Cod Brandade

Hello!

As some of you may know, my grandma is an excellent cook, and a lot of my recipes either come straight from her kitchen, or are inspired by her. A recipe from my grandma that my family loves is either Baked Artichokes with Cod Brandade, or Stuffed Peppers with Cod Brandade.  Brandade is essentially an emulsion of cod and olive oil. There are several ways to make it. I was planning on making the artichoke recipe but I couldn’t find good artichokes (not in season…), so I decided to just make the Cod Brandade by itself as a tapa, something that is very popular in Spain.

This tapa can be eaten cold or out of the oven broiled, and with or without cheese. You can prepare it differently and all of them are delicious. It’s not too fishy, but has a nice, mild and creamy flavor. Lets get into this quick and traditional recipe!

Ingredients:

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

Slice the cod 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 and all of the liquid is absorbed.

At this point you can already serve the Cod Brandade as a dip or you can store it in the fridge for later use.

I chose to broil it today. Broil it at 500 F for 3 to 5 minutes until the top is golden brow, if you want, add a little bit of cheese on top. Either way, it’s delicious!

 

Bon profit!

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Cod Brandade

Red Wine Jelly

Hola!

The weekend is here, yay! I am extra excited because my good friend from college and her husband are on their way to visit. My kitchen was on fire (not literally!) yesterday between cooking and baking.

When it comes to small appetizers, I love cheese and crackers. Served with a tomato jam (or any jam) and a glass of red wine, Mmmm. A few days ago I had a brilliant idea (at least for me…) to make a wine jelly. Ok, it turns out that it already existed…(It’s tough to invent new things these days!)

It would pair perfectly with a slice of cheese and crackers and it was something new. And you know what? It’s super easy to make it, but it requires a little patience with the process. Since it was my first time making it, I didn’t know what to expect and I had no idea how long it would take for the wine to set as a jelly.

For this recipe, I used a Spanish Tempranillo red wine. You can use your favorite wine,but I wouldn’t use a bad red wine (you will have to eat it!). I also wouldn’t use a $30 bottle of wine either. Let’s check it out!

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 envelope gelatin (I used Knox brand)

Pour the wine into a pot and bring it to boil. Add the sugar, stir for a minute and reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer for 40 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the gelatin and stir for 2 to 3 minutes until fully incorporated and let it simmer for 1 minute.

Transfer the wine to a bowl and let it cool. Once its cold, keep it in the fridge with wax paper and wait until it thickens… it takes about 15 to 20 hours. From there, you can serve it immediately or using sterile canning techniques, store it for later.

Enjoy and Bon profit!

Red Wine Jelly

Timbal de Vegetables

Hola!

With this dish, you can’t say that eating vegetables is boring or that vegetables are plain. I love this simple Timbal de Vegetables.(Timbal is Spanish for a drum, because this dish is in the shape of a drum.) Like a lot of my dishes, this one is so quick and easy to make. My top ingredients for this timbal are zucchini, eggplant and onion. You can easily change one or add another vegetable, such as a winter squash since its more seasonal and readily available.

I like to poach an egg on top of the timbal. The runny yolk mixed with the vegetables creates a unique flavor. Yuummy! Don’t forget a piece of bread, because you will need it.

Ingredients for 4:

  • 2 medium zucchini diced
  • 1 eggplant diced
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 small clove of garlic chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • salt, pepper and olive oil

On medium heat, cook the onion with a drizzle of olive oil for 3 minutes. Add the garlic, zucchini and the eggplant. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. The vegetables should be tender and a brownish color. Season with salt and pepper.

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While the vegetables are cooking, make the poached egg. An easy way to do this is to place the egg in plastic wrap and seal it with an elastic. Cook the egg for 3-4 minutes in boiling water. Remove from the heat and cut the wrap.

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Place the egg on top of the vegetables.

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Serve warm and…

Bon profit!

 

Timbal de Vegetables

Grilled Pulpo with Mashed Butternut Squash

Hola!

Well, the holidays have finally come to a close. Some of you may have ended their holiday season on January 1st.  In Spain, as in some other countries, we celebrate King’s Day (celebrating the arrival of the three wise men) on January 6th. The day before, there are lively parades in towns throughout Spain celebrating the 3 Kings. The night is especially appreciated by the children, as good kids anticipate presents brought by the kings during the night while they are sleeping. Kids that may have been a little bad might get a little coal with their presents.

As with any festivity in Spain, we celebrate with food. (Of course!) After the parade, my family gets together and we’ll celebrate with a late evening meal of charcuterie and other delicious treats. The next day, King’s Day, kids awake to presents under the tree. Except that these presents were brought by the 3 Kings, not Santa Claus like here in the US. Later on in the day, the family gets together for another feast at grandma’s house. (This year, there were 28 of us!)

