Saturday, March 10, 2012

And finally, the Spanish desserts

We probably didn't need to have two desserts after such a massive amount of food, but Rob decided to try both the Bizcochos Borrachos and the Brazo gitano (literally, gypsy's arm). When in Spain...

Bizcochos Borrachos

Brazo Gitano

They didn't turn out exactly as light and fluffy as some of the recipes suggested, however, the taste was divine! They can made all in the span of about 1.5 hours, too, so if you are looking to make several desserts for an evening, this might just be the way to go!

Spanish Entrees

And on we go to the Entrees...there were, two, mainly.

Paella Valenciana (Valencia)
This is a link to The Splendid Table by Lynne Rosetto Casper. It’s a most authentic recipe. For our purposes today, I am sticking to a seafood/chorizo/chicken paella based on a paella valenciana because there’s always SO MUCH FOOD! If we were making nothing else, I’d do this one hands down:

Tortilla Española (all over Spain- a national dish)
Tortilla Española is essentially the national dish of Spain. You can eat it as a tapa, for breakfast, in a bocadillo (sandwich), or for dinner with salad and a bit of jamón. Basically anytime, anywhere. We had a great one at Valdubón and I think it’s because they weren’t afraid to use A LOT of olive oil. No fear!

Serves 4 to 6 as a tapa or appetizer
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 1/4 pounds waxy potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
• 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 8 extra-large eggs
Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet or nonstick pan over medium-high until very hot but not smoking. Add the potatoes and onion, season with salt and pepper, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat if necessary so that the vegetables do not brown, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 15 to 20 minutes.
Beat the eggs with salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Combine the potatoes with the eggs in the bowl; add to the skillet, spreading the potatoes evenly in the pan, and cook for about 1 minute, just to set the bottom of the egg mixture. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes, or until quite set. Carefully flip the tortilla over (invert it onto a plate if you must, then slide it back into the pan, bottom side up) and cook for 5 minutes longer, until set. Flip out onto a clean plate and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

La tortilla esta tambien servido con Crema de ajo (Cataluna)
This sauce originated in Cataluna and has spread all over Spain. The name comes from the Catalan words for the two main ingredients all (garlic) and oli (oil). It is quick, easy and very flavorful, so it is easy to understand why it is so popular in Spain. Serve it with meats, fish, or vegetables - or just spread it on bread. The Spanish also use it as an ingredient in main course recipes. This recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups and uses 2 egg yolks.
Crema de ajo
Ingredients (yield 1.5 cups):
• 4 medium to large garlic cloves
• salt to taste
• 2 egg yolks
• 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
• 1 cup extra virgin Spanish olive oil
Preparation: Peel and mince the garlic. Using the flat side of a large knife, crush the garlic. Place in a small mortar and pestle and add ½ tsp salt and smash into a paste.An alternative to save time is to use a good garlic press that peels and mashes the garlic in one step. Either way, you can use a mortar and pestle to mash the garlic into a paste.

A close up of the Paella, just so you can appreciate it's beauty:

Spanish appetizers

Cheers to the rest of the Spanish appetizers! We started with the Ceviche and then continued eating. We needed to have a brief timeout before our entrees. Wow, what a meal! Spain certainly came close to some of my personal favourites - Mexico, Italy and Argentina.

Gazpacho tradicional – (Cordoba)
You can also see one of the wine samples we had (and possibly our favourite) in the background as well as the Crema de ajo which we'll post next. See the video of how to made traditional gazpacho here.

Manchego Castilla (La Mancha) con pan

Almond-stuffed olives (por todas partes)

The next photo shows both the manchego cheese (served with fresh bread) and the almost completely demolished olives. I never would have thought that olives and almonds would go together, but they absolutely do. Wonderful flavours! A little bit of olive oil added also goes a long way.

Excuse the random "Warning" signs in the photo...K&V are doing a kitchen reno...there are many appliances lying about and this one functioned conveniently as a table for appetizers. We'll update the blog when the renovation is done. It's going to be beautiful!

