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About Chef James Stolich:
CookWithJames was created 12 years ago as an underground supper club. James would prepare multiple course regional Italian and Spanish dinners in his San Francisco home for guests and friends.
James staged at Quince restaurant after they opened in 2004, and has also lived and cooked in Italy and Spain.
After leaving his day job in advertising in 2008 James launched CookWithJames as a full-time business offering private sit-down dinners as well as cooking class parties for all occasions.
His parties are legendary. From wild game feasts and 9 course extravaganzas to simple pastas and salads, James walks his guests through a home cooked meal like no other.
Teaching is an important part of the gatherings where James gives guests an opportunity to cook, to take away a little lesson from his culinary travels.
However, like all the best parties everyone congregates in the kitchen, drinking wine, helping prepare and learning about great ingredients and great cooking. CookWithJames – Bring some wine, conversation and curiosity. James will do the best.
I had the joy of guesting at a recent “Cook with James” dinner. Paella was on the menu, the most perfect Paella I have ever enjoyed. (Find the recipe below)
Do yourself a favour and book a date night with your loved one or a group of pals and “Cook with James” it’s conviviality and connection through culture and cuisine.
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Chef James Stolich’s Paella (credit: Foodie Chap/Liam Mayclem)
PAELLA CON PESCADO Y MARISCOS
This is a classic seafood paella originating from Valencia, Spain. We start by making our soffrito or flavor base and then slowly add the other components, based on cooking time, to create an amazing almost dry rice stew (though it will not taste dry) that is one of the most festive dishes you will ever see. The bomba rice from Spain is critical as its short, fat grains are able to absorb an extraordinary amount of liquid while remaining firm to the bite.
- 1 paella pan (12 to 16 inches in diameter) or similar size cast iron pan (see Latienda.com or Spanishtable.com for sources)
- Good extra virgin olive oil (ideally from Spain)
- 1 tablespoon of pimenton picante (hot, smoked Spanish paprika)
- 1 large white onion, finely chopped
- 4 quarts of homemade lobster or fish stock (chicken stock is fine as well)
- 10 head-on gulf prawns
- 20 Manila clams
- 1/2 tablespoon saffron threads
- 1 pound Romano or green beans cut into 2 inch pieces(English peas work well too)
- 2 lemons, thinly sliced for garnish
- 1 cup early girl tomatoes, chopped into coarse dice (when tomatoes are out of season use 1 cup canned Spanish or San Marzano tomatoes (crushed by hand))
- 2 cups of “bomba” Spanish rice from Valencia
Heat your paella pan over high heat until almost smoking (assemble across 2 burners if necessary, if you have a French flat top use that, heating the flat top 30 minutes prior). Add in 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions and a generous pinch of salt and sauté until soft. If the onions start to burn turn down the heat and drizzle in more olive oil. Once soft and translucent (1-2 minutes) add tomatoes (lightly salt them) and stir. Cook for 1 minute or until the tomatoes release some liquid. Add the saffron to the liquid released by the tomatoes. Add the pimenton. Stir to combine and continue cooking for 15 seconds (do not burn the pimenton). Turn the heat back up to high.
Pour in all of the rice and stir through the pan. Allow the rice to absorb the flavors of the soffrito for 30 seconds. Add the stock to just cover the rice and bring to a boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes, adding more stock as needed. Turn down the heat and maintain a medium simmer. Salt the paella throughout the cooking process, taking care to taste as you go. Add the prawns and continue cooking for another 10minutes, tasting the rice to check it’s progress and adding more stock as needed. Occasionally rotate and gently shake the pan to ensure even cooking. Turn the prawns over and add more stock as needed. When the rice tastes almost cooked through (25 minutes in) add the green beans and the clams.
Continue cooking until almost all the liquid is absorbed and the rice begins to look a bit “sticky.” Be sure to taste and add a little salt as needed. Continue cooking on low heat until you begin to smell a slight “burning.” The “socorrat” is developing. Allow this to continue for a few more minutes and then turn off the heat. Garnish with thinly sliced lemon pieces. Cover with a clean towel and let rest for 15 minutes. Serve the entire pan at the table family style. If you’ve cooked this dish well you will discover nice browned bits on the bottom of the pan. This is called the “socorrat” and is absolutely delicious and full of flavor.
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For more on Chef James Stolich, visit CookWithJames.com