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One day this week, I felt like a change from our usual everyday dinner format of a small first course followed by a larger main course. Aiming for variety and simultaneity, I put together a modest spread of Spanish-style tapas that Tom and I could graze on while enjoying a good bottle of Rioja wine.
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To anchor the meal, I made two new-to-me recipes from Penelope Casas’s Tapas: The Little Dishes of Spain. There’s a revised and expanded edition of this excellent book, but my large, well-thumbed, original 1985 paperback still provides plenty of scope for trying out new dishes, as well as revisiting favorites.
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Chickpeas in Onion Sauce
Garbanzos con Cebolla

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This was a simple, very tasty concoction. I soaked four ounces of dried chickpeas overnight, and the next day put them in fresh water with a clove of garlic, a slice of onion, and a bay leaf and simmered until the peas were tender. They must have been from a very fresh batch of chickpeas, for they took only an hour.

Separately I briefly sauteed a chopped onion in olive oil, stirred in two tablespoons of chopped tomato, covered the pan, and cooked gently until the onions were very soft. (Happily, this winter my grocery stores are carrying truly ripe tomatoes from Mexico.) I stirred this mixture into the cooked chickpeas and left them at the back of the stove, to be rewarmed at dinner time. Excellent! Really, chickpeas are an undervalued resource.
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Chorizo with Pimientos
Chorizo Café San Martin

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This dish wasn’t as good as the first, but I can’t blame the recipe. I had two fresh chorizos in my freezer that it was time to use. The recipe wanted firm, cured chorizo, to be cut in ¼-inch slices for an initial browning. My sausages were uncured and too soft to slice, so I crumbled them into a pan with olive oil. When the meat was fully cooked, I deglazed the pan with red wine and stirred in strips of a roasted red pepper (also from my freezer), a tablespoon of chopped parsley, and a minced clove of garlic.

For the final cooking, I put the mixture in an oiled earthenware dish, covered it tightly with foil, and baked it at 350° for 15 minutes. (That was a simplification of the recipe’s saying to encase the food in foil, bake the packet in the dish, and open the foil only at table.) It was pleasant enough, but not as lively as it would have been with the right kind of chorizos. I should have at least seasoned the meat with more pimentón.
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Toasted Bread with Garlic, Olive Oil, and Fresh Tomato
Pan con Tomate

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Pan con Tomate
is a much-loved tapa everywhere in Spain. Most often it’s served as slices of toast thickly spread with a puree of tomatoes seasoned with garlic, sea salt, and the best available olive oil. I prefer a lighter version, which is also simpler to make.

I toast split lengths of crusty bread; rub them well, first with the cut face of a clove of garlic, then with the cut face of a tomato, so the bread captures a bit of the flesh and absorbs juice; and finish with a sprinkle of salt and a generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. The crunch makes a good textural companion with softer tapas, while the simple, direct flavors work happily with everything.
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Raw Fennel with Spicy Mayonnaise

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I don’t know whether this is an actual Spanish tapa, but I think it qualifies as Spanish-style, at least. I flavored mayonnaise with lemon juice and pimentón and served it as a dip for spears of raw fennel. In Spain the mayonnaise would have been aioli, of course. But my smoked paprika gave the Hellman’s a Hispanic touch, and the fennel spears were crisp and refreshing.
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“Hispanified” Barbecued Spareribs

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This is definitely not an actual Spanish tapa. The evening before, Tom and I had dined at a neighborhood restaurant and brought home the uneaten half of an enormous portion of barbecued spareribs. Because the barbecue sauce had been quite sweet, he slathered the ribs with a mixture of mustard, Worcestershire, and Cholula, wrapped them in foil, and reheated them in the oven. Though there was nothing notably Spanish about the result, the ribs made a useful contribution to our eclectic dinner of tapas.
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The Evening’s Wine

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I asked Tom to add a few words about our bottle of Rioja.

