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!!!

3

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.

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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.

squid

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!!

Canelones de espinacas y champiñones

Canelones with spinach, mushrooms and pine nuts with white sauce. A delicious , and a good way to make it if you have someone that doesn’t like to eat vegetables. Bon Profit!

Hola!

I love canelones and they are a good holiday dish. In the USA, you would call them cannelloni, after the Italian version. My Grandma is the best at making them. She usually makes canelones with meat for our big and important family meal in January. To celebrate the Three Kings (the three wise men). She usually makes about 90 canelones!! She has a lot of patience and she is good at it. (She’s also had a lot more practice than me!) I will make these canelones with her when I go to Spain this Christmas. Like my Grandma always says, “It’s very healthy to be able to be with family, drinking and eating.” And that’s true.

Today, I made canelones with spinach, mushrooms and pine nuts. Delicious ,and a good way to make it if you have someone that doesn’t like to eat vegetables.

For the dough, I used that classic canelones dough that we use in Spain…

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Greenish smoothie

Hola hola!

Today something super healthy, and not necessarily Spanish.

Every morning when I wake up, I make coffee. I need it so bad! It’s a daily process  that I do, but one that I like. Coffee and news, and let the day begin! My breakfast or snack is usually a smoothie. I love them, and in a few sips you can consume many of the vitamins and minerals you need for the whole day. They say we need at least 2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables every day!  I usually eat more than that, but it’s a great way to start the day fresh and with energy.

I make a different smoothie every day. I try to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season for different reasons.  The first is that fresh fruits and vegetables taste better.  So, the fresher the tastier. Second is that very fresh fruits and vegetables retain their vitamins and nutrients better. Third, I like to support the local farmers when I can.  It´s nice to know exactly where your produce comes from. And last, seasonal produce is usually less expensive because it is more abundant and more readily available.  So eat fresh and local whenever you can!

So, depending on the season I will make one or another smoothie.  But since you can´t always find fresh, you can always buy frozen. Frozen is a great alternative because it retains the flavors, is easy to store, and makes it so easy for smoothies because all of the preparation work is done!

For this delicious smoothie I used;

– 2 leaves of swiss chard

– 1 cup kale

 1/2 cup pineapple

– 1/3 cup blueberries

– 5 strawberries

– 1 cup almond milk

Place all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and mix away!

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After!

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You can change any of these fruits or vegetables. Enjoy it!

Bon profit!!

I am happy to share this recipe with Fiesta Friday!

Mushroom croquettes

Its International Croquette Day!

Hola holaaa!

Croquetas (croquettes), I love them, any kind. It is very common in Spain to order croquetas in a tapas bar. Spain has a lot of different kinds of croquetas; with chicken, or ham, cheese, meat, seafood, mushrooms, etc, etc. I’ll definitely make all of them for you:)     Or I’ll try to 😉

I love mushrooms, and there are so many different varieties. Mushrooms are great for sauces, sides, pastas… I like to get my mushrooms at the farmers market. So fresh and so good.

For this recipe, it doesn’t really matter which kind of mushroom you use. I would recommend just using your favorite kind of mushroom. I like shiitake mushrooms so, those are the ones I used for this recipe.

The recipe is almost the same as the one for Chicken croquetas

Ingredients for 20 croquetas:

– About 5 ounces of mushroom (about a pint)

– 1 small onion

– 1/2 cup milk…

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