Bacon-wrapped Dates.
After a visit to Embrujo Flamenco in Toronto and thanks to Chef Elizabeth Fernandez, these will be a mainstay no matter what party Kris hosts!

Sorry, no photo...we ate them too fast (as we were making more food!).

18 medjool dates
9 strips lean bacon
18 wooden toothpicks
2 tbsp (30 ml) honey
Pit dates then form back into their original shape.
Pat bacon dry with paper towel and cut crosswise in half.
Wrap dates with bacon; secure through centres with toothpick. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Place dates in shallow roasting pan. Bake on middle rack on preheated 450F (230C) oven 10 minutes. Flip dates. Bake until crisp, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven; drain on paper towel. Cool 5 minutes.
Arrange on plate; drizzle with honey.
Makes 18 (for 6 tapas servings).
This article ran in Starweek on June 5.

Albondiguitas al azafran
Penelope Casa is a world-renowned expert on Spanish cuisine. This recipe is excerpted from her updated cookbook, Tapas (Knopf, 2007, $38).
1/2 lb (225 g) ground veal
1/2 lb (225 g) ground pork
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp (25 mL) minced parsley
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 slice bread, crusts removed, soaked in milk or water and squeezed dry
11/2 tsp (7 mL) coarse salt Freshly ground pepper Flour for dusting
2 tbsp (25 mL) olive oil
2 tbsp (25 mL) minced onion
1/4 tsp (1 mL) sweet paprika, preferably Spanish smoked
1/2 cup (125 mL) veal or chicken broth
2 tbsp (25 mL) white wine Several strands saffron Minced parsley for garnish
In a bowl, mix together lightly the veal, pork, half of the garlic, 1 tbsp (25 mL) of the parsley, the egg, bread, salt and pepper. Form into very small balls, not larger than 1 inch (2.5 cm). Dust with flour.
Heat the oil in a shallow casserole large enough for all the meatballs. Brown the meatballs well on all sides. Add the onion and saute until it is wilted. Sprinkle in the paprika and cook for a minute. Stir in the broth and wine, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, mash together in a mortar or mini processor the remaining minced garlic, the remaining tablespoon (15 mL) of parsley, the saffron and a little salt. Stir this mixture into the meatballs, sprinkle with parsley and serve.
These meatballs can be made several hours or even a day in advance and reheated.

Tortillitas de gambas (Cadiz)
Directions follow here:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Spain - Ceviche to start

Good evening gourmands! About a week and a half ago we visited Spain and enjoyed many culinary delicacies. Funny story: due to the fact that I tweeted about visiting Spain, one of my colleagues asked me last week how I enjoyed my visit - since I travel a lot for rugby, it didn't seem that out of the question that I may have actually gone there for the's too bad that wasn't actually the case!

In lieu of an actual visit, I feel like we had a wonderful experience with many Spanish foods. I am just going to post one of the appetizers tonight. It's called Ceviche and is actually raw fish that is cooked using only freshly squeezed lime juice. Added onto a bed of what essentially amounts to guacamole, it is extraordinarily flavourful. We highly recommend it!

Recipe can be found below or at:

You can use almost any firm-fleshed fish for this Spanish influenced dish, provided that it is perfectly fresh. The fish is 'cooked' by the action of the acidic lime juice. Adjust the amount of chilli according to your taste.
Serves 6

1 1/2 lb halibut, turbot, sea bass or salmon fillets, skinned (we used sushi grade salmon)
Juice of 3 limes
1-2 fresh red chillies, seeded and very finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the garnish
4 large firm tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves

Cut the fish into strips measuring about 2 x 1/2 inch. Lay these in a shallow dish and pour over the lime juice, turning the fish strips to coat them all over in the juice. Cover with a clear film (plastic wrap) and leave for 1 hour.
Mix all the garnish ingredients, except the coriander, together. Set aside.
Season the fish with salt and scatter over the chillies. Drizzle with the oil, Toss the fish in the mixture, then replace the cover. Leave to marinate in the fridge for 15-30 minutes more.
To serve, divide the garnish among six plates. Spoon the ceviche, sprinkle with coriander, and serve.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Quinoa: I know it's not a country...but it sounds like one

Yes, I know it's really not a country. However, I've enjoyed this recipe so much I just feel like I need to share it with the world! Updates from Spain (which we did last weekend) will be forthcoming. In the meantime, make this granola. I have found it's easiest to just guesstimate the measurements when buying the ingredients at Bulk Barn, then you don't really even have to measure and it makes the whole thing come together quite quickly!

