Arroz Con Camarónes (Yellow Rice with Shrimp) in Honor of My Mom's Birthday
I'm not a sappy person...except for when it comes to the woman I miss with all my heart and soul. The woman who I still respect and admire more than any other woman on this planet. The woman whose praises I'll sing until I've lost my voice. The woman who I was so incredibly lucky to spend 27 years of my life with. The woman who I'll always call "Mom."
Today would've been my mom's 65th birthday.
Billy Joel hit the nail on the head when he sang "only the good die young." It's a heartbreaking truth. Yet, at least my role model and best friend lived longer than most. She also led a truly beautiful life even with the many road blocks she so courageously battled along the way.
A single parent for 20 years, my mom raised my brother and me with values that I'll raise my children with one day. She never judged, never guilted a loved one, and always forgave. She defined "selfless" as she was always looking out for others, showing her compassion and lending a hand. She was a mom, sister, daughter, and friend that every woman should strive to be.
Today I honor my mom with one of her favorite recipes, Arroz Con Camarónes or as we called it, Yellow Rice and Shrimp. Along with Yellow Rice and Chicken and Spanish Bean Soup, it was one of my mom's dinner specialities. While I have no Spanish blood running through my veins, my mom grew up on the delicious cuisine. You see, my great-grandmother remarried and had children with a Spaniard after having children with her prior husband (my great-grandfather). Thus, I'm part of one big happy family with both American and Spanish heritage. And we all just love Spanish food. Sure does help that many of us were raised in Tampa, too.
I think my mom favored her Arroz Con Pollo to her Arroz Con Camarónes. But the day I realized I wasn't allergic to shrimp (after being confused for 3 long years) I fell in love with the crustacean all over again. Especially when it was cooked with an aromatic saffron rice. So I'd beg her to make it all of the time. It was one of the last meals she ever cooked for me and I can still vividly remember just how perfect it was...even that very last time. Maybe...it was the best it had ever been...
Here's to my mom, my mentor, my rock, and my angel. I know I got her approval when I took this Spanish creation out of the oven last night. And with every bite to every last saffron rice morsel, I was reminded of our humorous kitchen fails as well as our many culinary triumphs. I was also reminded of just how much I enjoyed sharing a meal with her. But I'm pretty sure she was with me as I devoured her Yelow Rice and Shrimp last night.
My Mom's Yellow Rice and Shrimp
1 pound wild-caught shrimp, peeled and de-veined (I leave the tails on)
2 cups vegetable or seafood stock
1 cup short-grain rice (If you can find it. Long or medium grain will suffice otherwise)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 small Spanish onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2-3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt
1 generous pinch saffron
2 teaspoons Turmeric
1/4 cup petite peas (optional)
2 tablespoons pimento (optional)
1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Bring 1/2 cup olive oil to medium heat in a large oven safe pot or pan. Saute the onion and green pepper until just slightly softened. Then, add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes.
3) Add the shrimp and saute until they've turned pink. Then, add the tomatoes, saffron, turmeric, bay leaves, salt, and seafood or vegetable stock. Bring to a light boil. Then, stir in the rice.
4) Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes (until all of the liquid is completely aborbed)
5) Remove from oven and garnish with peas and/or diced pimento if desired.
***Makes 2-3 dinner portions