Posts Tagged ‘mussels’

“My Paella Travels” to Brentwood for a Spanish Paella Birthday Party and Momma Nik’s Cheesecake for Dessert!

My Paella Travels creates magical evenings for celebrations which will bring the signature dish of Spain to you for a casual backyard gathering that you and your guests will rave about!


My Paella Travels brings the heart and soul of Spain to any celebration. Paella, the most popular and well known dish of Spain, is a vibrant rice dish often cooked outdoors.

An authentic Paella Party is a great reason to celebrate with family and friends which will be centered around a large paella brimming with vibrantly tinted Bomba rice and locally sourced vegetables with succulent meats, seafoods and mouthwatering aromas of spices. My paellas are made with authentic Spanish ingredients and prepared with traditional Spanish techniques just the way they make them in Spain.


Set up is easy. I bring it all. You and your guests will enjoy the experience of watching the preparation and cooking of the paella before your eyes.


With every event, the best part of the experience is watching everyone enjoy themselves which is evident with smiles and laughter. I provide the main course, wine selections and tapas (if requested).  My paellas  will feed a large crowd and allows the guests to enjoy their guests while I do the cooking!


Part of what I do to help create the optimum experience is help with wine selections to pair with the paella and tapas event. For years, I have been studying wine and obtaining several certifications with the WSET and the Court of Master Sommeliers which focus on wine knowledge and pairings. Some of my favorite wines to pair are white, red and sparkling Spanish and Portuguese wines but it just begins there. Spanish foods pair very well with many wines and I would love to show how!


It takes about 45 minutes to create the paella from scratch. Guests have a chance to savor tapas and enjoy the wine selections while gathering around the paella pan. Your friends will have fun learning about the history of paella, what makes an authentic paella implementing authentic techniques and quality ingredients.



Momma Nik’s Cheesecake has paired up with My Paella Travels to create the best dessert experience ever. Momma Nik’s Cheesecakes are locally and creatively made offering a variety of flavors and sizes.


Momma Nik’s are especially great for birthday celebrations!



07 2016

Mussels,Clams and Shrimp in a Spicy Saffron and Fennel Broth and CLARIS PINOT GRIGIO ~Another PERFECT PAIRING! Brought to us by 100% Italiano Wines

“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food!!”

Weekend Cooking: Mussels,Shrimp,Clams,Calamari,Fennel and Saffron bathed in a rich succulent broth.

I have always enjoyed planning and creating recipes for something a little extra-special for dinner on Saturday evenings. Now that I am a parent of a very social teenager,I find that my husband and I are back to the one-on-one dining again.

Don’t get me wrong, I love going out to restaurants but there is just something fun about cooking at home,gathering around table with great wine,delicious food and fun friends.

One of my favorite meals to share with just us OR with friends is my One-Pot meal filled with fresh seafood and fresh shellfish (always available at many of our great markets and Whole Foods) simmered in a delicious broth and served with crusty bread for dunking. Place the pot in the middle of the table,a bowl for the shells,plenty of napkins and a great bottle of wine! This recipe has been a favorite with my friends and is often requested. I have several different variations of this recipe inspired by Spain as well as Italy that I make and they are all equally as delicious.

Succulent and sweet mussels,clams,shrimp and whatever else happens to catch my eye at the seafood counter is likely to become part of this dish that I build this recipe around.

The Wine: CLARIS Pinot Grigio 2010 is produced by Terre Gaie (Happy Lands) located in the village of Vo’ Euganeo in the hilly Colli Euganei region halfway between Palova and Vicenza in central Veneto, Italy.

About Claris:

CLARIS is brought to us by Andrea and his wife Maria Pia,creators,owners and buyers of 100% Italiano Wines,INC. They specialize in bringing high quality boutique wines to this market.

This delicious wine was a collaboration of Andrea and the importer and partner of the producers at Terre Gaie,Francois Doufur.

Word is, that Andrea and Francois have been wanting to come up with a Pinot Grigio with “the characteristics of a flavorful and complex Pinot Grigio similar in characteristics and flavor profile  from  the Alto Adige region of Italy while maintaining an affordable price.”

I do believe that they accomplished their vision.

This complex Pinot Grigio is unlike most of mainstream Pinot Grigio’s that you find on the shelves of some wine shops and grocery store shelves. Although an immensely popular go-to wine, most of what you have probably tasted is the ho-hum crowd-pleasing wines that we are most familiar with.

Pinot Grigio is capable of producing compelling wines with layers of complexity.

CLARIS has been a JOY to discover and taste as well as pair with my favorite seafood dishes.

In Latin,CLARIS means clarity and purity.

Complex body,floral and minerality standout out with every sip.

Layers of flavors,full-body and the refreshing minerality on the tip of the tongue are the first sensations and tastes you notice. The delicate layers of citrus and stone fruit (I taste PEACH and APRICOT), the floral nose and detectable chalky minerality are both clean and crisp,and is therefore true to this wine’s name.

Pairing with this mussel dish was right on target!

The floral and earthy minerality was a great match with the briny shellfish and broth,fresh lemon zest and earthy saffron and fennel.

Pinot Grigio is typically a very versatile pairing wine.

Savory dishes of pork,chicken and spices as well as creamy cheeses would also be a great match for CLARIS.

If you are in the mood for a succulent and satisfying rustic,One-Pot Seafood Dish and Perfect Wine Pairing, I would love to share this recipe with you.


