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Bacalao al Gratin Español

Hola!!

Can you believe that in 2 days it will be fall?!? Oh my! Time flies. It has been an amazing summer, and I feel like I don’t want it to end.

Today I made a cod dish. I think my mind is already thinking fall, because this is a nice cool-weather dish.  Cod is the workhorse of the fish species in Spain, at least for cooking. It is very versatile, historically abundant, and a tasty fish! My grandma has so many cod recipes that I swear that I could make cod every day for a month and change the recipe every day. (I don’t know if it’s a good idea though…!)

The name of the recipe is Bacalao al Gratin Español which translates to Spanish Broiled Cod. Gratin is a culinary technique which I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with. Basically, whichever ingredient you use is topped with a browned crust, often using breadcrumbs, grated cheese, egg and/or butter. A gratin is baked under an overhead grill or broiler to form a golden crust with a nice crunchy texture. In this case, I used bread crumbs.

This recipe is very easy t0 execute. You can also make it ahead of time! That’s convenient🙂 Alright, let get into it…

Ingredients for 4 servings: 

  • 4 cod fillets -fresh or thawed if frozen- (2 lbs or about a 1/2 lb per person)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • About 1 lb fresh and ripe tomatoes
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper

Sauce

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Core out the stems and slice a shallow “X” in the bottom of each tomato. Drop the whole tomatoes in the boiling water for about 40 to 60 seconds or until they start peeling or shrinking. Strain the tomatoes with cold water and peel them.

Add the tomatoes and the chopped garlic to a sauce pan with butter on medium heat and mash them with a (potato) masher. Stir and add the paprika.

If the sauce looks smooth, season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. If the sauce is still chunky, continue to mash it or you can blend it with a blender.

*If you want, you can make the sauce ahead of time. Just keep the sauce in the fridge and when you’re ready, reheat it on the stove for a few minutes on medium heat.

Cod

Mix the flour, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Dredge the cod in the flour mixture.

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Heat 1/4 cup of oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until the skin is nicely browned. Remove from pan and transfer to a baking dish.

Add the sauce on top of the cod and add the bread crumbs, spreading them all over the cod.

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Broil for a few minutes until the surface of the cod gets browned and a nice crust starts to form. You can brown the crust to your liking but keep an eye on the broiler. It can go from a beautiful golden brown to black and burnt in no time! Now it’s ready to be served!

*You can also prepare the fish ahead of time if you want. Remove the cod from the heat and either keep it in the baking dish that you will broil it or on a plate, let it cool down, cover it and store it in the fridge.

I served this cod with homemade gnocchi with a brown-butter sage sauce. (Gnocchi recipe will be in an upcoming blog!) You can serve it with your favorite side dish.

Bon Profit and enjoy the last days of Summer!

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Leche Merengada

Holaaaaa!!!

It´s pretty warm out here, it´s still summer in Maryland! When it’s this warm, I really like to have some refreshing cold drinks in the refrigerator; lemonade, ice tea… When I’m in Spain, I like to have a cold drink called leche merengada. The literal translation is meringue milk. It is common to find it in the ice cream shops during the summer months.

This drink became very popular in Madrid at the end of the XVIII century. Some of the classic Spanish literature novels such as Fortunata y Jacinta by Benito Perez talk about the drink. There is also a very famous children’s song that talks about the cow and the leche merengada:

Tengo una vaca lechera
No es una vaca cualquiera
Me da leche merengada
¡Hay que vaca tan salada!
Tolón, tolón

I translated it in English;

I have a dairy cow
It’s no ordinary cow,
It gives me meringue milk.
Oh! What a nice cow!
Tolon, tolon. (No translation! Just a silly saying)

The drink is the easiest ever to make. It is sweetened milk sprinkled with cinnamon and topped with whipped white egg.  Sounds good right?! Everyone likes it, kids and adults. So let’s get into the recipe!

Hands on; 15 minutes – Total time: 2 hours

Ingredients;

– 4 cups milk

– 1/2 – 3/4 cup of sugar (depending on how much of a sweet tooth you have)

– 1 large stick cinnamon

– powdered cinnamon (just a pinch to sprinkle on the top)

– 1/4 lemon peel

– 2 egg whites

In a sauce pan, mix the milk, sugar, lemon peel and cinnamon stick over medium heat. Stir constantly until it just boils, then turn off the heat. Remove the lemon peel and cinnamon stick, then pour the mixture into a bowl. Let it cool at room temperature and then place it into the freezer for a couple of hours. You just want it to be very cold to serve, not frozen. (You can make it at night for the next day. Instead of placing it in the freezer, place it into the refrigerator). In a separate bowl, whip the 2 egg whites into a meringue. Until the egg whites thicken and get light and airy. Pour the whipped egg whites into the icy cold milk mixture and stir. I like to sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon on top of the drink. Ready to serve!