Holidays in Spain are long, but I love the traditions and time spent with family.

Today I made something that is a blend of cultures. Something more common in Spain, and something a little more typical here in the US. This is a seasonal dish, and one that light and tasty. Grilled Pulpo with Butternut Squash

Pulpo is the Spanish word for octopus. It is very common in Spain, and is eaten throughout the year. It can be difficult to find, but even I can normally find it in my local grocery store in my small Maryland town. Sometimes I can find it fresh, and other times frozen. Usually, it is imported from Spain, adding to the authenticity of this dish! I paired it with butternut squash, which is a common and seasonal vegetable, adding a sweet and colorful component to a savory main ingredient. I find the flavors complement each other and also add a good textural comparison.

A lot of you might be a little wary of an ingredient such as octopus, and would probably steer clear of it because you don’t know how to prepare it. But, it’s super easy and I’ll show you how to do it! If you like seafood as I do, you’ll love octopus.

Ingredients: (For 2-3 people)

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 2 small octopi (1 lb each- this was what was available in my market)
  • 2-3 T brown sugar (30g)
  • 3 T unsalted butter  (30g)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt & pepper to taste
  • paprika (optional)

For the Octopus:

Add the octopus to boiling water and and cook for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove them from the heat and let them rest in the still-hot water for 10 to 15 minutes.

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You can buy pre-boiled octopus. If you do, I would highly recommend boiling them again for about 20 minutes. Boiling the octopus will ensure it is more tender, and less chewy.

Cut the heads off from the octopi, make sure to remove the hard beak, and then cut the legs. We are only going to continue with the legs.

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Cook the legs on a hot grill (or pan) for about 5 minutes with a drizzle of olive oil. Browning them a little will help bring out the flavors. Remove from the heat and season with a pinch of sea salt and pepper, and sprinkle with paprika.

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For the Mashed Butternut Squash:

Peel the squash and remove the seeds. Cut into large chunks, then boil  for about 15 minutes, until tender. Mash the squash until smooth, as you would for mashed potatoes. Add 2-3 table spoons of brown sugar (vary to the sweetness you want), unsalted butter, and salt and pepper to taste.

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Simple, seasonal, and delicious. Bon profit!

Grilled Pulpo with Mashed Butternut Squash

Avia’s Whole chicken

 Hola and feliz ano nuevo! (“Bon any nou” in Catalan)

I hope 2015 has been good to all of you. I’ve got no complaints, it has been a very good year for me. Let’s hope 2016 is as good, or even better! I have a wedding to plan 🙂
I was able to spend time with my family and friends. Like a lot of families, Christmas is a big day for us. It’s often difficult to get everyone together, as there are 28 of us! But, everyone tried extra hard and we did it.
Also, like a lot of families, we like to eat a lot of good food. The holiday fare was amazing. My grandma (àvia in catalan) is definitely the best cook ever. At least for me 😉
On Christmas day, lunch generally consists of a soup that is out of this world. My grandma only makes it once a year, just for Christmas. I’ve never seen a pot so big! After the soup, we eat shrimp and escamarlans (A Catalan name for langoustines- The common name for a number of edible European crustaceans.) She made 170 shrimp and 120 escamarlans! And after that, we had cabrito (baby goat, very delicious).
When we are done with that, we are definitely stuffed. But of course, there is dessert. The classic Spanish dessert for Christmas is coca and turrones. Coca is a kind of sweet bread. Turrones are a type of nougat made by cooking honey, sugar, eggs, and toasted almonds, or chocolate, coconut, nuts, etc, and are the most traditional Catalan dessert.
All in all, Christmas was spectacular, as was the food! I hope your’s was too.
The day after Christmas was just me and my grandma. We got into the kitchen for a few hours and prepared a Catalan-style roasted chicken. It was fun! And that’s the recipe for today.
Ingredients for 1 whole chicken:
  • 1 whole chicken (preferably one that is local and organic, like the one we used)
  • 1 apple
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 10-15 pitted plums (We used dried plums)
  • 1/4 cup cognac
  • 1/4 cup whiskey
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper
Process:
  • Preheat the oven to 390 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Remove the giblets and neck of the chicken and set aside. Wash the chicken and let it dry.

