World Cup Cook-off: Spain and the USA

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Clarice (left) and Laura Meyer with their Dad's paella. Picture: Stephanus Meyer

The Global Table blog is several weeks into its World Cup Cook-off project, in which recipes are shared from each of the 32 nations that will be represented in the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa come June.

Today’s recipe is by Salvelio’s brother Stephanus, who lives in Cordoba, Spain, with his wife Maria del Mar and daughters Clarice and Laura. Stephanus is sharing his favourite recipe for paella – that iconic saffron-infused rice-based dish that is considered by many to be the national dish of Spain.

“There are literally hundreds of ways to cook paella,” says Stephanus. “Every cook has his or her own favourite recipe; some use only seafood and others combine a variety of meats and shellfish, from prawns, mussels and clams, to chicken, pork, chorizo and even rabbit.”

Every bit as important as the quality of ingredients used, is the dish the paella is prepared in. It’s called a paellera, and this wide, shallow two-handled pan, usually made of iron, is especially favoured because its large surface area facilitates the cooking of the rice, producing deliciously sticky, almost crunchy bits at the base and sides of the pan.

Once the paella is done it is typically served at the dining table straight from the paellera.

“Why do I love paella?” muses Stephanus. “It’s such a flexible dish, so if I don’t have the exact ingredients or if I find some of them hard to get hold of, I can easily substitute them with something similar.”

Fresh shellfish is preferable but not essential, says Stephanus, and you can use fish stock instead of water to increase the flavour.

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The Meyers' seafood paella. Picture: Stephanus Meyer

Stephanus’s Seafood Paella – The Recipe

Ingredients

1 small onion, finely chopped; 1 green pepper, finely chopped; ½ red pepper, boiled until soft and then cut into long thin strips; 2 medium-sized tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped; 200g prawns; 200g small clams; 200g squid/calamari; 12 mussels; 350g rice (traditionally short-grain rice is used but Stephanus prefers using long-grain); 2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped; a pinch of saffron strands (if you can’t get saffron, use turmeric instead and add it once you have added the liquid); olive oil for frying; about 800ml water (or fish stock), salt to taste

Pre-preparation

MUSSELS: Wash the mussels, removing the beards.

FRESH SQUID: Rub off the outer dark skin. Pull out the insides (including the transparent back bone) and pinch the eye away from the tentacles. Save the tentacles. Cut the squid into rings.

CLAMS: If using fresh clams, wash in water and then put in a bowl with some salt so the grit comes out. Throw away any that are open.

PRAWNS: Whether you peel them or not is up to you. If you decide to peel them, save the shells and boil in water for about 10 minutes. Save the liquid and use some of it to cook the rice in, instead of water.

GARLIC: In a pestle and mortar, grind the garlic, saffron (if using) and a pinch of salt.

Method for the paella

Heat some olive oil in the paellera or in a large frying pan. Add the onion and green pepper and fry gently for about five minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and squid (with the tentacles) and fry on a low heat for another 10 minutes.

Add the rice and stir well to make sure that it is thoroughly coated. Add water (or the water from boiling the prawn shells, or any fish stock you might have), clams and the garlic/saffron mixture and bring to the boil. Season with salt. Put a lid on it, turn the heat right down and cook very slowly for about 10 minutes. Add the prawns and give it a stir (you can even add some peas at this stage if you like). Arrange the mussels and strips of red pepper on top, put the lid back on and leave for another 10 minutes, checking the paella has enough water.

If you think it is getting too dry, add more water, but shake the handle of the pan rather than stirring the mixture, so as not to upset the paella. Once the rice is cooked and the mussels have opened, it is ready to eat. You can also decorate the paella with some artichoke hearts, as Stephanus has done in the pictures above.

A glass of chilled, fruity white wine goes down especially well with the paella. Que aprovechen (Enjoy your meal)!

