Tag Archives: Spanish Recipe

Southwest Tomato Gazpacho

For the past five years or so, my very best friend and I have diligently gone to Tomatomania each April when it comes to town.  We may have missed a year somewhere in that time, but still buy tomato plants elsewhere so we can make like suburban farmers and enjoy our own home grown, warmed by the sun orbs of summer lusciousness.  I have to fess up and say my friend’s plot is quite huge so she can let her tomato plants grow wildly over the sunny terraced hillside behind her house, whereas I am only a poser who keeps two large pots near the side of my house.  And if those tomato plants are lucky, they’ll get most of the sun they’re supposed to have.  I’ve had good years, and then I’ve had not so good years — like this year.

My plants are tall and scraggly, have been producing lots of blossoms, but very few tomatoes.  Yes, they’ve been appropriately watered and fertilized.  I even remembered to plant them making sure the first sprout of leaves was buried.  I tried egg shells around the stems this year, too, and ironically, this is the first year I’ve had stems rot.  I’m about ready to rip them out of their pots to plant something else.  However, my friend is having a bumper crop.

After paying $6 for a gorgeous heirloom tomato at one of our fabulous farmer’s markets last Sunday, she called to say she wanted to drop off some tomatoes, then the very next day sent me home with more.  What does one do with so many tomatoes outside of occasionally enjoying one sliced and lightly salted?

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Fideua: Spanish Pasta with Clams, Mussels, and Shrimp

I had an urge to make paella — but not the more traditional kind made with rice — and now that I think of it, if rice isn’t in it, then it’s probably not called paella.  No, I’d seen a recipe featured in Saveur some time ago which used thin, short pieces of pasta resembling spaghetti broken to bits, and it’s taken me until recently to give it a go.  I haven’t made paella for years thinking that having a best friend who’s a pro at whipping out her four foot diameter authentic paella pan whenever anyone mentions “party” has kept me lazy.  I don’t have a paella pan, but can manage a batch in a large skillet on my stove instead of a wood fueled fire on the patio which could incite neighbors to call 911 because they think the house is on fire.

The intrigue of the pasta or fideos based paella is the cooking process.  It’s very similar to a rice-based recipe, but pasta absorbs the liquid more quickly, and there’s less a worry about whether or not to stir the rice you’re not supposed to stir so it can develop a nice crust.  That isn’t the case with the pasta version, but it’s a challenge to keep from stirring it when you’ve got an impetuous stirrer in residence.

A basic paella requires a good pan which is not so thick, heat that will be distributed evenly across the pan, a short-grained rice that will absorb liquid without making the rice gummy, and liquid.  The finished product should be moist, but unlike risotto, contain separate pieces of tender rice.  Since I was foregoing rice for the recipe I chose, and because the original recipe was relatively easy, I decided to make my own fish stock — because.

Picture me at the Asian market in front of the fish case scanning several varieties of fish heads.  Large fish heads.  Inexpensive fish heads —  all under $4/lb.  A perky young man behind the counter asks whether he can help me and I tell him while pointing to a white fish, “I’m making fish stock,” to which he responds pointing to the salmon, “It better for you.”  I know this, but also know it’s very oily.  Should I mention that no matter how good salmon is for me, I am not one of its biggest fans?  He continues, “You want me clean it up for you?”  And I say that I’m happy to do it myself, but he grins and says, “I do it better for you.  You too busy.”

I am so not busy and loving every second of it.  Any busyness in my life now is self-generated.

But he certainly was correct about doing it better than I could, because after I removed the brown paper wrapping at home, I had to admire an extremely clean,  perfectly sectioned salmon head.  What had I been thinking before?  Had I insisted on taking care of it myself, I would have had to wrestle with it without the correct type of knife, then smell like the village fish monger for my trouble.  A not very busy fish monger, but still.

I was still concerned about making broth with salmon so had to do some research before choosing a recipe.  Evidently, it’s a matter of opinion.

Have you ever made any kind of fish stock before?

If you aren’t in the mood to tackle that, there are other options, but if you’re a paella lover, try this version of Fideua for a change.  Or, if you’ve always wondered about paella but haven’t tried it, start with this.

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Spanish Tortilla: My Tor-Tatta is Born

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Here’s what you do on a Saturday morning when you’re home alone and want to wallow in catching up on reading food blogs you have been sorely neglectful of.  (All cooking and posting makes Kelly a very rude blogger indeed.)

