They say there are lots of exciting things to do in the city over the summer but most people try to get the hell out to their beach houses, which means it is the only time of year - particularly on the weekends - when you can walk down a comparatively empty sidewalk! It does give the city a different feel altogether. Sometimes I like to pretend that I am sitting in a cafe in Palma, Majorca...and at other times when I sit in the open front of my favorite Happy Hour spots on Broadway, I can really imagine that I'm looking out onto my favorite street, Calle de Luna, in Soller, Majorca.
My neighborhood, "Nomad", (acronym for North Of Madison Park) is the newest trendy area in NYC and restaurants & bars are popping up everywhere. This week we're delighted to welcome a brand new Fairway gourmet supermarket open up only 4 blocks away - this is exciting news because means we can shop for groceries and be back home in under 30 minutes! Wow! Of course, I'll still shop at Trader Joe's if the lines are short after I have to go to the nearby TD Bank. Side note: why does the elderly teller suck her bottom teeth and stare at my accounts on her computer screen for 5 minutes? It's unnerving.
I am thinking of fun and easy things to cook for a crowd of people over the weekend,with minimal effort but lots of flavor. So, sticking to the Spanish theme, here it is:
Spanish Smoked "Pimenton" with Fire Roasted Chile Tomato Rice & Aioli
1 cup rice (we like sushi rice for a really sticky consistancy)
1 can Trader Joe's Fire Roasted Chile Tomatoes! (Oops, I revealed the secret!)
1 1/2 cups broth or water (you need 2 cups of liquid but the can of tomatoes should yield about half a cup of liquid - if not, add a little more as you see fit)
8 Chicken Thighs (skin on or off - boneless or bone-in, it's your choice)
juice of 2 limes
1-2 tablespoons Smoked Paprika
1/2 tsp sea salt
black pepper freshly ground
a good shake of ground cumin, oregano, garlic powder, and onion powder
2 cloves garlic, crushed
juice of 1 lime
Marinate the chicken in the lime juice for 30 minutes, refrigerated.
Get the rice started while the grill heats up. Add the rice to a heavy bottomed sauce-pan with a good fitting lid, 1 part rice to 2 parts liquid and bring it to a boil, then slap the lid on the pan and turn it down to simmer, setting the timer to 25 minutes (the timing for sushi rice, which we are all addicted to, thanks to Nigella) and 20 minutes for a long grain type of rice.
Advice: rice seems like a no-brainer but, if you have been having any problems with it not cooking all the way through, I strongly urge you to ban the "lid-lifters" from your kitchen. The rice has to cook completely undisturbed for the full 25 minutes and friends or family members on the brink of starvation who sneak a peak in the pot are the cause of most cases of rice ruination.
Slap the chicken on the grill and sprinkle generously with the herbs & spices. I like to get them really covered with a crust of seasoning. Cook for about 20 minutes, but you will have to make the judgment call of more or less time so you don't over or under cook. Top the chicken with aioli or serve on the side. Any of you who have been to Spain will think fondly of the baskets of rustic bread and dishes of ailo - which is a garlicky mayonnaise - the restaurants set on the table, along with the $3 bottles of wine!
Also, who doesn't love to eat as much summer corn as possible - but other great BBQ acoutrements are coleslaw or just a big green salad.
Confession! I freely admit that when I get to this point in the preparation, I want to get the food served and get out of the kitchen - so, clearly, fancy plating is something I need to work on, although I will say that in my opinion the recent fad of speed-striping the plates with sauce sometimes borders on the absurd.
"So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being."