Judith Tietyen’s American Pumpkin Pie

Our other World Cup Cook-off candidate today is Judith Tietyen, from Chicago/Milwaukee in the US. Judith is a permanent resident in South Africa and the president of Ewe Masenze Inc, which raises funds from American individuals for township development work in Port Elizabeth. Judith also helped create the RSA Sinakho Trust, which has projects in Gqebera, Kwazakhele and Tsitsikamma. She has two children and three grand-children in the US, and a step-grandson in South Africa.

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Judith Tietyen. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

For the World Cup Cook-off Judith is sharing her grandmother Catherine’s pumpkin pie recipe, which in turn was passed down to Judith’s mother, Agnes.

“Pumpkin pie is the typical dessert at Thanksgiving Day dinners, and today there are many, many variations of it,” she says.

It’s a far cry from the early Colonists’ version of the pie – they hollowed out a pumpkin, filled it with milk, honey and spices, and baked it over hot ashes.

Pumpkin itself originated in Central America about 7000 to 5500 BC and was a staple for the Native Americans on the US’s East coast long before the Colonists arrived from Britain, Judith explained.

“The first Colonists all died because they refused to build relationships with the Native Americans. Eventually it dawned on some that the Native Americans knew how to survive and thrive on the land.

“From this, stories combining history and myth evolved about the first Thanksgiving celebrated, when the Colonists learned to survive due to the agricultural teachings of the Native Americans.

“The Native Americans had pumpkin, wild turkey, wild rice, corn and cranberries – foods commonly featured at Thanksgiving family dinners – and the story suggests the Native Americans and Colonists celebrated the first Thanksgiving together.”

Thanksgiving is a family holiday in the US and is usually held on the fourth Thursday in November, says Judith. It is usually lasts four days and people travel by car, bus, train and plane to join their immediate family so they can celebrate together and express gratitude “for all they have to appreciate, including each other”.

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American pumpkin pie. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Pumpkin Pie – The Recipe

Judith’s family’s secret ingredient in pumpkin pie is the use of a tablespoon of molasses and she has also tweaked her grandmother’s recipe a bit by adding some additional spices.

The pumpkin has to be fresh, she says. “In the US, our pumpkin is round, and orange on the outside and inside. In South Africa, your pumpkin is whitish on the outside, somewhat flat on top, and orange on the inside.”

Before you start the pie, you will need to cook some pumpkin, without the rind, in a pot with a small amount of water. Remove the seeds and cut the pumpkin into small pieces.

You can make your own pie crust but nowadays Judith simply buys a roll of unbaked pie crust dough, which you will roll out and put into a pie dish, crimping the edges as you go.

Ingredients and method for the pie filling

Combine the following: 2 cups of cooked pumpkin, cooled; 2 eggs; 3/4 cup white sugar; 12 oz (about 1 cup)  evaporated milk; 1/2 tsp nutmeg; 1/2 tsp ground cloves; 1 1/2 tsp powdered ginger; 1 tbsp cinnamon; 1 tbsp molasses.

Pour this mixture into an unbaked crust.  To prevent the crust from getting too dark, or burning, just put aluminum foil on the crimped edge.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180C or 350F for 40 to 50 minutes.  Insert a clean knife to make sure the filling is baked through.

Let the pie cool for at least an hour, preferably two. Serve it at room temperature with cream or ice-cream.

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4 Responses to World Cup Cook-off: Spain and the USA

  1. julio says:

    Hey!!! Spectacular seafood paella, only the spanish guitars are necessary for to dance the mussels on the paella.

  2. Monique Tietyen-Mlengana says:

    Great job Mom on Grandma’s pupkin pie – always the best!

  3. Lloyd Oldham says:

    I had a piece of Judith’s pumpkin pie on the day these photographs were taken and I thoroughly enjoyed it. What I liked most about the pie was that it was not too sweet. It seems like a “healthier” dessert alternative. It’s also very “filling”, so most people probably wouldn’t be able to eat two helpings. Salvelio, on the other hand, didn’t seem to have a problem wolfing down two pieces.

  4. globaltable says:

    Thanks Lloyd….I’m sure you had some for breakfast the morning after. I must admit, it was fantastic!!

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