Monday, October 22, 2012

Filled Squash Blossoms (Flores de calabaza rellenas)

Even at the end of October one can find squash that are still giving blossoms. We know that those blossoms will never become squash at this late date and that there is going to be a frost but they can survive for a time if we cover them at night. So, why don't we let them be useful to our palates? Let's be realistic and start saying goodbye to summer and to our gardens and have a feast of squash blossoms filled with cream cheese.


1 to 2 squash blossoms per person

1 box cream cheese
1/2 red pepper
1 1/2 jalapeño pepper or hot padrón pepper
lemon zest from half a lemon
3 tablespoons cilantro
2 tablespoons lemon juice


1 1/2 cups tempura
oil (fill 2/3 of the pot)

Combine the cream cheese, the red pepper, jalapeño, lemon zest, cilantro and lemon juice in a bowl and mix all the ingredients very well. Spoon the mix inside every blossom. When they are all ready add them to the tempura batter and place one blossom at a time in the pot with very hot oil. Fry until brown.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Grilled Figs with Blue Cheese and Honey (Higos a la plancha con queso azul y miel)

This is a recipe that my friend Mary Pat sent me and it has been very successful. I made it a couple of times and never got to take a picture because they disappeared so fast. July, August and September is the season for figs and what a great opportunity to eat them fresh. When I was growing up we had 4 fig trees and we used to climb the thick branches and eat them from the trees, only to pay for such indulgence with a stomach ache. Today, every time I travel by train to Barcelona I see fig trees along the train tracks and into the artichoke fields and they bring me memories of my childhood.


1 dozen fresh figs cut in halves
blue cheese, crumbled

Cut the figs in halves. Put them in a hot pan or on a grill until they get caramelized. Remove the figs from the pan/grill, add the crumbled blue cheese and top with honey. Buen Provecho!!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The "San Viçens" Omelet (Tortilla San Viçens)

In the Sarria neighborhood of Barcelona there is a little Plaza called Plaça San Viçens where there used to be a really classic coffeshop named after the plaza, San Viçens. With its wicker chairs, marble coffee tables, and old Catalan tile, it was a very charming place that was popular with university students, bohemians, and the neighborhood crowd. The specialty tapa was a three layer omelet. Sadly, the coffeshop was demolished and a new building is in its place. The San Viçens might be gone but the memories of sitting with friends and devouring the three layer omelet with rustic bread is still very much alive. 

The three layer omelet was one omelet on top of the other. The first one was made with potato, the second layer was made with zucchini or spinach but I made it with portabella mushrooms, which I find more meaty, and the last layer was a shrimp omelet topped with a pink sauce.

Ingredients for the potato omelet:

5 eggs
4 medium potatoes
olive oil

I add to mine:

1/2 onion
1/2 leek
1/2 green pepper

Peel and cut into small pieces: the potatoes, onions, leek, and pepper. Put the onions, leeks, and peppers into a pan with enough olive oil to cover the potatoes. When the onion starts changing color, add the potatoes and cook on medium to low heat until the potatoes are done. Whisk the eggs in a bowl and add everything except for the oil. Add salt and stir well (you can be generous with the salt because the potatoes absorb it). In a non-stick pan, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil and add the egg and potato mixture. Let it cook on one side. Then take a plate, put it on top of the pan, and turn it upside down, or 180˚. Return the omelet from the plate to the pan to cook the other side. When done, place it on a platter.

Ingredients for the portabella omelet:

2 portabella mushrooms, cut in cubes
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 eggs, whisked well

In a pan with olive oil, sauté the mushrooms with the onion and garlic and then add salt. When the mushrooms are done, remove everything from the pan except the olive oil and add to the eggs. Repeat the same process as with the potato omelet.

Ingredients for the shrimp omelet:

18 to 24 medium size shrimp, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 eggs, whisked very well

In a pan, sauté the  shrimp with the garlic in olive oil and add salt. Remove from the pan, add to the eggs, and repeat the same process as in the previous omelets.

For the pink sauce:

2 tablespoons mayonaise 
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon brandy

Mix all ingredients well. 

Stack the omelets on top of each other with the potato omelet on the bottom and the shrimp omelet on top. Add the pink sauce to decorate. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

"Amatxu" Style Rabbit (Conejo estilo "amatxu")

Chicken, pork, veal, beef, lamb, goat, and rabbit are some of the meats consumed in Spain. I will go a little bit further and say that rabbit is the equivalent of turkey in the United States in terms of popularity. Every meat store carries rabbit that is young, lean, and tender. I call this recipe "amatxu" style rabbit because it is the way my mom makes it ("ama" is "mom" in Basque and the suffix "txu" is "dear" so "amatxu" means "dear mom"). Cardiologists in Spain recommend rabbit to their patients because of its lean meat.

