A Taste of Barcelona in My Kitchen

Is it from Barcelona Spain or is it from the restaurant Barcelona in the RiNo District of North Denver?  Actually, it is from both.  I made this delicious Castilian stew from my cookbook Barcelona, which is a cookbook of the restaurant’s recipes I bought when we went for my friend Janet’s birthday,  Birthday Celebrations – Part 2 – Barcelona  all of which are originally inspired from Spanish recipes from Barcelona, Spain. It’s all good.  Believe me!  There are so many delicious recipes just waiting for me to make  and try.  My big dilemma, ALWAYS, too many dishes, too little time.  Eventually I will get around to making them all.

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The recipe I made was a “morph” from the original Caldo Gallego.  A Caldo Gallego is a broth which is originally from the northern Spanish region of Galicia.  It is a dish with very humble beginnings, associated with the farmers of Spain.  The recipe is one that varies from season to season, region to region, and household to household.  Since it is a dish of the farmers, it was basically whatever they grew in their own gardens or had as their livestock on their own ranches that was all thrown together into this very tasty, savory stew.  Caldo Gallego is traditionally eaten in the colder months since it is a dish meant to be served very hot.   This particular stew was loaded with pork.  It had bacon, ham and chorizo.  Sorry, this stew is not for vegetarians.  You’ve got to love meat and you’ve got to love pork to really enjoy this dish.

 

 

Castilian Stew

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1/2 lb cooked ham, large dice

1/2 lb bacon, diced

2 cups chorizo

1/2 cup olive oil

1 large shallot, diced fine

2 TBSP garlic

1/2 red bell pepper, medium dice

2 large potatoes, peeled and medium dice

2 cans tomatoes, with their juice

6 cups spinach, cut rough

5-6 cups chicken broth

salt & pepper to taste

red pepper flakes to taste

 

In a large soup pot that is very hot, cook the bacon and the chorizo in the olive oil over a medium high heat for about 10 minutes.  Add the ham, the garlic, peppers, shallots and the potatoes and mix everything together thoroughly.

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Add the tomatoes and the chicken broth and the seasonings.  Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

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When the potatoes are tender, add the spinach and mix in with the stew.  Serve the stew immediately with the warm bread and wine. Esta muy delicioso!

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This was yet another simple dinner, with the Castilian stew, warmed olive bread and a bold red blend.  This is a perfect dish for a cold and chilly night.  Ever since we got back from Spain, there have been many more Spanish influences in my cooking.  This was my first recipe out of many more to come from new Barcelona Cookbook.

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*** The restaurant Barcelona is located at 2900 Larimer Street, Denver, Co 80205.  You can contact them at (303) 816-3300 or go to their website at barcelonawinebar.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Cinnamon Twist

I hate it when I follow a recipe and the recipe just doesn’t turn out quite the way I expected or hoped.  Ironically, when I make up own recipes and/or do my own thing, they always turn out better.  Oh well.  As I have always said, recipes are just guidelines and suggestions any way.  Recipes Are Just Suggestions  I found this beautiful recipe that I was very excited about and that I couldn’t wait to try too.  It did still end up tasting very, very good, but my presentation was not what I was looking for at all.  No worries, all that means is that I need to keep working on it.  Hopefully next time it will not only taste delicious, but well look pretty as well.

I love pumpkin everything, especially in the fall, so when I found this recipe for a pumpkin cinnamon twist I was stoked.  It came out just as it was supposed to until it came time to making the twist in the skillet.  That’s where it all started to unravel, or to come un-twisted.  I think the problem was my skillet was to large for the size of the bread dough.  As you can see, mine did not look anything like the picture.  Live and learn though, right?!  Now I know what I need to change next time.  As I said though, it still tasted very good, and in the end, that is really all the matters.

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Pumpkin-Cinnamon Twist

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Pumpkin Dough

1/2 cup warm water

2 TBSP sugar

2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast, or 1 package

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

2 TBSP melted butter

 

Mix the sugar, water and yeast together and let set and rest for about 5 or so minutes, or until the mixtures becomes frothy.

Carefully mix the flour, salt and spices together in a mixer.  Then blend in the yeast mixture, the pumpkin puree and the butter, mixing at  low speed just until everything is combined.  Then switch from the beater to a dough hook and continue to mix until the dough is smooth and elastic.  This should take about 7 minutes.

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Once the dough is formed, oil the bowl and and cover the dough to rest in a warm area for 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.

 

The Filling

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped

2 TBSP cinnamon

dash of salt

 

Mix the sugar, butter, salt and cinnamon together until it is crumbly.

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Spray a 10″ skillet with cooking spray

When the dough is ready, roll it out into a 16×12″ rectangle on a lightly floured surface to about 1/2 inch thickness.