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  • Mix the cognac with the plums in a bowl.
  • Peel and cut the apple into small squares.
  • Season the inside of the chicken cavity, and the outside of the chicken, with salt and pepper. Stuffed the chicken with the apple, pine nuts and the plums (reserve the cognac, we will use it later.)
  • Seal the cavity of the chicken, I used toothpicks, but you could use string. Squeeze the 1/2 lemon on top of the chicken and drizzle on some olive oil.
  • Cook in the oven for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 330F.
  • Add the cognac on top and cook for another 20 minutes.
  • Add the garlic bulb, onion, and rosemary to the baking pan and also pour in the cup of chicken broth. Finally, pour the whiskey over the top of the chicken.

 

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  • Cook for about 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 160-170 degrees F. Remove the toothpicks and it’s ready to serve.

I served the roasted chicken with mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, caramelized carrots, and cranberry sauce, and topped with gravy. This is an excellent and seasonal dish, but with a Catalan twist. I hope you enjoy it!

Bon profit!

Macarrones

 

Hola and Feliz Navidad!

Si! I am in Spain for Christmas. I love reuniting with my family. It also gives me the opportunity to get together with my grandma and do some cooking with her. She is very inspirational to me. Still going very strong at 79 years young, she will cook for 27 of my family over the holidays. And trust me, we know how to eat. For Christmas, we have five different courses!  All of them homemade. She has so much energy,  barely accepting help from anyone. It’s just her way. But don’t worry, I’ll find a way to get in her kitchen and help!

Today is Christmas Eve, and in Spain we don’t celebrate Santa Claus, we have el Tió de Nadal. (Not tío with the accent over the i which means uncle). El

Tió is essentially alog. That’s right, a piece of wood. On this log is painted a happy face. It has two stick arms and wears the red Catalan barretina hat and is covered by a blanket. Thus to keep it warm at night of course. Now that you have an idea of what it looks like, read on to learn more about this crazy tradition.

On Christmas Eve, families gather for a dinner feast. But first, we have to “cagar el tió”. This literally translates to poop El Tió! To do this, we hit it with a stick, all the while singing a traditional Catalan song. Caga Tió ia a tradition we have and I would not be surprised if you find this a little weird!

El Tió is “fed” from the 8th of December until Christmas Eve. Both kids and adults hit the tió with a stick singing a popular song. Onces this is done, the kids leave the room to pray for presents, giving the parents the opportunity to put some presents under the blanket. Then when the children come back into the room, they miraculously receive presents, which el Tió has “pooped”.  Generally the presents are candies, sweets and toys… a lot of toys!

One popular version of the song:

Caga tió,
Caga torró,
Avellanes i mató,
Si no cagues bé
Et daré un cop de bastó.
Caga tió!

And the much awaited translation…

Poop log,

Poop turrón (a sweet nougat)

Hazelnuts and cottage cheese,
If you don’t poop well,
I’ll hit you with a stick,
Poop Tió!

Ok, I know how ridiculous that sounds, but it is our tradition and I love it. But this is mostly a food log, (I mean blog!) and I’ll get to the food.

Today, I made Macarrones, a very popular dish in Spain, eaten this time of year. I believe that those in places like the USA might think of the beautiful and colorful French meringue sweets, but these are different. It’s pasta. On Sunday, I was able to get in the kitchen with my grandma and make them with her. This is something fairly simple to make, but it does require some technique. And my grandma uses a lot of her techniques in this dish! Trust me, these macarrones are out of this world. This is definitely one of my favorite dishes.

Ingredients for 5-6 servings:

  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 medium onion grated
  • 1/2 red bell pepper grated or chopped
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 4 big tomatoes (better if they are ripe)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons paprika (Not spicy)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup grated cheese

For the tomato sauce: 

Place the tomatoes in a boiling pot for a minute (blanch them). Place them immediately into a cold water bath, and then peel them. Place them into a blender and blend for a minute. Set aside.

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Pasta:

Boil the pasta following the directions on the package. Once its cooked, reserve 1 cup of the water and set it aside.

With a small pan on low- medium heat, cook the onion until it is extremely brown. While the onion is cooking,  mix the pork,   pepper and the garlic in a large pan.

Drizzle some olive oil and cook on medium heat until the meat is fully cooked.

 

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Add the tomato sauce, stir to incorporate and then add the brown onion. Stir until everything is well mixed.

Add the pasta into the mixture and stir. Season with salt and add the paprika. Keep stirring.

Add a little bit (1/4 cup) of the water that you previously set aside. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and stir until the butter melts.

If you see that it need a little more moisture, add a little bit more of the water and butter. The pasta should have a little juice running throughout.

Add the grated cheese and stir.

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A catalán Christmas tradition. Enjoy and Bon profit!

P.S  I hope el Tió is kind to me this year…!

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Macarrons 1.jpg

 

Macarrones