Ingredients: Marinate overnight or for a minimum of 12 hours

2 pounds rabbit, cut in pieces 
5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 onion
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup white wine
freshly ground black pepper


flour for dusting
1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
3 carrots, cut
3 onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons tomato sauce
chicken broth (if needed)
2 potatoes, chopped
12 artichoke hearts
1 cup peas

Strain the rabbit from the marinade, saving the marinade for later. Dust the rabbit in flour and lightly fry it in a pan. Lay the pieces on a paper towel and save for later.

In a pot, put the onion and garlic and let them cook slowly on a medium to low burner until the onion becomes translucent.  Add the carrots and peppers. When everything is soft, add the tomato and the liquid used to marinate and cook for another 15 minutes. Then remove the mix from the pot and put it in a chinoise, strainer, or blender.  Add the rabbit to the pot and pour the mixed sauce over the rabbit. If the sauce is too thick, add chicken broth. Cook the rabbit for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender. While the rabbit is cooking, fry the cubed potatoes and the artichokes dusted in flour. Add the potatoes, artichokes, and peas and cook for five minutes. ¡Buen provecho!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Seafood Salad (Salpicón de marisco)

"Salpicón de marisco" is a cold salad from Andalusia and there are as many recipes as cooks. However, the main ingredients are always green pepper, red pepper, tomato, onion, octopus, and prawns. Other people add cucumbers, mussels, shrimp, etc. and a simple vinaigrette of sherry or red wine and Spanish extra virgin olive oil. It is not a ceviche because the seafood is boiled, instead of cooked in lime juice. The "salpicón" is one more addition to the cold and refreshing summer dishes of Andalusian gastronomy, like gazpacho, garlic soup, salmorejo, and picadillo. In taverns and bars, salpicón de marisco is served in small dishes as a complementary tapa and in restaurants it is served as a salad.


1/2 green bell pepper finely chopped
1/2 red pepper finely chopped
1 ripe tomato finely chopped
1/2 red or white onion finely chopped
1 octopus leg cooked (see entry on how to cook octopus "Pulpo a Feira")
12 prawns, boiled (add the prawns to boiling water and remove them 5 minutes after the water starts boiling again)
1 part sherry or  red wine vinegar to 3 parts extra virgin olive oil.

Cross cut the octopus and prawns in slices of 1/4 inch. and mix well with the rest of the ingredients. Make a vinaigrette with extra olive oil and vinegar and add to the mix 30 minutes before serving. To finish sprinkle with salt.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Txistorra cooked in Txakoli Wine (Txistorra al Txakoli)

This is a typical Basque "pintxo" or "tapa" (see the difference between them in the entry "pintxo" or "tapa"). It is made of two Basque products: the sausage "txistorra" made of pork, panceta, bacon and paprika which gives the red color, boiled in "txakoli" which is a wine originally made in Basque farm houses for the owners own consumption, made of "green" grapes or grapes that are not ripe yet. If we have to find a similar wine we will be able to use the Portuguese vinho verde. Acidic, fuzzy, light, happy, and young. It needs to be served very cold.

Both of these products have DO (Denomination of Origin)


1 txistorra
2 cups txakoli

Put the txistorra in a pan and cover it with the txakoli and boil it for about 10 minutes.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Pintxo "Eguzki"

I developed this "pintxo" or tapa (little dish) with three of my favorite products: monkfish, pimientos de Padrón, and quail eggs on top of a piece of rustic bread. I call this pintxo "eguzki" because in Basque it means sun, and the egg looks like a sun.


6 monkfish medallions
6 Padrón peppers
6 quail eggs
Maldon salt

Dust the monkfish medallions with flour and pan fry, remove from the pan and add a few pieces of Maldon crystal salt. Poke the peppers with a fork and put them in a pan with about half an inch of olive oil and fry the peppers on a low heat until done on all sides. Remove from the pan add salt. Remove the oil from the pan, leaving a little bit. Add the quail eggs to the pan, carefully since they are very fragile. When the eggs are done to your liking, remove from the pan and add maldon salt.

