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Friday, September 5, 2008

Around the World - Spain

It was so hard to pick a menu for this week. I think I say that every week though... All this yummy looking food, and then there are the different ways that they serve the food and what they serve when... I am more a "plop everything on the table and save the dessert for when the table is cleared" kind of person.


Okay, one word. Tapas. Small morsels or appetizers in a huge variety, eaten almost all day long. There are tapas bars where you can order a drink, and a bunch of these little appetizers. Tapas for snacks, during the day. Lots of different tapas can make a meal. They like tapas.


Spanish life-style is vastly different from Americans'. A typical dining pattern involves a light breakfast at 8 a.m.; a mid-morning breakfast at 11 a.m.; tapas at 1 p.m. with a three-course lunch following at 2 to 3 p.m.; a merienda for tea and pastries or a snack at 5 to 6 p.m.; evening tapas at 8 p.m. or later, and a three-course supper at 10 p.m.


The two basic ingredients in Spanish food of all the regions are: Olive oil and Garlic! All the dishes that I made, except dessert, called for one or the other, or both. I went through about 1/2 of a big bottle of oil last night!


They are proud of their ham, seafood is plentiful, they use lots of chicken, and they are one of the top producers of almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts.


The meal started off with a few tapas, and then a vegetable course. Sides for the main dish are usually rice or potatoes or a salad, other vegetables are a separate course. We followed our veggies with a main course. Then there was dessert.


Tapas




Empanadas (with meat filling)

Dough:
1/3 cup water, lukewarm
3 tbsp yeast
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1/3 cup milk, lukewarm
3/4 cup olive oil

Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let dissolve. Mix flour, salt and paprika in a bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture, milk, and oil. Stir with a spoon and then knead dough with your hands. I ended up adding another couple tablespoons of water because where we live is really dry and all the flour wasn't mixing in. Place in lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place. I let it rise until almost triple.

Filling:
4 tbsp raisins
4 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp jarred)
1.5 pounds ground beef
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp parsley
1/2 dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup white wine (or chicken broth)
1/4-1/3 cup Sofrito (a tomato, onion, pepper, and garlic puree thing. Find it in the Hispanic section of the grocery store, or look up a recipe)
1 hard-boiled egg, finely chopped
1 egg white, beaten

Put the raisins in a glass with enough warm water to cover. Let soak until they plump up.

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan with a heavy bottom. Saute the onion and garlic until the onion is transparent. Add the ground beef and cook over medium, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper.

Drain water from the raisins and add to the pan with the parsley, oregano, paprika, cumin, wine, sofrito and chopped egg. Mix well. Cover and cook on low for about 5 minutes.

Assembling:

Divide dough in half. Roll out to 1/8 inch on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 4 inch squares. Place a heaping tbsp filling into each square. Brush egg white onto 2 edges, fold into a triangle and press edges to seal with fingers or a fork. Brush tops with egg white. Continue until all the dough is used. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.

These were really good! Kind of like a taco-ish filling wrapped in dough, very kid friendly. You can make a batch, layer in a pan before cooking and freeze, store them in a bag, and bake up fresh when you want them! There was plenty of filling left over, which is going to make one really good Shepard's pie tonight!


Garlic Shrimp (forgot to write down the Spanish name...)


1 lb jumbo (about 25/pound size)
4 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup sherry (or broth)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tsp parsley
1 tbsp lemon juice

Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute the garlic and pepper flakes for about 1 minute or until they begin to brown. Be careful not to burn the garlic!

Raise the heat to high and add the shrimp, lemon juice, sherry and paprika. Stir well, and saute until shrimp turn pink and curl, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with paprika. Serve hot.

My family absolutely loves shrimp. And garlic. There were no shrimp left! I used just a pinch of pepper flakes, for the kids, but I would have preferred a little more heat. Delicious!

Vegetable Course

Alubias Verdes con Ajo (green beans with garlic)

3/4 pounds fresh green beans
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
salt to taste

Snap off ends of green beans, then snap in half.

