Azafrán, or saffron, is one of the world’s most valuable spices. It’s distinctive floral smell and burnt orange color can’t be confused for anything else. It’s vital in many Spanish recipes, including paella. Fun fact: saffron is actually the stigma of bright lavender crocus flowers. Available at www.latienda.com
Posted Tuesday, July 29, 2014
A cortado is a small, strong Spanish coffee with just a kiss of warm milk, no foam. With just a small spoonful of sugar, I can think of no better way to start the day.
Posted Tuesday, July 22, 2014
RECIPE OF THE WEEK: MIGAS
This week, Mark and Claudia made migas, essentially Thanksgiving stuffing Spanish style, with Javier Muñoz. Note that it’ s very good served with eggs fried in olive oil.
Serves 6 as a side dish or tapa
6 cups coarse dried bread crumbs
½ cup olive oil www.latienda.com
6 garlic cloves, not peeled
½ pound Spanish chorizo, casings removed and cut into ½ inch dice www.latienda.com
½ pound pancetta in one piece, cut into ½ inch dice
A large bunch of grapes
6 Roasted Red Peppers, peeled, seeded, and cut into wide strips
Put the bread crumbs in a bowl, sprinkle with just enough water to moisten, and cover with damp paper towels. Set aside for 2 hours, or until the bread is evenly moistened. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium–high heat. Add the garlic and stir until lightly browned and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chorizo and pancetta and cook, stirring, until the meat is lightly browned and starting to render its fat, about 8 minutes. Add the bread crumbs, mix thoroughly, and cook, stirring, until the crumbs are lightly browned. Serve with the grapes and roasted peppers (peel the garlic cloves if you like, or let your guests do it).
Posted Tuesday, July 15, 2014
There are large billboards all over Spain shaped like bulls and painted black — huge silhouettes looming over the highways. It’s fun to count how many you pass on the long drives. We nicknamed them ‘bullboards.’
Posted Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Posted Tuesday, July 1, 2014
CREATE will be airing the Spain… on the road Again marathon all day Saturday, Jan 10. Learn more – click here!
Posted Tuesday, June 24, 2014
The Martha Stewart Show
Check out Mario and Martha Stewart talking about Spain… on the road Again!
Posted Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Almendra is the Spanish word for “almond.” Most of Spain’s almonds go into turrón, a sweet, nougaty candy that’s consumed in huge quantities around Christmas. But almonds seem to always be around in Spain. They pop up, sprinkled with salt, at bars with your cocktails; they arrive in small bags on every Spanish flight; they are ground into all sorts of cakes and pastries; and they accompany most cheeses and fruits. They were also our “secret ingredient” for our Iron Chef–style cooking competition.
Posted Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Menu del Día
One of Spain’s great eating traditions is the Menu del Día – the menu of the day. Most restaurants, even the smallest, most casual, run–of–the–mill places offer one. It’s almost always a three–course meal, with an option or two for each course. Typical offerings include fish soup, salads with olives and tuna, baked fish, rice dishes, roast chicken, ice cream and custards. Always affordable and reliable, the menu del día is a pleasant tradition, a good way to eat.
Posted Tuesday, June 3, 2014
When I took Mark to a market in Madrid, we saw a fish called a ‘besugo’ and I started laughing. Mark was confused, so I explained that in Spain there’s a common expression called a “diálogo de besugos,” which is basically a nonsensical discussion where both parties can’t seem to understand each other. Apparently it has to do with the fish’s big–eyed appearance which seems to almost say: “what are you talking about??”
Posted Tuesday, May 27, 2014
RECIPE OF THE WEEK: MARIO’S AJO BLANCO
Ajo blanco is a very traditional version of gazpacho, but it isn’t as well known as its tomato–based sibling. It’s simple and extremely satisfying; a perfectly refreshing cold soup that celebrates almonds, the ‘secret ingredient’ for the cast’s Iron Chef–style cooking competition.
*1 cup blanched whole almonds
*2 garlic cloves, minced
*1/2 cup sherry vinegar
*4 ice cubes
*1 cup extra–virgin olive oil
*20 seedless green grapes, halved
*Grated zest of 2 lemons
Put the almonds in a small saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let stand for 10 minutes, to soften slightly. Drain the almonds, transfer to a blender or food processor, and add the garlic, vinegar, and 4 cups cold water. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute. With the motor running, add the ice cubes, then add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, blending until thoroughly combined. Season with salt, and refrigerate until chilled.
Divide the grapes and zest between two bowls, pour the soup over, and serve.
Posted Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Something Special About This Week’s Episode
In this week’s episode, it’s fun to know that the last time Mario visited El Escorial – the monastery outside of Madrid – was on a high school field trip when he was a ex–pat teenager living with his family in the country’s capital. On this visit, he remarks that El Escorial is “much prettier than I remembered.”
Posted Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Ferran Adriá often employs liquid nitrogen in his cooking, but he explains that it’s “just a tool, like anything else.” In a way, it makes sense – like fire or acid, applying liquid nitrogen to food manipulates it, transforming it from one state to another. Liquid nitrogen is pure nitrogen in a liquid state, and it boils at minus 321°F. Pretty cold. It freezes things on contact. To demonstrate liquid nitrogen’s abilities when we were eating lunch together, Ferran had Chef Paco dip a rose into it, and when it emerged, Gwyneth gently flicked it with her fingers. We were surrounded by shattered petals.
Posted Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Santiago Calatrava, the world–renowned architect and sculptor, was born in Valencia. No surprise that some of his most famous buildings can be found in his hometown. The southern part of the city is dominated by his Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias – The City of Arts and Sciences – which consists of five amazing buildings.
Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Recipe of the Week: GRILLED SARDINES
These came in especially handy for Gwyneth when the table was covered with plates of all kinds of pork. It’s important to keep everyone happy!
*1 pound sardines, cleaned and scaled
*Extra–virgin olive oil
*Coarse sea salt
*1 lemon, preferably from Valencia, cut into 4 or 8 wedges
Rub the sardines with just enough oil to make them slick, and sprinkle with salt. Put over a hot grill fire and cook until well marked with grill marks, 3 to 4 minutes; when the sardines are ready to be turned, they will release easily from the grill. Using a spatula, carefully turn and cook for 3 more minutes, or until just opaque throughout. Transfer to a platter, sprinkle with salt, and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Serve with the lemon wedges.
Posted Tuesday, April 22, 2014