Do you cook Spanish? You should, or you should go out and eat it. Seriously, something about thinking of Spanish food doesn’t always excite me, until I start eating it and just can’t stop. And so played out my last night of my cooking class. And even better was just reminiscing about my time in Spain. Louise asked if anyone had any stories about travels to Spain and the food to share and I really tried to control myself. I thought about paella on the beach with Mom and Dad, I remember the first time I discovered my little neighborhood tapas bar, I remember all of the fresh bread and pan con tomato for breakfast, and the most vivid in my memory was the steaming octopus in Barcelona. So onto our menu:
Empanadillas de Carne
Paella a Valencia
Flan a Naranja
Oh my goodness. What seems like a short menu is of course a bunch of relatively labor intensive dishes. We had a light snack of manchego cheese triangle slices topped with quince paste that was an awesome flavor combo.
We actually started with the flan so that it could bake and then cool. To start the flan, we began by making the caramel. Most of the people in my class were scared of making it and our teacher was actually very good at explaining the correct technique, dissolving all the sugar before boiling, not stirring once boiling, and not coming up the sides in the pan with it to break the crystals. Once we had it the color we wanted we poured it quickly into a hot oval casserole pan and coated the bottom and sides with the caramel. We then made the custard using whole milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon stick, and orange peel. After the milk is hot you temper in a whole slew of eggs. You pour this on the caramel coated dish and place in a water bath and into the oven. For our large serving size it cooked for nearly an hour but this we just kept checking every 20 minutes. We then popped in the refrigerator to cool before serving. To serve we had oranges soaked in Grand Marnier and more orange peel threads. This was sooooo good and addicting.
Next we worked on the emapandillas (different from empanadas only in their size, these are smaller appetizer portions). We made the dough melting butter and milk and then adding the flour to the pan. You then mix in one egg into this very dry flour mixture and then knead out on the counter for just a bit. We rolled out the dough into little 3″ circles with a biscuit cutter. The meat mixture was very similar to that we made for the moussaka. Onions, meat, tomato paste, water, a few spices. We filled these little circles, folded them in half and gave them little cute edges with a pastry cutter. Fried them in a deep fryer and they were fun little snacks. We had these alongside a nice and refreshing green salad with a variety of salad greens, tomato, salad onions, cucmber and a lemony dressing.
Now the paella. Oh paella. The process we used went as such. First sear and cook chicken drumettes and wings in the pan you are going to use, reserving the grease. Steam your mussels and clams until open, reserving the stock. Add a bit of chicken stock to the seafood stock and cook your large shrimp until just cooked, reserve the stock. Add your sofrito (onions, red and green bell peppers) to the pan with the chicken grease. Then add your paprika. Next add your paella rice to give it a little bit of color. After about 5 minutes add some spicy chorizo and tomatoes to the pan along with the seafood stock and more chicken stock. Also add your soaked saffron threads. You let this cook for about 40 minutes without really stirring, just pressing the rice down so that the top is covered in broth. We then transferred this to the paella pan, placed the seafood and chicken on top and nestled in the rice a bit and covered the pan with a towel to let set for just 10 minutes. Oh wow, this was good. I had no complaints here. The paella pan wasn’t used throughout because her burner is too small for the large paella pan to evenly get the heat on it.
I could not stop eating because it was all so delicious. I want to make paella and flan now! No cleaning squid in this recipe Mom!