A dinner like this, of varied flavors, will work best with a wine of some complexity that can play catch with all those different accents. I thought a fine Rioja with a bit of bottle age would do the job, and 2008 Viña Tondonia proved us right. At age 13 it was just entering adulthood and showed a nice medley of fresh fruit and mature vinous flavors. Riojas are great, adaptable wines, and Tondonia is one of the finest.

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It’s always useful to have a few packages of raw shrimp in the freezer. They can lend themselves to any number of quick, easy preparations for a lunch or for a dinner appetizer, as well as combine with other kinds of seafood for more elaborate dishes. I’ve recently added two new shrimp recipes to my repertoire.

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Shrimp in Dill Butter

This recipe from the Grand Central Oyster Bar’s cookbook is so simple it’s almost more of an idea than a recipe: you just sauté shrimp quickly in butter that you’ve flavored with salt, pepper, and dillweed. Never having used dill in combination with shrimp, I thought it would be interesting to try. Preparing two small appetizer portions was the essence of simplicity.
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The result was pleasant enough, as long as you like the taste of dill. Which I do, but the dill and the shrimp didn’t combine to offer the palate anything beyond their individual flavors. It would have been equally pleasant to eat the shrimp simply sauteed in butter. I’d like to try it with a different herb or spice – tarragon, maybe, or toasted cumin.

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Spanish Shrimp Fritters

Penelope Casas’s tortillitas de camarones, from her book The Foods and Wines of Spain, are far more than just pleasant – these little fritters are great! Apparently they’re a very popular tapa in Cadiz, but they were new to me. There isn’t a lot in them, other than the shrimp themselves. But all the flavors combine and complement each other.

The first of these are finely chopped onion and parsley, which are cooked gently in olive oil in a covered pan until the onion is tender. Then they get a dash of pimentón, the intriguing Spanish smoked paprika.
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While the vegetables cook, you mix up a typical fritter batter of flour, baking powder, salt, and water. The raw shrimps then need to be finely chopped, which is a fairly sticky operation. I let my mini food processor do that for me, being careful to process only briefly, to achieve a good mince but not a paste.
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When the shrimp and vegetables are stirred into the batter it’s ready to be turned into fritters, though it can wait several hours if necessary. When ready to cook, put ¼ inch of oil in a sauté pan, get it very hot, and drop in heaping tablespoonsful of batter. When you turn them, flatten them into little pancakes if necessary. As soon as both sides are nicely golden, drain them on paper towels.
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Then eat them right away! They’ll be crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, beautifully shrimp-flavored, and just lightly piquant. Lovely with a glass of white wine. Or two.
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I’m always on the lookout for new recipes for chicken that I can make to tempt the taste buds of my non-chicken-loving spouse. My latest discovery is a dish that I didn’t quite get right but that offers interesting possibilities for future adaptations: an empanada gallega.

I’ve known empanadas as small, savory turnovers. This one, a specialty of Spain’s Galicia region, is a full-sized pie, filled with a mixture of chicken, peppers, onions, and ham, and baked in a bread crust. Here’s its picture in the Cooking of Spain and Portugal volume of the Time-Life Foods of the World series.

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The recipe starts by having you make the bread dough and let it rise fully, before it says anything about preparing the filling. There I almost shot myself in the foot right away, not noticing that there had to be two rises, not one. Happily, I reread the instructions just in time to get started early enough.