Yuuuuummm!! I love it!

Bon profit!

Leche merengada

Leche merengada

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SHRIMP, TOMATO AND PEPPER IN PEACH SAUCE.

Hola hola!!
I am back from Spain and I am alive!
I had such a wonderful time with family and friends in Spain. The wedding day was the BEST, BEST day of my life! It was awesome, and I don’t have the words to properly describe it.
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Mr. & Mrs. Yay! 

I’m sorry that I haven’t posted anything in a while, but I’m sure you understand. The wedding was busy, and as soon as I got back, I was busy with work, including a work trip to  San Francisco. For those who follow me on Instagram, you may have seen some pictures from San Fran. For the rest, you should follow me on Instagram!😉
Today I made something pretty summery. It’s peach season, and if you’re like me, you have delicious peaches just waiting to be used for something yummy. (They get ripe fast!) I decided to make adelicious and refreshing peach sauce, and I served it with grilled shrimp, and cherry tomatoes and a green bell pepper from the garden. The recipe is very easy, it takes about 20 minutes to make.
Ingredients for 4 servings:
-16 shrimp (peeled or in the shell, it’s up to you)
– 24 cherry tomatoes
– 2 large green bell peppers
– 2 peeled peaches
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 1/4 tsp of dill
– 2 small green onions
– salt and pepper
In a blender, mix the peaches, the olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and blend it. Once its smooth, add the dill and the green onions and blend it again. Set aside for use later.
Grill the shrimp and the whole pepper and then after 3 minutes add the tomatoes. If you don’t have a grill, you could use a grill pan on the stove, or just sauté them in a pan. Cook until the shrimp are cooked. Slice the pepper  and plate them together and serve with the peach sauce. Simple and fresh. A great way to use summer ingredients.
Bon profit!
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Puff Pastry Pizza with Garden Tomatoes

Hola!!

Hola from Barcelona! I am nervous,  very nervous. My wedding is right around he corner. (I’ll post some pictures on Instagram). Yay! I can´t wait, but at the same time I have tons of butterflies in my stomach everyday. I guess it’s natural.

Everyone tells me not to worry, that everything will be fine. Yes, yes…. but when it’s your own wedding, you worry about everything, or at least I do. I had to plan everything from overseas. Thank goodness I have a super mom that helped me a lot with everything. For those that are married, did you have the same feeling on the days before your wedding? I guess so.

Anyway, lets focus on the food. Those summer tomatoes are starting to roll in, more every day. For today, I made a simple and quick Puff Pastry Pizza with Garden Tomatoes. The puff pastry can be either homemade or from the store. I needed something quick today , so store-bought it was! This is a quick recipe that can help you if you have guests at the last minute or you just want to make a simple and quick dinner, appetizer or snack.

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 2 tablespoons of Dijon Mustard (gives it a nice tang)
  • 3 oz grated Cheddar cheese
  • 1 big tomato
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons oregano  (fresh is the best!)

 

Preheat the oven to 390 F.

Roll out the puff pastry sheet on a baking sheet. Using a fork, pinch the dough (see picture) and pre-bake it for about 3  to 5 minutes.

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Remove from the oven and spread the Dijon mustard (you just want a thin coat) top it with the cheese and finally the fresh tomato slices.  Season with salt, pepper and oregano.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

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Serve warm and Bon Profit!

 

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Watermelon & Feta Salad

Hi there!
It has been a while since my last post, but my wedding is right aroung the corner and I’ve been super busy with everything. I hope you can understand. I am leaving next week for Spain!
Summer is here, I can’t believe it how time flies. I love this season, and all my favorites fruit and vegetables that come with it. I have four blueberry bushes at my house and I will be picking berries very soon. (If the birds don’t get to them first…) I have been sourcing them in the mean time from a local farm.
Something that I really like to eat in the summer is watermelon. (I’m growing those too!) So refreshing and so healthy. I love it. For today I made an easy salad of watermelon, feta and basil. My basil and mint are growing like crazy. I am pretty much eating tomato with basil everyday.
Anyways, back to the subject… regarding the watermelon… I made this easy and quick salad. It will take you less than 2 minutes to make it and trust me, it might sound a little weird, but it’s delicious.
Ingredients:
3 cups diced watermelon
1/2 cup diced feta cheese
3 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons of chopped fresh basil
pinch of salt
Mix the watermelon, feta and basil. Pour the balsamic vinegar on top and add a pinch of salt. That’s it! Always fresh, delicious, and nutritious!
Try to use a watermelon that is very cold. It will taste better and be more refreshing, especially on of of those hot and beautiful summer days. Happy summer!
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Bon profit!
I am happy to share this recipe with Fiesta Friday #125!
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Artichoke Heart with Cod Brandade and White Sauce

Hola!!