Ultimate Granola
~ makes 7 cups ~
From the Quinoa 365 cookbook ( by Green and Hemming, 2011.

A. 2.5 cups large flake rolled oats
B. ¾ cup whole almonds
C. ½ cup pumpkin seeds
D. ½ cup sunflower seeds
E. 1/3 quinoa (uncooked)
F. ¼ cup flaked coconut
G. ¼ cup walnut pieces
H. ¼ cup sesame seeds
I. 1 cup maple syrup
J. 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
K. 2 tsp cinnamon
L. 1/3 cup dried cranberries
M. ¼ cup raisins

Measure A-H into large bowl and mix well. Combine I and J in separate bowl and pour over dry mixture. Stir well. Sprinkle K into mixture. Spread out on baking sheet and cook at 225° for one hour. Cool. Add L and M into mixture after it has cooled. Granola stores for four weeks.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Italy and the Godfather Trilogy...entrees, salad and dessert

Hello folks! We're back again! There are a few recipes here that you just might enjoy, in fact, we highly recommend them!

We've already shared the appetizer recipes with you and several courses followed. We had ravioli, then spaghetti and meatballs and homemade Italian bread, then salad and dessert. It was not a meal for the faint of heart!

Mushroom Pasta Dough
We apologize in advance for the long-winded explanation. This is just what is on the website verbatim. Ignore if you've done this before!
1½ cups All purpose flour, sifted

¼ cup Semolina flour, sifted

1 tsp Salt

2 Eggs

1 tsp Olive Oil

¼ cup of dried porcini mushrooms
Boil about a half a cup of water in a sauce pan and pour it over the dried porcini mushrooms. Cover and let them sit for about 30 minutes.
Drain the mushrooms (save the water if you're going to make a porcini sauce or to add water to the dough if it's too dry) and place them in a food processor. Blend until smooth with no large lumps.
Add the eggs and Olive Oil to the processor and pulse to blend but don't make it frothy.
Pour that mixture into the well you've formed in the pile of flour and mix with a fork until blended enough to get your hands in there. You're going to knead the dough to the right consistency. Usually about 10 minutes and then set in a bowl covered to sit for about an hour.

Filling - this one is out of Kristin's head:
sweet red pepper
fried in a bit of bacon grease
and a bit of red wine (reduced to mushy consistency)
add whipped 2% cottage cheese with a splash of buttermilk till it looks right...and yes, it definitely tasted right!