As the dough rose, I began working on the filling. For a small half recipe, I put two chicken thighs and several chunks of onion in a pot and poached them in water for 25 minutes.
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As soon as the thighs were cool enough to handle, I skinned, boned, and cut them up. Since my chicken didn’t lend itself to neat ½-inch cubes, as requested, I settled for bite-size chunks.
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Next I had to finely chop about three tablespoons each of onions and prosciutto (an approved substitute for Serrano ham) and a tiny clove of garlic. And to cut the flesh of half a red Bell pepper into ¼-inch squares. The shape of my pepper wasn’t conducive to squareness, either, and I decided somewhat larger pieces would be fine. Every cook is entitled to a little self-expression.
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I sauteed the peppers, onions, and garlic in olive oil for 10 minutes. They started smelling good immediately. I added the ham and ⅓ cup of simple tomato sauce; raised the heat and cooked off most of the moisture; stirred in the chicken pieces, salt, and pepper; and turned off the heat. It all looked good enough to eat, right out of the pan. I resisted; and set the pan aside.
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Returning to the risen bread dough, I deflated it, divided it in two equal pieces, and rolled them out in circles on a floured board. Well, I say “rolled,” but mostly I treated them like pieces of pizza dough, stretching them by hand. The dough was reasonably cooperative.
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I then did something really foolish, which could have been disastrous. I spread the filling on one piece of the dough, laid on and sealed the other piece, and left the pie to rise for a final 20 minutes on the rolling board, not the baking pan.
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I was appalled when I realized what I’d done. How was I going to get that soft, heavy, moisture-filled mound moved onto the baking pan?! I had panicked visions of dinner consisting of a smeary loaf of chicken bread.

It took two of us to do it. With four hands, two large flat spatulas, and a rimless cookie sheet, plus delicate nudging to restore the empanada’s shape once safely on its pan. With a whoof! of relief, I brushed the surface with egg wash.
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In 45 minutes of baking at 375°, my empanada browned nicely and rose into a substantial dome. That surprised me, because I couldn’t imagine the filling would have swelled to raise the crust like that.
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Nor had it. When I cut into the empanada, there was a big air space inside, which somehow had stretched the top crust to eggshell thinness. There was nothing like that in the cookbook’s photo, though a closer look at it suggested the presence of a steam hole at the center – which was not called for in the recipe. That might well have made the difference.
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Despite its peculiar appearance, my empanada was very pleasant to eat. We just crunched our way through the brittle top crust and enjoyed its contrast with the softer crust on the bottom and around the rim.
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And that chicken filling was amazingly good. Even Tom said so. Simple as its condiments were, it had somehow achieved an Iberian flavor, even without Serrano ham. I can easily see myself making chicken this way again, to use as a pot pie filling with a pastry crust, or an oven casserole with a biscuit topping. Even just by itself, with rice or noodles alongside. I can hardly wait!

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Pollo in Pepitoria

Do you know what makes a good husband? Here’s one clue: not liking chicken much himself, he’ll say “Diane, isn’t it a long time since we’ve had chicken for dinner?” Gee, what a nice fella!

Thus authorized recently, I spent an enjoyable time browsing through my cookbooks for a new chicken recipe to try. From four finalists in The Cooking of Spain and Portugal volume of the Time-Life Foods of the World series, I finally settled on Pollo in Pepitoria. Though its English name is Chicken Braised in White Wine with Almonds and Garlic, the ingredients that intrigued me most were hard-boiled egg yolks and saffron.

The recipe calls for a 4- to 5-pound roasting chicken. From the nearly inaccessible freezer depths of the unsatisfactory new refrigerator I’ve anathematized here before, I excavated half of a very large free-range chicken, just the right size for half a recipe.
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I cut the bird in pieces; salted, peppered, and floured them; browned them quickly in olive oil over high heat, and moved them to a heavy casserole.
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In the frying pan I softened a cup of chopped onions, spread them over the chicken pieces, added chopped parsley, a small bay leaf, half a cup of white wine, and a cup of water. All fairly routine handling so far.
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Now I entered for-me uncharted territory. While the chicken simmered, covered, for 20 minutes, I prepared the remaining flavorings of blanched almonds, saffron threads, garlic, and a hard-boiled egg yolk, to be pounded together in a mortar and pestle.

