A blog about Spanish food--how to cook it, how to eat it, here or there. The focus will be on simple, easy and mostly healthy dishes, with lots of options for vegetarians, vegans, and folks (like me) on low-cholesterol diets.
Basically you just grill the biggest green onions you can find until they're charred on the outside. Take them off the grill, wrap them up in paper or foil and let them steam five or ten minutes, then peel off the charred outer layer and enjoy them dipped in a good olive oil or romesco sauce (my easy romesco works well). The hot taste of the onion becomes sweet and rich during the cooking, and the texture is tender.
At the end of the video there is an example of the traditional way to eat these grilled onions (not with a knife and fork!)
Pour the split peas into a large pot. Look them over, pushing them around, and remove any bits of stones or dirt. Rinse the peas 2 or 3 times.
Add enough water to the pot so that the peas are covered by 2 to 3 inches of water. Bring them to a boil. Simmer for half an hour. When the peas begin to soften, add the bay leaf and carrot and continue simmering.
Meanwhile, saute the garlic in the olive oil. Remove the pan from the heat and let the oil cool some. Add the Spanish spice blend. Stir. Add this mixture to the simmering peas.
Let the soup simmer until the peas are quite soft. Add salt to taste (It doesn't need much, thanks to the spices, making this a good soup for people on a low-sodium diet). Just before serving, add handfuls of fresh chopped parsley and--for an Extremaduran or Canary Island touch--a handful of coarsely chopped cilantro.
Whenever we're in Spain, Ana tries to pick up a few tins of Ortiz anchoas "a la antigua"--anchovies prepared "the old fashioned way." We have not been able to find a source for these in the U.S., and even in Spain it isn't always easy to find them (the supermarket chain Carrefour sometimes carries them), but they are well worth searching for. Of all the tinned anchovy fillets, these come the closest to the salt-packed anchovies (anchoas en salazón) served in the very best tapas bars.
You can sometimes find Ortiz's anchoas "a la antigua" in miniature packets, about half the size of the standard 50 gram anchovy tin. These are perfect for when you want to make only one or two tapas. (An open tin of anchovies in olive oil just doesn't keep very well even in the fridge, so it's best to eat them all the day you open the can).
Basically Ortiz anchoas a la antigua are first-class anchovies (you can still see bits of silvery skin attached to the fillets, just like in a good tapas bar), packed in an excellent virgin olive oil with herbs. The texture is firm. The flavor, like that of any good anchovy, is not at all fishy. At the same time, these anchovies are unique because of the quality of the ingredients, the way they are prepared, and the herbs.
Open a tin of these, serve them with good bread and wine, and you have an instant tapas party.
Julianne writes, "Torta del Casar is a cheese made from sheep’s milk in the Extremadura region. It’s named after Casar de Caceres because that’s where the cheese originated from. The thing that is special about this cheese is that it is cured using a wild thistle. That ingredient lends a light touch of bitterness you taste along with the rich and slightly salty flavors of this cheese. Another part of torta del Casar's flavour comes from the fact that it is aged at least sixty days.
"The consistency of this cheese is not like many others. The inside is creamy and the outside is hard. The best way to eat torta del Casar is to cut the top off and scoop out the middle to enjoy it spread on a piece of bread, crackers, or pita chips. A cool thing about this cheese is that only 10% of production from only 8 family-run dairies is exported!"
I've posted before on a vegetarian or vegan caldo gallego. Here's another version you can make in just half an hour. I used chicken broth for this, but you can use vegetable broth if you want to make your caldo vegetarian or vegan. If you prefer your caldo gallego with meat, just add slices of chorizo during the last ten minutes of simmering.
1 small bunch of kale or collards, washed and chopped
Make this just as you would fried chickpeas (garbanzos fritos), with or without garlic and spices, but throw in a handful of nuts or seeds of your choice during the last few minutes of frying. We usually combine fried garbanzos with almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, just to name a few.
I would call this a vegetarian version of an empanada de carne adobada, but it's a good empanada in its own right. The pimentón gives it a nice smoky depth of flavor. Serve as a tapa. It's fantastic with a dark sherry.
In Spain, croquettes of all sorts--bacalao, jamón serrano, and even chicken--are extremely popular as tapas, but one of the most unusual and delicious is the mejillón tigre (literally, "tiger mussel"), which is basically a mussel croquette fried with one half of the shell. They seem to be especially popular in Madrid, where every neighborhood has a bar that makes the mejillón tigre one of its specialties. In barrio de Prosperidad, where we stay, it's Luman (where we took the picture above). If you're visiting the Prado, you may want to cross the street and try the mejillón tigre at Espacio Puro. They're fantasitc, and the place has a neat retro atmosphere.
Wherever you are, ask around and someone will probably point you in the direction of the best mejillón tigre.