Spaghetti (thank goodness for KitchenAid mixers!)
2 cups semolina flour
2 cups all-purpose flour ( I prefer bread flour for higher gluten)
2 large eggs, well beaten
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold water
Combine the semolina flour, all purpose flour, and salt in a large bowl. Using a fork, mix these ingredients together, then using a sifter, sift into another bowl. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine the eggs & beat well with a fork.
Add extra-virgin olive oil to the eggs and mix with a fork.
Add the cold water to the egg & olive oil mixture, and mix with a fork.
Pour the liquid ingredients into your mixer bowl and attach the flat beater.
Add half of the sifted flour mixture, turn to speed 2 and mix 20 seconds. Add the rest of the sifted flour mixture and mix an additional 20 seconds.
Exchange flat beater for the dough hook. Turn to speed 2 and knead for 2 to 3 minutes, until a dough ball is formed.
Page 2 of 3Perfect Homemade Pasta or Spaghetti for Kitchenaid Mixers (cont.)
Remove dough from bowl and hand-knead for 2 to 3 minutes. NOTE: Good pasta dough should be elastic and pliable, but FIRM (not soft like bread dough). It should not stick to your fingers or fall apart. To test for the correct consistency, pinch a small amount of dough together after kneading for 2 to 3 minutes -- if the dough stays together without sticking to your fingers or falling apart, it should work well. If too soft, add more flour by dusting the top of the dough and knead some more, continuing to dust the dough with flour until achieving the right consistency. If too dry, wet your hands and knead some more, continuing to wet your hands a little at a time & knead until the right consistency. (Achieving the right consistency isn't hard at all -- I got it just right the very first time I tried this recipe).
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour (this step is important).
Remove dough from refrigerator and let it rest for 15 minutes. Using your hands, roll dough into a log, about 12 inches long.
Cut log into 8 slices, then flatten each piece slightly. Spread slices out so they aren't touching and cover with plastic wrap.
Using the widest setting (1 on the Kitchenaid), turn mixer to speed 2 and taking one piece of the flattened dough, feed through rollers. Fold dough in half & roll again. Repeat 3 more times, lightly dusting the sheet of pasta in between each rolling if it feels the slightest bit sticky.
Move adjustment knob to setting 2 and feed the dough sheet through the rollers once.
Move adjustment knob to setting 3 and feed the dough sheet through the rollers once.
Continue to increase roller setting until desired dough thickness is reached: 3 for Thick "kluski" type egg noodles; 4 for standard egg noodles; 4 or 5 for lasagna noodles, fettuccine, spaghetti, and ravioli; 6 or 7 for tortellini, thin fettuccine, and linguine fini; 7 or 8 for VERY thin "angel-hair" type pasta/capellini or VERY fine linguine.
Separate sheets once desired thickness is achieved with a thin towel or piece of plastic wrap dusted with flour, so the dough doesn't dry out too much.
To cut the noodles, exchange the Pasta Roller Sheet attachment for the cutter attachment of choice, either the fettucine cutter for wider noodles or the spaghetti cutter for spaghetti or linguine. Run each sheet through the cutter. NOTE: Each sheet can be cut in half or thirds before putting through the cutter to prevent "too long" of strips. I prefer to use the longer sheets, rather than cutting them in half or thirds, as this reduces the time it takes to cut each sheet & hang to dry.
After cutting each sheet, hang to dry on a pasta rack. Dry for a minimum of 10 minutes. If you don't have a pasta rack, plastic hangers work great! IMPORTANT: Flour the pasta rack or the plastic hangers before placing pasta on them. ALSO, separate the strips of pasta as best you can, so they aren't touching. This way they won't dry sticking together. If you want to dry the pasta for later use, dry for several hours and then store in airtight plastic bags (i.e. Ziploc Freezer or Storage Bags).
When ready to cook, boil your water and add salt. For the 1.5 pounds of pasta, I use 2 teaspoons of salt. Oil in the water is not necessary.
Fresh pasta will cook faster than commercially bought pasta -- about 4 to 5 minutes in vigorously boiling water for el dente.

2 lbs lean ground beef (you can raise your own cow, just like K&V if you want to go the extra mile)
1/2 c. parmesan
1/2 c. italian breadcrumbs
2 eggs
some extra basil and oregano
splash of red wine
Mix all together and adjust seasoning as necessary. Brown in saucepan before adding to sauce.

Homemade Canned Pasta Sauce
Sorry, it's a trade secret. I made this sauce with Kris in September and she won't even tell me what the exact portions are in it!

Italian Bread
Good ol' Emeril and his Basic Italian Bread recipe from The Food Network. Bam!

Fennel, Watercress and Endive Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts
This is another recipe from What a wonderful website! It calls for reduced balsalmic vinegar in the recipe. We used the already reduced Sua Maesta vinegar that Rob bought me for Christmas. It's, simply, heavenly. Also, for some reason three grocery stores in Kingston didn't have watercress so I used arugula instead with no issues. It still cleansed the palate and tasted great!


