Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Brian Cooks Paella (Except Not Really) Plus Club Soda Versus Seltzer

What Would Brian Boitano Make? with Brian Boitano

Paella Surprise

Mussels with Saffron Butter Broth

Saffron Rice Cakes

Shrimp and Chorizo Skewers

Spanish Tortilla

White Wine Sangria

Red Wine Sangria

Oh, there’s that patch of hair on Brian’s chin in the intro. I know I said it before, but I’m so glad he got rid of that. Hey, wait a sec, this week he has it in the actual episode. I wonder why. Was this the pilot or something? I’ll try to ignore it.

There are quite a few ideas in this show that I never thought of before and am really excited to try. Rice balls (that really does NOT have a nice ring) have been around, but the idea of imagining paella served as a fried rice cakes (that’s what Brian calls them) is very clever.

Brian starts by making himself breakfast. He makes a Spanish style omelet by dicing onions and half a russet potato. He adds them to a hot pan of olive oil with chopped red pepper and Serrano ham. He seasons the mixture with a little salt and pepper and then grates Manchego cheese over 4 whisked eggs (I hope someone else is coming to breakfast). He adds the eggs into the pan and cooks it for 30 seconds and then it goes into the oven at 375ยบ F for 5 minutes. It gets sliced up and garnished with a little parsley.

Oh, I just looked at the recipe. They call it a Spanish tortilla. Well, NOT the way they showed him making it. He should have used a smaller frying pan, so the finished product wasn’t so flat. But taken as a regular omelet (although, unfolded and finished in the oven), it’s fine.

Next scene is Brian shaving. Oh good, he’s getting rid of that thing. Huh? It’s still there! WHAT was the point of that?

Brian decides to throw a dinner party for his friend Yvonne being a mother for 6 months. Hey, what about those of us that have been mothering for more than 2 decades? I want a party!

Brian decides to make paella, although he has no clue how to. He visits Manuela, Yvonne’s mother, to learn about it. One problem - he doesn’t understand a word she says.

Manuela slices chorizo and cooks onions in olive oil and then adds shellfish. She does lots of other steps and Brian asks if her sister makes it a different way. She says yes. He asks whose is better. Mine, she says. He actually gets about half of what she’s saying.

He leaves after she takes the beautiful paella out of the oven. Why wouldn’t he stay or let HER cater the party?

Brian thinks hard about “What Would Brian Boitano Make?”

He decides to take the ingredients of a paella and make it into finger foods. Why has he STILL not cooked a real meal? I’m not complaining...he may just like to entertain large groups of people. And who doesn’t like eating fried bits of stuff? I did miss last week’s show, though. I have to look and see if he did any authentic main course dishes.

For his rice cakes, Brian chops an onion and red pepper and cooks them in hot olive oil. He adds paella rice, chicken stock and green peas. He cooks it, covered, for 20 minutes and let’s it cool.

He scoops the cooked rice into small patties and puts them on wax paper. He dunks them into beaten egg, dredges them in panko and sets them on another bed of panko. He heats CANOLA oil in the bottom of a large skillet. Oy! AGAIN, BRIAN?!! We need to talk.

Brian cooks the rice cakes in two batches, 3 or 4 minutes per side. He asks us what we want to do while we’re waiting and then he entertains us, before draining the rice cakes on paper towels. He tells us they’ll get topped with sour cream and tapenade.

To chop 2 cloves of garlic, Brian grabs his choppy chop. He mixes the garlic with paprika and olive oil to make a marinade. He keeps the tails on his shrimp and slices chorizo pretty thick. He reminds us to soak wooden skewers before grilling (overnight is best). He skewers up the shrimp and chorizo. The marinade goes on the bottom the dish. Then skewers over that and Brian bastes the top with more marinade.

He moves on to chicken paella burgers. He chops scallops and adds them to ground chicken with tomato paste and seasonings. He uses his hands to mix it all together and forms them into small 2 inch rounds…just a mouthful, Brian says. He makes 20 little burgers while grooving to the music that suddenly comes on. He says it makes everything go faster. He refrigerates the burgers.

