Jumat, 29 Juli 2011

Clams and Potatoes

This wonderfully flavored stew is a must for seafood lovers. Clams meet potatoes and two kinds of red peppers, and are served in a saffron flavored white wine-fish broth. The saffron contributes a pungent flavor and intense yellow color. The dish is finished with a tasty garlic-parsley mixture. Serve it with lots of rustic bread to soak up the lovely juices.

Saffron-flavored Clams and Potatoes
(The New Spanish Table)
serves 4 as a main dish

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced, plus 5 small whole garlic cloves
1/2 large white onion, finely chopped
1 Italian (frying) pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 large, ripe tomato, cut in half and grated on a box grater, skin discarded
1 1/2 cups bottled clam juice (I used fish stock)
1 large pinch of saffron, pulverized in a mortar and steeped in 3 tablespoons very hot water
2 medium-sized roasted bell peppers, chopped (I took them out of a jar)
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 pounds small Manila clams, scrubbed well

1. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and the minced garlic in a heavy 4- to 5-quart pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomato and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the juices thicken slightly, 5 minutes. Add the clam juice of fish broth or stock and enough water to cover the potatoes by 1/2 inch and bring to a boil, skimming. Stir in the saffron, the roasted peppers, and salt and black pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the potatoes are very soft but not quite falling apart, about 20 minues. Stir lighthly skim the mixture occasionally, adding a few tablespoons of water if necessary to maintain the level of liquid in the pot.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the 5 whole garlic cloves and cook until the garlic is golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to a mini food processor and add the parsley. Pulse until finely chopped, but not pureed.

3. Place the wine in a wide pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of the parsley-mixture and the clams. Cover the pot and let the clams steam until they open, 4 to 7 minutes. Discard any unopened clams.

4. Stir the remaining parsley mixture into the potato mixture. Gently stir in the clams and their liquid, taking care not to crush the potatoes. Cook over medium heat until the flavors meld, 1 to 2 minutes. Spoon the stew into bowls and serve at once.

Jumat, 22 Juli 2011

Espresso Granita

Here is a very inexpensive dessert using espresso, sugar, and amaretto called Granita. Granita is a semi-frozen dessert, similar to a sorbet with a grainy texture. It is easily made in a pan in the freezer and perfect for a hot summer day. No ice cream maker or special tools are needed!

Espresso Granita
serves 2

200 ml hot espresso or strong coffee
30 ml amaretto
35 - 40 g brown sugar

shaved chocolate or whipped cream


Combine all the ingredients and stir until sugar melts. Let cool. Pour mixture into a container that can go into the freezer.
To speed up the process, chill the bowl or tray before adding the liquid. The wider the tray, the faster the mix will  freeze. Cover the bowl and freeze for 30 minutes. When ice crystals begin to form at the edges, gently scrape the mixture with a fork. Continue to stir and scrape every 30 minutes or so. Once the mixture is thoroughly frozen, fluff with a fork and allow flakes to freeze another half hour before serving. Serve with shaved chocolate or whipped cream.

Jumat, 15 Juli 2011

Fava Bean Summer Salad

Fava Beans are, despite their name, a member of the pea family and very popular in the Mediterranean cuisine. They are at their peak in July and have a lovely, nutty flavor, a slight bitterness and creamy texture. They are great steamed and served with olive oil, salt, lemon and parmesan. They can also be added to soups and pastas or ground into purees. Although they should be shelled and pealed before eating, there is no need to do this if you can find tiny Baby Fava Beans. Those are especially tender and are also sold frozen.

Fava Bean Summer Salad
serves 2 - 4

3 small onions
100 g bacon
300 g baby fava beans, fresh or frozen
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
sherry or red wine vinegar
1 - 2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
salt and freshly ground pepper

Peel and dice the onion. Dice the bacon into small pieces. If you are using fresh, regular sized Fava Beans, cook them in salted water until almost tender. Drain, peel and set aside. If you are using frozen Beans, prepare them as indicated on the package.

Heat very little of the olive oil in a pan. Add the bacon and fry on very low heat for approximately 4 minutes. Add the onions and let fry for another 6 to 8 minutes or until golden and crisp. Take the mixture out of the pan and put on paper towels.

Then add the beans to the same pan and let cook for a couple of minutes until the beans are tender.
Let cool slightly then add the tomatoes. Taste with the vinegar, a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley and the onion mixture and serve warm or cold.

Sabtu, 09 Juli 2011

10-minute Couscous Salad

Couscous is a super fast grain to prepare and cook. This refined grain has a very neutral flavor making it ideal for salads.

A sweet and savory combination of couscous, dried cranberries, sugar snap peas and pine nuts makes this salad irresistible.  In addition, the combination of green, red and gold colors is really pretty. This dish is great to bring to a party, for a picnic or for lunch.

