Pa amb Tomaquet
French loaf bread
Tomatoes (ripe, juicy)
Olive oil, optional • It is most unusual to have a meal in Barcelona that does not start with Pa amb Tomaquet, whether you enjoy at home or in a tapas bar. This is one of the classics of that region. • Rub slices of bread with a fresh juicy tomato, flavor with garlic and olive oil. If the bread is too soft, toast first. • If you are hosting a luncheon, serve tomato bread with a plate of thinly sliced Serrano ham and Manchego cheese and let your guests assemble their own mini-sandwiches.
2 cups Spanish short-grain rice
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, sliced finely
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 tomatoes, broiled, peeled, seeded and chopped finely
1 squid body, cut into 1/4-inch rings (you can find these frozen)
Save the tentacles and set aside
4 cups fish stock (I use shrimp shells to make stock)
12 large uncooked shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 red bell pepper, broiled, peeled, seeded and sliced (or pimento)
Ink sac from squid* • Place the rice in a strainer and rinse until the water runs clear; set aside. • Heat the oil in a large, shallow casserole or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes, then add the garlic cloves and cook for an additional 2 minutes until the onion is soft, but not brown. • Add tomatoes and simmer until they are very soft. Add the squid rings and cook quickly until they turn opaque in color. • To this mixture, add the rice and stir until coated with the oil. Pour in the stock, squid ink sac. (I do not use this because the taste is very intense and fishy to my family. I substitute the liquid from black beans, which gives a similar dark color to the rice, but not the intense fishy flavor) salt and pepper to taste.) Bring to a rapid boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes, uncovered and without stirring, but shaking the skillet frequently, until most of the stock is absorbed and small holes appear on the surface. • Lightly stir in the shrimp, squid tentacles (if you are using), bell peppers, (or pimento). Cover the skillet and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes or until the shrimp turn pink and the tentacles turn opaque and curl. Serve this dish with a side of Allioli (garlic mayonnaise—recipe below). This recipes serves 4-6. You may increase the shrimp, or add scallops instead of squid. *If you are using a whole squid, cut off the tentacles just in front of the eye; discard the hard beak, but set aside the tentacles if they are to be uses. Hold the body in one hand and use your other hand to pull out the head, which will bring the insides along as well. Remove and set aside the ink sac, but discard the rest of the insides. Use your fingers to pull out the transparent, quill-like bone in the cavity. Rub off the outer membrane, cut off and discard the fins. Rinse the squid body and pat dry, prepare for slicing per your recipe requirements. The ink sac gives the rice and broth a dark, almost black opal intense color and the flavor is very fishy.
3-4 large garlic cloves, use more or less...to taste
2 large egg yokes
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1-1/4 cups olive extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper, to taste • Mash the garlic cloves to a paste with a pinch of sea salt. Put the paste in a food processor; add the egg yokes and lemon juice, process. • While the motor is still running, slowly dribble in the olive oil until an emulsion forms and the sauce thickens. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Cover and let chill. This makes about 1-1/2 cups and can be stored in the fridge for about three days. • You can easily change the color and taste of this sauce by soaking a large pinch of saffron in 2 tablespoons hot water for about 10 minutes. Follow the recipe and add the saffron water after the sauce starts to thicken. These mayonnaise recipes are great with any deep-fried seafood dish, excellent with simply cooked young vegetables (asparagus, baby carrots, green beans. Bring a pot of water to boil, add a pinch of salt, add veggies, and cook only until just tender. Drain veggies and immediately submerse into ice-chilled water to stop the cooking process.). For a simply elegant dessert:
Naranjas de Valencia con Caramelo
(Valencia Caramel Oranges)
4 large juicy oranges
1-1/4 cups superfine sugar (baker’s)
1-1/4 cups water
4-6 tablespoons slivered almost, toasted
• Peel the oranges carefully (do not leave any bitter-tasting pith on the oranges) over a heatproof bowl so you can catch any juice. Use the knife to remove the orange segments, cutting between the membranes. Squeeze the membranes over the bowl to extract as much juice as possible; discard the membranes and set the segments and juice aside. • Put the sugar and 2/3-cup of the water into a small, heavy-bottom pan over medium-high heat. Stir until the fine sugar starts to and dissolves, then boil, without stirring, until the syrup turns a rich golden brown. • Pour the remaining water into the pan (be very careful, because as you add the water the syrup will splatter). Stir again until the caramel dissolves. Remove from the heat and let the caramel cool slightly, then pour over the oranges. Stir to blend the orange juice into the caramel. Let the oranges cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours before serving. • Prior to serving, sprinkle the caramel oranges with the toasted slivered almonds. This recipe serves 4-6. This simple dessert can be prepared up to a day ahead and chilled until required. It is a refreshing end to a meal and delicious served on its own or spooned over vanilla or chocolate ice cream. In a typical Spanish kitchen, you find almonds (almendras). The Moors introduced almonds trees, planting the first groves near Granada in Andalusia. Cheese (queso) Manchego is a renowned sheep’s milk cheese from LaMancha. Chickpeas (garbanzos): Spanish explorers introduced these slightly nutty, rich, round legumes from the New World. Chile peppers (pimientos chili): the “heat” in a Spanish dish. Chorizo sausage (chorizo): Spain has a wonderful and varied selection of cured and raw sausages—all chorizos are made from pork, and contain paprika made from the choricero Chile pepper. Garlic (ajo): desserts are probably the only Spanish dishes that do not include this pungent vegetables (yes, garlic is a vegetable). Ham (jamon) in a country where the pig is king, hams have been produced for consumption for the past 2,000 years. Olive oil (aceite de oliva) this is the most important ingredient in the Spanish kitchen. Olives (azeitunas) Spaniards have a wealth of choices when it comes to olives. Paprika (pimenton) the orange-red color and sweet-to-hot earthy flavor of paprika finds it way into numerous Spanish dishes. Rice (arroz) this short-grain rice grown in the coastal plains of the Levant, and is a staple ingredient found in most Spanish kitchens and an essential ingredient in Paella. Saffron (azafran) the golden hue and distinctive flavor of saffron is unique in such class Spanish dishes like Paella and Catalan Fish Stew. Saffron was introduced by the Moors when they conquered Spain in the early 8th Century. Turron (turron) a honey-flavored delicacy is similar to nougat. Since the 8th Century, the center for production of this spice is Jiljona, which is located in the hills above Alicante. Spanish cuisine is varied and rich, centered on quality ingredients and having a strong appreciation of seasonal freshness. Generally, Spanish main courses are served simply, with vegetables as a separate coarse or as an integral part of the dish. As we glance through our spices and recipes, how much of the Spanish influence has migrated into our own kitchens of the New World? Add a little sizzle, and heat, to your Valentine’s Day by trying some of these recipes or others, just for fun. Time to get moving onto the next culinary adventure!
Carole Truesdale is a Ramona resident with a background in corporte marketing, sales and event planning. She attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to learn the wine industry. She loves to experiment with food-wine paring and share this with others.