Last week we had the opportunity to do a tasting at Barcelona Wine Bar, a hip new Atlanta restaurant from the Connecticut-based chain. We adored Executive Chef Mike Blydenstein’s upscale take on traditional Spanish-style tapas, especially delectable dishes such as Potato Gnocchi (with tender duck confit, Swiss chard and tiny Hon Shimeji mushrooms) and Berkshire Pork Cheeks (lightly seasoned with coriander and a touch of citrus and served atop creamy Mahon Grits). But we were blown away when they gave us a copy of The Barcelona Cookbook: A Celebration of Food, Wine & Life, along with permission to reprint our favorite recipes here on GGT. We’re starting with Spanish Clams With Chorizo, a simple but delicious dish with just 6 ingredients. Authors (and Barcelona co-owners) Sasa Mahr-Batuz and Andy Pforzheimer recommend removing the clams from the pan as they open, so they don’t get overcooked. Hope you enjoy this savory taste of Spain as much as we did!
INGREDIENTS: 24 littleneck or Manila clams • Two 4-inch-long links smoked Spanish chorizo sausage • 2 Tbls olive oil • 3 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced • 2 cups dry white wine • Leaves from 5 springs fresh thyme, coarsely chopped
DIRECTIONS: Scrub the clams under cold running water. • Drain and dry the clams. • Slice the sausage links lengthwise into 3 pieces and then slice across the sausage pieces into strips about 1/2 inch wide. • Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and, when hot, add the olive oil. • Add the chorizo slices and sear for about 3 min, or until nicely browned. • Add the garlic and cook for about 2 min, or until browned. • Add the clams, wine and thyme, shake the pan carefully and cover with a lid, aluminum foil, or plate and cook for 7 to 8 min, or until all the clams have opened (discard any that do not open). • Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the clams from the pan and divide evenly among 4 shallow serving bowls or put in on large bowl. • Turn the heat to high and cook the sauce for 4 to 5 min, or until slightly reduced and thickened. • Pour the sauce and sausage slices over the clams and serve. (Serves 4)
Back in the early 1800s, England and Spain invaded Haiti, which was then a French-controlled island known as Saint Domingue. A self-educated former slave named Toussaint L’Ouverture made a pact with the French powers-that-be: If they would guarantee the freedom of the island’s African slaves, he would train them as an army and kick the invading forces to the curb.
After L’Ouverture held up his end of the bargain and tried to issue Haiti’s first constitution in 1801, diminutive dictator Napoléon Bonaparte sent a huge battalion to restore French rule on the island. But when L’Ouverture was imprisoned in France and it became clear that the cheating brie-eaters were intent on bringing slavery back, revolution erupted, lasting for two years before the French were ultimately defeated.
So, you ask curiously, what’s all this got to do with soup? Well, like a Seinfeld scene-stealer, the French forces were all “NO SOUP FOR YOU!” before they got their butts kicked, forbidding the Haitians from eating pumpkin soup because it was considered too sophisticated a delicacy for the slaves’ pedestrian palates. So, when Jean-Jacques Dessalines declared Haiti a free republic in January of 1804 (making them the world’s first black-led free republic), pumpkin soup became a symbol of Haitian freedom from oppression. Now, every year Haitians make this delicious Pumpkin soup recipe in January in celebration of Haitian Independence Day!
This Crock Pot Carnitas recipe could not possibly be easier: You just throw the ingredients in a crock pot, cook for 4-6 hours and savor the intoxicating aromas that fill the house upon your return. Every time we eat them, it takes me back to a delicious meal we had when we visited Mexico’s Riviera Maya…
INGREDIENTS: 3 lbs pork shoulder or pork butt • 4 cups chicken broth, hot • 2 tablespoons garlic powder • 2 tablespoons onion powder • 2 tablespoons cumin • 1 tablespoon chili powder, medium hot • 2 teaspoons ground coriander • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper • 1 tablespoon lime juice • 1/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)
DIRECTIONS: Add hot chicken broth to crock pot. • Add spices and lime juice to crock pot and mix well into chicken broth. • Add pork to crock pot. • Cover and cook on High for 4 to 6 hours or until most of water is reduced and a sauce thickens. • Pull meat apart with two forks. • Put meat in oven, under the broiler, for a few minutes to crisp them up. Enjoy! –Bret Love
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Hoppin’ John is a “soul food” dish popular in the American South, but its origins can be traced to West Africa and European cultures dating back to the Middle Ages.
Back then, eating beans on New Year’s Day to bring good luck in the coming year was common in France and Spain, while the combination of rice and beans has been popular in Africa for hundreds of years. Together, they formed a New World tradition now known as Hoppin’ John, which typically consists of rice, black eyed peas and bacon, ham or ham hock.
Widely eaten on New Year’s Day in the Southeastern U.S., the dish is believed to bring a prosperous year full of good luck, with the peas symbolizing coins (one of which is often added to the pot). For extra good fortune, it’s often served with Southern food staples like collard or turnip greens (whose green color represents money) and cornbread (the color of gold).
Even if don’t believe in such superstitions, the dish is remarkably tasty, and we’ve altered the Joy Of Cooking‘s traditional Hoppin’ John recipe a bit to suit our tastes. Wishing all of our readers a Healthy, Happy & Prosperous New Year!
INGREDIENTS: 1 1/2 cups dry black-eyed peas • 8 oz smoked ham, diced • 1 cup of green bell pepper, chopped • 1 cup of celery, chopped • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic • ½ teaspoon dried thyme • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes • 2 large bay leaves • salt and pepper to taste • 4 cups water • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice • 1 cup shredded smoked Cheddar cheese
DIRECTIONS: In a large pan place the peas, ham (or bacon, if you prefer), peppers, celery and spices. • Cover with water and bring to a boil. • Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 1 1/2 hours. • Stir in the rice, cover and cook until rice is tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. • Season to taste with salt and pepper. • Sprinkle shredded cheese over top.
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It would be impossible to overemphasize how much I love oatmeal raisin cookies. I may rarely eat oatmeal for breakfast, but for some reason when you put it into cookie form I simply can’t get enough. Mary’s variation on an old Martha Stewart Christmas cookies recipe is arguably the best oatmeal raisin cookie I’ve ever had, with a lower sugar content, lots of fiber and extra fruit to emphasize the soft, chewy texture I love. Around Christmas, we always add extra fruit– golden raisins, dried cranberries, dried figs– to give it that fruitcake vibe that makes the house smell like the holidays. With our friends’ annual Holiday Cookie Swap party this weekend, we’ll be making over 6 dozen tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to helping (i.e. licking the spoon)!
DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. • Whisk to combine flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. • In a separate bowl, whisk together brown sugar, honey, eggs and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and stir to combine. • Mix in oats and your fruit/nuts addition. • Drop 2 tablespoons of dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. • Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until golden brown, around 8-10 minutes. • Cool a few minutes on the sheet, and then transfer with a spatula to a wire rack to cool completely. • Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.