For a mussel dish, (THIS is a lot of food, even for little tastes of stuff), Brian heats 2 tablespoons of olive oil and ½ stick butter (4 tablespoons) in a large pot. He adds two chopped shallots, 2 tablespoons of garlic, and 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped parsley and he cooks it for five minutes. What a lovely menu this is. He adds two cups of white wine, salt, pepper and pinch of saffron, and then 2 pounds of mussels. That cooks for 10 to 12 minutes. Brian wears an enormous fake beard as he tells us to remove the mussels’ beards. I actually like that beard more than his dot of facial hair.

Brian still has to make the drinks. He’s making a red AND white wine sangria. He wants the white wine sangria to be tart. He slices up some lemon, lime and a granny smith apple and adds that to a pitcher with a handful of halved seedless green grapes. He adds a bottle of “drinkable” wine and a bunch of mint leaves. Last to go in is a cup of apple juice, a pinch of salt (that IS different) and ¼ cup of sugar. He lets it sit for an hour and then adds “a can” (?) of club soda and lots of ice. Who buys club soda in cans?

Now this is intriguing. Brian is adding salt, because he doesn’t want this sangria to be sweet. I wonder if that’s his thinking about the club soda. Club soda has mineral salts in it and does taste ever so slightly salty. Would that mean that he’s going to add seltzer or some other kind of soda to the red wine sangria to keep it sweet? (I add 7-up to mine.) Let's see what he does.

Brian adds a sliced orange and a sliced mango (awesome idea) to a pitcher with a nectarine, red apple AND some pomegranate seeds. This is a really rocking mixture of fruits. Very different and fabulous.

Brian pours over one cup of orange juice. (If he uses fresh, it will take the finished sangria to a whole new level) He adds a bottle of Rioja. Then before serving, Brian says, he’ll add a can(?) of CLUB SODA. There goes my seltzer theory. But wait, this is interesting. Both recipes on the website list the ingredient as seltzer, NOT club soda. So my whole sweet/savory thing is out the window.

But what IS the difference between the two? Seltzer is plain old carbonated water and club soda is sodium and mineral-enhanced (sodium bicarbonate, sodium chloride and potassium sulfate). I don’t use club soda, I always buy seltzer. And I admit I would NEVER add salt to my sangria, much less club soda.

Brian’s getting everything ready as his guests arrive. Oops, he cracks the glass table in his kitchen rushing to get ready. The doorbell rings. He greets Yvonne and escorts her into the kitchen. The other guests sneak upstairs to the roof deck to surprise her. Brian takes her up and when she sees a sign that says “Congratulations Yvonne”, she’s completely confused. After it’s explained, she’s happy to be there. But it IS a bit of an awkward moment when the guest of honor is baffled at the reason for the party.

Brian brings out the mussels with a flourish. People seem to have plenty to eat. The only problem is that the wind is blowing and folks have their coats on. I think they’d be happier inside, but the food does look fabulous.

Brian came up with quite a few cool dishes this week and he’s a lot of fun to watch, even with the soulpatch.


Emily said...

What's wrong with a soulpatch?! That's sexy! I like it. I'm a weird one though.

I had no idea what the difference was between club soda and seltzer. Why would you add sodium to water? I'm never going to drink club soda. I tried tonic water a few months ago and it was horrible.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Looking at Em's comment I am beginning to see a generation gap happening. I don't like soul patches either. There must be a cutoff age for when you like them. Granted, I'm a GenXer - the goatee generation - and I never liked goatees.

That was quite an ambitious menu. I'd drink those sangrias no matter what type of fizzy water you put in. I don't think I have enough of a sensitive palette to really notice the difference in salt levels.

DebCarol said...

On one site I read that Canola is a combination of the words Canada and oil because it was "developed" in Canada from rapeseed oil, which can be used (as your link says), as an INSECTICIDE !!! Yikes.