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Harissa via the Moro Cookbook.

Harissa via the Moro Cookbook.

In response to the executive order on immigration issued at the end of January, I’ve seen some food sites offer lists of cookbooks that celebrate the foods of the seven countries listed in the ban, with one of Food52’s selections being the book Moro: The Cookbook. I’ve been wanting to write about this book for some time, and well, now feels like an apt time to do so. It’s the cookbook companion to the restaurant of the same name in London, and the chefs Sam and Sam Clark draw inspiration from both Spain and several Northern African countries that run along the Mediterranean. There are lots of great recipes for both tapas and mezze contained therein, but to be frank, the recipe that makes this book a worthwhile addition to your cookbook shelf alone is the one for homemade harissa. Read More

Garlic chicken/pollo al ajillo

Garlic chicken/pollo al ajillo

Over the years I’ve acquired many, many Spanish cookbooks but one of my eternal favorites was one I bought way back in the day on a whim at Crate and Barrel: Spanish Country Cooking. (Yes, I paid retail for it.) I’ve written about it here before in singing its praises for inspiring one of my favorite soups and a fantastic bass recipe fried in pancetta, but probably my favorite recipe to cook from it is a simple garlic chicken number that I’ve loved for years but never shared with you. Well, that stops today, because it’s too good not to enjoy, and when paired with a side salad you won’t feel like you’ve abandoned your resolve to eat a little lighter if you so choose. Read More

Baked eggs with sobrasada at La Tasqueta de Caldes.

Baked eggs with sobrasada at La Tasqueta de Caldes

One of the aspects of Spanish food culture that I love is how they eat eggs at any time of day, with no need to cloak it in the really irritating “breakfast for dinner” trope.* The tortilla is perhaps the most famous way they cook eggs–check out Le culs en rows for her rather brilliant mini-tortillas that you can make in a muffin tin, by they way–but I’m convinced that the Spanish version of any egg preparation is the best. When we do have some eggs on Saturday mornings, Michael follows the technique that José Andrés calls for in his scrambled eggs with shallots and scallions recipe and they always are really creamy and tender because he makes sure they are still a little runny when he pulls the pan off of the heat. And then there is the baked egg variation, which I first enjoyed at La Tasqueta de Caldes in Caldes d’Estrac and I’ve been trying to recreate ever since.

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Vieiras con romesco/Scallops with roasted Catalan sauce

Ever since we got back from Spain, the number of grey, rainy, and unseasonably cold days we’ve had at home has been significantly higher than we usually get this time of year. I think it temporarily stymied all of that wonderful inspiration that accompanied me home from Barcelona and Caldetes because last Tuesday I mulling over what I wanted to make for dinner that night and had absolutely no ideas whatsoever. Remembering that I now had the first season of Made in Spain on DVD, I immediately went to the website to see if any of the recipes posted would provide a bit of inspiration.

And then I found this recipe and resolved to pop a DVD in while I made dinner and waited for Michael to get home. Suddenly, my grey and chilly Tuesday looked so much brighter. Read More

Homemade Chicken Wings with Spicy Barbecue Sauce

In order to understand what we were attempting here, I need to comment that my restaurant in the area is Dinosaur Barbecue. Without spending the next fourteen paragraphs waxing on about the merits and wonders of this place, I will simply say that if you want good, fun barbecue in NYC, look them up.

I enjoy chicken wings, very much. Ever since I made them for E and I, (Vietnamese-style) she and I have been waiting for the next opportunity to recapture the magic, so to speak. Sure, it was Super Bowl Sunday, but I assure you our mutual and exclusive thirst for chicken wings that night was something altogether stranger than simply wanting traditional football fare, as she alluded to yesterday. Alton Brown did a show on making wings at home, but we both were in the mood for saucier, more BBQ-stlye wings opposed to Buffalo so I figured I’d sauce them before cooking them as well as after (with Buffalo, the cooking should be done dry then sauced at the very end). This was fortunate because making crispy wings without a deep fryer is… arcane at best. Read More

Roasted Beets with Valdeón and Toasted Walnuts

So, first of all, we hope you managed to have a happy Christmas in spite of any weather issues you may have experienced. We here on the East Coast had…not the worst of times, but it was not the best-managed of times, at least by the transit powers that be, and I think we could all use a little seasonal-appropriate foods that aren’t leaden down in heavy foods.

Continuing in our theme of “la-la, Winter, you can’t get us down” that began with a look back to sunnier and warmer days some days ago we have a brunch that is actually seasonally appropriate (do you want to roast beets in the middle of summer? I don’t think so!) but is not nearly as heavy as other fare served this time of year. In fact, it’s an excellent appetizer to serve at this time of year, as the reddish-purplish beets and the green parsley make for a refreshing-yet-festive addition to the holiday table, even after Christmas.

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Polpo con Pimentón (Octopus with Paprika)

E definitely outdid herself with these photos. I think they really capture the lively essence of these little yummy critters. They actually look like animals right out of the ocean. The prep on both was very simple highlighting the sweetness of the crayfish and the chewy richness of the octopus. This was part my half of the dinner on the inaugural night of The Book of Tapas cookery.

I was excited about the octopus. My love of squid has been well-documented and I make no favorites among the mollusk brethren. The preparation was simple: first freeze, then boil the hapless cephalopod until it’s good an done. My guy was too large (3.5 lb instead of the prescribed 2.2 lb). So, I cut him in half (we ended up with four tentacles instead of eight), and froze both halves: one for later and one for that night. The book then dictates a 35 minute bath in boiling water, testing frequently until it reaches the consistency you want. Mine took over 40 minutes but it was worth the extra wait as E is not a fan of overly chewy food. The octopus should be snipped into bite size pieces with kitchen shears when finally ready and coated with paprika and olive oil. This is better the next day and in my next attempt I’m going to try some long-term marinating of the cooked bits.

Onto the crayfish!  Read More

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