Recipes From The Heart XXXV

We’ve combined some Old World standards with two American classics. Paella becomes a big hit on the Thanksgiving dinner table and this recipe is from the writings of Ernest Hemingway. Oyster dressing was a tradition during my baby days in Atlanta and the holidays would seem empty to me without it. Pecan Pie from that prince of food writing Craig Claiborne tops off a great day of celebrating this very American tradition.

“We ate in pavilions on the sand.  Then we ate paella with fresh sea food, clams in their shells, mussels, crayfish, and small eels. All the time drinking a white wine, cold, light and good.”

                                     -For Whom The Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway

Papa’s Paella

Paella was a Hemingway favorite.


olive oil

10-12 fresh tiger prawns (you need the heads and shells for the stock)

1 onion

1 fennel bulb

4 tsp tomato puree

1 big tomato, chopped

1 tsp smoked paprika

½ cup brandy

a few sprigs of thyme

2 bay leaves

2 litres of water

1 onion

1 red pepper

1 green pepper

3 garlic cloves

2 bay leaves

250g squid

1 tsp smoked paprika

400g rice (Bomba or Calasparra–short grain rice)

300g mussels

300g chorizo (you can add other seafood in its place)

lemon wedges for serving


Start with 10-12 fresh tiger prawns.

Lob off their heads and peel the shells and cook them (the heads and shells) in a good dollop of olive oil in a large stockpot for 2 minutes. The actual prawns get set aside in the fridge for the paella.

Next add 1 onion and 1 fennel bulb, both sliced n’ diced for 10 minutes until caramelised.

Whip in 4 tsp tomato puree, 1 big fat chopped tomato, 1 tsp smoked paprika and ½ cup brandy.

Stir it all together, toss in a bunch of thyme sprigs, 2 bay leaves and add in 2 litres of water.

Bring all of this to a boil, then bring down to a simmer, and leave for 45 minutes until reduced to half the amount of liquid.

Dice 1 onion, 1 red pepper, and 1 green pepper.

Slice 3 garlic cloves, and set aside 2 bay leaves.

Clean 250g squid and slice into rings.

Spoon out 1 tsp paprika and measure out 400g of rice (Bomba or Calasparra is apparently best).

Have your little saffron packet ready.

And clean any other seafood. They called for 300g each of mussels and clams, but we added a handful of mussels and chopped chorizo instead.

When the 45 minutes of stock brewing is done, strain the liquid into a bowl, ready to be used.

Fire up the stove, add the paella pan and a good drop of olive oil.

Now, add everything, with 2 minutes in between each item, and stirring each item in. Onion, 2 minutes. Both peppers, 2 minutes. garlic, 2 minutes. Squid, 2 minutes. Bay leaves, 2 minutes. Paprika, 2 minutes. Rice (mix it in well), 2 minutes.

Add the saffron and most of the stock, bring back to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

Now, do. not. stir. This is your first time? Don’t worry, you’ll probably burn the bottoms for sure. But it’ll still taste good.

After 10 minutes, push in the rest of the seafood into the mixture. Prawns? check. Mussels? check.

If it’s getting too dry, add a little more of the stock, but in 8 minutes, you’re finishing cooking paella and it should be a drier dish ( you’re not aiming for soup).

Set aside for 5 minutes.

Emeril’s New Orleans Oyster Dressing

Emeril’s New Orleans Oyster Dressing


3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped celery

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

3 cups cubed day-old bread

2 cups oysters with their liquor

1 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup chopped green onions

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 tablespoon Creole seasoning

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350º F. Generously oil a medium baking dish.

In a large skillet heat oil over medium-heat and add onion, green pepper and celery and saute, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes longer. Lower the heat and fold in bread cubes, oysters and their liquor, and broth until moistened. Add green onions, parsley, Creole seasoning, and hot pepper sauce.Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour dressing into baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 20 minutes longer, until golden brown and crispy on top.

Craig Claiborne’s Mississippi Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie Tops Off the Thanksgiving Feast.


pastry for a 10-inch pie. Keep chilled till ready to use.

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

1 cup dark corn syrup

3 tablespoons melted butter

3/4 cup sugar

5 whole eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp dark rum, Grand Marnier,  or quality bourbon


Place a baking sheet in oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Combine the corn syrup and sugar in a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool a little, but don’t let it crystalize. You want it warm rather than piping hot so it doesn’t cook the eggs when you add it to the egg mixture.

Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl. Gradually add the sugar mixture. Continue beating and add the other ingredients.

Pour the mixture into the pie shell. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, or until the pie is set. You may need to use a pie ring or aluminum foil to keep the edge of the crust from burning.

Let cool. Serve with whipped cream.

Sir Verde’s Wine Suggestions: Albarino is a festive white wine from Spain and easy to find. It’s time for Port. One sip and Pecan pie becomes an even tastier dessert.

Stay Safe. Eat and Drink Well. Love One Another

Happy Thanksgiving!

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