I owe an apology to a friend of mine. Not just a simple "I'm sorry." I owe a public apology to Miss Cathi. Not because I did anything so terribly wrong, but because I thought she was mistaken, in fact, I was sure of it. So sure of it, that I challenged a genuine foodie about one of her ingredients. Never question a foodie when they are in their kitchen. That is their kingdom and they don't take kindly to foolhardy usurpers questioning their wisdom (or their recipes).
Cathi is a phenomenal chef. Her parents were restauranteurs and she comes from a long tradition of taking what you have on hand and making brilliant meals. When I go to visit, I always up the ante because of my long list of dietary restrictions. For instance I can't have soy. Trying telling someone who is Asian that they can't use soy sauce... Not good, and not easy. But Cathi always listens my restrictions and then starts pulling items from the fridge and off the shelf.
Cathi is a wonder in the kitchen. I've been cooking for a few years now and I've gotten to where I consider myself proficient at least. Maybe even a bit good. But Cathi works with such a familiarity and confidence that I can only sit in awe as she starts gathering, collecting, and preparing. The last time I went to see her, Cathi made a Chicken and Crab Paella with Kale. This was seriously good and I have decided (with her permission) to share the recipe here. But it is this recipe that created my need to apologize. You see, I thought Kale was this dark leafy green stuff that I had purchased not too long ago at the health food store. Cathi was using a lovely green, but it didn't look like what I bought and so I told her that stuff wasn't Kale. She's pretty sure it is, but I, foolishly, am sure it's not. We banter back and forth over this as she is cooking and I simply won't give in. No one is ever as certain they are right as the fool who is dead wrong. She laughs and tells me I am going to owe her an apology when we finally settle all this. Not just a "sorry" but a facebook I'm sorry. A public apology.
A few days later I got an email from Miss Cathi's phone. She at the store and staring at irrefutable evidence of my wrongness. A picture's worth a thousand words. Kale. On display and clearly labeled. All I can say...Oops. I called her right after I got the email. We shared a good long laugh over this and she has already accepted my apology and forgiven me, but, I did promise to this... So, dearest friend, I do hereby formally and with great humility, apologize for not believing you when you assured me that you knew what you were doing. I shall never question your culinary wisdom again and I also thank you, one for making such excellent dishes for me, and two, for letting me share this on my blog. I have already made this twice and it has become one of my favorites. Much love and many thanks.
Chicken and Crab Paella by Miss Cathi
Ingredients: Extra virgin olive oil (always) 1 lb chicken thighs, boneless and skinless half lb crab meat 3 cups sushi rice 1 red bell pepper onion garlic celery 1 can stewed Italian tomatoes 1 bunch of kale 1tbs turmeric salt and pepper to taste
Chop onion, celery, pepper and saute in a large pot (with a lid) with EVOO, salt and black pepper. Add garlic. Add chicken thighs and brown. If frozen, defrost crab meat. Add three cups of sushi rice and cook until the rice becomes translucent. Season with Turmeric. Add three cups of water and can of stewed Italian tomatoes (and their juice). Chop Kale and add. Add crab meat. Stir. Cover and cook for 20 minutes on medium low heat. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes covered before serving and eating.
This was great. I LOVE the color! The turmeric doesn't have a lot of flavor, but the golden color with the rich dark greens and the reds of the pepper and tomatoes. This just looks vibrant and healthy. And guess, what, it is.
I personally need a larger pot for this. Cathi says this is the kind of thing that you could add olives, peas, corn or mushrooms too (none of which I can have). She also said you could make this with broccoli. That I did try. The second time I made this I substituted broccoli for kale and was even happier with the results.