Orange Marmalade

 

Hola!!

For today, I made an orange marmalade. I love oranges! And it’s orange season! As a kid growing up in Spain, I would have a fresh squeezed orange juice every day. (Thanks mom!) Here in the US, I don’t do it as often, but makes for a nice treat.

Oranges are so healthy, and since it is orange season, I try to utilize oranges as much as I can.  This recipe is so tasty, I love it!

Ingredients for about 3 jars of 10 oz and 1 jar of 6oz:

  • 2 lbs oranges peeled and quartered (about 6 oranges)
  • 1 small lemon peeled (if it’s big, cut in half).
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 cups water

Cut the skin of the orange and the lemon into julienne strips or into 1/4 inch strips.

Bring the 2 cups of water to a boil and boil the cut strips for 15 minutes and set aside.

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In a large pot, bring the 1/3 cup of water to a boil, add the oranges, the sugar and the orange and lemon strips. Reduce the heat, and let it simmer.

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Continue to cook on low heat for 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours. Stir every 20 minutes.

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To keep the jam fresh in a jars, I first boiled the jars, then added the jam to about 1/8 inch from the top. Place the lids tightly on and place the jars upside down on the counter. Allow the jam to cool before turning right side up. Leave it upside down for a few hours.

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Easy and now you should have fresh marmalade for months to come. Also, makes great gifts!

I love to eat this marmalade with a piece of homemade bread with butter. Delicious!

Bon profit!

 

Bacon Cupcake

Hola and happy fall!

Today I am posting something new and unique (For me anyway!) Cupcakes. But not just any cupcakes. I call them the happy surprise bite! What’s the surprise? Bacon! More specifically, bacon jam! Woohoo! I was super happy when I received some delicious jams from TBJ Gourmet. (https://tbjgourmet.com) They say everything tastes better with bacon. With this recipe, I would have to agree!

Let’s get started!

Recipe for 12 cupcakes:

  • ½ cup of butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup, plus 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt

Filling:

– TBJ original jam

Frosting:

  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of TBJ Classic Bacon Jam

Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare a cupcake pan with liners.

Place the butter and sugar in a mixer and beat at medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time and continue mixing. Next add the milk and the vanilla extract.

In a separate large mixing bowl, add the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat until well combined.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything gets in.

Fill the cupcake liners about half way and bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Remove to a cooling rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes.

The frosting: Combine the butter and the sugar in a large mixing bowl and mix until smooth. Add the maple syrup and the Bacon Jam. Again, scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is mixed in.

Using a paring knife, make a 1-inch-deep hole from the top of each cupcake (you can eat the tiny piece). Fill each hole with 1 teaspoon of bacon jam. çFinally, pipe (or spread) the frosting onto the cupcakes.

Bon profit!

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Gazpacho Andaluz

Hola!!!

Summer is just around the corner! We’ve had a lot of hot days here, hot days when you don’t want to cook and you are just craving a light and cold dish. I love to go to the beach or spend a few hours on the water kayaking, then come home and have something cold and refreshing. It’s days like this when I enjoy a nice, cold bowl of gazpacho. Oh my! I love gazpacho. It’s so easy to make, super healthy and super refreshing!

This dish is very popular in Spain, in fact the origin of gazpacho can be traced to the VIII century! Crazy! It wasn’t the gazpacho that we know now, because they didn’t have some of the ingredients such as tomato or pepper. Gazpacho back then was made primarily with bread, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, salt and water. It not until 1726 that the first recipe for the modern gazpacho is recorded…

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Cheese Balls topped with Pecans & Cranberries

Hola!!!

Wow. Those are the words that I have for these mini cheese balls topped with chopped pecans and cranberries. Eat one, and you will want another. And perhaps …. another! This tapa is perfect. It can be made ahead of time, and served small (bite-sized!) or as a two-biter. It can also be served with crackers.
Trust me, I couldn’t stop eating them!

