DRINK SPANISH CIDER WITH FOOD! The natural acidity and astringency of a swig of traditional sidra demand following with something unctuous: a sweating aged cheese, a fatty cured jamón or sausage, a gelatinous mollusk, a saucy morsel or visa versa. A sip of the new styles, Nueva Expresión or Brut, is best savored with a delicate nibble of something equally interesting and subtle, and a the bite of a Brut can be a nice counterpoint to non-citrus fruit.
When I am in Spain I always make sure to have a good kitchen available so that I can shop in a marketplace like the one above. I used to come home to America and wander dispairingly around the outer aisles of my supermarket (forget inner aisles). Now that I am bringing sidra to you the least I can do is save you from this cognitive dissonance.
Over on the right is a list of some good Spanish cookbooks. What I offer below are not authentic Spanish recipes! They are my own fusion based on what’s at hand, multi-cultural habitats, personal ethnicity, love of Spain, stark realities of middle-American shopping, and always a tight budget. My current fascination is how the authentic regional cider I import meshes with the authentic regional raw materials where I was raised and now live – New England. But not to the point of orthodoxy. My Cider Nosh repertoire carries the DNA of past lives in Tante Shendel’s kosher kitchen, Lower Manhattan, South Texas, and North Carolina (B-B-Q split-personality). I’ll keep adding plates to this page along the way.
You can start with the authentic Spanish recipes and find your own locale driven modifications or you can try mine and you’ll be half-way home already. Whichever, don’t wait. A purveyor of the market treats above is not coming to your town anytime soon, but Ciders of Spain is. Drink sidra now and eat,…eat.
MERLUZA ala SIDRA (made with cider!) (New 08/07/14)
You can make this dish with any flaky white ocean fish, but hake is the best and steak cuts are better than fillets for the extra flavor from the bone and the appearance on the plate.
5 hake (or codfish) steaks, 1″ thick
1 large sweet onion, sliced into 1/8″ rings
4 medium potatoes, sliced 3/16″ thick
4 tbsp. olive oil
Traditional Spanish unfiltered cider (sidra)
3 small bay leaves
freshly ground pepper
Rinse the steaks in lightly salted water. Heat the olive oil to medium high. Brown the onion rings spread evenly in the pan. Spread potato slices evenly on top of the onions, reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook 5 minutes. Add sidra to top of potatoes, cover and simmer until they are al dente and the liquid has acquired some color from the browned onions.
Place the fish steaks evenly on top of the potatoes add some more sidra to half-way up the side of the steaks, simmer uncovered. After 5 minutes carefully turn the steaks over without damaging their shape, cover and simmer. After another 5 minutes check done-ness of a steak with fork. Cook the fish uncovered until the liquid is concentrated and the fish is still somewhat firm, holding its shape, but easily flaked.
Plate each steak with some potatoes, onions and the broth. A shallow casserole allows for a more generous portion of the broth. Serve with a crusty baguette for dunking.
CACHOPO (new 8/07/14)
I would describe this dish as Chicken-fried Steak meets Cordon-Bleu. The real trick is to coordinate the thickness of the meat with the time and temperature needed to melt the cheese while keeping the meat at the center still pink. You will have to find the balance that works best for your equipment. The thicker the meat the easier this is, but the meat shouldn’t be too thick for a pleasantly delicate result.
Cross-cut slices of Eye Round steak approximately 3/8″ thick, 2 per person
1/4″ slices of easily melted mild cheese
Paper thin slices of cured, not cooked ham such as serrano, prosciutto, or even sopressata.
roasted sweet red pepper (optional)
Freshly ground pepper
Tenderize the meat with the rough side of the tool to make very pliable for assembly. Place the cheese, cured meat and red pepper (if used) in layers evenly in the center of a steak slice. Cover with a second slice.
Ready a shallow bowl each of flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs. Take each steak sandwich, press the edges together and then dredge in flour, egg and crumbs taking care to have the edges well coated. Set aside breaded steaks on a plate.
Heat oil, 3/8″ deep at medium high in a skillet. Add as many steaks as fit with room for jostling the skillet to keep from sticking. Brown the first side evenly, flip carefully, and then brown the second side. When you think the cheese might be melted, sneak a peak into one of centers by slightly lifting and edge. Plate when cheese has just melted and the meat is pink in the center.
