Author Archives: Cristina

Lobster Paella – My own little Christmas miracle!


After watching Tyler Florence make his Ultimate Paella, I knew that I wanted to make it for my Christmas meal. Special and festive enough for a holiday, but not as heavy as a traditional roast.  I did not have a paella pan, so I used two large skillets.


On a side note, we spent Christmas in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, so our actual dinner on Christmas night was pescado frito. My lesson for this year was that you can still have Christmas without a standing rib roast (although I do love roast beef).

Adapted from Tyler Florence
(serves 6)

3 lobster tails, cut in half lengthwise
1 lb jumbo shrimp, shells and veins removed
1 lb mussels, scrubbed and soaked in saltwater
3 chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry
3 andouille sausages, sliced
olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper
1 tsp oregano
2 T smoked paprika
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 c arborio rice
3 c water or chicken stock
1 pinch saffron threads
1/2 c frozen peas, thawed
1/2 c Italian parsely, chopped
lemon wedges

In a large skillet or paella pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Brown the andouille in the pan, then remove and drain on paper towels.  Drain the extra fat from the pan if necessary.  Season the chicken with salt, pepper, oregano, and smoked paprika.  Place in the skillet skin side down, and brown on both sides.  Once browned, remove from the pan and place with the andouille.  Again, drain off the majority of the fat from the pan, leaving a tablespoon or two in there.


Over medium heat, saute the garlic and onions in the pan until soft and fragrant, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, the cook until the mixture has caramelized a bit.  Season with salt and pepper.

In the 3 cups of warm water or chicken stock, allow the saffron to steep until the water develops a rich color.  Add the rice and saffron water to the tomato mixture.  Bring to a simmer, then add the chicken and andouille back to the pot.


Simmer without stirring for 10 minutes.  Nestle the mussels into the rice, arrange the lobster cut side down over the rice, and cook for 5 more minutes.


Finally, arrange the shrimp and peas over the top of the paella, cover, and allow to cook for 5 more minutes.  Add liquid to the pot if the rice does not seem fluffy enough at this point. When the rice and seafood are cooked (the mussels should be open, and the shrimp and lobster should be pink), turn the heat up to high for 30 seconds to brown the rice at the bottom.

Garnish with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.  Enjoy!


How to Glaze a Ham


I think that ham is the easiest way to feed a crowd, especially during the holiday season.  Glazing it is so simple, and it will make your house smell delicious.  I usually use Ina Garten’s recipe.


When shopping for a ham, you’ll want to find a spiral-cut, bone-in ham.  Do not buy one that has water added, but if it says “with natural juices” on the package, that’s okay.

Ham with Mango Chutney Glaze
(Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook)

7-9 lb spiral-cut ham
6 oz of mango chutney
1/2 c brown sugar
1/3 c dijon mustard
4 cloves of garlic, minced
zest of 1 orange or 2 clementines
juice from 1 orange or 2 clementines

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Place the ham in a large roasting pan.

In a small bowl, combine the mango chutney, mustard, sugar, garlic, orange zest, and orange juice.

Using a spoon or a brush, coat the ham in the glaze. If the slices a the end start to fall away from the rest of the ham, use toothpicks to secure them.


Bake for 1 hour.  Do not overbake, or the meat will be dry.

Spaghetti with Swiss Chard, Bacon, and Garlic Chips


Paco and I saw this beautiful rainbow chard at the farmers’ market and couldn’t resist. YUM. I was inspired by a couple of recipes, this one from Epicurious and this one from Smitten Kitchen, to combine Swiss chard, bacon, and garlic chips.


Spaghetti with Swiss Chard, Bacon, and Garlic Chips

1/2 lb of spaghetti
1 large bunch of Swiss chard, rinsed and cut into 1-inch strips (I use the stems as well, but you can remove them if you’d like)
6 strips of thick-cut bacon, diced
1 T olive oil 8 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
kosher salt black pepper
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/3 c grated parmesan, plus more for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Begin to prepare the spaghetti according to the package directions, draining when al dente. Before draining the pasta, reserve one cup of the starchy cooking water.

In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until the fat has rendered out and it is crispy. Remove the bacon and drain over paper towels. Pour the excess fat from the skillet.


Add the olive oil to the skillet, then add the garlic chips. Cook them until they are golden, but make sure to remove them before they burn. Drain them alongside the bacon.

Add more olive oil to the skillet, then add the red pepper flakes. When the red pepper sizzles a little bit, add the chard. Cook until it wilts, seasoning with salt and black pepper. Add the balsamic vinegar and 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water to the pot, then add the pasta and cheese. Toss together. Add more liquid if necessary.


Sprinkle the garlic chips and bacon over the pasta, then serve with additional cheese.

Lumpia (Filipino Egg Rolls)


Lumpia are my favorite type of egg roll. Call it disloyal, but I generally dislike the Chinese version!  These are not quite authentic because I could not find the right spring roll wrappers, but I used wonton wrappers and the result was very tasty.  The next time I am in an Asian supermarket, I am will definitely stock up on spring roll wrappers!  (The egg roll wrappers that they sold at my local supermarket were too thick, and the wonton wrappers were thinner and resulted in less greasy egg roll.)



100 wonton wrappers (or 50 spring roll wrappers)
2 lbs ground pork
3 carrots, finely chopped in a food processor
1/2 onion, finely chopped in a food processor
1 zucchini, finely chopped in a food processor
4 green onions, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 T soy sauce
2 T sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
vegetable oil, for frying
1 tsp corn starch dissolved in 1/3 c of warm water
sweet chili sauce

Combine all of the ingredients for the filling in a large bowl (pork, carrots, onion, zucchini, green onions, garlic, soy sauce, sugar, salt, and pepper).



To make the egg rolls, put a teaspoon of filling at the corner of a wonton wrapper. Roll once, tightly, then fold in the sides. Roll again, and seal with corn starch and water. The picture below is actually of me using a much larger wrapper, so disregard how much filling I’m using in it.


If you are going to freeze them, line the egg rolls up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze them this way, then put them in a resealable plastic bag. (If you don’t freeze them this way, they will stick together.)


Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. When the oil is very hot, fry them with the seal side down. Once they are golden brown, gently turn them over. Remove them when both sides are golden, and drain on paper towels.

Serve with sweet chili sauce for dipping.