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It was supposed to become a smooth paste, but I’m not a good pounder. Best I could do was a sort of sticky crumble.
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That was OK, though, because when I added a little of the chicken’s braising liquid, the mixture became pourable. I stirred it into the casserole liquid and simmered for about 15 more minutes, until the chicken was tender. The last step was to remove the chicken pieces to a deep platter and keep them warm while boiling down the liquid to thicken and reduce it by half. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.
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This was a very good dish, with an interestingly subtle sauce. The overall effect was creamy, but somehow not in the manner of sauces made with cream or butter. We couldn’t distinguish any individual flavors of egg yolk, garlic, onion, saffron, or almonds: they’d blended into something tasting lightly exotic, an excellent complement for the bird.

The non-chicken-lover across the dinner table from me gallantly declared that he liked it. (Little does he realize there are three more interesting looking chicken recipes from that Spanish cookbook awaiting his next bout of gallantry!)

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This year, Independence Day was not our usual American-style festive occasion. After a masked morning walk in the very quiet neighborhood (hopefully looking for local corn in the Greenmarket; but no, none yet), Tom and I came home, turned on the air conditioners, and resumed our now-inevitable cloistered activities – which, of course, always include cooking.

Toward evening, I took out two nice big veal scallops for our dinner.
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I’d chosen a new-to-me Spanish recipe to try with them. Tom declared that would make a fine patriotic dish for the holiday, to commemorate how the Spanish Armada helped George Washington defeat Cornwallis at Yorktown, effectively ending the Revolutionary War.

So we made Tenera alla Extremeña, or Veal with Chorizo and Green Peppers, from Penelope Casas’s The Foods and Wines of Spain. Preparing the ingredients provided plenty of knife work for my creative historian, starting with cutting both veal scallops in half for ease of handling. While he continued chopping vegetables, I salted and browned the veal pieces quickly in olive oil, in two batches.
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The pieces of veal came out to a plate, and in the same pan I sautéed finely chopped green pepper, red onion, and garlic, for five minutes.
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Next went in thinly sliced dry-cured chorizo, for two minutes.
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Then, very small amounts of a good manzanilla sherry, chicken broth and tomato sauce, along with dried thyme, bay leaf, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
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Back went the veal scallops into the pan, where they cooked slowly, covered, for 15 minutes. being turned and basted in the sauce twice.
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This was a very good dish – an unmistakably Spanish one, thanks to the chorizo spices and the sherry. Though the green pepper had almost disappeared, it had flavored the sauce very pleasantly, as had the onion and garlic, more lightly.
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A slight disappointment was that the veal wasn’t as fully tender as we’d have liked. That can be a problem about veal: If you don’t get it into and out of a pan very quickly, the muscle clenches, and it then needs long cooking to make it relax again.

In any event, we had a very nice dinner. It started with sardine fillets on baguette toasts, with extra-virgin olive oil. This was our last can of the excellent sardines we’d brought back from last year’s trip to Portugal.
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Dinner ended, finally, on a July Fourth-ish note, with strawberry shortcake. My historian informed me that this dessert had become a festive tradition because George Washington served it to the Spanish admirals Pulaski and Kosciuszko at the Yorktown victory dinner.

 

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Today marks my completion of a decade of writing this blog. The culinary adventures (both successful and not so) about which I’ve told stories each week have given me great pleasure. To celebrate my tenth anniversary, this post will be a retrospective of some of the dishes I’ve most enjoyed making, eating, and writing about – one for each year.

You’ll notice a strong Western European emphasis in the choices here. That’s a reflection of Tom’s and my general eating preferences, but I’ve actually written about dishes from 24 countries in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. I could have featured many of those others among these favorites.

Clicking on an image below will open the full post about the dish.
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2010

Prosciutto-wrapped Broiled Shrimp

My first blogging year was devoted to one new recipe a week from one of the 200+ cookbooks in my collection. This one, from Ada Boni’s classic Il Talismano della Felicità, makes as good an appetizer as it did a main course.

 

2011

Plum Cake Cockaigne

From my second year, I began including posts about recipes I’d previously known and loved. This one, from Irma Rombauer’s Joy of Cooking, has been a late-summer favorite in our household for more years than I can remember.