Ingredients for about 25 cheese balls:

1 large log of goat cheese (about 11oz)

1/2 cup pecans

1/2 cup of cranberries

In a food processor, add the pecans and the cranberries. Blend them up, but be careful, you don’t want them to look like crumbs. Transfer onto a plate.
Shape the goat cheese into bite-sized balls and roll each ball into the pecan-cranberry mixture. Transfer the balls into the refrigerator to harden and take them out after about 30 minutes before serving.

Cheese balls

Bon profit!

Brie Bite

Hola!!!

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A bar advertising tapas and beer.

Tapas tapas!! Oh! I love them, I love jumping from bar to bar in Spain for tapas. You can have a beer or a glass of wine with a tapa for about $3. Fantastic right? Yes! That’s why I love it. And in the spring and summer, it’s even better! You can sit outside and enjoy the sights and sounds of Spain. Every tapas restaurant advertises their tapas on a blackboard outside so you can see before you go in.

I love cheese, any kind of cheese. They really make any dish a little bit more tasty! There are many tapas with cheese in them.

One cheese I like is brie. You can bake it, put it in salads, make brie croquettes (see my croquette recipe) or brie pinchos ( I’ll post more about pinchos later). Today, I thought you would like to taste fried brie… It’s so good. The ones I make are about a 2-bite size. Perfect size for tapas.  You get a nice taste of the melted brie, and a nice crunch. A great contrast of textures.

Ingredients:

– Brie

– Egg

– Bread crumbs

– 2 cups vegetable or canola oil

Slice the brie in small squares (or into the size you desire). About one inch thick, if  they are too thin, they will melt while you´re cooking.

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Preheat the oil on medium high heat. Beat the egg and place the brie into the egg mixture and then into the bread crumbs.

Before

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Place them into the pan for a few minutes until they’re golden brown, flip, and cook the other side. Remove and place onto a plate with paper towel.

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Bon profit!

Tomato Jam

Tomato Jam!

Ingredients for the tomato jam (makes  about 1/2 pint):

–  2 large, ripe tomatoes (use as many as you want)

– 1 cup sugar

– 1/2 fresh lemon juice

– Bunch of Mint (optional but recommended)

Place the tomatoes in a boiling pot for a few minutes. Place them immediately into a cold water bath and then peel them.

Place them into a blender for a minute.

In a sauce pan, combine the sugar, lemon juice, mint and tomatoes that were already blended. Stir on a low to medium heat for 10 minutes. Place a lid on the sauce pan and leave it on a low heat for 35- 45 minutes. Let it cool down. Remove the mint and then place into a jar.

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After

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You can make as much as you want and store it fIf you want to make more than 1 jar,  I would recommend to place the…

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Crema Catalana

Bon dia! (Good morning in Catalan!) 🙂

March 19th, is Father’s Day in Spain.  It’s also know as Sant Josep (Saint Joseph’s Day), and in Catalonia, this is the day that you would eat this dessert. It’s called Crema Catalana (“Catalan Cream”).

Nowadays, it’s consumed at all times of the year.

I guess some of you may think, “Isn’t it the same as creme brulee?” NO! It’s different. Even though they share some of the same ingredients; eggs, milk or cream and sugar. Creme brulee is baked and Crema Catalana is cooked on the stove top. Also, for creme brulee you use whipped cream and vanilla. For Crema Catalana, you use cinnamon and no heavy cream, just milk. So, it has some different flavors and uses a different technique. I have even heard that Crema Catalana is one of the oldest desserts in Europe, and the French borrowed the recipe and made it their own in Creme Brulee.

If you are in Spain, you can easily find this in many restaurants, but mostly in Catalonia, as this is where this recipe originates.

This is a very easy recipe, and one that is also quick to make. Traditionally, it’s served in a terra cota cazuela, a type of ramekin. I don’t have any cazuelas, so I used the ramekins that I have, and they work perfectly.

Ingredients;

– 4 cups milk (2% or whole)

– 6 egg yolks (large eggs), 8 if they are small.

