Cook N Bake Spanish Series: Bunyols de Carabassa

Cook N Bake Spanish Series Buñuelo

Dear Reader,

If last week you were anxiously waiting for a brand new Spanish recipe, we apologize for having skipped our Cook N Bake blog! Rometti decided at the last minute to take time off for Thanksgiving, but to make up for it we will soon have reviews of some great places that we experienced during this past holiday weekend.

This week we are making the last stop of our trip throughout Spain, and for the occasion we are going to order dessert: some cheerful, crispy Bunyols.

Bunyols, also known as Buñuelos, are a typical sweet from the Valencian region, located on the Spanish East coast. Built around one of the largest ports in the Mediterranean, Valencia, this region couldn’t help but being in contact with foreign populations and cultures, and its cuisine was influenced in some part by Arabian traditions, Moorish to be specific.
As a matter of fact, the first traces of Bunyols recipes date back to the XVI century, when the Moorish apparently introduced them to Spain. Bunyols were also popular in Italy though, as documented by a recipe written by a roman gastronome in the I century a.C!
Bunyols are fried dough-balls covered with sugar, often associated with Las Fallas, a traditional celebration of Saint Joseph which takes place in Valencia in March. You can find Bunyols also around the month of November, when they are cooked in occasion of the All-Saints holiday. So yes, they are perfect for this holiday season!
Although Bunyols have become a traditional treat throughout Spain, Valencia’s most typical Bunyol is the Bunyol de Carabassa, with the addition of pumpkin in the dough. These Bunyols are simply delicious if savored with a cup of hot chocolate on the side.

Ingredients:

2 kg (about 4.5 lb) of pumpkin
10 g (3.5 oz) of yeast
1 kg (2.2 lb) of flour
1 litre of water (34 oz)
Olive oil
250 g (9 oz) of sugar

Roast the pumpkin and puree it until it becomes a soft paste.
Take the flour and add water, sugar and yeast. Don’t forget that yeast works better if you mix it with some warm water until it starts foaming! Finally, add the pumpking paste to it and work it until you get a consistent dough.

Let the dough rest for a while in a warm corner, covered with a wet towel.

After about two hours, or until the dough has doubled in size, start forming little balls which you will then fry into a frying pan with hot oil. They need to stay in the oil for about 30 seconds, until they are gold.
Decorate the Bunyols by sprinkling some sugar on top of them. Consume them alone or with some hot chocolate.

~Enjoy!

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Cook N Bake Spanish Series: Gazpacho

Rometti Limoncello Cook N Bake Spanish Series - Gazpacho

This week we are in Andalusia, in the South of Spain, where Gazpacho was born as one of the simplest Mediterranean dishes that has become nowadays one of the trendiest dishes around the world.

Gazpacho is a word of uncertain origin: maybe from the Mozarab caspa, which means “fragments”, or from the Hebrew gazaz, “break into pieces”. Regardless of how the word originated, this healthy, refreshing dish seems to have been around forever, probably imported to Spain as an Arab soup of bread with olive oil, water and garlic (Spain was part of the Islamic world in the Middle Ages). Eventually the Romans added vinegar, and the Spanish added salt.

Gazpacho can be prepared with so many different ingredients, and garnishes can vary too. The typical recipe includes stale bread, cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, olive oil, salt, vinegar, wine, onion and garlic. These are all peeled and blended together, but some of the chopped pieces are served aside so that people can add them to the soup as garnish by themselves.
Cordoba, one of the cities of Andalusia, serves a gazpacho called salmorejo, with chopped hard boiled egg and ham on top. In Malaga, gaspacho is called ajoblanco and it’s made of bread, crushed almonds, garlic, water, olive oil, salt and vinegar, often served with melon and grapes.

The traditional recipe is a perfect Summer meal, but can also be enjoyed throughout the year as a side soup. Here is a recipe from Martha Stewart Recipes of how to make a delicious and refreshing Gazpacho, and croutons to go with.

Ingredients (6 servings):

2 cups cubed crustless day-old bread
2 garlic cloves
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, preferably beefsteak, seeded
1 four-inch piece English cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 one-inch-thick slice green bell pepper
2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 cup cold water, plus more for soaking
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup torn rustic bread
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Gazpacho:
Cover bread with cold water, and let soak for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cover garlic with water in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes; drain.
Transfer garlic to a blender. Squeeze excess liquid from bread, and transfer bread to blender. Add 2 teaspoons salt, the tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, and vinegars. Puree until smooth. With machine running, pour in oil in a slow, steady stream, blending until emulsified. Blend in cold water. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate gazpacho until chilled, at least 3 hours (or up to 1 day).
For the croutons:
Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add bread, and fry, tossing constantly, until pale gold and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bread to a paper-towel-lined plate. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide chilled gazpacho among 6 bowls. Drizzle with oil, and top with croutons just before serving.