Couscous Salad
(serves 6)

100 g/ 3 oz pine nuts, toasted
250 g/ 8.8 oz sugar snap peas or frozen peas
200 g/ 7 oz instant couscous
100 g/ 3 oz dried cranberries
350 ml/ 1,5 cups water
40 g/ 1.4 oz parsley, minced
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt, Pepper

Wash and cut the sugar snap peas, put in a bowl. Add the couscous and the cranberries and mix. Bring the water to a boil and pour over the salad. Let stand 5 minutes. Add pine nuts, parsley, lemon juice and olive oil.
Season with salt and pepper.

Sabtu, 02 Juli 2011

Fideua - Toasted Spaghetti with Seafood

We love to spend our summer vacation in Spain and do it almost every year. I love the weather, the people, and especially the food in Spain. Last year I stumbled over the cookbook "The New Spanish Table" from Anya from Bremzen and was happy to learn that it contains recipes of all my favorite Spanish food. But it gets better. It is written for people who don't have access to Spanish ingredients and replaces it with ingredients easily found in local supermarkets.
One of the recipes I adore is Fideua. Fideua is a dish similar to a Paella but cooked with Pasta instead. The Pasta is toasted first and then finishs cooking in a flavorful broth on the stovetop.

(The New Spanish table, Anya von Bremzen)

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
About 1 pound fideo noodles or thin spaghetti, broken into 2-inch length (it is easier to put them in a ziploc bag to brake them into pieces)
4 cups bottled clam juice diluted with 2 cups water (or 6 cups fish stock, or shrimp shell stock)
1 medium size pinch of saffron, pulverized in a mortar
2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
1 pound small shrimp, shelled
2 teaspoons sweet (not smoked) paprika
Sofregit (recipe follows)
3 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
12 to 16 jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined
Lemon wedges, or serving
Optional: Allioli for serving

Quick Sofregit 
Make a quick sofregit by cooking 1 chopped medium-size onion and 4 cloves of crushed garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil in the paella pan for 7 to 8 minutes. Add 1 large grated tomato and cook the sofregit until it is darkened and reduced, about 5 minutes


1. Toast the noodles: Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 15- or 16-inc paella pan or a very large skillet over medium heat. Add half the noodles and cook, stirring, until nicely browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Watch the noodles closely, as they tend to burn in not time. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the noodles to a large bowl, making sure none remain in the pan. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the pan and toast the remaining noodles in the same fashion, transferring them to the bowl when browned. Wipe the paella pan clean. (The noodles can also be toasted in a 425 F / 225 C oven without oil: Just spread them on tow large-rimmed baking sheets and toast them until nicely browned, stirring often, about 5 minutes.)

2. Place the shrimp stock in a medium-size saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the saffron and keep at a simmer until ready to use.

3. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in the paella pan over medium-high heat. Add half of the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the small shrimp and stir until they turn opaque, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the paprika and stir for a few seconds. Add the sofregit and cook until it is warmed through. Add the toasted noodles and stir to coat with the pan mixture. Pour in 3 cups of the simmering stock, keeping the remaining stock simmering. Set the paella pan over two burners and stir in the parsley. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the noodles begin to soften,  about 5 minutes. Periodically move and rotate the pan so that the liquid boils evenly. Add another 2 cups of the stock and continue cooking in the same fashion until most of the liquid is absorbed and the noodles are cooks but a little al dente, another 5 to 6 minutes. If the liquid is absorbed too fast and the noodles are still hard, add some or all of the remaining 1 cup of stock. Transfer the paella pan to the oven and bake until the noodles are soft and the liquid in the pan is syrupy, 7 to 8 minutes.

5. While the noodles are baking, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Stir-fry the jumbo shrimp, a few at a time, adding some of the remaining garlic to each batch, until bright pink and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per batch. Transfer the shrimp to a bowl and keep warm.

6. When the noodles are done, change the oven setting to broil. Pass the noodles under the broiler until the noodles on top are lightly toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Let the noodles stand for 5 minutes. Arrange the jumbo shrimp decoratively over the noodles. Serve the dish straight from the pan, accompanied by lemon wedges and Allioli.
Serves 8 as a first course, 6 as a main course

Basic Allioli
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup peanut or canola oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 large very fresh, organic, egg yolks
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
coarse sea salt

Stir together both oils in a measuring cup with a spout. Place the garlic, egg yolks, and lemon juice in a blender and pulse until a coarse paste forms. With the motor running, add the oil in a slow, thin, steady stream. The mixture will be the consistency of a thick mayonnaise. Scrape the allioli into a bowl, and season with salt to taste, and more lemon juice, if desired. Let stand at least 1 hour before serving, or cover and refrigerate if keeping longer. If the allioli seems to thick, thin it out with a little water before using. 
Makes just over 1 cup