– 1/3 cup of cornstarch

– lemon zest

– 1 cup sugar, and a little extra to burn on the top

– 1 large cinnamon stick (2 small)

Pour 3 cups of milk into a large pot and cook over medium heat. Add the lemon zest (I used a vegetable peeler) and the cinnamon stick. Try not to peel any of the white part of the lemon.

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Whisk the egg yolks, then add the remaining cup of milk, sugar and cornstarch.

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Cook the milk until it just starts to boil, then remove the lemon skin and the cinnamon sticks from the warm milk. Lower the heat and continue cooking, but don´t boil the milk.

Place a strainer on top of the pot and pour the egg yolk mixture (no egg shells!) into the heated milk. Stir until it gets a consistent texture. It should be fairly thick, not liquidy.  I like to use the wooden spoon method. (Once It coats the spoon and sticks to it, it’s done).

Pour the mixture into the ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and let them cool down. Once they are at room temperature, put them into the refrigerator.

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When you’re ready to serve them, sprinkle the tops with sugar and use a torch to brown the sugar. This will give a nice burnt sugar taste and a crunchy texture.  It’s ok if you don´t have a torch, it´s also delicious without the sugar on top.

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Enjoy, and BON PROFIT! 🙂

Gambas al Ajillo (Shrimp with Garlic)

Holaaa!!!

Seafood… I love it!! We have a lot of it in Spain, and a large variety. And we have a lot of ways to cook it. Some seafood is more unique to Spain and Europe, and is difficult to find in the U.S., such as langoustines, (escamarlas in Catalan), or cuttlefish (sepia).   But one type of seafood that is not difficult to find and is common around the world is shrimp, or gambas in Español.

While the shrimp in both countries may be similar, we have different ways to prepare them and different ways to eat them. For one, in Spain, we always buy the shrimp, and cook them, with the heads attached. Here in the U.S., it is very difficult to find the shrimp with the heads on. It´s too bad because the head of the shrimp is super yummy!!! It adds a whole new dimension of flavor. Whenever I find them here, I buy them!

My family loves seafood too. One of our favorite shrimp is from Palamós. Palamos is a town on the Costa Brava on the Mediterranean Sea. Costa Brava translates to rugged coast, and is a beautiful part of Spain. Originally a fishing village, Palamos is famous for a shrimp that is very red in color. Seriously, just looking at the picture my mouth is watering.

Gamba de Palamos

I am so lucky to have grown up living so close to the Costa Brava. Last summer, I took this picture while I was walking in the Cami de Ronda, a footpath built along the Costa Brava. The picture below is between Platja d’Aro and Palamós (both are small towns along  La Costa Brava).

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So for today, you guessed it, I’m cooking…  shrimp. The dish is called Gambas al ajillo (Pronounced gaam-baahs al ah-heelo, literally shrimp with garlic). Something very easy and simple. If you can’t find fresh shrimp, you can always make it with frozen shrimp. It’s great as an appetizer or you can simply make it for dinner! Just increase the recipe! 🙂

This recipe takes 10 minutes!

Ingredients:

– 1/2 Ib shrimp

– 4 garlic cloves

– 1 tsp paprika

– 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

– salt

– pepper

– olive oil

Prepare the shrimp like you would like to cook them. You can either peel the skins from the shrimp, to incorporate more flavor into the shrimp, or you can leave them on. It’s a personal preference.

Drizzle some olive oil in a large pan and heat on medium. Mince the garlic and add it to the pan. Cook for about 1 minute, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the shrimp, the paprika, red pepper flakes and increase the heat to medium high. Sauté for about 3 minutes until the the shrimp turn pink and are cooked. It doesn’t take long! If you overcook them, they can get tough and chewy.

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Transfer to a plate. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.

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It has a mild spice profile. Vary the amount of paprika and garlic to increase or decrease the level of spiciness. As you can see, this is an easy and delicious way to bring the flavors of the Mediterranean Coast into your home.

