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.