(shown with sidra-marinated fried white baby eggplant)
6 medium calamari, cleaned
1 4″ sweet italian sausage, cooked, finely minced
2 slices sopressata, finely minced
1/3 cup matzoh meal
1 beaten egg
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Cut the wings off of the cleaned calamari tubes. Blanch the wings and reserved interior meat in boiling water for a minute. Mince coarsely and combine in a small mixing bowl with the sausage and sopressata. Add pepper, egg and blend evenly.
Stuff tubes using teaspoon and finger, squeezing filling down toward the point of the tube and adding more as you go until tube is almost full. Leave small margin at the open end and fill it with the whole tentacle cluster then pinch and close with a toothpick. Make several short slices across the top of the filled tubes. Place in shallow baking dish. Sprinkle remaining filling over top.
Bake in preheated oven at 360˚ F for 15 – 20 minutes, checking to remove when calamari is opaque and filling cooked through.
MEDALLIONS OF SCALLOP WITH CRISPY BACON CRUST AND ROASTED RED PEPPER PUREE
1 dozen large sea scallops
1 strip bacon
1/2 cup flour
2 large beaten eggs
1 sweet red pepper
1 clove fresh garlic
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
Fry bacon till crisp then crumble fine. Slice each scallop to make two thinner medallions. Dredge in flour, egg and moderately sparse bacon bits then skillet fry at medium temp. in 1/2″ deep oil, turning when browned on first side. Brown second side cooking scallop through. Adjust burner to brown exterior and cook through in the same duration.
Broiler or fire roast one large sweet red pepper. Cool, peel, and puree in small food processor adding peeled garlic clove and wine vinegar. Add pinch salt to taste.
Serve scallops with puree for dipping.
BAKED LITTLENECK CLAMS
1 tbsp. fresh mayonnaise per clam
1/4 tsp. fresh lime juice per clam
Pinch crushed garlic per clam
1/2 tsp. Mexican salsa verde per clam
1 tsp. unseasoned bread crumbs per clam
1/2 tsp. freshly grated parmesan cheese per clam
Preheat oven to 380˚ F.
Blend mayonaisse, lime juice and garlic in a mixing bowl. Blend the parmesan and breadcrumbs in a separate bowl. Shuck the clams, freeing the meat and leaving it on the half-shell.
Place a tbsp. of the mayonnaise mixture onto each clam covering the clam and filling the half-shell. Sprinkle 3/4 tsp. of the cheese and breadcrumb mixture evenly over entire clam and half-shell. Arrange servings in small and shallow clay crocks, or spread all clams on a baking sheet for later arrangement according to serving style. Bake, monitoring frequently until bubbling and browned.
Serve with a round of crispy baguette for each clam.
BAKED STUFFED SWEET RED PEPPERS w/BASQUE GREEN SAUCE
4 ripe sweet red peppers, halved, seeds removed, broiler or grill roasted and peeled.
1 clove garlic in finely shaved slices
1 small onion
2 peeled carrots
1 stalk celery
1/2 lb. haddock, hake, pollock or cod filet.
8 littleneck clams
1/4 cup matzoh meal
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. butter
3 large eggs
3/4 cup white flour
3 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
Heat enough water to cover the fish filet to a boil in a saucepan. When boiling add filet, reduce to simmer and remove as soon as fish is flaky reserving the stock. Add one half of the onion, and all of the carrots and celery to the stock and simmer covered for twenty minutes.
Place unopened clams in a covered saucepan with an inch of water. Bring to a boil, reduced a bit and steam the clams. Check frequently and remove from heat and uncover as soon as all clams have opened. Let cool enough to handle. Remove one shell halve from each clam, disconnect clam and leave it in remaining half of shell. Reserve the clam broth.
Finely mince the fish, grate the remaining onion half and blend in mixing bowl with the matzoh meal, salt and one egg and as much fish stock as possible without making the mixture too loose to use as a stuffing . Beat remaining eggs and set aside.
Place each roasted pepper half cavity side up and place one rounded tbsp. of the fish mixture in the center of one side of the pepper half, folding the other side over to cover the filling. Heat 1/2″ deep olive oil in a skillet large enough for several of the folded pepper halves. When all pepper halves are filled check oil temperature with a drop of beaten egg. It is ready when the egg immediately bubbles and quickly browns. Do not burn oil. Preheat oven to 340˚ F.