Bon profit!

Saucy Squid

Hola!!

Isn’t this weather crazy? Last week it was 65 degrees and I was BBQing and this weekend it’s in the 20’s. So, I am not outside grilling. Instead, I am cooking some cozy, saucy dishes… The other day I made a simple but delicious saucy squid. This dish is very simple to execute, it literally takes 3o minutes or less,  perfect for a busy weekday dinner.

Let’s get into the recipe!

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth
  • 1 lb squid, include the tentacles! (If its longer than 3 inches slice it- or it will take longer to cook)
  • 1/2 cup peas
  •  olive oil
  • salt and pepper

 

Coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil, then heat the pan on medium heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook for 7 to 10 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Add the bay leaf and the vermouth and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Add the squid and let it cook on medium-low heat for about 7 minutes. Add the peas and let it cook for another 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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Bon profit!

 

Black Squid Ink Rice

Holaaaa!

This dish is traditionally made with rice, cuttlefish (sepia) and the ink of the cuttlefish. I used squid instead of the cuttlefish.

In Spain when you go to the fish store and you ask for cuttlefish, the fishmonger will ask you if you want the ink. If you are planning on making black rice or black noodles, you will keep it, otherwise you don’t want it.

In the U.S I can’t find cuttlefish, and a lot of you will not even know what it is. But believe me, it is very common in other countries, including Spain. If I am lucky enough to find it, It’s frozen, so there is no ink. I bought cuttlefish ink in a jar (online). It’s perfect and it works really good.

A lot of you might be grilling this weekend, but… if you want a good alternative to the traditional, here is an easy dish to make. Something different, simple, fun and tasty!

Serves 2-4 people.  You can make steps 1-5  ahead of time.

Ingredients:

– 2 medium onions

– 1/4 red bell pepper, grated

– 2 big tomatoes or 5-6 small whole tomatoes from a can

– 1 Tablespoon of  cuttlefish or squid ink

– 1 Ib of squid (tubes and tentacles)

– 2 cups bomba, calasparra or arborio rice (if you can’t find either, use a high quality white rice). I use 1/2 cup per person.

– 1 quart of fish or seafood broth/stock. Homemade or the best quality you can find at the supermarket

– salt, pepper, and olive oil

– paella pan!

1)  In a paella pan (larger skillet if you don’t have a paella pan), heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the grated onion. Let it cook for about 3 minutes. Add the grated pepper. Let it cook until the onion is brown.

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Brown onion

2) While you are waiting for the onion to get brown, slice the squid tubes (cuttlefish if you can find it!) into thin strips. Set it aside.

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3) When the onion is ready,  add the tomatoes, and mash them using a potato masher. You can also grate fresh tomatoes. Season and stir for about 3 minutes.

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Add the tomatoes

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Mash them

4) Add the squid, season and stir. The  squid should take about 10 to 15 minutes to cook.  Turn the heat off.

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– If when cooking the squid, and you get liquid separating from the squid, remove it and add it to your fish/seafood stock. This will add a lot of good flavor.

5) With the heat off, add the rice. Stir and get everything incorporated together.  Now, we want all the flavors to combine. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes.

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– You can also make it in the morning and cover it with aluminum foil for the day. The longer you let it sit, the better.

6) Heat the fish broth with a tablespoon of cuttlefish ink. Stir constantly until the ink is mixed well with the liquid.

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7) Put the paella pan back on the stove and heat on medium.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the stock and set aside. (This will only be used if you need it for the rice.) Pour the remainder into the paella pan. Consistency of the rice is important. You don’t want to use too much stock, as you will overcook the rice. Too little stock and you will have crunchy rice.

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8) Shake the pan every 5-7 minutes. Don’t stir. The black rice will be ready when the rice is cooked and there is no juice left in the pan. It takes about 20 to 25 minutes.

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The rice is ready!

Yay! It’s ready to serve.

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Bon profit!!