The past two years have seen some unexpected life changes for me. One of the biggest changes I’ve faced is that after living in villages in the middle of nowhere for most of my 28 years I have now moved to a town for the first time in my life entering the dark and scary world of mortgages. *shudders* It’s the smallest house I’ve ever lived in with the smallest garden I’ve ever had and there are lots of things about it that in a perfect world I would change. But I love it.

A couple of weeks ago with the help of some good friends a start was made on the garden with the gruelling task of beginning to dig up some of the baffling amount of concrete as well as demolishing a very ugly built-up pond that was seemingly bound together by the entire counties supply of cement.

After just a couple of hours with a selection of various power tools the skip was full of rubble the boys were looking hungry and thirsty. One thing I’ve learnt over the years is that some good food and few beers for your obliging workers during a day of hard graft is always hugely appreciated and will hopefully stick in their memory for the next time you need a favour. So while the boys were thrashing around with jack hammers outside I had been cooking a sunshine appropriate paella inside away from all the dust and muck!

Making paella

This recipe is adapted (from memory) from the boys at don paella

140g Cooking chorizo sliced into 0.5cm disks  –  3 chicken breasts sliced into chunks  –  8 mini sweet peppers roughly chopped and de-seeded  –  large white onion roughly chopped  –  grated rind and juice of one large orange (keep separated) – heaped teaspoon of sweet smoked paprika  –  1 1/2 litres of hot fish stock infused with 2 pinches of saffron  –  4 baby squid roughly chopped  –  10 king prawns  –  handful frozen peas  –  chopped flatlet parsley and lemon wedges to serve

Fry the chorizo in your paella pan with a tiny amount olive oil until and set aside leaving all the lovely oil in the pan. Now on a slightly hotter heat brown your chicken in a couple of batches and set aside with the chorizo. Now reduce the heat and cook the onion and peppers in the same the pan slowly until soft – this could take upto 30 minutes. I read in a dead fancy looking paella cookbook once that this is the most important step of making paella so don’t be tempted to turn the heat up to rush it. This will give the peppers and onions a lovely sweet flavour as well as coating them in all the lovely red oil that comes out of the chorizo. About five minutes before this is done add the orange zest and paprika. Next throw in the rice and mix in the pan to coat in the oils and add back in the chorizo and chicken and stir together well. Now poor in about half the stock and cook on a medium/low heat for about 20 mins until the rice is almost cooked. You should keep the heat low enough to feel confident that it won’t catch and burn on the bottom and try not to stir it. Add more stock if and when it looks like it needs it. When the rice is almost cooked arrange the squid, prawns and peas on the top, cover with tin foil and cook for a further 10 mins or until cooked.  Serve with lemon wedges, fresh chopped parsley and whatever else you fancy really.

Making paella

A slightly more personal post today. As time passes and life changes, new situations arrive that you never expected. Parts of your old life inevitably get left behind but I would never be who I am today without the influence of the past. And I never would have been able to cook such a mean paella!

Katie x