Then spread the butter, sugar and cinnamon mixture evenly over the dough, leaving about 1/4 inch clear all around the edges.  Sprinkle the nuts evenly over the mixture.  My cinnamon sugar mixture came out more like a paste, which is OK too, just evenly spread it around the dough.  Once in the oven, it will melt and spread.

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Roll the dough tightly into a log.  So up until this point, everything came out just the way it was supposed to.  When you have the log made, you can cut it into pieces about 1 1/4-1 1/2 inches thick and make pumpkin cinnamon rolls too.  Perhaps, that is what I should have done.  But to make the twist, and not rolls, cut the dough in 1/2 lengthwise, with about 2 inches at the top in tact and carefully twist the dough, making sure the sides stay up.  Pinch the ends together so none of the filling comes out.  Spiral the dough into the skillet.  Cover and let the dough rise again for about 45-60 additional minutes.  (Now I know what I did wrong.  I thought it needed a second rise, but for whatever reason, I completely missed this step.  I did not realize this until just now.  See, even I make stupid mistakes in the kitchen too.  I would love to blame this on the fact that I made this was injured, but unfortunately, that was not the case at the time.  It was just me with too much on my plate at the time, once again trying to do too much in a rush).

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Preheat the oven to 350*F or 180* C

 

After the second rise, bake the twist for about 30-40 minutes or until it is golden brown.  remove it from the oven and let it cool completely before adding the glaze and cutting it.

 

The Glaze

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup orange juice

 

Mix together thoroughly and drizzle over the bread.  Serve warm and enjoy.

This is what the Pumpkin-Cinnamon Twist was supposed to look like.  It will, especially now that I know what I did wrong.  Let’s just consider this a learning experience for all of us, myself included.  🙂

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A Care Package from Priscilla

My dear friend Priscilla heard about my wrist and sent over a delicious care package to help things out.  She made a delicious tomato and herb soup, some cornbread and some festive sugar cookies.  She is always so thoughtful.  This is one of the many, many reasons why I love her so much.  We have known each other for about 45 years, and every year just keeps getting better and better.

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Back in Business

Good News!!!!!  The Kitchen is once again open for business.  My wrist is not yet 100% healed, but it is about 85% healed, which means I can move it all around and can do almost everything.  Thankfully, it was NOT broken after all, and was indeed just a severe sprain.  WHOOOOOO HOOOOOOO!!!!!  Although, believe me, the sprain was certainly very painful indeed.

The first thing I made after reopening the kitchen was a simple turkey tetrazzini with some leftover turkey.  Snomeggedon.  This was a very simple and easy meal to make that did not put to much strain on my already sprained wrist.

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I started with some of the leftovers we had from this golden bird.  I am sure there will be quite a few turkey and turkey leftover features, since November is after all the month of Thanksgiving, where everyone in America will have turkey on the menu.

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Turkey Tetrazzini

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1 lb cooked pasta – either spaghetti, linguine or fettuccine is best

3/4 stick butter

6 TBSP flour

4 cups turkey stock or chicken broth

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

3/4 cup milk

1 tsp each dried thyme, sage, marjoram, oregano

1 tsp nutmeg

salt & pepper to taste

3 1/2-4 cups shredded or diced turkey

1 TBSP garlic

1/4 onion, diced fine or 2-3 TBSP dried onion

1 package of frozen peas

3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs

1/2 cup Parmigiano cheese

 

Make a roux out of the flour and the butter by cooking the flour in the butter in a hot skillet and stirring it constantly to make sure it does not burn, until it makes a paste.  Because this is a light sauce, and is basically a buerre blanc or bechamel sauce, you do not want the roux to color to much.

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Once the roux is made, add the turkey or chicken stock and mix together thoroughly, then add your spices and mix everything together well.

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When the sauce is made, add the turkey and the peas and cook until everything is thoroughly heated and the peas are cooked and are no longer frozen.

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Preheat the oven to 375* F and spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray.

Evenly spread the cooked noodles on the bottom of the baking pan, then evenly spoon the turkey mixture over the noodles.

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When the pasta is completely covered with the turkey mixture, mix the breadcrumbs and the Parmiginao cheese together and spread over the turkey mixture, making sure to completely cover the dish.

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Bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are browned and cooked.   Serve immediately after taking it our of the oven.

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This casserole doesn’t need anything else except some good white wine and bread to make the meal complete.  This is a delicious meal that also helps use up those leftovers.  I LIKE it!!!!!!

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Larry Makes the Chili

Larry’s work had a chili cook-off, like they do every Halloween.  Normally, I make the chili, but since I have been on the IR list (injured reserved list for all the non-sports people), and could not do it, Larry made his own chili this time.  He did a good job on it too.  For the most part, he did it all by himself, with only minimal help from me as a coach. He said there were about 25 different chili entries, but at the end of the day, his was all gone.  To me that says people liked it and it went over well.  He did not win though, but he put up a valiant effort.

