First, I want to thank Lodge Cast Iron for supplying this awesome 15 inch seasoned carbon steel paella pan! WOW! It is the very best paella pan that I have used so far. I am a Paella Chef in Nashville, TN called MY PAELLA TRAVELS. I expertly create succulent, intensely flavored authentic Spanish paellas with a Nashville-inspired twist. I have cooked for many in the Nashville and surrounding area and even won FIRST PLACE in a paella contest last September. I won the popular vote. Everyone loved my Nashville-inspired paella!
I recently received this great pan from the Lodge Cast Iron Company. I was delighted to find that it is already seasoned and cooks the paella evenly which creates the most flavorful and uniform socarrat (crispy bottom crust) ever! It’s small enough to finish in the oven to get the crispy, caramelized rice crust and large enough to feed 6 to 8 people!
Put an egg on it!
Brunch seems to be very popular here in Nashville and we now have many great brunch places to choose from. But the only place you will find this is with My Paella Travels! Most brunches include several dishes with eggs or topped with a poached or fried egg. Soooo, I was thinking…..
There is always a plate or two of paella leftover from the events I host. I always tell the group to warm it up for brunch the next day, put a fried egg on it and serve with a side of tangy and smokey Romesco sauce. Well, it’s about time for me to do that too. But why wait until the next day. Why not have a Paella Brunch today!
Saveur Magazine has great Paella articles and recipes. I found this Paella Mixta recipe and thought this would be just perfect for today’s Sunday Paella Brunch. I was very inspired by the recipe but I did modify the recipe to fit my own flavor profiles. This recipe worked great for the 15-inch paella pan but I did use 2 cups of Bomba rice instead of 2 1/2.
The Romesco Sauce (modified) is the perfect accompaniment with the fried egg and paella. Spanish Romesco sauce is a tangy, smoky blend of roasted red peppers, smoked paprika, garlic, olive oil and the freshness is enhanced by the sherry vinegar. It is often served with tapas of grilled seafood or even with a paella.
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz. dry-cured Spanish chorizo, cut into 1⁄4"-thick coins
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 dried bay leaves
Pinch of dried thyme and oregano leaves
3 medium tomatoes, minced
1 small onion, minced
7 cups chicken broth
Juice from 1 medium lemon
2 cups short-grain rice, BOMBA RICE
8 oz. fresh or frozen peas
3 jarred roasted red peppers, torn into 1⁄2"-thick strips
12 mussels, cleaned and debearded
1 (9-oz.) box frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
1 egg per person
For the Romesco Sauce:
2 large bell peppers or 2 jarred and drained roasted red peppers in a jar
3 large cloves garlic cloves, crushed or fine minced
1 cup blanched white almonds (I used Marcona almonds)
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
1⁄4 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
1⁄4 tsp. smoked paprika
Put saffron and 1⁄4 cup hot water in a small bowl; let sit for 15 minutes.
Season chicken and shrimp with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a 15 inch Lodge Cast Iron Carbon Steel seasoned paella pan over medium-high heat. Add marinated chicken, shrimp, and chorizo and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes.
Transfer shrimp to a plate, leaving meats in pan.
Add paprika, garlic, bay leaves,thyme, oregano, tomatoes, and onions to pan and cook, stirring often, until onions soften, about 6 minutes.
Add reserved saffron mixture, lemon juice and broth, season with salt, and bring to a boil over high heat.
Sprinkle in rice, distribute evenly with a spoon, and add artichokes, peas, and peppers.
Cook, without stirring, until rice has absorbed most of the liquid, 10–12 minutes.
(If your pan is larger than the burner, rotate it every two minutes so different parts are over the heat and the rice cooks evenly.)
Reduce heat to low, add reserved shrimp, and nestle in mussels hinge side down; cook, without stirring, until mussels have opened and rice has absorbed the liquid and is al dente, 5–10 minutes more.
Remove pan from heat, cover with aluminum foil, and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Fry one egg per person for each serving of paella.
Make Romesco Sauce while Paella is cooking:
Place the drained red bell peppers and garlic in a blender along with the almonds, olive oil, tomato paste,sherry vinegar, chile flakes, paprika, and 1⁄2 cup water, and purée until smooth. Scrape into a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate until ready to use.
This is my journey of weight loss and fitness balanced with my unending passion for wine, food, friends and finally learning how to do this in my (late) 50’s.
I will never diet again.