1 3/4 cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons of butter, melted

3/4 cup Marsala wine

egg white

2 quarts vegetable oil for frying


1 15oz container of Ricotta cheese
 (small adjustment, we used cottage cheese since the stores were closed!)
1/2 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1/4 cup of mini chocolate chips

confectioners sugar for dusting
1. In a mixing bowl combine flour, sugar and salt. Add the melted butter and marsala wine. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until well mixed.
2. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.
3. Roll out the dough until very thin. cut dough into 4-inch rounds, and roll again until very thin.
4. Roll each piece tightly around a cannoli tube. Seal with egg white.
5. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep 3.5 quart pot to 350 degrees.
6. Place the dough forms in the hot oil and fry until golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Place on paper towels to drain. Cool and gently twist tube to remove shell from form.
7. In a large mixing bowl whip sugar, vanilla and ricotta together until smooth, then stir in the chocolate chips.
8. Spoon filling into a pastry bag with a large round tip. Pipe the ricotta cream into the pastry shells, dust with confectioners sugar and serve immediately.

Sorry, no photo...we were well into the third movie by then!

In any case, the film and the food was superb. Thank you to Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola, Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Diane Keaton, James Caan, Robert Duvall and to our wonderful gourmet club!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Italy and the Godfather Trilogy

So, Italy is now the default country for the Alphagenarians. Yes, we have now visited thrice. However, it was the third visit, just the other day, that may have been the most interesting for reasons culinary and more. The main purpose was to watch The Godfather film trilogy as several in our group of six had not seen all or some of the three movies. However, as is our want, we decided to feature some wonderful food along with the viewing for our own pleasure. We started eating at 4pm...and finished around 2am or so as we were finishing the final film of the trilogy. Poor is it that my heart can go out to a gangster?

In any case, here are some of the highlights of the evening...err, night...10 hour food-a-thon?

Antipasti platter
Plum tomatoes, sliced
Bocconcini, sliced
Avocado, sliced
Basil, chopped and sprinkled on the above
Heavenly olive oil, drizzled on all

Sicilian Caponata
1/2 cup olive oil
2 eggplants, cubed
1 onion diced
1 celery stalk chopped
1 garlic clove
salt and hot pepper flakes.
Fry all together at high heat for 5 minutes.
When softened and goldened, add 3tbs capers, handful of olives and 3tbs pine nuts. Stir.
Add 4tbs of red wine vinegar. Stir and cook for a short while.
Add 1 can of plum tomatoes chopped. Bring to boil, then simmer for 25 or 30minutes.
Alicia also used a food processor to make the consistency more consistent (I can say that, right?!?!).

Rob and I got to the point of actually not using the crostini provided as a vehicle for caponata delivery, but instead just heaped it on a plate and used a spoon. I am definitely making this for lunches to take to work in the near future. Looks like an easy multi-tasking dish, too.

I made the Arancine (or risotto balls) that we made our on first official visit to Italy, and they were very tasty!

More to follow on the dinner and dessert. We had a ravioli course, a spaghetti course, a salad course (Italians eat their salad after the entree - don't worry this is still chronologically organized!) and dessert.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Russia desserts - I know we're out of order!

The Russian dessert was a bit of an amalgamation of several recipes, according to K&V. Here is the amalgamation:

1/4 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
2 c. water
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. vanilla
Rum or rum extract, to taste
Bring butter and sugar to a boil. Mix cornstarch with water; stir into butter and sugar mixture. Boil and stir until thickened. Add lemon juice, vanilla and rum or rum extract.

1/2 c. butter
1 c. white sugar
2 eggs
2 c. flour (not sifted)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 pt. sour cream

1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. flour
2 tsp. butter
1/2 c. walnuts

Mix first 8 ingredients together then alternate flour and sour cream mixture with second 5 ingredients with walnut mixture on top. Bake in tube pan 9 inch and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Grease pan and flour.
Both recipes from: