Prawn and Bacon Brochettes
Beef with confit of Piquillo Peppers
Potato Bravas with Aioli and Chile Sauce
Green Beans with Garlic, Vinegar and Paprika
Chocolate Orange Cinnamon Ice Ctream
This was my menu for Project Food Blog round 3 which I didn’t advance to, but had a great time making nonetheless. I did start out with a completely different menu. I wrote my grocery list, and then completely changed my mind. A luxury dinner is what was requested, but to me every dinner is a luxury. Not everybody has a choice in what they eat, or don’t have access to healthy, affordable food. I didn’t pull out “special” dishes, all my dishes are special and I use them all, or serve escargot. I made dinner.
I made dinner like I always make dinner for friends, and when it’s just us for that matter. Organic, and/or local ingredients, hopefully a good flavor profile, and wine, or beer. Flowers, if I can afford them that week, if not, roses and greens from my backyard. If the bush isn’t plentiful, some wine corks from the bounty I keep in a fish bowl. I try to use things from nature that are free and go back to the earth. Pine cones, acorns, leaves, twigs, and anything else I find on a walk. And people, wash a napkin. Save the paper for barbecue, or coloring.
I do not plan in ridiculous advance. I do plan a menu, but if I was planning on making pork, and when at the market there are some gorgeous little lamb chops telling me to take them home, plans might change. I usually shop the day before, and try to get as much done before guests arrive, which usually ends up with me finishing while people are here. I know some people frown upon cooking and being away from your guests, but my table is in my kitchen so I can skirt this. I also don’t mind a lick when I am the guest and someone else is cooking. I don’t feel ignored. I love to watch people cook. I don’t mind if their attention is on what I am going to be eating that night. There will be plenty of time for conversation while we eat and after our bellies are full.
The one thing I think is important, is that it is better to have too much than not enough. Food and drink. Other than that, put on some music and start up a conversation. You are not planning a wedding. You are creating enjoyment. Enjoy it! I have seen people with detailed to-do-lists. Crazy. Managing most of it in your head is what makes you good or bad at it. Reminder lists are fine, but if it’s more than one page, it becomes a chore, not a pleasure. The more structure there is, the less artistry and imagination going into it. Stay in tune with your food, not a schedule. Set dishes you are using on the table so you can grab them when needed. Work with the space you have. I have a small vintage kitchen table that fits 4. Eat in the living room if you need more room. I love casual eating on the floor. It’s a picnic inside. Assuming you have vacuumed of course. I have a big board game collection, and I am not above building a table out of Parcheesi and throwing a tablecloth over it. Keep the temperature in the room accordingly. Warm in the fall and winter. Cool in the spring and summer. And everyone knows to not light scented candles. Let your food be the fragrance.
- Lemons — 3 to 5
- Cold water — 6 cups
- Sugar — 1/2-3/4 cup
Squeeze lemons into a 2 quart pitcher, add some lemon zest, cold water and sugar. Mix. Chill. * Try a slice of preserved lemon in place of a lemon slice.
Prawn and Bacon Brochettes
Brochetas de Gambas y Bacon
This combination of prawns and bacon is very popular, and can be found at most Tapas bar, as well as in many banquets and receptions.
- 5 oz serrano ham or thinly sliced bacon
- 24 medium to large uncooked, headless prawns, peeled
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 lemons, quartered
Cut the bacon (or serrano, if using it) into pieces which will wrap generously round the prawns. Place the wrapped prawns down flat on a board and skewer them through the fattest part and the tail, making sure the meat is firmly fixed. Season generously and drizzle with the oil.
On a high heat, griddle, grill or barbecue the prawn and bacon brochettes for 2-3 minutes on each side, so the bacon crisps up. Alternatively , roast in a hot oven (425*) on an oiled baking tray for 8-10 minutes. Squeeze over the juice of the lemon wedges and serve immediately.
Beef with a confit of piquillo peppers
Lomo de buey con pimientos del piquillo confitados
Piquillo peppers, cooked in this way, are a very traditional garnish in the steakhouses of northern Spain. You will find extra olive oil left in the casserole after cooking the peppers. This oil will be infused with the flavors of the piquillos and can be used for dressings or for sautéing another dish later.
Yield: Serves 4
20 piquillo peppers (Spanish wood-roasted sweet peppers), or one 13-ounce jar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 clove garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
Salt to taste
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
2 8-ounce flat iron steaks, trimmed of fat
Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees. Place 8 of the peppers in a large cup along with the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water. Using a hand blender, puree the peppers.
In a small casserole, lay half the remaining peppers in a single layer, taking care not to overlap the peppers. Spoon half of the pepper puree on top of the peppers and smooth it out with the back of the spoon. Slice garlic. Scatter the garlic over the puree and season to taste with salt. Make another layer of peppers, cover with the remaining puree and season again with salt.
Cover the peppers with one cup of the olive oil. Bake in the oven for 1 1/2 hours, until the peppers are completely tender. Remove from the oven, set aside and keep warm.
Increase the oven to 450 degrees. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil in an ovenproof sauté pan over high heat. When the pan begins to slightly smoke, add the steak and sear on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the pan with the steaks to the oven and roast for 6 minutes or until medium rare. Transfer to chopping board and let rest for 5 minutes.
To serve, spread the peppers and puree on a serving tray. Slice the steak into 1/2-inch thick slices and place them on top of the peppers. Drizzle the medallions with extra olive oil from the peppers and sprinkle with salt.
Patatas Bravas (Fried Ppotatoes)
“Forget regret, or life is yours to miss.”- Jonathan Larson
What we did miss is this ice cream. And the churros. Boo. Completely slipped my mind. It happens. Wine and talk happens.
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 to 4-1/4 cups sunflower oil
- Confectioner’s sugar for dredging
Pour 1-1/2 cups water into a pan, add a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Pour in the flour all at once and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan. Remove the pan from he heat and let cool. Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or deep skillet to 350-375°F or until a cube of day-old bread browns in 30 seconds. Put the cooled mixture into a churrera and make the churros, cutting them to the required length with a sharp knife as the dough is pushed out, and adding them immediately to the hot oil. Alternatively, spoon the cooled mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe directly into the hot oil, cutting the churros to the required length with a sharp knife and working in batches if necessary. When the strips of fried dough are golden brown all over, carefully remove them with a slotted spoon, drain well, dredge with confectioner’s sugar, and serve immediately while hot.
Makes about 25.
from 1080 Recipes by Simone and Inés Ortega