worker said...

That sounds so good that I am going to stalk you, find out who you are, WALK all the way to Miami from wherever I live, which I assure you is far, show up on your doorstep at whatever time it happens to be when I arrive from my long walk, and demand that you heat the leftovers up for me at once. I will bring the tres leches cake I made this morning with me, although it might get hot from my 15 hour walk.

Gypsy Ed Romany said...

Needs more paprika!! Invite me over, I'll bring my own and some bull's blood (Hungarian red wine), and the gypsies in us both will howl with ecstacy at the June crescent moon.

PS Al doesn't have a clue, but he sure is funny ragging us all.

Mighty Dyckerson said...

Can I add a few squirts of my secret man juice?

Manola Blablablanik said...

WLSW: Just make sure you wear big sunglasses, because the paparazzi are lined up at my door. Oh and have UPS freight the tres leches in dry ice ... que rico ... and no worries, we'll just jump into the pool in our size two Cavalli dresses!

Gypsy: such heavy doses of paprika are more important for goulash.

Mighty: now I hadn't thought of that! Is your "secret man juice" as good a "thickening agent" as cornstarch?

Jonathan said...

I realize that the Manola is extremely sexy and, most likely, irresistable to any red-blooded male. However, a man would have to be a fool to disturb her when she is preparing her magnificent paella. Maybe Manola should send him out for ice or something during the critical garlic-sauteeing stage of the cooking process.

Al Capone said...

I know what is waiting for me but I can't let the truth unspoken: If there's any worse food then Cuban then it is a Spanish paella. When I was last time in Madrid's famous "El botin", since 16 something, I looked at my food, said: this is a joke, no, and left. Back to paella: This is a version of using leftovers in the countryside of poor, poor Spain, invented centuries ago. What should be tasty about that? Cooking the rice and seefood separatly is a good idea, but the best idea is of course wearing Blahniks. That would give me my best shot: If I buy you new ones, I don't have to eat it, right?

Al Capone said...

oh, and just between you and me, my dear, what about this recipe for Pulpeta (Cuban Meat Loaf recipe)
3/4 lb. ground beef
1/4 lb. cooked ham (ground)
4 eggs
3 boiled eggs
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp pepper (???)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin (???)
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 3/4 cups cracker meal
20 olives w/ pimiento
2 tbsp olive oil
Need help with choosing your cigar?

Manola Blablablanik said...

Al, I'll take the same one Monica Lewinsky liked ... :-)


Cumin is not caraway, my dear ...

Al Capone said...

Nauty girl, now I have to ask Clinton for his size ...
PS: So much for the pepper, no? And well, could be a limit of my English, cumin in German could be translated like cross cumin and caraway as cumin, so after all it's the same, mas o menos, bueno, no vamos a complicarnos, my dear ...

Manola Blablablanik said...

Dear Al, screw Clinton. Ask Colin Farrell for size! :-)

Both caraway and cumin are wonderful seeds for seasoning, as long as they're not overused.

You know, all kidding aside, I actually have to add copious amounts of black pepper to my mother's Cuban cooking, because I find it so bland, even if flavorful. But I am the hot spice queen.

Speaking of which, one of the best peppery dishes I ever had was on the riverfront by Cologne -- a soup made from oxtail broth full of black peppercorns! That with the "meter of beer," which was Kolsch, of course, shared with my high school sweetheart, a German.

Mighty Dyckerson said...

A wad or two of my man juice, and you'll be cumin' all night long!

Anonymous said...

You begin talking about cooking paella for your father and then you all of a sudden you start talking about having sex on the counter? wtf? absolutely sick

Tere said...

That looks delicious. Except that I'm allergic to mariscos. Chicken and chorizo will have to do...