Some exciting DwTRP news…

I took down a dedicated “DiningwithTheRatPack” domain this week and have big plans to enhance the DwTRP experience.

The new domain will point to this page on for the foreseeable future for a couple of reasons … first, I like having the food discussion close to the main music site as this closely aligns to my philosophy of food, music and well, life.

Unless I’m steeped…

…in a critical listening session for a review (or writing), food and music are nearly always a conjoined experience at our house. Cooking, eating and drinking are sensory driven experiences made all the better when combined with great music.

Theres nothing that triggers memories and emotions better than the smell of great food or a familiar melody. Separately good food and great music can be wonderfully evocative … in combination they far exceed “the sum” for me.

The other reason I’m keeping DwTRP nestled in at is that we’re retooling the whole website this summer (hopefully in time for an Independence Day launch) with a completely new home page design, a new logo for the “dining” side, and some dedicated web functionality that will make the nested food blog more fun.

Recipes included in the articles for instance. I’ve been playing with a very cool recipe editor plugin … click through and check out my first embedded recipe! will remain focused…

…on the music of the RatPack era and American Songbook — hey, the name on the banner is “VocalStandards” after all — but I think we can make the DwTRP experience more integrated and fun without putting the music-first orientation of at risk.

I’ve been double busy working on this infrastructure stuff and prepping some great articles for the music side of the site …so I haven’t posted as much to the DwTRP side. But we have turned out excellent food of late … a great “steak and feta double baked potato” and a fabulous “pasta vongole” dish (or as Frank would call it –“spaghetti with clams”) and then there was my favorite dinner party dish — paella.

I’ve made about 15 different paella recipes but the “best of the best” is Penelope Casas’ Chorizo and Olive Paella … her interpretation of a recipe from the Santa Clara nuns at a convent near the heart of Castile.

In addition to the olives and Spanish chorizo that the name suggests, there is Serrano ham, red pepper, onion, garlic, saffron, snow peas… it sounds like a long ingredients list but prep really isn’t that tough — especially if you have a nice glass of wine close at hand. ūüėČ

The end product is an amazing alchemical dish where you taste both the aggregate of the combined ingredients AND the individual items … each bite is slightly different but fits into the wonderful story arch offered by this land locked paella.

Chorizo and Olive Paella "Santa Clara"
I made a few minor tweaks from the original recipe that are highlighted below.
Serves: 6 to 8
  • 4 TB coarsely chopped Spanish green olives (I prefer picholines)
  • 4 TB coarsely chopped cured black olives (brine cured for me... Kalamatas)
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups chicken broth or stock
  • ¼ ts crumbled thread saffron
  • 6 TB Spanish olive oil (original recipe calls for 8 TB)
  • ½ pound Spanish chorizo ("sweet") skinned, cut into ½" half-moon pieces
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium red pepper, finely chopped
  • ¼ pound serrano ham, cut into ¼" slices and diced
  • 4 TB parsley, minced
  • 3 cups imported Spanish "Bomba" or other paella rice (don't sub here)
  • kosher salt
  • 2 dozen snow peas or snap peas (snow for me)
  1. Place green and black olives in a small saucepan with the wine and bring to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes, drain and reserve.
  2. Combine the broth and saffron in a pot and keep hot (not boiling) over lowest heat.
  3. Preheat oven to 400F for gas oven; 450F for electric.
  4. Heat the oil in a paella pan measuring 17-18" at the widest point. Sauté the chorizo for 1 minute, then add the onion, garlic, pepper, ham, and parsley and sauté until pepper is slightly softened.
  5. Stir in the reserved olives and the rice and stir to coat the rice well with the pan mixture. Pout in the hot broth and bring to a boil, stirring and rotating the pan occasionally. Taste for salt and continue to boil until the rice is no longer soupy but sufficient liquid remains to continue cooking the rice, about 5 minutes. Stir in the peas.
  6. Transfer to the oven and cook, uncovered, until the rice is almost al dente, 10-12 minutes in a gas oven, ~15-20 minutes for electric.* Remove to a warm spot cover with foil and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until the rice is cooked
* Every oven is different ... check at the "early" end of the oven cooking time the first time or two you make this dish. I cook in a gas oven and land squarely on the lower end of Penelope's cooking times.

Give Penelope’s Chorizo and Olive paella a try folks … this dish swings like Peggy Lee!