EyeSwoon

When I think of summer there is without a doubt a specific mood and tone attached. When I close my eyes, I can see it – a gradation of muted shades of pinks and blues, from both the skyline and the sea. The visual, whether in person or even in my mind’s eye, evokes a buoyancy while heightening my senses. I can smell the brine-riddled scent of the ocean mingled with fragrant herbs in my garden and finally the aroma of charcoal or wood burning from a blazing fire on a searing grill. These are the scents that conjures summer and in turn inspire a very specific flavor profile that my taste buds crave in summer.

When we are on the sea, we eat what is of the sea. And when we live on fertile land, we eat what is of the earth. Apart from the water, living so close to so many swoony Amagansett farms, local veggies are abundant, too. When seafood and veggies collide in a paella, you have a summer beach feast. And when friends gather on the beach, you have pure joy! Last year, together with my neighbor and fellow foodie Jodi Moreno of What’s Cooking Good Looking, we created this veggie paella and cava sangria in a breathtaking setting that visually expresses summer as it does in my mind, and perhaps all our minds. Now at the start of August, I feel the need to re-share this post.

We chose to grill at Louse Point, which somehow gets forgotten — it’s usually perfectly desolate with vast stretches of sand and still waters to take in at dusk. You can see why I opted for neutrals in the decor: the breathtaking sun reflects off the bay, casting an incredible pink hue over the sky. Oh, and can we discuss the single red boat mooring at bay? To say the setting was ideal would be the understatement of the summer!

I kept things light, bright and simple, letting the surroundings guide the palette and allowing the natural beauty of the vast, sweeping views to take center stage. A white tablecloth with sea-inspired blue stripes was haphazardly draped across the sand for our linens. Recycled pieces of old weathered wood provided a table-like surface to place food, wine, and utensils. A collection of shells scooped up directly from the shore acted as a trivet so we could place the smoking pan of seared prawns directly on our tablecloth.

There really is something magical about eating a meal as the sun sets—the spectacular lighting, the beauty and stillness of the horizon, the soft breeze as we savored each crazy-delish bite…feasting with friends on the beach is the epitome of summertime swooning!

 

Vegetable Paella with Chorizo + Prawns

Jodi Moreno

  • Ingredients

      • extra virgin olive oil
      • 2 large leeks, cleaned and sliced
      • 2 large zucchini, sliced thin into 1” long pieces
      • 1 green + 1 yellow pepper, sliced thin
      • 1 cup of shiitake mushrooms, sliced
      • 1 cup of oyster mushrooms, sliced
      • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
      • 1 sprig of thyme, minced
      • 1 sprig of rosemary, minced
      • sea salt
      • 2 cups of arboro rice
      • 8 plum tomatoes, grated
      • 2 links of fresh chorizo, sliced (optional)
      • 4 cups of (homemade) vegetable broth or chicken broth or water
      • 3-4 generous pinches of saffron
      • a few lemon wedges for serving
      • optional for serving: some roasted red peppers (sliced thin), chives
        For the prawns:
      • 4-6 large prawns, with shells, tossed with olive oil, salt + pepper
      • equipment: a 15” round paella pan
  • The Prep

      • Start by making the sofrito (cooking the vegetables):
      • Heat the paella pan over an open flame and an even, flat surface. You want your flame to be not too large, but not too small. Also, make sure you have twigs nearby to feed the fire if it gets too small. You can also make this over a gas grill or stove, just make sure there is even heat distribution under the pan.
      • Add a generous amount of olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Then, add the leeks and cook for about 2 minutes, until tender. Then, add the zucchini and peppers and cook for another 2 minutes, while stirring. Then add the mushroom. When all of the vegetables are soft, season them with a couple of pinches of salt, toss, and then push them to the outer edges of the pan creating a circle in the center. Add a little more olive oil in that circle and then add the garlic, thyme and rosemary and cook for about 2 minutes. 
      • Add and the rice, toast it, and then add the broth:
      • Pour the rice into the center of the pan. Add another drizzle of olive oil over the rice, and then stir well to incorporate everything. Keep stirring for a a couple of minutes and then add the grated tomatoes and stir some more to incorporate the tomatoes.
      • Keep stirring continuously for about 5 minutes to continue to toast the rice and develop the flavors. Add a little more olive oil if it starts sticking to the pan.
      • Once the rice has a nice light brown color, then add in the chorizo (if you’re using) and toss to coat. Then add the broth and stir to be sure the vegetables and rice are evenly distributed.
      • At point you should leave the paella be and let the rice cook. After a few minutes, taste the broth (but be careful, it will be very hot!). Add more seasoning if need be. Also, if you’re cooking over an open flame, make sure the fire is not too hot. You do not want to burn the bottom, but rather you want to create a nice edible crust on the bottom and you do this by making sure it is hot enough to boil the water but not too hot to burn. You can move the rice around and check to make sure it is not burning underneath if you think your flame is too hot. If you are cooking this on a gas grill or stove, you would lower the temperature just slightly at this point, but the water should still be boiling / bubbling.
      • Cook the paella until all of the rice has absorbed the broth, and the edges are starting to get crisp and pulling from the side. Ideally you also want to have a slight crust at the bottom of the rice.
      • While the paella is finishing, cook the prawns:
      • If you only have one fire to do this, you will want to wait until your paella is cooked. Otherwise, if you have room, you can do it when your paella has about 5 more minutes to go.  In a separate, medium sized pan, add a little olive oil and then add the shrimp. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from the heat and set aside until you’re ready to serve.
      • Serve the paella and prawns:
      • Spoon the paella into individual bowls, and place a prawn on top. Finish wish a squeeze of lemon juice, and any of the additional toppings you like.

Rosé Sangria with Honey Lavender Syrup

Jodi Moreno

  • Recipe

    • For the honey lavender syrup:

      • ¼ cup of honey
      • ¼ cup of water
      • 1 tablespoon of dried lavender

      For the sangria:

      • 1 cup of blueberries
      • 4-6 apricots, pitted and sliced
      • 1 bottle of rosé
      • 1 liter of club soda

      **It is best to make this several hours or a day before serving so the flavors have time to develop.

  • The Prep

    • Make the honey lavender syrup:

      • Place the honey and water into a small saucepan and bring to a boil while whisking. Add the lavender, and lower to a simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes until the mixture thickens slightly.
      • Remove from the heat and strain the mixture into a heatproof container (such as a mason jar). Allow the syrup to cool to room temperature before making the sangria.

      Assemble the sangria:

      • Add the blueberries and apricots to a large pitcher, then pour in the bottle of rosé.  Add the honey lavender syrup, and place in the fridge to allow the flavors to blend.
      • Right before serving, add the club soda to the sangria.
      • Pour into individual glasses over ice.

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