 

2012

Traditional Paella Valenciana

I found recipes for this relatively simple paella in two cookbooks: Penelope Casas’ Food and Wines of Spain, and Teresa Barrenechea’s Cuisines of Spain. Both looked good, so I drew steps from both recipes.

 

2013

Bluefish Gravlax

 

Here, I adapted a salmon gravlax recipe from the Cooking of Scandinavia volume of the Time-Life Foods of the World series for local bluefish. I also made the book’s cucumber relish and mustard-dill sauce.

 

2014

Tripe in Golden Fontina Sauce

This is my own version of trippa alla valdostana, from Tom’s and my book The Seasons of the Italian Kitchen. It makes a remarkably rich, mellow, elegant dish – if I do say so myself.

 

2015

Pheasant Pie with Noodles and Mushrooms

Under this pastry crust is faisan à la vosgienne, made from an Alsace recipe in Anne Willan’s French Regional Cooking. Pheasant, noodles, mushrooms, sauce, and pastry were all lavishly endowed with butter.

 

2016

Chickpea and Cuttlefish Stew

Penelope Casas’s book La Cocina di Mama: The Great Home Cooking of Spain provided the recipe for this Andalucian dish intriguingly spiced with hot red pepper, sweet smoked paprika, and garlic.

 

2017

Poulet Marengo

Anyone familiar with my food preferences will know I couldn’t let this retrospective go by without including at least one chicken dish. This is a classic from Robert Courtine’s The Hundred Glories of French Cooking.

 

2018

Veselka’s Borscht

The Ukrainian restaurant Veselka, in NYC’s East Village neighborhood, serves the best borscht I’ve ever tasted or can imagine tasting. Making a batch of it from the place’s own cookbook was a major accomplishment for me.

 

2019

Apple-Stuffed Pork Roast

Apples, bacon, butter, mushrooms, onions, sage, a pinch of sugar, and a touch of wine vinegar made a delightful stuffing for roasted pork. It’s a recipe I clipped from Saveur magazine and pasted in my big recipe binder.

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So:  10 years, 512 posts, recipes from 120 cookbooks, as well as a few from magazines, newspapers, and the internet. I’ve learned a lot about food and cooking from all this. Now I plan to take the month of January off, to think about how I’d like to position my blog for the coming years.

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Summer hasn’t so far smothered New York City with the kind of punishing heat wave that has afflicted other parts of the country this July, but our temperatures and humidity have been high enough, for long enough, to make the prospect of cooking – especially oven cooking – less attractive than it normally is for me.

Consequently, I’ve been looking into recipes for dishes that can be either cooked in advance and served cool, or made all of raw ingredients, not cooked at all. I found a really nice one of the latter type in Penelope Casas’s Foods and Wines of Spain.

It’s her Ensalada de Champiñon, a mushroom and cured ham salad. I wouldn’t consider it a side salad – that is, something to be served along with a meal’s main course – because it’s so substantial in itself. But it would make an excellent component of a tapas spread, as Casas suggests, and for me it was a delightful appetizer.

For the two main ingredients I sliced fresh white mushrooms and cut julienne strips of Spanish Serrano ham. Though I was halving the recipe, I used the full quantity of ham because I wanted to give it more prominence in the dish. The dressing, from a separate recipe called El Aliño (which my dictionary says simply means “dressing”), is the most elaborate salad dressing I’ve ever made. Here are all the components:

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In addition to the mushrooms and ham, above, there are olive oil, wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, prepared horseradish, Parmesan cheese, garlic, basil, thyme, marjoram, parsley, salt, and pepper. To make the dressing I just dumped its dozen ingredients into my mini food processor and ran it until they combined into a cream.  Now, that’s summer cooking!

At serving time I sprinkled a little lemon juice on the mushroom slices, added the ham strips, and gently tossed everything with some of the dressing. The extra dressing I served in a little bowl for each of us to add more to our portion if we wished.

