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Posts Tagged ‘chorizos’

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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Stayman Winesaps are my favorite cooking apple. The local ones seem especially good this year. They’re not one of the prettiest varieties – a little dull looking, but crisp, tart, and juicy. Here they are in my Greenmarket.

I almost always buy too many of them, but I’ve learned how to keep apples: in a brown paper bag in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer, where they stay well for a long time. My latest batch didn’t hang around for long. I made three apple dishes on three different days this week: a main course, an appetizer, and a dessert.

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Pork Chops with Apples in Cider Sauce

Pork and apples are always a good combination. I found this recipe for Chuletas de Cerdo a la Asturiana in Penelope Casas’s The Foods and Wines of Spain. I’ve always had good results from this book, such as the two dishes I wrote about here, and this one is no exception.

It’s a very easy dish to make. Salt, flour, and brown pork chops in butter and oil; set them aside and briefly sauté sliced apples in the same fats. Lay half the apple slices in an ovenproof dish, top with the chops and the rest of the apples. Deglaze the sauté pan with a little broth and hard cider; pour that over the chops and apples. Cover and cook in a moderate oven until the chops are tender.

It was delicious. The pork’s own sweetness blended with that of the apples, and the apples absorbed some of the succulence of the pork. The little sauce was good on boiled potatoes, too. Casas suggests drinking the same cider with the dish, but we found a Beaujolais went perfectly well. There was nothing in this recipe – neither ingredient nor technique – that wouldn’t have been perfectly at home in a Norman or a Breton kitchen. Or an English or American one, for that matter: Apples speak the international language.

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Chorizo and Apples in Hard Cider Sauce

I happened on this tapa recipe for Chorizo alla Sidra while flipping through pages in the Casas book. I had cider left from the pork chop recipe, and I had chorizos in the freezer (they’d survived the post-hurricane power outage). Those are the only two ingredients other than apples, so making it was a slam-dunk.

All it took was to simmer a whole chorizo, some sliced apples, and a little cider in a covered pan for 15 minutes, adding more cider as the liquid evaporated. Then slice the chorizo and serve with the apples and sauce.

It was okay – not exceptional. The apples and cider had tamed down the spiciness of the chorizo more than we liked. The apples were good, with just a hint of flavor from the chorizo, but I’d let the liquid reduce too far. More sauce would have helped. Altogether, the dish was a bit less than the sum of its parts.

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Grandmother’s Apple Tart

The grandmother in question here is not mine. The recipe for Tarte aux Pommes Grand-Mere, which I found in the Pies & Pastries volume of the Time-Life Good Cook series, was originally printed in a cookbook called La Cuisine Lyonnaise. I have many recipes for apple tarts, from the plainest, such as the one I wrote about here, to some elaborate ones that take most of a day to achieve. This one was a little different from any that I’d made before, so I gave it a try.

I lined a pan with the recipe’s all-butter short-crust pastry dough, paved it with sliced apples, and sprinkled them with sugar. Then – this was the first unusual thing – the pan went into a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes. I’m used to baking pies and tarts at much higher temperatures. Meanwhile I prepared a small mixture of an egg, sugar, heavy cream, and kirsch. That custard filling was another thing I hadn’t used in a tart before.

I poured the mixture over the apples and returned the pan to the oven for another 20 minutes. I’d expected the custard to swell and engulf the apples, but it really didn’t. You can barely see it in the finished tart.

The finished tart was very good. The crust stayed fairly pale, but it was fully cooked, crisp and flaky, despite the low-temperature baking. Though the custard base was hardly noticeable, it moistened and flavored each bite of the tart. I might raise the quantity of custard next time I make this recipe, because we liked it quite a lot. Those Lyonnaise grandmothers knew their stuff.

The final unusual thing about this recipe was an instruction to serve the tart hot. That idea didn’t appeal to me. I’d made the tart early in the day, so at dinner time I just warmed it slightly in the oven, and it was fine.

Next time I might try raising the oven temperature a little for the second half of the cooking, to brown the pastry a bit more. More color wouldn’t hurt the apples either – it’s a rather pale tart. And finally, when an open-faced tart involves two layers of apples, I must remember to save enough of the best-shaped slices for an attractive pinwheel arrangement on the top!

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