Since September 2014, I have lost 46 lb ( 3 pants sizes and 1/2 shoe size) and—-found me. I am loving the journey. I’ll let you know when I’ve hit my personal goal. But, right now it’s more about the journey and what I am learning along the way. The reward will be the goal, which is just the beginning of my story.
Tell me NO or “You Can’t Do That” and THAT is an invitation to a challenge I WILL win. I’m just wired that way.
I currently live in Nashville, Tennessee. Several years ago, a friend of mine here in the culinary world told me to “Give it up.” Girl!, she said ” you are fighting a losing battle if you are entering the culinary world and trying lose weight.” I bought into that…..for about a minute.
I lost my identity-The Perfect Storm
Within the past 10 years, the perfect storm hit. It knocked me down but didn’t take me out.
Yes, it had been a struggle. After years of running 10 k’s and half-marathons, many road biking events and regular workouts, I ended up with a severely damaged achilles tendon which required reconstructive surgery. I tried to run again and ended up with full-blown OA in both knees from all of the years of running. This really hit HARD. No more running? Really? That IS who I am. I was one of the fastest runners in my home town for many years and it followed me through my life and really loved long distance road biking too. And, for a time, I gave up.
I am a passionate lover of life. I love waking up in the early morning with a mug of coffee looking forward to what the day holds for me. One thing that really gets makes me happy is cooking for friends and sharing a great bottle of wine. I enjoy my life. Entering the culinary and wine world has been the best thing ever. Sharing an amazing bottle of wine and a great plate of food is one of the sexiest and most satisfying things I can share with someone that I care about. The act of drinking wine and cooking a delicious meal is a sensual experience. All of your senses are heightened with layers of aromas and flavors from the food and wine, how they complement each other, how it makes you feel and how it feels and tastes in your mouth and on your tongue.
Fitness is the other passion in my life that I have fully embraced with genuine enthusiasm. I look forward to my workouts with “my village.”
Hanging out, meeting, interviewing and cooking with a local chef is one of coolest things I have ever done. I wish I had come to terms with this struggle BEFORE I had these photos taken. Because, the real me, the authentic me was covered up by years of frustration and a restlessness that I couldn’t define at that point.
Shelf of Shame
My book shelf was loaded with all of the books I accumulated over time with other people’s journeys. You know the ones. Stacks of books diet books, self-help books just glaring and staring at me, insinuating that I must be a failure.
I finally realized I’m not a failure; these books just reflect someone else’s journey, not mine.
Although there are gems of wisdom in all of the books, I realized that in order to be successful on my journey, I must develop my own tailor-made plan and not try to imitate someone else’s experience.
Those books are long gone. I now have a book shelf full of books about travel, wine education, many beautiful cookbooks, cocktails and beer, just the way it should be for any lover of wine and food.
I am now writing my own path to success personally, spiritually and physically; healing myself from inside out.
Wine & Food and Pharmacy
Working, entertaining and teaching about Food and Wine is a part of my life and I have finally learned to balance.
My career is 32 years of pharmacy of which I still practice. I grew up in Louisiana and earned my pharmacy degree in my home town of Monroe, Louisiana. The influences of growing up in Louisiana and my Sicilian-Cajun background prepared and taught me about local and global culinary cuisine and wine which inspired me to naturally want to learn more about wine.
Life’s way too short not to enjoy a sexy bottle of wine. In fact, I am sipping on a gorgeous, voluptuous glass of 2013 Honig Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc and enjoying every lush drop!
I am NOT on a diet– and never again will I be, never EVER again!
I Finally Got IT!
Some of my friends have asked me for recipes of the meals I have posted, so I thought I would share them with you, too.
I follow my rules, now. I changed my lifestyle, my habits and my improved shape reflects that change.
#1. I eat clean most of the time-avoiding processed and refined foods and basing my life style meals on whole foods.
#2. Low Carb not NO Carb, Only the best carbs for me.
Bad Carbs: Sugars
Refined “white” grains
Good Carbs: whole grains of all kinds
#3. Lots of good quality protein such as fish, seafood, chicken, beef (yes, beef)
#4. Lots and lots of vegetables cooked all kinds of ways
#5. Treat not cheat. Embrace and enjoy wine and food. Let it nourish you and be a good part of your life.Cheating is no longer in my life style vocabulary. I drink wine, cocktails, even pizza, and my famous garlic bread-but not everyday. Clean eating takes daily precedence and I am not perfect.