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Easy as it was to prepare, the salad was surprisingly complex in its flavors. There’s a real affinity between Serrano ham and mushrooms. Casas allows the use of Italian prosciutto in all her cured ham recipes, but the stronger, firmer Spanish ham was perfect here. I’m glad I raised the quantity of it. The dressing drew the dish together in a subtle way, with all the dressing ingredients making their small contributions to the blend. Tom, normally no great fan of salads, only regretted we couldn’t have gotten wild ovoli mushrooms instead of cultivated white ones, which would have raised the dish to even greater heights of enjoyment.

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Lamb stew is typically a slam-dunk for me: I brown chunks of lamb in a big pot; throw in cut-up onions, carrots, potatoes, and green beans; add broth, salt, and pepper: and cook until done. Good, solid food, but more than a little predictable.

Recently I was led to an interestingly different sort of lamb stew by a chance discovery in my pantry. Way in the back of a shelf I found a small bag holding a pair of dried ñora peppers.
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Cute little things, aren’t they? Turns out I’d bought some for use in a Spanish recipe all of five years ago and afterward completely forgot about the unused ones. Time to do something with them! The index of Penelope Casas’ La Cocina de Mamá sent me to a recipe for caldereta de cordero – a lamb stew in which these sweet (not hot) red peppers play a major role. It sounded simple and good. The only solid ingredients were boneless leg of lamb, potatoes, garlic, and the ñoras.
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To begin, I cored and seeded the peppers and cooked them along with the whole garlic cloves in olive oil for just two minutes.
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I added the lamb pieces, salt and pepper, and sauteed until the meat was lightly browned.
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Then I covered the pot and – with no liquid in it at all – let it cook very gently for half an hour, letting the lamb imbue itself with the other flavors. At that point the ñoras and garlics had to be taken out, mashed to a paste, and stirred back into the pot, along with white wine and broth.
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Finally, in went the potatoes, to cook with the lamb and absorb its seasonings for another half hour.
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In her recipe headnote Casas said to serve a Moorish-style green salad with the stew. So, following her recipe for the salad dressing, I mashed cumin seeds, garlic, Spanish smoked paprika, and salt in a mortar, whisked in olive oil and wine vinegar, and tossed it all with lettuce.

The stew was very good, and very different from the kind of lamb stew I usually make. The ñoras had given warm, earthy, and almost fruity undertones to the meat, potatoes, and sauce. And the spicy dressing on crisp lettuce leaves made an excellent complement to the dish. For its tastiness and ease of preparation,  I can easily see adding this lamb stew to my repertoire.
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For all the years that I’ve owned Penelope Casas’s Foods and Wines of Spain, I still can hardly turn that book’s pages without coming upon an intriguing recipe I haven’t made before. My most recent find was her Conejo al Pirineo: a dish of rabbit braised in white wine with herbs, almonds, and pine nuts. That combination seemed inspired.

I hadn’t eaten any rabbit since my trip to Malta last fall, and hadn’t cooked a rabbit at home for several years. It was time to do so again. My butcher provided me with one of d’Artagnan’s “young fryer rabbits.” These are billed as being humanely raised, given no antibiotics or hormones, and fed a vegetarian diet of sweet alfalfa, oats, wheat, and barley. All that sounds as if it should produce a healthy and tasty little Thumper.

