A Taste of Spain

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-10-50-22-amWhen my dear friend Kathy had a benchmark birthday on the horizon, I wanted to help her celebrate. Both of us had a connection with Spain and a love of Spanish food so we came up with the idea of A Taste of Spain. The evening was delightful and the menu was one I’ll certainly repeat.screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-10-48-23-amscreen-shot-2016-12-06-at-10-49-55-amAfter a few nibbles on Spanish cheese, nuts and guava jelly, it was time for a Tortilla Espanola, Spanish Omelet, demo. Having enjoyed these on many occasions when I lived in Spain, this is one of the traditional dishes I make often and I love teaching others how to make it. There are a variety of methods and unlimited add-in’s but I usually keep it basic.spanishomeletSpanish Omelet

  • 2-3 cups cubed cooked potatoes
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

In a shallow, non-stick, frying pan, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add potatoes and gently stir-fry until they begin to turn golden brown. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, beat eggs until well combined and salt and pepper to taste. Add potatoes to eggs, give it a quick stir and pour egg potato mixture right into the skillet. Place on medium heat and cook until egg mixture releases from pan. Using a flat plate that is larger than the frying pan, place plate over pan, invert pan and slide omelet back into the hot pan. Cook the other side until egg mixture is set. Slide on to a serving plate, cut in wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.

Joanne Weir’s Gazpacho Andaluz, Cold Iced Tomato Soup, from Andalusia was a must-have at this party. I’ve enjoyed many of Joanne Weir’s recipes both in person at her many cooking classes and from her tv shows. I took this recipe right from her book, From Tapas to Meze and the only change I made was to use only 1/2 cup raw sweet onion and I soaked it in 1/4 cup white vinegar about 30 minutes before adding them to the blender. Here’s a link to Joanne’s similar Golden Gazpacho Soup.

Gazpacho Andaluz

  • 3 cups peeled, seeded, chopped tomatoes
  • 1 seeded, chopped bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 seeded, chopped cucumber
  • 5-6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/4 cups tomato juice (I used V-8)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 slice bread, soaked in water and squeezed dry
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Mix all gazpacho ingredients in a blender until smooth. Chill before serving. I served this with homemade croutons and a dice of pickled bell pepper, red onion and cucumber.screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-10-49-11-amThe main course was, Paella, a fun recipe that has dozens of variations and can be catered to please any palate.


  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces Spanish chorizo or Andouille sausage
  • 8-10 chicken thighs
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion
  • 2/3 cup chopped orange bell pepper
  • 2/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio or medium-grain rice
  • 3 cups seafood or chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads or 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 10-15 raw shrimp
  • 1 tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

In a large, ovenproof skillet, sauté chorizo in 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium-high heat until crumbled or if using sausage, slice and brown. Remove chorizo or sausage from pan but leave pan drippings. Add additional olive oil if needed and brown chicken thighs. Remove from pan. Add onion, pepper and garlic and continue to sauté an additional 2 minutes.  Add rice and sauté 2 minutes.  Add broth and seasonings and bring to a boil.  Place chicken evenly over rice mixture. Cook in a preheated 375º oven 10 minutes.  Without stirring, evenly place shrimp, chorizo or sausage and tomatoes around the pan.  Cover and return to the oven an additional 15-20 minutes or until shrimp are pink and rice has soaked up most of the liquid. If mixture seems too dry, more broth can be added at any time. If mixture has too much liquid, continue cooking, uncovered. Garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro.screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-10-50-42-amServed with the Paella was an orange and red onion salad. Spain Recipes, was the inspiration for this simple, flavorful salad. Here’s my version with a few less ingredients.

Spanish Salad, Ensalada de Naranja

  • 6 oranges
  • 1/2 thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Chopped romaine lettuce

Cut peel off of oranges, cut in half, and slice crosswise into bite sized chunks. In a large bowl, gently mix all ingredients. Chill before serving on a bed of lettuce.screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-10-50-59-amWe rounded off the plate with a rustic bread and Fresh Herbal Butter

Fresh Herbal Butter

  • 1/3 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced mint
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh minced sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh minced rosemary

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients until thoroughly combined.

We wanted a light dessert with a mild flavor. This simple, make-ahead, not-too-sweet, Cantabrian cheesecake, Quesada Pasiega, from Cocina Para Urbanitas, was perfect.spanish-cheesecake-1

Spanish Cheesecake

  • 8-ounces ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt if using unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350º. Cream the butter and sugar and whisk in the eggs and vanilla. beat well and add in the ricotta cheese and pinch of salt. Finally, beat in the milk and then little by little, the flour. Stir in the lemon zest. Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and bake 35-45 minutes. The cheesecake is ready when slightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cheesecake cook for at least 15 minutes to set. Enjoy on its own or with a bit of your favorite jam or a dusting of powdered sugar.screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-10-51-58-am

Original Post: Quesada Pasiega: Spanish Cheesecake

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