You make your much needed giant cup of caffeine (Starbucks Italian Roast, thank you, with some warm milk and a spoon full of sugar, please?) and hunker down at your beloved Mac to get busy.

It looks to be a long, but very pleasant morning, so clearly, sustenance will be in order, yes?  Something tasty, not too hard on the girth maintenance, and easy.  You know, like take it out of the fridge and heat it up easy?

We had this for dinner a couple of nights ago, and it’s one of those recipes that improves with age.  Definitely perfect for me today.  Now, how to avoid Twittering while I’m reading through my favorite blogs.  So many bright and shiny things to distract me today…Must.  Keep.  Reading…

I’m looking for tonight’s dinner then going to Whole Foods to do what my oldest son, an employee, says is completely possible — fill my basket for $40.  It isn’t that I don’t believe him, but I get over there and want all the unique and different products my other 17 markets don’t have.

Right.

Where was I?  Reading blogs and enjoying my morning cuppa with a nice slice of my version of a Spanish Tortilla.  No, it’s not a flat wheat or corn disk that one makes tacos with.  Instead, it’s a traditional way to prepare potatoes by cooking them in hot oil without actually frying them, and then layering them in a pan to cook with eggs.

Although I’ve prepared the potatoes and eggs in the traditional way, I’ve included vegetables and some cheese from my fridge.  This is a perfect way to make something easy, and include those odds and ends I know you have if your fridge is like mine.  Plus it gives me some much needed practice time with my mandoline which makes such beautiful slices.  Now, how to remember not to purchase humongous potatoes so they fit in the hand guard thingy…

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Spanish Meatballs and Garlicky Green Beans

When I saw Mario Batalli with Gwynneth Paltrow in the September ’08 issue of Food & Wine,  I thought, “Hmm…interesting,” only briefly wondering what the two had in common, then continued on to scan the recipes since that’s what life is all about, right?  All that olive oil and garlic…potatoes and rice.  I love Spanish food.  But I missed the point the article was making about the connection between the two celebrities — the premier of a 13-part series called Spain…On the Road Again.

I have found out that at least in San Diego, PBS is running the series  in the middle of the night, so have set my DVR and begun to live vicariously through the Foodie Foursome which includes Mark Bittman and a lovely Spanish actress I’ve not seen before, Claudia Bassols.  Evidently, there was no specific route planned for the trip which was originally a “guys only” event.  Instead, the purpose was to travel from one place to the next enjoying locally produced meat, fish, and vegetables, to sample local wines, and to enjoy the traditional dishes of each region.  Oh, to be cruising through Spain in a caravan of expensive German cars.  Actually, just cruising through Spain would be fine with me since it’s been decades that I was there.  The countryside is gorgeous, and the cooking featured on the show seriously simple.  I’m loving the entire experience.  In fact, I’ve ordered the book, Spain:  A Culinary Road Trip by Mario Batali with Gwyneth Paltrow, just so I could sample some of the al fresco meals made during the trip.  Since my Penelope Casas’ La Cocina de Mama has been getting quite the workout lately, it’s about time I add something new.

Recently, we had meatballs and I’m left wondering why I never had meatballs when we lived in Spain.

There were meatballs?

Had I only known how delicious these particular meatballs were…

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Tapas, anyone? Valencian-Style Clams & Tomato Garlic Bread

 

For Valentine’s Day, the hubster surprised me with two days and a night at the Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel.  Yes, I’m lucky, and no, I won’t trade.

On the drive home, we both felt a bit sluggish (that’s what relaxing does to you…) and I suggested that we do a week of light dinners.  At this point in the winter, even though we thankfully aren’t dealing with ice and snow, we are still more sedentary than we’d like to be and begin to think about moving our carcasses around a bit.  Well, the idea of it is good anyway, right?  A commitment to light eating is a much more palatable way to approach spring which isn’t that far off.

Almejas Valencianas or Valencian-Style Clams was a perfect choice.  Well, until I decided to add the Pan con Tomate y Anchoa, or Garlic, Olive oil, and Fresh Tomato on Toasted Bread.  To our credit, we only ate half the bread, and the clams were amazing, so our appetites were quite satisfied.  The recipe was originally made with mussels and is quite famous in Valencia, Spain where it’s made at the popular Bar Pilar.

Both recipes are great for tapas if you want something quick on a night with friends.

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