Steam until cooked but still crisp.

Pour some olive oil in a skillet. I used a tbsp. Briefly saute garlic for a minute or two. Add beans, toss with oil, and cook another minute or so. Salt to taste.

These would be good as a side for any dish. The garlic is good, but then, I really like garlic! Also, none of this left...

Main Course

Ensalada Verde (green salad)



1 head romaine lettuce
2 ripe tomatoes
1/4 red onion
1/3 cup olive oil
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse lettuce. Break or tear or chop pieces into bowl, or onto a platter.

Cut tomatoes into eighths. Arrange on lettuce. Very thinly slice onion and arrange on salad.

Whisk the oil and vinegar together. Just before serving pour over salad. If in a bowl, toss and serve. If a platter, don't toss.

I liked this salad. The very simple oil and vinegar dressing was light and refreshing. Red wine vinegar is a lighter tasting vinegar, not as strong as balsamic vinegar. It was very pretty on the platter too! Use the dressing sparingly.

Arroz con Polo (chicken and rice)



3 lb chicken cut into pieces. Or 8-10 thighs and drumsticks.
6 tbsp olive oil
1 chopped onion
4 tbsp garlic
salt and pepper
6 tbsp parsley
1 ripe tomato, diced
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 pinch saffron
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cups white wine
2 cups white rice

*Saffron is one of the most expensive spices, about $14 an ounce. It comes in a .6 ounce jar for around $7 or so. Well worth it, and lasts a good long while. It doesn't take much in a dish, and saffron rice is a really neat shade of yellow!

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. In a large deep pan (rice will be cooked here, too) heat the oil and saute the chicken until golden on all sides. Remove chicken to a warm platter. Add the onion, garlic, and parsley to the oil and saute until the onion is soft. Add the paprika, saffron, broth, wine, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Add the rice and cook over over medium high, uncovered, for about 10-15 minutes, stirring until the rice is semi-cooked, but plenty liquid still remains. Bury the chicken in the rice. Cover and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring rice occasionally so it doesn't stick to the bottom. Turn chicken over and cook for about 10 minutes more.

Serve with some fresh bread and a green salad.

This rice is amazing! I would just make the rice and forget the chicken! The chicken was good too, don't get me wrong, but I would take the skin off if I made it again. The skin doesn't stay crispy, because it cooks in the rice for forever. Everyone loved the rice! This makes enough for 6-8 people, so either have someone over for dinner, or cut the recipe in half.

Dessert

Flan

This tastes unlike anything I have ever eaten! I took a bite and my eyes opened wide. "Oh, wow!" I exclaimed! And then, I did this...

This was, without a doubt, the worst thing ever! Imagine, scrambled eggs without salt or pepper, sort of a runny custard consistency, with little chunks of almonds. Overlay that with the burnt sugar that reminded me of the charcoal that forms on grilled chicken when you catch it on fire. And not to mention the orange juice from the garnish that the recipe said to use.

Yeah.

So I will not be posting this recipe. I may try again with a different recipe, one that actually tells me how to caramelize sugar, and with a different pan that is solid on the bottom so the water bath doesn't seep in.

Instead, we enjoyed a very non-Spanish dessert. Root beer floats anyone?

4 Tasty Tidbits:

Stephanie said...

I'll have to send you my flan recipe. It turned out fabulous. Sorry yours didn't work out - flan really is quite good when it's done right!

But so many other delicious recipes! Those shrimp look especially yummy. I'm always a sucker for shrimp!

Lisa Conmara said...

I LOVE THIS POST! WOW! As for the Flan, I'm not a HUGE fan, but I can't resist it in spain, esp. in the nice restaurants where they have it on view wobbling away like a homer simpsons belly! I'd say you should give it another go - it should turn out like a jelly (jello?) version of creme caramel!

Nancy said...

With the exception of the flan all looks beautiful and delicious.

Jessi said...

Never saw oranges on a flan before!