~Enjoy!

Cook N Bake Spanish Series: Coca de Recapte

Rometti Cook N Bake Spanish Series Coca

Our tour through Spain continues with the discovery of historically rich North-Eastern region that confines with France: Catalonia.
Catalonia’s origins go back to the Middle Ages, when Barcelona and other counties were considered Frankish feuds. It was only with the marriage of the Count of Barcelona, Ramon Barenguer IV, with the Queen Petronilla of Aragon that the Kingdom of Aragon was finally created and slowly got back its counties from France, which happened only in 1258. It was around this time that the term Catalunya began to be used, from castle’, the person who ruled the castle (or castellan).
Catalan cuisine, a Mediterranean cuisine, uses fresh ingredients and embraces both pork, poultry, lamb and, particularly on the coast, fish.
Sauces and condiments are also typical of Catalonia: picada is only one of the many mayonnaise-based, characteristic sauces that you will find in this region.
Among all the unbelievably fresh and flavory dishes that the Catalan cuisine offers, the pick of the week fell on Coques, plural for Coca. And no, it’s not a surrogate, Spanish version of Coca Cola! But if you have a little knowledge of English ethnology you might have guessed that the word sounds almost like “cake”. Coca is in fact a pastry made with either sweet dough (with eggs and sugar added), or savory dough(with yeast and salt) an decorated with nuts, fruit, meat, cheese and vegetables. Coques can also be closed, which means they have a filling, or open, in this case meaning with a pastry base and topping. And it’s not over yet! Coques might even have a hole and look like donuts, or they can be eaten without toppings just to accompany a meal. Finally, Coca is a typical dish for festivities like Christmas and Easter, and the common Coca de Recapte is typically consumed during picnics (recapte means “picnic”).

Ingredients:
12 gm fresh yeast or 2 tsp dried yeast
½ tsp caster sugar
50 ml extra-virgin olive oil
500 gm (3 1/3 cups) plain flour
80 ml (1/3 cup) olive oil, plus extra for brushing
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 fresh bay leaves
1 each large red and green capsicum (350gm each), seeds and membrane removed, very thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tbsp coarse polenta
250 gm zucchini (about 3), very thinly sliced
300 gm cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Combine yeast in a bowl with 330ml lukewarm water and stir until yeast dissolves. Add sugar, 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil and ½ tsp fine sea salt and whisk together. Cover and stand in a warm place until foamy (25-30 minutes). Add flour and stir to combine, then place in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and knead on low speed until soft and smooth (10-12 minutes). Rest for 5 minutes, then knead again until smooth and elastic (4-5 minutes). Cover and stand in a warm place until risen (25-30 minutes).
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and bay leaves, sauté until slightly golden (4-5 minutes). Add capsicum and garlic, then cover and cook, stirring regularly until capsicum is tender (15-20 minutes). Remove from heat, set aside.
Preheat oven to 220C. Divide dough into six equal portions, then roll out on a lightly floured surface into 30cm tongue-like shapes. Sprinkle three well-oiled baking trays with polenta, place dough pieces on top, cover and stand in a warm place until slightly risen (12-15 minutes).
Toss zucchini in a bowl with a little salt and remaining extra-virgin olive oil. Brush pizza bases lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt flakes and divide onion and capsicum mixture among the bases, leaving a 1cm border. Scatter tomato, zucchini and parsley over the top, drizzle with a little more oil and season to taste. Bake until bases are golden and crisp (10-12 minutes) and serve immediately.

ENJOY!~

Recipe taken from MoVida Ristica: Spanish Traditionas and Recipes by Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish

Cook N Bake Spanish Series: Hornazo

Cook N Bake Spanish Series Hornazo

This Thursday we explore the Castilla y Leon region of Spain, better known as The Land of Roast, where modern cuisine and tradition merge into a blend of unique flavors and aromas.
A great variety of  food conferences and festivals take place in Castilla y Leon, where cooking is a true passion to be explored. Pork is the local meat for excellence, as a matter of fact our dish of the week is filled with pork loin. Today we are going to cook Hornazo.