To assemble:

Start with one slice of bread, then add the monkfish on top, then the pepper, and finally the quail egg.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Lollipop quail eggs (Huevos de codorniz en salsa rosa)

It is very common in Spain to find quail eggs in most supermarkets and markets. As a matter of fact, there are stands in the "Boqueria" market in Barcelona, where you can buy any type of egg, from quail and pheasant, to chicken, duck, emu, or ostrich eggs. We serve the quail eggs with a pink sauce, but that doesn't mean you cannot fry them, make deviled eggs, etc...The only difference is the size.


1 dozen quail eggs
2 tablespoon mayonaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 to 2 tablespoons brandy or whiskey

Boil the eggs for about 5 minutes, remove from the pan, and put them in a dish with icy water. When cold, peel them and skew them, one at a time.

For the sauce: mix the mayo, ketchup, and brandy. Stir until everything is mixed evenly. Try and change measurements of any of the ingredients to create the sauce to your liking. Put the sauce in a small bowl.

Serve the eggs on a stick and dip them in the sauce.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Peel-and-Eat Salty Shrimp (Gambas saladas)

If you have been to Madrid, Spain, you may know that there is a famous "cervecería" or a place where they sell beer. Probably, of all these types of establishments "Cervecería Santa Barbara" is the most famous one with 200 years of history. It's where you get to enjoy the "gambas saladas" or peel-and-eat shrimp boiled with sea salt, or in the coast, with sea water. These types of shrimp are sweet, juicy and they taste like the sea. You can serve these salty shrimp as a tapa with a very cold beer.


1 pound small shrimp
3 tablespoons sea salt per 4 cups water
ice water with 1 tablespoon of sea salt

In a pot, add the water with the salt, stir, and bring it to a boil. Add the shrimp and boil for about 2 to 3 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp. Strain the water and add the shrimp to a dish with icy water, with another tablespoon of salt to stop the cooking process. Arrange on a plate and keep the shrimp refrigerated until ready to serve.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mussels with chorizo (Mejillones con chorizo)

Another way to cook mussels, it is a surf-and-turf combination, Spanish style: mussels with Spanish chorizo sausage. Another great staple for summer by the beach. In Spain the mussels are very fresh, with a great flavor of the sea. If they are boiled with sea water, it is just heaven.


2 pounds of mussels
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 handful of parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil 
water to cover the mussels
1/2 hot chorizo "Palacios", cut in small pieces

In a pan, add the garlic and parsley, cook the garlic until it starts to change color, do not burn it. Remove the pan from the burner and let it cool. In the meantime, cook the chorizo in another pan. Add the mussels to the pan with the garlic and parsley, cover with water, and put a lid on and cook them until they open. They cook really quickly. Add the chorizo. Spoon them out of the pan and serve.

Picadillo Andaluz

El picadillo Andaluz has its origins in Seville, Spain. Unlike other picadillos that have ground beef, this one is made of vegetables soaked in a vinaigrette of Sherry vinegar and good Andalusian olive oil. My aunt, Lolita, always claimed that it should be eaten with a spoon, as she was told by people from Andalusia. It should be served cold as to become a very refreshing salad or to accompany meat or fish. 


2 cucumbers chopped
3 tomatoes chopped
1 onion finely sliced or finely chopped
1 green pepper
2 parts olive oil
1 part Sherry vinegar
salt to your liking 

An hour before serving, finely chop the cucumber, tomatoes, onion and green pepper, then mix them in a bowl. Add the olive oil, sherry vinegar, and salt. Keep it in the refrigerator for an hour. However if the ingredients have been kept in the refrigerator and are cold it can be made just before serving.

Serve in individual bowls. Everybody will like this dish. It is perfect for a summer lunch or dinner.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Palmiers filled with Pate (Palmeras rellenas de pate)

Palmiers, also known as elephant ears or "Palmeras," are very popular in Spain. They are easy to find in every store and pastry shop with sugar or chocolate, but they also can be made filled with ham and cheese, spinach, paté or foie. Especially today, when you can find the dough already made for you, there is a very laborious step to skip. This is a nice appetizer to make ahead of time. You also can freeze it and have it for a surprise visit.


Pastry dough (usually there are two sheets per box, so you can make one salty and the other sweet filled with brown sugar)
1 can of good pate o foie
1 egg well beaten

Defrost the pastry dough and dust with flour the surface you are going to work. Unfold it in a vertical position and mark the center. With a spatula spread the pastry generously with the pate or foie.
Start rolling one side towards the center previously marked. Then roll the other side to the center. Both rolls will find each other in the center. It should look like a long tube with two ears. Turn sideways and push the roll down. Cover with plastic wrap and keep it in the freezer for 10 minutes. 