I love this recipe. Its’ my grandma’s, of course. I haven’t met a person that doesn’t like it. Its simple to make but it does take a while to peel the leaves off, since you are just using the heart of the artichoke. But trust me, it’s worth it. Artichoke heart with Cod Brandade and White Sauce.

I made this yesterday while my grandma was on the phone with me all the way from Spain. We were talking on Skype and talking about food when we decided that I should cook something with her. It was like we were there together. My grandma is a super sweet person. She is coming to the states this summer, I can’t wait, yay! I suppose I will have to cook something with her. Maybe paella!

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 2 lbs artichokes (3 small artichokes per person)

For the Cod Brandade:

  • 1/2 lb cod fillet
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 whipping cream (you can use half and half or whole milk)
  • salt and pepper

For the White Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons flour

Let’s clean the artichokes: 

Cut off and discard the stem end of the artichoke. Peel the leaves off until you see the heart of the artichoke. Dig in and scrape off the fuzzy choke and cut it in half. (It’s inedible and hairy, not very pleasant to eat.)

Boil the hearts of the artichokes for a few minutes, until tender. Set it aside.

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For the Cod Brandade: 

Slice the cod into pieces and add it to a boiling pot for about 4 minutes. Remove and add the cod to a food processor. Add a little bit of milk and a little bit of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth.

For the White Sauce: 

Add 1 tablespoon of butter to a medium pan and place on low heat.  The bottom of the pan should be entirely coated with butter. Once it’s melted, add 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour.  Stir constantly until the flour is brown. Add 3/4 cup of milk and stir until everything has been incorporated. If it looks too thick, stir in a little bit of milk.

Preheat the oven to 390F.

Pour the white sauce into a baking dish. Add the cod brandade on top of the artichoke hearts. Place these on top of the white sauce.

Cook for 10 minutes in the oven.

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Bon profit!

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Spring Smoothie

Holaaa!

I love Spring. Everything is (or should be) fresh and new. And with it, it brings all of the fruits and veggies that I love. It´s time to eat fresh and local again. Yay!  Now that we are getting into strawberry season, I thought I would start mixing in some delicious and beautifully ripe strawberries.

What better way to start the day then with a delicious smoothie. It will take you less than 10 minutes to make. Fresh fruit, veggies… Let the day begin! I love it😉

Ingredients:

– 4 big strawberries

– 1/2 apple

– 1 orange

– 1/2 c watermelon

– 1/2 c water (or fruit juice)

Place all the ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth!

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Grandma´s Squid

Hello!

As some of you may already know, squid is something that is very popular in Spain. I love squid, and it can be a very versatile ingredient. I have already posted some recipes but I still have some more in the works.

Yesterday at the market, I saw some delicious and perfectly ripe tomatoes. My first thought was Tomato Jam! Once I got home, I realized that I had fresh squid. I made one of my grandma´s squid recipes.  Really simple, but really tasty.

Ingredients:

–          1.5 lbs squid (cleaned and sliced into ¼ inch thick pieces)

–          1 lb ripe tomatoes

–          1 yellow onion, chopped

–          2 medium cloves garlic, chopped

–          Olive oil

–          Salt and pepper

Cook the onion on medium heat until it browns. Meanwhile, blanch the tomatoes. (Boil them in water for 30 seconds.) Remove the tomatoes and immerse them in cold water. The skins should then come off easily by hand. You can then blend them in a blender or food processor.

Once the onion is brownef, add the tomato, season with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Let it cook for about 2 – 3 minutes and then add the squid. Let it cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, add the garlic and let it cook for 10 more minutes.

Enjoy!
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Bon profit!
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Trinxat de la Cerdanya (Cabbage and Potato)

Hola!

Today I thought I would take you to the Catalan Pyrenees.  I love my region in Spain,  Catalonia, we have wonderful places to go throughout the year. A lot of cute small towns, with lots of local history. And each small town with their own well known local cuisine.

Its a great place to go during wintertime because the Pyrenees are packed with skiers and snow lovers, but the summers is also a great time for hikers, bikers, walkers etc.

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Llac de Puigcerdà

This recipe is from one of those small towns in the Catalonia region of Spain. It is called Trinxat de la Cerdanya. This part of Catalonia is beyond beautiful as you can see. It’s about a 2 hour drive (100 miles) north of Barcelona.