Dredge each folded pepper half, careful to keep it closed around the filling, one at a time, in flour, dip in egg and place gently in skillet still generously covered in the egg wash. Repeat with each pepper half turning peppers over gently to fry both sides to a golden brown, self-sealed packet. Remove one by one as ready to a paper towel, then arrange in separate clay crocks or together on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes.
While peppers are baking start the green sauce with the butter melted in a medium skillet and 2-1/2 rounded tbsp. of the remaining flour, blending and cooking at medium until mixture bubbles and then just a bit more. Stir constantly to keep flour from sticking to pan while making the sauce.
Add all of the clam broth and enough of the fish stock to the pan to completely dissolve the flour and butter roux, stirring constantly to dissolve thoroughly. Add the garlic and parsley and allow sauce to thicken, adding just enough of the fish stock along the way to keep the sauce from being too starchy when thickened and later to adjust the viscosity to a saucy consistency. When done, remove from heat, add the half-shell clams face up to re-warm and cover.
Remove baked peppers from oven when they appear nicely puffy. Add one half shell clam for each pepper half and drizzle generously with the green sauce whether in hot cooking crocks or plated. Garnish and serve with baguette rounds.
PESTO CREAM SAUCE STUFFED DEEP-FRIED SHRIMP
12 extra jumbo (16-20/lb.) shrimp
2 tbsp. of your favorite pesto
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
1 cup (plus extra in reserve) milk
Melt butter in small skillet over medium heat, add 2 tbsp. of the flour stirring to a paste allowing it to bubble for a few minutes. Continue to stir constantly throughout making of this sauce. Add 1 cup of milk and dissolve the paste adding milk and reducing heat slightly as needed to thoroughly dissolve without the sauce burning or binding. It should only begin to thicken after paste is entirely dissolved. Be sure to move spoon in a spiral along entire bottom of skillet while stirring. Allow to simmer without burning until a thick filling of the consistency of a frosting is achieved. Stir in pesto. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Peel, de-vein and butterfly the shrimp, keeping the tail and last segment of shell on and place backside-down on a platter. Place a dollop of the pesto cream filling on each shrimp smoothing it out to cover entire butterflied shape with something of a mound in the center of the widest area. Place the platter in the refrigerator for an hour allowing the filling to stiffen and bind with the surface of the shrimp.
Have ready in shallow bowls: remaining flour, beaten eggs, breadcrumbs. Dredge each chilled shrimp carefully , filled side facing up, in flour, egg wash and bread crumbs. Be sure to coat completely, and place on platter until all shrimp are coated.
Heat olive oil, 2 inches deep in the center of a small wok to medium-high temperature. Oil is ready when a test drop of egg-wash immediately bubbles and puffs up. Place shrimp filling upward in the oil one at a time leaving enough room to move each around a bit without disturbing the rest. Move them toward the deeper oil in the center until mostly covered with oil and browning, turning face down when they have become firm if necessary to brown upper side. Shrimp can be moved around to share time in the deeper oil and removed to a paper towel one by one when ready and replaced until all shrimp are done.
Serve with large, cracked garlic marinated Spanish olives. Pick up by the tails and use the shrimp as a handy spoon to contain the oozing filling as you nibble. “Warning: Filling is hot!”
SHITAKE & PORK DIM SUM
1 lb. pork (good use for red meat trimmed from loin roast)
1 cup minced shitake mushrooms
3/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. grated ginger
1-1/2 tsp. finely minced garlic
2 tbsp. grated onion
1/2 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg
egg roll wrappers
Mince pork finely by hand to avoid ground texture. Mix evenly in bowl with minced shitake, ginger, garlic, onion, pepper, and egg.
Place several of the stacked egg roll wrappers at a time horizontally on a clean cutting board and cut vertically into 4 equally strips of equal width. Wet upper side of a strip with finger tip, place 1 rounded tbsp. of the filling in the center of the strip and roll it over the filling, pinching the filling on the open sides back inside the roll and using light pressure to round up the shape with the ends of the strip overlapped and sealed. Place roll in center of another moistened strip to cover open sides and use light pressure to round up the shape. Set aside and continue, cutting more strips as needed until filling is used up.
Place dumplings with first wrap on top and bottom in a steamer tray(s) within a covered steaming pot and steam for 20 minutes after water is boiling. Remove pot from heat and keep covered, serving hot. Serve with a dipping sauce of sesame oil, hot red pepper sauce and soy sauce.
Come back from time to time for more of Ciders of Spain’s CiderNoshes.