#6. Eat Breakfast
This new life style change is not about weighing, measuring or deprivation. I have learned to include everything I love. One thing that I do is eat breakfast! Not just brunch on the weekends but a very nutritious meal with eggs and/or oatmeal and veggies, every morning.
I keep all types of vegetables and cheese in the fridge at all times. Roasted and grilled veggies are great in salads and main courses. I love caramelized onions, roasted mushrooms, roasted broccoli and roasted cauliflower, baby tomatoes, pre-sliced zucchini and squash.
Leftovers really make a great morning breakfast, too.
#7. Avocados, Avocados, AVOCADOS! Love ’em! I eat one just about everyday!
***NOTE: I am one of those cooks who doesn’t really follow a recipe. I have a base and then add to it.
Personal Pan Frittata (Open-faced omelet)
2 eggs, beaten and poured into a medium sized non-stick skillet with olive oil or spray. When it’s almost done, I throw carmelized onions, roasted mushrooms, feta, ricotta, mozzarella or cheddar on top. Slide onto a plate and top with sautéed baby tomatoes, zucchini,onions, roasted red peppers, chopped ham and even seasoned taco meat for the night before. A splash of Sriracha and your favorite seasonings is a great way to start the day!
Ricotta-Oatmeal Pancakes topped with Bananas, Toasted Walnuts and a dash of real Maple Syrup is sooo delicious and filling, you will forget about those other pancakes!
The pancake base: To a blender, add 1 egg, 1/4 cup of ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese), 1/4 cup dry old fashioned oats, a dash of nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. Cook in a small non-stick, flipping halfway through. Slide on to a plate and top with yummy things!
Roasted salmon is one of my go-to meals. On my recent trip to Austin, Texas, I went to one of my favorite restaurants Z-Tejas on 6th St. Crispy Salmon over Roasted Tomatillo sauce with a side of steamed broccoli or calabacitas. Cook the salmon in a hot pan with olive oil. Do not move it or turn it until is gets crispy and caramelized. For the tomatillo sauce, through tomatillos, onions, jalapeños and garlic and olive oil on a roasting pan and roast until soft and browned. Place all ingredients in a blender with lime juice, cumin, cilantro, salt and pepper. Serve warm. OR, you can just get a jar of Tomatillo Salsa and the grocery and use that!
Spicy Watermelon and Feta Salad with Arugula, Quick Pickled Purple Onions and Jalapeños
Toss juicy watermelon and feta chunks with arugula, pickled onions and jalapeños (always in my fridge) Toss with blend of Lime juice, honey, s/p.
I found this recipe on line and it quickly became a staple. All you need is chickpea flour, water, olive, salt and pepper, and a baking sheet. You HAVE to try this one!
Fitness—It takes a Village
(I wanted to) Gain more muscle and definition while losing body fat which in turn, revs up the metabolism.
Cat and Armah, the fitness and personal trainers at Prairie Life Fitness have been my guiding light from the beginning…………….. There’s just something about my village.
About three times a week (or more) I participate in the X-Factor Classled by Cat Hanna and TRX with Armah, the awesome trainer. Their inspirational words, professionalism and overall awesomeness is with me daily, even while they are kicking my butt into shape. This small group fitness class is special. Each person inspires and pushes the other to do their very best. My “village” is, for sure, one of the biggest reasons for my successes during my journey.
Left: Personal Trainer and X-Factor Instructor Cat Hanna and my workout buddy Mike. We train hard BUT there is a lot of laughing and “cutting up” in this class, too!
Right: Armah Mitchum-the awesome Personal Trainer with his inspirational life and mantra that I have incorporated in my life.
Armah is a family man and fitness enthusiast. As a professional, he trains, coaches and speaks to individuals as well as groups regarding an active lifestyle. He believes that performance readiness is important for all ages regardless of limitations or aspirations.
Thank you all!
This is a sample of my weekly workouts: X-Factor Classes, one hour on the rower, and TRX with Armah.
Living life is about the journey.
Make everyday count, between the beginning and the end.
Take care of yourself.
Find the authentic you and embrace your passions.
Just one more thing….
To Layla, you are everything to me. Thank you for giving me a reason to be the best person I can possibly be.
Thank you to Lee, my forever friend, my kindred spirit, my inspiration. Your presence though out my life has taught me the real meaning of friendship, clarity and how to cherish every second. I am a better person for you being in my life.
And…..to guitar man, thank you for reminding me that 1982 was a very good year…..