Hornazo is similar to a meat pie. It’s made with bread dough and filled with tender bites of pork loin, hard- boiled egg and chorizo, a kind of pork sausage. The dish seems to be born in Salamanca, and typically it is an Easter specialty dish (it is usually eaten at the end of Lent as the egg is seen as the symbol of the Resurrection of Christ), however nowadays it can be found and savored throughout Castilla y Leon. The tradition says that in the 1700s during Lent the prostitutes could not stay and live in Salamanca where they would have distracted the men during such an important, religious time of the year, and they were allowed to return only after Easter Sunday. Their return was celebrated by young students with this picnic-style dish on the traditional Lunes de Aguas (Monday of the Waters).
Hornazo can vary depending on the area, some people add ham, others use wheat flour, beaten eggs, or add more oil. Whether it is hot or cold, Hornazo tastes always delicious.
If you are planning on traveling around Europe in the near future and make a stop in the Castilla y Leon region, be prepared to eat lots of lomo, chorizo, salchicho, morcillo and costillo! If you don’t like pork, or ham, my dear friend, you will have to find a way to survive since in Salamanca and surrounding areas it’s almost impossible to find a chicken sandwich!

Ingredients:

1 Kg (35 oz) Flour
20 g (0.7 oz) Yeast
150 g (5.30 oz) Chorizo or spiced sausage
100 g (3.5 oz) Serrano ham
100g (3.5 oz) Pork loin
2 Eggs
Water
Butter
Salt

Preheat the oven at 265 F.
Prepare the dough. Mix the yeast with 1/2 cup warm water and 1 cup of flour. Once the dough looks firm, turn it into a bun shape and let it rest on a wooden board or in a bowl covered with a wet towel until it doubles in size.
In the meantime boil one egg and remove the skin of the chorizo and Serrano ham. Slice them and place them in a skillet to fry for a short time. Slice the pork as well.
Place half of the dough on a tray and spread the meat on top of it, keeping the pork on top. Add the egg peeled and cut into slices. Cover everything with the remaining half of the dough.
Beat the other egg and spread it over the surface of the dough. Bake for about 30 min until golden brown. Let it cool before serving.

~ENJOY!

Image from eladerezo.hola.com

Cook N Bake Spanish Series: Marmitako

Rometti Limoncello Cook N Bake Spanish Series Marmitako

Hello Readers,

last week we said goodbye to the Greek cuisine, but we are not ready yet to leave the Mediterranean. We have one last stop before stirring into a totally different direction, so take out your Spanish grammar book because for the next five weeks we will experience the unique, flavorful world of Spanish cuisine!

Spain, like France and Italy, is split into many different regions and local cultures that offer a large variety of culinary traditions and flavors. We decided to start our journey through Spain by starting from the northern Basque region, to continue then with central, coastal and southern regions.

The Basque country was named by its inhabitants, the Basque, who were people that lived between Spain, France and the Atlantic coast. The differences within its population translate in inhomogeneous traditions, languages and cuisine. However Basque people have one common feature: their passion for food. Whether you like fish or meat, the Basque region will not leave you unsatisfied! Believe it or not, most of the Basque inhabitants dedicate time and money to food and gastronomic activities. High quality and fresh ingredients are fundamental in the Basque cuisine which offers both seafood ,especially along the coast, and meat which prevails inland. Vegetables, like beans, peppers, potatoes and most of all mushrooms, are also often present in their dishes.

And it’s a seafood dish that we selected as first Spanish recipe, a fish stew that was served as daily menu on the fishing boats in the Carabrian Sea and that today the appreciation for tuna and its nutritional properties (omega 3 fatty acids and proteins) has made even more popular: Marmitako.
Marmitako is a fresh tuna and potato stew which takes its name after the word “marmita“, Spanish for “casserole”. With its fresh and available ingredients, Marmitako was the perfect dish out of the pot for people that had to spend a lot of time on the sea.
The technique of cracking open the potatoes so that they release more starch makes it a filling and tasty dish. This recipe uses some ingredients, but feel free to play with the vegetables you like the most, as long as they are fresh!

Ingredients (serves 4):

3 Red bellpeppers
1 Carrot
1 Large white or yellow onion
1 Large green pepper
2 Cloves garlic
2-3 tbsp Olive oil
2 lbs (1 kg) Potatoes
1 lb (.5 kg) Fresh tuna
4 cups (32 oz) Water (or chicken stock)*
Salt, pepper
Chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

In a small saucepan heat some water on high. Remove it before it boils. Put the red peppers into the hot water and let them soak.
Chop the onion, carrot, green pepper and garlic. In a deep casserole pour olive oil and saute’ onion, carrot, pepper and garlic until translucent.
In the meantime peel the potatoes and cute them in 1.5″ cubes. Add them to the vegetables and cook for 2 minutes.
Add water to the vegetables until they are completely covered. Simmer until the potatoes are starting to soften.
Remove the peppers from the water and drain them. Peel off the skin and add them to the mix. Stir every now and then.
Rinse the dry tuna, remove any skin and cut into 2″ cubes. Add it to the pot and salt to taste. Cover loosely and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes until the tuna is cooked.
Seve with crusty bread and if desired sprinkle with some chopped parsley.

~ENJOY!