In the meantime crack one egg, beat it very well and add 3 teaspoons water. Take the dough out of the freezer after 10 minutes and with a sharp knife start cross cutting the rolls, placing the palmiers on a non stick tray. Use a brush to wash the top with the egg and put the tray in a preheated oven at 400˚F for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sponge Cake with Strawberries and Cream (Bizcocho con fresas y nata)

The bizcocho is the most simple form of cake in Spain. However, cakes, pies, or any type of pastry are reserved for Sundays, birthdays and special occasions. The rest of the week dessert is an assortment of seasonal fruits.

Ingredients for the bizcocho:

12 eggs (6 yolks-6 whites)
1 and 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 yeast envelope

Separate the eggs - the yolks from the whites. If you have an electric mixer place the whites in the bowl and turn to half the power until it starts getting fluffy. Then add the sugar little by little (if done by hand, 1 tablespoon at a time). Increase the power to full until it stiffens and then add the egg yolks and mix well. Then add the flour with the yeast until it is very well mixed. Grease a rectangular pan or pans with a brush with liquid butter and add the mixture. Preheat the oven to 325 ˚F and bake the mixture for 30 minutes.

For the filling and syrup:

2 cups orange juice
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 pint strawberries

In a pan heat the orange juice, sugar and strawberries. Let it reduce to half its size. Remove the strawberries and mash them.

To assemble:

Take a cookie cutter or ring and cut the bizcocho. Set one on a plate, spread the mashed berries, then whipping cream and top with another piece of bizcocho. Decorate the top with fresh berries, pour some of the syrup over them, and finish with a spoon of whipping cream. Drizzle some of the syrup on the plate.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


"Kalimotxo," also know as "Rioja libre," is a Basque drink that has extended to the rest of the country and world. When I was growing up it was the favorite drink during festivals and parties. We used to hop on the train and go to festivals in other towns like "La Madalena" in Bermeo, San Lorenzo, San Roque and Andra Mari in Gernika, "los gansos" (the geese) in Lekeitio, "San Faustos" in Durango and many, many more. The drink of choice and the cheapest was "Kalimotxo," sold by the liter and shared with the friends. 

It is said that the drink was invented by two guys in the 70's. Their nicknames were "kalimero" (a Greek tv cartoon character at the time) and "Motxo" and they were two of a group that was running a "Txozna", similar to the concession stands  at a Baseball field,  for the festivities in El Puerto Viejo, Algorta. When, these two realized that the wine they got was not good at all they decided to mix it with coke. From then on, it took off and now is a drink known in many countries.


1/2  glass red wine
1/2  glass coke
a few drops lemon juice (not in the original recipe)
1 slice lemon (not in the original recipe)

When drinking "kalimotxo," just remember: cheap wine!!!!!


There is nothing more Spanish and refreshing in the summer time than a good glass of Sangria. The origins of this drink are said to be in Andalusia and the idea was to disguise not so very good red wine with fruits like peaches and citrus and a little brandy, keeping it overnight. Sangria was first made popular with Americans through the Worlds Fair in New York in 1964.

No! You are not drunk. The jar is crooked.


2 liters Burgundy wine
1 cup sugar
2 cups orange juice
1 cup lemon juice
2 10 oz. club soda
2 tablespoons orange blossoms
1/2 cup dark rum, brandy or orange liquor 
1 peach
1 pear
1 orange
1 lemon

Mix all the liquid ingredients in a jar, except the club soda, with the sugar and stir well so the sugar gets diluted. Then add the fruits and keep refrigerated overnight. Before serving, add the cold club soda. Invite some friends, serve some tapas on the side with this refreshing sangria and have a great time.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pan Fried Walleye with Corn Salsa (Lucio con salsa de maíz)

The walleye is a fresh water fish from the Great Lakes and probably one of the finest. In Spain the closest fish to walleye is lucio, or Northern Pike in the USA, but it is hard to find in our supermarkets. The walleye has a small flake and is mild and sweet in flavor. It can be deep fried, pan fried, poached, grilled, or baked. It is very versatile.


6 walleye fillets
1 cup flour
4 tablespoons Spanish sweet paprika 
fresh ground pepper
3 limes

For the sauce:

1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, finely chopped
kernels of 2 ears of roasted corn
the juice of 3 limes
3 cilantro sprigs, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Mixed all the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl and let it rest for few hours.

