Crema Catalana

Bon dia! (Good morning in Catalan!) ūüôā

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¬īt 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¬īt have a torch, it¬īs also delicious without the sugar on top.

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Enjoy, and¬†BON PROFIT! ūüôā

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 Espa√Īol.

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¬īs 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 Palam√≥s (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! ūüôā

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. Saut√© 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

Р1 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 champi√Īones

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‚Äôs 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, ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs very healthy to be able to be with family, drinking and eating.‚ÄĚ And that‚Äôs 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¬†2¬Ĺ¬†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¬īs 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¬īt 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!

Before

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After!

After!

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‚Äôll definitely make all¬†of them for you:) ¬† ¬† Or I‚Äôll try to ūüėČ

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:

‚Äď About 5 ounces of mushroom (about¬†a pint)

‚Äď 1 small onion

‚Äď 1/2¬†cup¬†milk‚Ķ

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Coulant de chocolate

Hola hola!!

The countdown to Christmas is here. I recently returned to Spain to celebrate the holidays with my family. It’s great to be back, but I would skip the 8 hour plane ride if I could… It’s not that bad though. I do enjoy flying and it goes by fast enough that I barely sleep. I really look forward to seeing all of my family. Let’s see if I can cook with my grandma and post some recipes.

I apologize If I don’t post for a while, but I’m not sure how much time I’ll have. I will do my best. If you are on Facebook or Instagram, I will definitely post some local and traditional Spanish food there.

For today, I made something very ‚Äúchocolatey‚ÄĚ. It is called Coulant de Chocolate. I used to make it a lot back in college with one of my friends. The beauty‚Ķ

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Peppers del Padrón

Holaaa and Happy New Year!!!!

I hope you all had a great holiday and a great beginning to 2017!

I went to Spain for Christmas and¬†while there,¬†I had a popular tapa called ¬†Peppers al Padr√≥n, “Pimientos del Padr√≥n” in Spanish. The¬†peppers are from El Padr√≥n, a town¬†in the northwest region of Galicia.

When I came back to the States I went to the supermarket and I saw something similar, so I immediately thought that I would have to post them on the blog. It’s a very easy tapa to make and really tasty.

These peppers are small, about 3 inches long and green in color. They have a mild flavor, not too hot, not too sweet. You will find them in the markets mostly between May and October.

I think it will be difficult to locate these peppers in the USA, but probably not impossible. ¬†The peppers I purchased are a similar size, and have a similar flavor, though probably a little sweeter. That’s not a bad thing. The important aspects are the size and overall flavor. Since they are served as a tapa, they should be bite-sized. The way to eat them is just picking them up by the stem and eating them¬†whole. (Everything but the stem!) And the flavor. In general, most of the small peppers I find in the US are chili peppers. These tend to be too hot and spicy for this dish.

Raw

Raw

Cooked

Cooked

The best way to cook them is to sauté them in a pan with olive oil and salt.

You might think that they look burned, but they are not, just the way you want them to look.

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The substitute peppers! Very colorful.

It is a very popular tapa in Spain, so… let’s do it!

Ingredients;

Р 1/2 Ib Sweet peppers (or as many as you want!)

– olive oil

– Sea salt (I used Maldon)

Heat a large skillet/pan over medium high heat. Add a generous amount of olive oil and when it’s hot, add the peppers. If the pan is not big enough for all of the peppers, you can cook them in batches. Stir the peppers until they are coated in olive oil. Cook until the¬†skins are blistered, slightly charred, and the texture starts to soften. Add the sea salt and ready to serve! Another classic tapa, easy to prepare, and a great¬†way to incorporate some delicious veggies into your meal.

Pimientos del Padrón

Bon profit!

Arroz de Bacalao (cod)

Hola!

I’ve been wanting to cook this recipe for a long time… because it is something that is super easy, super fast and super delicious.

I like to go to the market and see what’s new and fresh in the seafood department, actually I like to look for new ingredients in all of the departments. I usually go to the market for 2 things and I am back home with 2 full grocery bags. I am terrible. Every time it is the same. Hopefully, I am not the only one. ūüôā

This dish has, rice, vegetables and cod, also known as bacalao in Spanish, bacall√† in catalan. It’s a pretty common dish in Catalonia (northeast of Spain)¬†. There are different ways to make it. I thought this would be the easiest.

Ingredients for 4:

– 1 1/2 – 2 cups rice (regular)

– Cod

– 1 medium onion

– 1 zucchini

– 1 red pepper

– 2-3 tomatoes

– 1 yellow or green pepper

– 2 cloves garlic

– 1 – 1/2 cups vegetable broth

Suggestions; you can also add artichoke hearts, carrots, peas….

Chop all the veggies. Cook the onion in a medium pan until is brown. In a separate pan, cook the other vegetables until they get a nice color. Once the onion is cooked, place it into the pan with the other vegetables and stir for a minute. Be sure it’s mixed completely.

As a suggestion, I would say that you can simply slice the tomatoes into small slices and place them with the other veggies. You can do what I did. Boil the tomatoes for a minute. Place them into cold water, peel, and chop them, then place into the pan with the other veggies (they’ll be more juicy).
After that, you have 2 ways to prepare it:

1) If you already have cooked rice: Slice the cod into small pieces and place it into the pan with the other veggies. Pour in the vegetable broth. Let it cook for a few minutes on medium low heat until the cod is cooked. Add the cooked rice. Shake the pan to be sure all the ingredients are mixed well and they get the flavor.

It should be a little juicy, if it looks dry, add more vegetable broth.

2) the other way: Slice the cod into small pieces and cook it with the vegetables for a few minutes. Add it to the vegetable broth and the uncooked rice. Cook on a medium heat until the rice is cooked. Shake the pan every few minutes.

Before

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After

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Bon profit!

Enjoy it!

Bon profit!