I seem to be thinking about Spain a lot these days as witnessed by my last few posts. Perhaps I’m channeling my ancestors. Or, perhaps I’m subconsciously psyching myself for another trip to the Motherland. One can hope for the latter. Whatever the reason, it makes for good eats! And while I couldn’t set a chair for each of you at the table, I hope you’ll feel like you were there …perhaps even be inspired to create a similarly themed dinner in your home?
As usual, we sort of gather on both sides of the kitchen counter and begin with ‘happy hour‘ before moving to the dining table. Everyone stands around with a drink in hand while we have a couple of nibbles and lots of animated gabbing.
Cava (sparkling wine from Spain) is a great aperitif. I served it with pan con tomate layered with vinegary white anchovies. There were also some toasted almonds and Spanish olives to nibble on.
Pan con tomate is very popular in the Catalon region of Spain, most notably Barcelona. I slow-roasted fresh tomatoes with a piece of garlic and a little salt, then strained them. The anchovies were sourced from my local fish counter. After you add your topping (it doesn’t have to be anchovy), drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil.
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I wish the photo was more representative and flattering to the ingredients which melded so beautifully.
Ribboned kale, radicchio, fennel and apple topped with a slice of crispy capicola, a round of warm goat cheese, chopped almonds and a vanilla-scented orange vinaigrette. [To make it more Spanish, you could use Jamon Serrano or Iberica -- or any other cured meat. I used what I had.]
1 orange (juice and zest)
1 vanilla bean (flesh extracted)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
splash rice wine vinegar with chili flakes
(finish with a fresh grind of black pepper)
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Paella de Mariscos y Fideos (seafood and pasta) was the main course. This dish is a little complicated and time-intensive, but it’s worth the effort especially since the other courses were simplistic. You can see most of the steps I took to prepare the paella in my prior post “Tips for Making a Really Great Paella“.
The more common paella is rice-based but paella de fideos is routinely found in Southern Spain. It’s said to have Muslim roots.
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The sweet gene skipped my family.
We’re not big dessert eaters. I mean, yes, if you put it in front of us and it’s good, we’ll eat it…but we generally don’t crave or plan for dessert.
And so it was with this dinner until, at the last minute, I got the idea to serve Guava y Queso as an after dinner treat.
Guava paste (or canned shells) and queso (white cheese) is a very popular combination in Spain and throughout Latin America. I used an apple corer to make the little cylinders from a block of guava paste and did the same with a soft white cheese. It was the perfect bite!