To pan fry the walleye, put in a plate 1 cup flour mixed well with the paprika. Season the fish with salt and pepper and dust with the flour mix. In a frying pan add 2 tablespoons butter and turn the burner to high heat. Add the fish. First fry the skinless side for a couple of minutes and drizzle with lime juice. Then turn it to the skin side, drizzle more lime juice and fry until the skin gets crispy. Serve with the sauce on top and lime wedges on the side. The result is a juicy and deliciously tasty fish.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mixed Salad (Ensalada mixta)

This is a salad that we'll find on most menus in Spanish restaurants and in most households because it is quick and refreshing on these hot, lazy summer days. It is dressed with a simple vinaigrette of extra virgin olive oil and sherry or wine vinegar and salt.


butter lettuce
white onion cut very thin
black olives
green olives
white asparagus
beets cut in julienne
bonito (albacore)
anchovies (optional)
hard boiled eggs
extra virgin olive oil

Mix all the ingredients. Then drizzle vinegar, olive oil and salt.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Cold White Garlic Soup (Ajoblanco)

The name white garlic soup is misleading because the base of the soup is almonds with 1 or 2 garlic cloves. This is a typical creamy cold soup from Córdoba in Andalusia. Like Gazpacho, it is a summer soup and has similar ingredients like bread, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and grapes or hardboiled eggs to garnish. As I mentioned before, the base of this cold soup is almonds while in gazpacho we use tomatoes, cucumber and green pepper and in salmorejo just tomatoes.


1/2 pound almonds
1 slice of bread, soaked in water
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup sherry vinegar (or any other vinegar will work as well)
1 or 2 garlic cloves
7 to 8 cups water, depending on how creamy you want the soup 
salt to taste
grapes to garnish
1 hardboiled egg to garnish (optional)

Start preparing the dish the day before by soaking the almonds in water overnight. In the morning, put the almonds in a blender with the bread (also previously soaked in water), add the garlic, water, oil, vinegar and salt. Blend everything very well. If it is grainy pass the mix thru a strainer or chinoise, helping with a pestle or wooden spoon. Add ice and let the soup cool in a refrigerator until serving. Put some grapes at the bottom of the bowl, pour the soup and add more grapes to garnish. If you prefer, garnish with strawberries or boiled eggs and Spanish ham shavings.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Monkfish Donostiarra Style (Rape a la donostiarra)

The secret of this recipe is the amount of garlic used in the sauce. Its name comes from San Sebastian in the Basque Country, which in Basque, the native language, is Donostia, and the suffix rra, which means "from." So, "from San Sebastian." The sauce is used all over Spain now. In many of their sauces the Basque use garlic, dried cayenne pepper and parsley. We see this way of cooking in many Basque staples such as codfish, potatoes, and marmitako (tuna stew), and also in certain delicacies such as baby eels.


2 monkfish tails
1 medium size onion, cut in julienne
2 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic head, cloves cut crosscut
2 dried cayenne peppers
1 tablespoon Spanish smoked paprika
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste

In an oven pan place 2 tablespoons olive oil, the onion making a bed, and then the monkfish. Drizzle some oil on top and a pinch of salt. Put in a preheated oven at 355˚ for about 20 minutes.

While the fish is cooking, put in a frying pan 2 tablespoons olive oil, the garlic and the dried cayenne pepper. When the garlic starts getting lightly brown, remove the pan from the burner and add the paprika and the apple cider vinegar.

Remove the fish from the oven after 20 minutes and place the fish and onion on a serving platter. Then pour some of the liquid from the oven pan into the mix of garlic,cayenne, paprika and vinegar. Whisk well and pour over the fish. Garnish with parsley.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Tomato and Cheese Brochette with Pedro Ximenez Vinegar (Brocheta de tomato y queso con reducción de vinagre de Pedro Ximenez)

Pedro Ximenez is a sweet, thick Spanish wine great for pairing with desserts. Today I made brochettes of cheese curds, tomatoes and herb crostini with a reduced Pedro Ximenez vinegar.


micro greens
grape tomatoes
Wisconsin cheese curds or tofu
herb crostini bread
Pedro Ximenez vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar

Make the crostini ahead of time as follows: cut the bread in squares, toast it, rub with garlic and the herbs of your choice, and drizzle it with olive oil. Lay them in a pepper towel. 

In the meantime combine a cup of Pedro Ximenez vinegar and  1 tablespoon sugar and let it reduce. Remove from the heat and let it rest in the refrigerator.

Assemble the brochettes with tomato, cheese, crostini, cheese, and tomato. Lay them on a plate, add the micro greens, drizzle with some of the reduced vinegar, olive oil and salt. This is nice appetizer, tapa or little salad on a stick.