On opening its package, I was surprised by how large the rabbit was. Tailbone to chest, it was 16 inches long, and it weighed more than 3 pounds – more Brer Rabbit than Thumper.
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Also surprising was that, despite the reputed leanness of its meat, my rabbit had quite a lot of fat on it, clumped in a number of places. Evidently not a speedy Energizer bunny, this one. I trimmed it all off and cut the rabbit into serving pieces.
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Another attractive aspect of Casas’s recipe: The cooking is extremely simple. To start I floured and browned the rabbit pieces in olive oil, strewed on a lot of coarsely chopped onion, and cooked uncovered until the onion wilted.
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Next I added white wine, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, salt, pepper, minced garlic, two tablespoons of pine nuts, and a quarter cup of slivered blanched almonds.
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Covered, the rabbit and its seasonings simmered along for two hours. I turned the pieces occasionally and kept an eye on the liquid level. No more liquid was needed. The meat stayed very firm until nearly the end, then became extremely tender, ready to fall right off the bones.
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The wonderful aroma that had filled the kitchen all through the cooking time had given Tom and me great expectations for when we sat to the dinner table. Alas, they were not fulfilled. The sauce was indeed delicious, but the rabbit itself was dryish and almost tasteless. It could have been supermarket chicken. Maybe I should have left on the fat?
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Belatedly, I remembered that something similar had happened the previous time I’d cooked a d’Artagnan rabbit. I think this has to be the last time I do. The best free-range chickens cost considerably less than d’Artagnan gets for its rabbits.

We didn’t eat very much of the meat, despite the goodness of the sauce. That left me with a lot of leftovers, which I couldn’t bear to discard. So I put them in the refrigerator, and a few days later I made some into a risotto, coarsely chopping the meat and adding minced onion to the initial sauteeing of the rice. There, the small pieces of rabbit in sauce actually tasted better than they had the first time around.
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The rest of the leftover boned-out rabbit went into my freezer, some of which I’m planning to try using for mayonnaise-y rabbit salad sandwiches. And because that sauce was so good, I definitely want to make the recipe again one day using a flavorful free-range chicken.

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It’s always a happy surprise when new recipes turn out better than I’d expected. The above homey-looking dinner plate holds two excellent dishes from Penelope Casas’s Foods and Wines of Spain. This is the book that first introduced me to Spanish cooking and the one I most often rely on. It has never let me down, and I still continue to discover good new things in it.

This time I was initially struck by a recipe called Higado con Pimientos, which had an uncommon pairing of calf’s liver and green peppers. Liver and onions is a classic combination, but I’d never seen green peppers used in a dish with liver. Casas also recommended a potato dish, Patatas Picantes, as an accompaniment. Curiosity led me to try them.

The ingredients for two portions of both recipes were easily assembled: liver, sliced Bell peppers, sliced onions, minced garlic, a potato parboiled and sliced, and a few condiments.
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The first things to be cooked were the peppers and onions. We have peppers and onions often, but I do them in the Italian manner, which is to say together in one pan. For this dish they were done separately: first the onions, sautéed in olive oil and removed to a dish; then the peppers, briefly sauteed in the same pan, then covered, fully cooked, and removed to the dish. Finally the liver was quickly sauteed in the same pan, with a little more oil.
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Meanwhile, I’d been also cooking the boiled, sliced potatoes – sauteeing them in a different pan until lightly browned and then stirring in minced garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and pimentòn dulce (Spanish smoked paprika).
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When the liver came out of its pan, I deglazed it with white wine, reduced the liquid, poured that over the liver, and put it in a serving dish in a turned-off oven to keep warm.

The final step was to reheat the peppers and onions in their original pan, season them with salt and pepper, spread them over the liver, and serve.
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These were the simplest procedures, yet they had remarkably subtle effects. Sauteeing the onions and peppers separately, in the same oil, and then finishing them in the remnants of the liver oil and the deglazing sauce, made the vegetables quite different from Italian peppers and onions: they didn’t blend together but each stayed itself, with just overtones of the other components’ flavors. And the liver had taken on the same multi-flavor hints from the vegetables’ sauteeing oil and the deglazing sauce. I was very happily surprised by how the peppers’ natural acidity made them a wonderful foil for the sweetness of calves’ liver and the onions.

The potatoes – with crunchy edges and soft interiors – loved their zingy spices and made an excellent counterpoint to the gentle harmony of peppers, onions, and liver.

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Altogether, a very interesting pair of dishes and a very enjoyable simple meal.

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