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Cravings Culture Restaurants

The 15-Minute Paella That Cuts Time, But Not Flavor Or Authenticity

Tucked away in a block on North Figueroa Street in Los Angeles’ historic Highland Park neighborhood lies Otono, a charming Spanish restaurant that you may miss upon first look. While the kitchen space is smaller than most restaurants — six burners, a couple ovens, and a narrow prep station — head chef Theresa Montaño makes up for it by expanding the flavors of her cuisine on an immense scale.

Montaño grew up cooking with her mother and grandmother in New Mexico, instilling a love of the culinary arts in her at such an early age.

“I grew up in a big Hispanic family, so food was a part of that,” she laughed.

Otono’s arroz y fideua, also known as paella, are some of the most popular dishes on the restaurant’s menu. Montaño mentions on a busy night, Otono could sell as many as 50 orders of paella.

Traditionally, a properly made paella could take anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour to cook. With 50 orders a night, in such a small kitchen space, those numbers can seem daunting, but Chef Montaño doesn’t bat an eye.

That’s because she has perfected her paella dish to be done in a matter of 15 minutes, a feat that took her years to master, and is a necessary one to become successful in Otono’s kitchen setting.

The key to this, she shares, lies in the preparation.

Before Chef Montaño even opened the doors of Otono, she began the streamlining process.

Essentially, all the elements of a proper paella are there, but Montaño found a way to shift the flavors into different components to speed up the preparation and cooking process. First, the rice is half-cooked ahead of time and infused with a rich broth. Then Montano creates a flavorful Samora paste that’s made from tomatoes, saffron, and mild chiles that combines with the rice during the cooking process. Once they all come together, the dish tastes exactly as it would had it been cooked another 15 or 20 minutes longer.

With only six burners in her kitchen and two of said burners required for each paella pan, adapting was non-negotiable in such a bustling environment.

Her movement through the kitchen was seamless, slicing fresh vegetables, chorizo, scallops, and all the fresh ingredients required to craft her multiple paellas. Containers of partially-cooked rice and flavorful broths were all measured out and ready to go into the pans once the order comes in.

“It’s just being careful through those steps not to overcook our rice in the beginning and handling it properly. The right ratio of rice for the pan size, you can see just one layer of rice and getting the crispiness on the bottom, that’s called socarrat.”

Chef Montaño explains she made the process foolproof, labeling portions of each ingredient and at which times during the cooking process to utilize them. Paella can be tricky if not correctly approached: you can either overcook it, undercook it, or completely miss the mark on flavor if rushed.

Coming from a Spanish heritage, Montaño spent time in Spain where she traveled to Valencia, the birthplace of paella.

“I went to the old school institutions that were doing the woodfire, really authentic stuff and also went to the more modern paella restaurants to see what they were doing in contrast and then started to develop this concept.”

That time and dedication has paid off and is reflected in the satisfying crunch of her paella’s euphoric socarrat.

Chef Montaño is a shining example that while traditional flavors are crucial to a dish, you need to learn to evolve in order to adapt to a modernized setting. By drastically cutting the time it takes to cook an exquisite paella, Chef Montaño has shown that she’s capable of paying respect to the old ways, while also embracing new techniques to expedite her process.

Categories
Humor Opinion Tastemade/Snapchat

The Shrinking Screens Of TV Dinners

Whether you’re ready for the five millionth season of Grey’s Anatomy, out for blood while watching Empire, or just hoping that you can navigate the minefield of spoilers while trying to catch up on Game of Thrones, quality TV can be as heartwarming as a cup of hot cocoa.

Primetime television became an additional family member in American households about half a century ago and we took very little time to jump from watching I Love Lucy after dinner to plopping pre-portioned food on mini tables we still call TV trays during a half hour of America’s favorite redhead.

Even though the tradition of watching a show while you eat still stands, you don’t really find frozen dinners outside the freezers of devout Weight Watchers and substitute teachers. Plus, the advents of Hulu, Netflix, smartphones, and tablets have created an anytime, anywhere atmosphere of media guzzling.  So, where does that leave the TV dinner? Can we have TV lunches? Do we even need our TVs? 

TV dinner version 2016. #tvdinner #tv #vegan #dinner #terrasse

A photo posted by Nellie Briere (@nelliebriere) on

Our morphing social landscape is creating a space for individualism and the ever-popular “me time.” You can really eat however you want, whenever you want with Queen Elizabeth II or the cast of Downton Abbey. If you do find yourself eating alone, your smartphone can keep you company or help you avoid awkward eye contact with strangers/co-workers you don’t know very well.

Gear Up

Support your phone

Whether it’s simple DIY phone stands made via origami or a couple of binder clips to Miso Soup Design’s ramen bowl with a built in phone stand, you’re going to need some help propping up your phone. (http://www.cnet.com/news/anti-loneliness-ramen-bowl-invites-your-phone-to-dinner/)

Wireless meals

Dining in public brings a certain noise level to the table and no one likes headphone wires in their food, so invest in a pair of wireless earbuds so you don’t miss a single punchline or plot twist.

Splash zone

Even if you have a newer, water resistant phone, getting your phone wet is never ideal. Be wary of your splash zone and safeguard your phone with a waterproof case or, at the very least, a plastic screen protector.

Eating For One

Focus on what you’re eating

A photo posted by Charli Mears (@charlimears) on


Just because you’re using a smaller screen doesn’t mean the issues stemming from eating and watching TV disappear. If you’re watching a 22-minute comedy and you’ve finished your meal in the first seven minutes, you need to slow down. Television has a way of distracting us from our body’s fullness signals, so it’s important to reign in your fork.

Stay strong

If you’re chowing your way through a drama, watch out for those tears. They’ll add some unplanned flavor to your meal while dehydrating you and making you hungrier! Comedies are much safer calorie-wise (plus, they offer a little abdominal workout), but too much hilarity might require a self-heimlich maneuver.

Whatever you choose, make sure you relax and take comfort in the fact that you’re supporting an American tradition with a modern edge.

Categories
Fast Food

McDonald’s Has A GRAY Burger That’s Just…Depressing

McD China Grey

You’d think with Burger King’s Black Whopper side effect, fast food chains would be cautious about using buns with unconventional colors. Nope. McDonald’s China is now sporting a burger with GRAY buns.

They’re calling it the Modern Chinese Burger. The burger features a pork patty with iceberg lettuce, bacon and a yellow dressing. It’s sandwiched between two melancholically gray buns topped with black sesame. Hopefully, this one doesn’t turn your poop gray.

Grubstreet reports that the burger will be on McDonald’s menus in China through Nov. 3. If you squint your eyes, they kind of look like Oreo cookie buns.

 

Categories
Products

Swanky Teapot Instantly Upgrades Any Tea Party

 

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Hey tea drinker. We know what it’s like to constantly be upstaged by cool coffee products. But finally, tea is getting the respect it deserves, with this incredibly cool teapot designed by Snezana Jeremic.

The “Quattro” teapot is elevated by its aluminum base, and tips slightly to pour, no heavy lifting required. The base can be used as a handle, making this the perfect item to carry to and show off at your next frou frou tea party.

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The mix of futuristic design and functionality elevates the tea experience to something only the eighties could have dreamed of and only the present could achieve. So take a step back and calm yourself, coffee fiends. There’s a new way to brew in town, and the Keurig may have finally met its match.

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H/T + PicThx Yanko Design