We've been distracted from the Spanish cuisine theme during the summer to fall harvest, so we got back to that this month with a focus on Catalonia. Catalonia is on the Mediterranean, home of Barcelona, and boasts "the richest, most complex, and most sophisticated (cuisine) of Spain." There are French influences as well as the diversity of foods from the mar i muntanya (sea and mountain). Since good seafood is hard to come by here, and we avoid shellfish, squid, octopus and other such seafood on Sundays out of respect for one of our regulars, I went with the mountain fare.
A couple of weeks back we had a dinner of meatballs with two sauces; tomato and an almond sauce. The meatballs were a basic recipe that uses bread soaked in milk for the filler. What what made them special was the almond sauce. The tomato sauce was not noteworthy.
With that we had rice with mushrooms and peas with fava beans and ham. I chose this recipe because fresh fava beans were available at the Savoy Schnucks store. Fava bean pods are large, about 10" with 4 to 5 beans inside. The checker hadn't seen anyone else purchase them, and they weren't priced in the computer (that doesn't make them free, though, I tried). Libby shucked them then we simmered them for a while before removing the tough outer shell to get to the soft bean. A bit fussy, but turned out to be worth the effort. .
The rice with mushrooms was a variation for a risotto type dish. Also very good. My niece brought a chocolate almond tarte made from a recipe in the same book.
Recipes are all from The Food of Spain, by Claudia Roden posted below.
Tomorrow I'll post about the Roast Duck with poached pears we had this past Sunday.
Serves 4 to 6
1 pound each, ground pork and veal
4 slices firm white bread, crusts removed, and soaked in water (or milk) and squeezed dry.
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed into paste
1 T finely chopped flat leaf parsely
Salt and pepper
Flour for dredging
Oil (olive or sunflower for frying)
Beat egg in large bowl, then add the bread, onion, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Take off your rings and mix with your hands into a well- mixed paste. Shape into balls the size of large walnuts (I like to use a No. 24 cookie scoop for consistent size). Roll the meatballs in the flour.
Heat about 1/2" oil in a wide skillet. Add the meatballs in batches and fry briefly, browning all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. It's okay if they aren't cooked through at this point as they will finish cooking in the sauce.
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup fruity dry white wine (I used a Reisling)
Saffron threads (good pinch)
Salt and pepper
2 tsp sugar
1 slice firm, white bread, crust removed
1/4 cup blanced whole almonds
4 cloves garlic
3 T olive oil
Pour wine and stock into a wide skillet and bring to a boil Add the saffron, zest, salt and pepper, and sugar.
In another pan, fry bread, almonds, and garlic in the olive oil until golden brown. Lift from oil, and allow to cool. Grind to paste in a mortar or food processor. Stir into the sauce.
Add the meatballs and simmer covered over low heat for about 20 minutes, turning once, until meatballs are cooked through.
1/4 # prosciutto or bacon, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cloves of garlic
sprig of marjoram
sprig of mint
salt and pepper
1 # shelled fresh or frozen peas
6 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/3 cup rum, brandy, or anise liqueur (recommend cut in half)
Saute meat in the oil in a large saucepan until lightly browned. If using bacon, reduce or omit the oil. Add the garlic stir for about 30 seconds.
Add the beans, stock, marjoram, mint and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and simmer covered for 10 to 20 minutes, until the beans are tender. Remove the tough outer shells. Add the peas, scallions and alcohol. Cook covered for about 10 minutes, or until the peas are soft.
5 T olive oil
1 # mushrooms. trimmed and sliced
Salt and pepper
1 onion, finelly chopped
1 1/4 cup medium-grain rice (paella rice or arborio)
2 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
1/2 cup dry sherry
Heat the oil in a large casserole. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper, and saute over medium low heat, turing occasionally for about 10 minutes, or until they've given up their juices. Remove mushrooms, leaving oil and juices in the pan.
Add the oinoin and cook over high heat, stirring often, for 3 minutes to evaporate juices, then lower the heat and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the onions are golden and almost jammy. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains.
Meanwhile, bring the stock and sherry to a boil.
Pour the stock over the mushrooms and rice, add salt to taste. Stir and cook, covered, over medium heat without stirring for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook covered for another 10 minutes. Add a little boiling water if the rice is too dry. Let stand covered for 5 minutes before serving.