He started off by searing a brisket, and then like the mad scientist, he just started throwing in all kinds of chili goodness into the crockpot.  I believe this was the last brisket we had from our partial cow we purchased from Larry’s sister.

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Once the brisket was seared all around, Larry put it in a brine over night, then he cut it in small pieces for the chili.  I do not know what his secret brining recipe was.

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This chili had both red and black beans, canned and fresh tomatoes and onions, and peppers of all kinds and colors.  It was definitely a loaded chili, although even Larry said he should have spiced it up more.  Chili, after all, is supposed to be bold and make a bold statement.

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Larry’ Crockpot Chili

3 lbs brisket, seared and brined overnight, then cut into cubes

2 TBSP garlic

3 onions, diced medium

2 TBSP sugar

1 red pepper, 1 yellow pepper, 1 orange pepper, medium dice

2 jalapeno peppers, diced fine

1 can roasted jalapenos

1 can crushed or stewed tomatoes

2 fresh tomatoes, diced medium

2 cups beef broth or water

2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

3 TBSP chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp coriander

salt & pepper to taste

2 TBSP red wine vinegar

 

Saute the onions and peppers with the sugar until the onions are translucent and they start to caramelize.  Then add the garlic and continue to cook for about 3 minutes.

Add everything to the crockpot and mix thoroughly.  Set to cook at low for about 8 hours or over night.  When you wake up, you have chili.  Serve it with all your favorite chili condiments.

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All Hallows Eve

Happy Halloween everyone.  Halloween is also known as All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day, and Samhain as well.  However you decide to call this day of celebration, it has always been surrounded with magic, mystery and superstition, dating back from its beginnings with the Druids and the Ancient Celts up through today.  The Ancient Celts and Druids celebrated this last day of October as the end of summer and harvest and the beginning of winter.  They believed this last night before their new year began was when the boundaries between the world of the living and the world of the dead blurred, and the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.  It was celebrated with bonfires and sacrifices made to the Celtic Gods.  Costumes have always been a large part of the ceremonies.  Because times were harsh and there was often not enough food, the poor would go out begging for food, but they dressed in costumes to fool the ghosts, hoping the ghosts and spirits of the dead would not recognize them.   Often times, people disguised themselves as animals or earthen elements.

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Image result for photos of traditional celtic samhain costumes and customs

Towards the end of the 8th century and the beginning of the 9th century, Christianity had spread into the Celtic regions, as well as the rest of Europe, and was beginning to have its own influences over the land and the people.  Pope Gregory, III was trying to rid the region of its Pagan heritage and was trying to establish Christian roots instead.   In order to make the crossover more successful, he blended a lot of the old Pagan traditions with the newer Christian traditions, in hopes of replacing the old Celtic festival of the dead with the Church-sanctioned Holiday.   This blending of the cultures is still very evident today (not just in the Samhein celebrations, but in many other holiday traditions as well).  So instead of celebrating Samhain, also know as Samhuin, or All Hallows Eve, Pope Gregory, III created All Saints Day, which is celebrated on November 1st.  In The South American countries, this is known as Dia de las Muertes, or the Day of the Dead, which is a big holiday that is celebrated by everyone.

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Image result for photos of dia de las muertes

The tradition of giving out candy started from the poor begging for food from the more well-to-do families.  At first, food was left outside as a sacrifice to the dead.  It was left outside so the ghosts of the dead would not enter the house and curse the families or the homes.    But this became a health hazard and was changed over time.  Instead of leaving food outside the home, “soul cakes” were given to the poor in exchange for the promise of them saying a prayer for the dead relatives of the more affluent people.  This was known as “going-a-souling”.    Over the years, the soul cakes evolved into the giving of candy to the children, eventually to become what is known as “trick-or-treating” today.

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The carving of pumpkins is yet another old Celtic tradition, used to ward off the evil spirits, though originally turnips were used.  When the customs and traditions of Halloween spread to America, pumpkins were more readily available and were larger, and became the favored choice to carve rather than turnips.

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Image result for the history of pumpkins and halloween

However you celebrate, and whatever you call it, enjoy the day and Happy Halloween.

 

 

 

An Update on the Wrist

Hey All, I am still out of the kitchen, and still will be for a while to come, however, the wrist is slightly better today than it was yesterday.  I have a little bit more mobility and the swelling has gone down some.  So this is definitely good news.  I will keep you posted.  I will be back in the kitchen again as soon as possible.  Thank you for all your well wishes, thoughts and prayers.  Those along with the wine are really helping.  🙂

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