Blog: Claudia on Azafrán
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, February 17, 2015
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, February 10, 2015
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, February 3, 2015
Recipe of the Week: Mallorcan Coast Grill
Mario and Gwyneth grilled seafood with a local chef at a stunning coastal spot. Simple and unbeatable, this recipe is a lesson in great ingredients. Perfect for summer!
*1 large Mallorcan lobster (or Caribbean or Maine lobster)
*A few whole mackerel, cleaned and scaled
*1 rouget, cleaned and scaled
*12 large head–on shrimp in the shell
*Extra–virgin olive oil
*Mallorcan or Maldon sea salt
To kill the lobster, hold it firmly on a cutting board with its head toward you, plunge a sharp heavy knife into the center of the head, and quickly bring the knife down to the board, splitting the front of the lobster in half; turn it around and cut it completely in half. Rub the lobster, fish, and shrimp with olive oil and season with salt (including the cavities of the fish). Put over a hot grill fire (start the lobster shell side down) and cook the shrimp for about 2 minutes, the lobster and rouget for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the flesh is starting to become opaque; don’t give in to the temptation to flip too soon. Use a spatula to gently turn the shrimp, and then the lobster and fish, and cook for a few more minutes more, until just cooked through. Transfer to a platter, sprinkle with salt and olive oil, and dig in.
Posted Tuesday, January 27, 2015
In this week’s episode, be on the lookout for the orujo that goes into the Galician ‘punch’ called queimada. Orujo, sometimes called aguardiente, is a spirit native to Galicia with a very high alcohol level. It’s a bit like Italian grappa or Peruvian pisco—it’s made from the leftovers of the wine-making process, the grape skins and seeds, as well as bits of branches. Strong stuff.
Posted Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Gwyneth Cooking at Home
Posted Tuesday, January 13, 2015
One of the best parts about a road trip is taking what you‘ve learned and bringing it home. For example, in Galicia at the casa rural, Maria made an incredible stewed capon dish. Mario and I spoke about using the same technique – browning the bird and then braising it with flavorful liquid with different ingredients. And that‘s how my Chinese duck recipe was born! Get a very good organic duck. Cut it into 14 pieces (see Capon Grandma–Style). Prick the skin all over with a sharp paring knife. Rub with some softened butter that‘s been mixed with 3 or 4 minced garlic cloves. Sprinkle with ground cloves and black pepper. Brown the duck well in olive oil in a large heavy pot. Pour off all but a few tablespoons of the fat and add a cup each of Madeira and sake, some mirin, a sprinkle of sugar, lots of grated fresh ginger, a few crushed garlic cloves, and 2 star anise. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer, cover, and cook for 3 1/2 hours, or until the duck is very tender. During the last 10 minutes, add soy sauce to taste. Serve garnished with tons of chopped cilantro and sliced scallions. –GWYNETH
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, January 6, 2015
What’s a Benjamin?
Mario and I saw ‘benjamin’ listed on the drinks menu at Ca’n Joan de S’aigo in Mallorca. We found out that a benjamin is a small bottle of cava, a single serving. Apparently in local slang the benjamin of the family is the smallest child, hence the smallest bottle. Great for sipping with breakfast!
Posted Tuesday, December 30, 2014
What to Eat When Everyone’s Eating Jamón
Spain is known for its jamón, or dry– cured ham – many say it’s the best in the world. My travel companions regularly indulged their porcine affection. Claudia eats jamón every morning at breakfast, Mario and Mark both slipped slices onto their pan con tomate. I got a lot of slack for not succumbing to the jamón temptation, but there are a TON of special, particular Spanish foods that I’m thrilled to fill my plate with. After all, the more jamón they eat, the more anchoas (cured anchovies), berberechos (a type of clam), and Manchego (the renowned cheese) for me.
Posted Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Recipe of the Week: Caldo Gallego
This is the traditional, restorative soup of Galicia. With a little bread, you‘ve got a great meal on your hands. Maria‘s version was especially good and it‘s no coincidence that she grows her own greens.
Serves 4 to 6
- 1/2 pound thickly sliced pancetta or slab bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 cup dried white beans, soaked overnight in water to cover
- 1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1/2 pound Spanish chorizo, casings removed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 pound turnip greens (or other dark leafy green), stemmed and coarsely chopped
Cook the pancetta in a large heavy pot over medium heat until most of the fat is rendered, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the beans, add them to the pot, along with enough water to cover them by 2 inches and bring to a boil. Skim off the foam, then lower the heat and simmer gently, partially covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the beans are beginning to soften.
Add the onion, potatoes, and turnips and cook for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened. Add the chorizo and greens and cook for 10 minutes, or until the greens are tender.
Posted Tuesday, December 16, 2014
All Natural Hand–Sliced Jamon Serrano!
Introducing a new, hand–sliced Jamon Serrano from Monte Nevado. It is the only all natural Spanish ham for purchase in the US right now. Please see the link below for more information.
Buy Here! www.latienda.com
Posted Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Canned tuna isn’t held with particularly high esteem. It’s usually hidden under gobs of mayonnaise and sandwiched on bad white bread. Spanish canned tuna is a totally different story. It’s harvested in northern Spain, cooked in seawater, and packed in good quality olive oil. It’s not at all dry – in fact, its texture is almost silky. Best left in its olive oil with maybe just a bit of good salt and freshly ground pepper. Perhaps a piece of toast or some good sliced tomatoes, but a fork alone is just fine.
Buy Here! www.latienda.com
Posted Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Paella pans should be evenly heated if you want to make perfect paella. It’s worth investing in a special propane burner to ensure the best paella possible, especially if you’re using a pan big enough for a crowd! You can buy them here: http://www.tienda.com/paella/paella_burners.html.
Posted Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Boquerones are the great Spanish white anchovies pickled in vinegar and stored in olive oil. Since they’re not preserved in salt, like most anchovies, they don’t have the intense saltiness usually associated with anchovies. Instead, they’re mild and tender. Great on pan con tomate or just a toothpick!
Posted Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Recipe of the Week: Mushroom and Egg Yolk
Mark and Claudia ate these in a pintxo bar in San Sebastián with Juan Mari Arzak. This is one of the easiest ways to prepare mushrooms, but it is also decadent and impressive. The Basque Country is known for its mushrooms, and you find this dish in pintxo bars all around the region.
* 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra–virgin olive oil
* 1 pound porcini or mixed wild mushrooms, cut into 1/8 inch–thick slices
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 4 large eggs
* 2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a large skillet over medium–high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Add the garlic and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are nicely browned and softened. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
Fry the eggs sunny–side up in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny. Transfer to a cutting board and cut away the whites from the yolks (discard the whites). Spoon the mushrooms onto four plates and sprinkle with the parsley, salt, and pepper. Make a little space in the center of each portion of mushrooms, and nestle the yolks in the mushrooms. As you eat, mix the yolk with the hot mushrooms to create a rich, silky sauce.
Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2014