2 to 3 pounds  each of mussels and clams
1 pound fresh shrimp,in shell
3 Calamari tubes and tentacles-tubes sliced into rings
1 filet of fresh fish such as halibut or any other firm white fish,chopped into bite-sized pieces
3 links of Italian Sausage-cooked and sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
1 onion,chopped
1 large juicy tomato,chopped
5 garlic cloves,minced
Fresh Fennel, 1 cup diced
1 fresh lemon,zested and juiced
2 spicy peppers-your choice-minced
1 small package of Saffron Threads
Chicken broth or Seafood Stock-about 1 cup Keep extra around,you may need it
***White Wine-about 3/4 cup
Dried Thyme-1 heaping teaspoonful or more-I love the intense,earthy flavor of dried thyme
salt/pepper to taste

***My thoughts on Wine to Cook With:
There are many thoughts and opinions of wines to use with your recipes. What have found that works well with me is keeping a “stock bottle” of a Sauvignon Blanc in the refrigerator. Choose one that tastes good enough to drink but not so expensive that you feel guilty cooking with it. Sauvignon Blanc is light,citrusy and acidic and it perfect for recipes like this one,where you need a tangy,lively broth to complement the seafood as well as the CLARIS Pinot Grigio. But, I will save this one for drinking WITH the food!

All of the succulent seafood and fresh Italian fennel sausage was purchased fresh at Whole Foods.

Diced Fresh Fennel adds a flavorful rustic and earthiness to this dish and is further enhanced by the intense fennel flavor from the seeds in the sausage.

Saffron is probably my favorite spice. It adds an earthy floral and rustic component and subtle hay aromas as well as a beautiful golden yellow color to the seafood broth.

Saute’ the chopped vegetables(all except the tomato) together in olive oil until tender, adding the herbs and spices as you stir.

Add the wine and broth to the vegetable sauté and reduce.

Gently add the seafood to the pan tossing in the sliced sausage and chopped tomato. Simmer with the lid on until the mussels and clams are opened and the shrimp are pink.

During the cooking process,add more broth if needed.

Serve with thick slices of Ciabatta Bread slathered in olive oil and grilled in a grill pan until crisp.
Oh, and pour yourself a big,crisp glass of CLARIS.

Claris Pinot Grigio is priced for about $15 and can be purchased at these fine wine shops:

The Wine Shoppe at Green Hills
Bud’s Discount Wine and Liquor
Grace’s Plaza
Nashville Wine and Spirits
Grapevine Wine and Spirits
Brinkmann’s Wine and Spirits
West End Discount Wine and Liquor
Iroquois Wine and Spirits

Any questions? Want to know where to find CLARIS in your area?

Ask the experts Andrea,Maria Pia or Viviana at the 100 % Italiano website and join them on
their Facebook page 100% Italiano Inc.- Italian Wine.


Backyard Tapas, Sangria and Friends ~ The Perfect Mix

Livi and I have recovered from our Florida culinary adventures and decided to invite our friends for a small gathering in my backyard. The weather was pleasant for an outdoor evening meal and we both were inspired by our trip to prepare Tapas and Cava de Sangria. I am lucky to have so many foodie friends that are great in the kitchen as well!



One of the best Sangrias I have ever had was at The Columbia, a Spanish Restaurant located in Celebration, Florida. Cava de Sangria is a White Sangria made with Cava, Brandy and Orange Liquor with lots of fresh fruit.

It’s made table side at the restaurant and I couldn’t wait to make it as soon as I returned home.



Recipe for Sangria de Cava

2 bottles chilled Aria Cava : refreshing bubbles and acidity balanced with flavors of lime,white peach and melon flavors and aromas

Torres 10 Gran Reserva Brandy: This highly regarded topaz-colored Spanish Brandy is rich,intense and luscious with notes of cinnamon and vanilla.

Orange Liqueur: I wanted to use Torres Orange Liqueur but I could not find it. Luckily, there are several brands available. I used Gran Gala which is a triple orange liqueur but Cointreau would also be another great choice. I am not a huge fan of Triple Sec. Its too sweet with no depth of flavor.

Cut two small oranges,limes and lemons into small pieces and place in a large pitcher. For an hour or so before you serve, macerate the fruit with the brandy and orange liqueur. I also threw in fresh cherries that I happened to have but Maraschino cherries work great! I used less than a half cup of each. Remember, these are high alcohol!

When you are ready to serve, pour both Cava bottles into the mix. Stir, add ice to glass, pour and enjoy!


Now for the Tapas!

Here are three of our Tapas dishes we enjoyed:

Marinated Olives: a variety of olives from the Whole Foods Olive Bar marinated with sherry vinegar,olive oil,lemon and lime slices,fresh garlic,rosemary,slices of the sweet Peppadew pepper,red pepper flakes and seasonings.


Steamed Mussels,Shrimp and Chorizo tossed with steamed potatoes,olive oil,lemon juice,dried thyme,oregano,garlic,cumin and green onions served room temperature.

You need lots of crusty bread to soak up the juices!



Caramelized Onion Tart on puff pastry with champagne grapes,figs and bacon!





You don’t need to go any further than your backyard for a night of Tapas and Sangria.
Just add friends to a pleasant summer evening with The San Raphael Trio playing in the background.

And, the night just happens.

Ciao for now!


08 2011