The capital of La Cerdanya is Puigcerdà. (pronounced Poo-chair-dah)

I took this picture a few years ago, but it still looks the same today. It’s a lovely small town.

Castellar de N’hug is another small town in La Cerdanya and is 26 miles from Puigcerdà. It’s a very small town with less than 200 people!

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Town of Castellar de N’hug

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Local shop selling assorted meats and cheeses

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Giant croissants

If you have a chance to go to La Cerdanya, do yourself a favor and visit some of these small towns, such as the ones I’ve mentioned. Be sure to check out all of the small stores and taste the different cuisines.  From the pictures, you can see the many products they sell, the different cured meats and cheeses, and… the huge croissants! That croissant was very good, but you’ll definitely have to throw a party to eat it in one day!

For this recipe you will need:

– 1 cabbage (depending how much you want, choose big or small).

– 4 medium potatoes

– bacon

– salt

– olive oil

– garlic (optional)

Peel and cut the potatoes. Place them into a large pot and boil them for about 15 minutes. Cut the cabbage and place it into the pot with the potatoes for another 10 minutes. Before removing, check that the potatoes are cooked. They might need a few extra minutes.

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Cut the cabbage

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Potatoes and cabbage are cooked

Strain into a colander. Then place the potatoes and cabbage back into the pot or into a different bowl and mash them. I used my masher, but you could easily use a fork. Once they’re mashed, place them in a pan with some olive oil and cook on a medium-low heat. Season and stir.

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Potatoes and cabbage mashed

If you want, you can add some garlic for flavor. Just cut a clove of garlic into thin slices and cook in a pan until it gets very brown. Then, mix with the cabbage and potato.

During all of this time, you can cook your bacon. I like it extra crunchy.

Plate the cabbage and potato however you like (here I used a small mold), then top it with bacon.

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Trinxat de Cerdanya

Bon profit!

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Àvia´s Mussels

Hola!

I’m back from the Bahamas. It was a fantastic and relaxing trip.  The food was good and the cocktails were even better! Can you believe that I had grouper (fish)  for breakfast? It was called Boil Grouper, like a fish soup. I thought it was a little weird, but that is a traditional breakfast there, and it was out of this world.

Speaking of seafood, I have a seafood recipe today and it’s from my grandma. My grandma (àvia in catalan) is always on my mind whenever I cook something. So of course, I am stealing her recipe. You can make this in less than 30 minutes. Isn’t it worth it? It is for me!

I love the broth that this recipe produces It’s so good, that I have to have some bread on hand for dipping. Spaniards in general eat a lot of bread. It’s like it were a part of the utensils:) The restaurants there will usually serve bread with olive oil (no butter for us!) I guess that’s why I like to go to Italian restaurants here in the U.S. because they normally serve extra-virgin olive oil. Oh! Speaking of restaurants, did you know that you have to pay for water in Spain?! Weird for the Americans, huh? Sometimes a glass of wine is cheaper than water…

Ok, let’s get back to the mussels. Sometimes I can go off on a tangent, the same way I talk. I talk a lot! This comes from my family. We talk a lot, and since we are a big family, we don’t know what the word a quiet conversation is, so we YELL! (Or talk very loudly. It is an animated conversation to say the least.)

Ingredients: (serves 2-4)

– 2 lbs  (1 kg) mussels

– olive oil

– salt and pepper

– water

The process is super easy and it takes about 20-30 minutes. Rinse the mussels, and scrub as necessary. You should also check for the ones that are already dead. The ones that won’t close on their own are probably dead, and should be discarded. Debeard the mussels, you don’t want any of the mussel beard in your mouth.

Once the mussels have been cleaned, place them into a large pot with a 1/4 cup of water on medium high heat. You don’t need to add much water to steam them, as the mussels are filled with their own water. Adding a little will give you more broth, which is a good thing. They should open in about 5 minutes. That is how you know they are cooked. When they are done, KEEP THE BROTH!

(This next step is optional. I like to eat the mussels on the half-shell. That is typically how we do it in Spain. Basically, just separate the two halves and discard the shell without the mussel attached. You also eat it with your hands there, not with a fork as is common here.)

Place the leftover broth remaining in the pan into a container or bowl. I use a strainer when I pour the broth to remove shells or sediment. To this, add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, some salt and pepper and stir it.

Place the mussels in a pan and cook on medium heat. Pour the broth on top. Let them marinate for a few minutes and the mussels are ready!

Have that bread handy for dipping, you will need it!

Bon profit!!

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