30 January 2012

Paella and Tapas

Over the weekend we went up to Seattle to visit my family and see my uncles, who both normally live in Southern California and I rarely get to see. Since it was a special occasion, my mom made a paella, and I made three different tapas.

This weekend also marked an important anniversary in our family, the passing of my uncle Tavi. While it's always a difficult thing to remember losing someone you care so deeply for and who is still sorely missed, it seemed appropriate to be enjoying such a lovely meal with family. My uncle Tavi was one of the first who ignited my passion for cooking and for all things Spain. His wife is from Spain and they were kind enough to welcome me into their family at various points in my study abroad in Spain in college, as well as during my travels post-graduation.

I'll let the food speak for itself this time around.
Camarones al ajillo (garlic shrimp)

Tortilla Espanola (potato and egg "omelette")
From the top clockwise: tortilla, manchego cheese, veggie platter, almejas con chorizo (clams with chorizo), and camarones al ajillo (garlic shrimp)

The two chefs for the night...cooking with my  mami

Mom making her should-be-famous paella

Piece de resistance
One of the greatest gifts my uncle gave me was the reminder to live, laugh, and love. They didn't have a lot of money, but some of my best memories are from the weeks I spent with that family. We always ate well and had a great time. And isn't that what sharing a meal is all about? 

I'll post the most raved about recipe (besides the paella, of course) for your enjoyment. This may seem like a lot of garlic, but it's really not excessive. My version was adjusted due to a lack of olive oil--I had to use garlic infused olive oil, so I changed a few things to accommodate the extra flavor. Obviously, you don't need to do this. Also, if anyone in the Portland area is going to make this, let me know because I have a huge bag of dried New Mexico chiles that will probably sit in my cabinet until the next time I make this.

Spanish-style garlic shrimp
Cook's Illustrated
January 2008
14 medium garlic cloves, peeled
1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
8 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 bay leaf 1 (2-inch) piece
mild dried chile, such as New Mexico, roughly broken, seeds included
1 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves

1. Mince 2 garlic cloves with chef's knife or garlic press. Toss minced garlic with shrimp, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and salt in medium bowl. Let shrimp marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes
2. Meanwhile, using flat side of chef's knife, smash 4 garlic cloves. Heat smashed garlic with remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is light golden brown, 4 to 7 minutes. Remove pan from heat and allow oil to cool to room temperature. Using slotted spoon, remove smashed garlic from skillet and discard.
3. Thinly slice remaining 8 cloves garlic. Return skillet to low heat and add sliced garlic, bay leaf, and chile. Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is tender but not browned, 4 to 7 minutes. (If garlic has not begun to sizzle after 3 minutes, increase heat to medium-low.) Increase heat to medium-low; add shrimp with marinade to pan in single layer. Cook shrimp, undisturbed, until oil starts to gently bubble, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, flip shrimp and continue to cook until almost cooked through, about 2 minutes longer. Increase heat to high and add sherry vinegar and parsley. Cook, stirring constantly, until shrimp are cooked through and oil is bubbling vigorously, 15 to 20 seconds. Serve immediately.


  1. What a beautiful way to honor your uncle! Everything looks lovely, especially the paella. I've made that shrimp dish, and it's incredible!

    1. I was quite impressed how authentic the recipe turned out to be. The shrimp were cooked just right and the garlic was flavorful, but not intense.