24 Loaves: Pan Gallego

I’ve been on a Spanish kick the last week or two. I’ve also been thinking that if I’m going to make the 24 loaves I committed to earlier in the year, I need to move on from the perfect baguettes that I’ve been making with the basic AB5 recipe. These two factors directly contributed to me making a truly gorgeous, albeit moon-like, loaf of Pan Gallego Sunday night.

Pan Gallego

There are many variations on this loaf, but at its heart, this is a rustic, multi-grain bread from Galicia, in the Spanish northwest.  This version includes both white and whole wheat flours, with additional flavor and texture coming from pumpkin and sunflower seeds and millet, a tiny grain I’d previously only encountered in birdseed.  This was my first truly multi-grain bread, and my first experience trying to knead anything into an already risen loaf.  I’m pretty sure that more of the seeds ended up in the bread than spread across the counter and on the floor, but I’m not confident that I achieved a really good distribution throughout the loaf.

I am, however, pleased to report that our $2 paving tile has proved to be a reliable baking stone.  Instead of sliding the loaf on and off of a cornmeal-coated baking sheet and moving pans of water into and out of the oven – as recommended in the recipe – I gently transferred the twice-risen loaf to the very hot tile and added a bit of water to the broiling pan that lives in our oven for just that purpose.  In under an hour, we had an amazing 2 pound loaf of bread – more than enough for the two of us for a week, but tasty enough that it might not last that long.  I’ll definitely be baking this one again.

Recipes:
Pan Gallego from Spanish – the actual recipe used varies only slightly from the one linked

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Mitigated Spanish Success

I knocked out two more recipes from my Spanish cookbook last week, both of which were mitigated successes. I say ‘mitigated’ because while we enjoyed both dishes, both had significant problems.

First, Lentils and Mushrooms.

Lentejas con champiñones/ Lentils with button mushrooms
Photo by Javier García

There are few things more hunger-inducing than the smell of sauteeing onions, garlic, and mushrooms – which is exactly how this recipe starts. Add in the lentils and a few other things, then cover and simmer until the lentils are soft and the liquid is almost gone – EXCEPT that that never happened. Instead of stirring Pernod and a handful of fresh parsley into the pot, we added a small amount of each to bowls of slightly drained stew, the remainder of which was left on the stove in hopes that it would reduce. It didn’t. We enjoyed the dish, but I question the necessity of covering the pot, especially since the lentils were pre-soaked and well on their way to being soft.

Second, Marmitako, a Basque stew that features tuna, tomatoes, and potatoes. I love these process photos, all shared by Flickr user BocaDorada and licensed under Creative Commons1:

Así se empieza con el marmitako

Los ingredientes del marmitako

Parte del proceso de la preparación del marmitako

Cena

We’ve been getting the occasional tuna steak from Trader Joe’s – they come frozen in packages of two, which is just the right amount for a hearty dinner. While the tuna is typically cooked in the stew, the recipe I used recommended searing it in a separate pan, then adding it to the pot, where it is then topped with potatoes and simmered for half an hour or so. In theory, this means that everything is nicely reduced and the tuna is moist and tender. However, as with the previous recipe, there was just too much damned liquid, even with the lid removed for the last ten minutes. I did scale the recipe back and used fewer potatoes than required, but I doubt that the small amount of omitted potatoes would have soaked up the extra two cups of liquid that I spooned out before serving. A fine dinner, and good leftovers, but not something we’ll make again.

Alternative Recipes:
This take on Spanish Mushrooms and Lentils from Herbivoracious looks excellent, though it lacks the anise that was so appealing for me in the recipe we tried. This version of Marmitako from Global Gourmet appears to avoid the too much liquid problem by not covering the pot and also baking it in the oven, rather than simmering on the stovetop.

1 It is worth noting that any photos shared on this site that are not ours were either shared with the explicit permission of the photographer or are licensed under Creative Commons.

0815 Pisto Manchego

pisto manchego.JPG
Photo by zordor

Without actually realizing it, I think I’ve been making pisto manchego all summer. A Spanish take on ratatouille, it is peasant food at its finest – putting together a bit of whatever’s available to make a filling and nutritious meal.  This recipe did an effective job of clearing out the crisper, using up the a handful of tomatoes, two peppers, and yellow summer squash all from our garden.

What the recipe lacks, however, is much spice.  As I was sauteing the vegetables, I was concerned that the dish was going to be boring, that I’d just wasted the last squash from our garden – curse you, cucumber beetles!  The recipe recommended serving the dish with tinned tuna or hard boiled eggs – we went with the former, and it made all the difference.  We were both quite pleasantly surprised by the complexity of flavors, especially the sweetness of the pepper in contrast with the savory fish.  I’d like to try this again with fried eggs – perhaps a Spanish improvement on the shakshuka from earlier in the year.

Pisto Manchego
Adapted from Spanish

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 Spanish onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 medium green peppers, seeded and chopped
2 medium zucchinis, thinly sliced
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
hard boiled eggs (optional)
tuna in olive oil (optional)

Heat the oil in a large heavy pan – larger than you think you’ll need, trust me – and cook the garlic and onion until soft.  Add the peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes.  Season well and cook gently for about 20 minutes.  If you’ve used a pan that’s too small to allow everything to make contact with the cooking surface, it may help to cover your pan with a lid for part of the cooking time.  Stir in parsley just before serving.  Can be served hot, topped with chopped egg or tuna, or cold with a drizzle of olive oil.

0725 A Day of Improv Meals

Breakfast: sausages, an asiago bagel sliced into four pieces of toast, fried eggs for Shane and slices of tomato for me.  Weekend Edition Sunday and the puzzle.  Coffee.  A late morning attempt at geocaching turned into half an hour of wandering in the woods.  Who knew that we could wander in the woods without leaving our neighborhood?

Lunch: I had intended to riff on this recipe for dinner last night, but we ate at weird hours, and so pushed this back to today.  While I prepped and grilled mushrooms, zucchini, and a purple pepper on our grill pan, Shane picked basil and whipped up a quick batch of pesto.  We spread ricotta on toast, then topped it with pesto or fresh basil, piles of vegetables, and a drizzle of balsamic crema.  Soo good, especially followed by a moped ride downtown, walking around in the sunshine, and froyo from Lab.

Dinner: We picked up more chickens from Back 40 yesterday, but neither of us felt like chicken.  We did, however, feel like end-of-the-fridge snacks: corn on the cob, edamame, asiago from last week’s snack dinner, an assortment of pickles, and homemade beet chips using wee beets from our garden and a recipe from the Spanish cookbook.  They started out as small colorful coins:

Beet Chips Before

And after a short swim in very hot oil, they ended up like this:

Beet Chips After

Not really big enough to dip in the salt-and-peppered ricotta, but totally delicious anyway.  A fine way to end a fine weekend – and also another recipe knocked off of the Spanish cookbook challenge.

0719 Albóndigas con Salsa de Tomate

Oh my gosh, you guys. Tonight’s dinner may have redeemed the Spanish cookbook experiment. Now why couldn’t I have just called this dish ‘meatballs in tomato sauce’? Because then I would miss out on a perfectly good excuse to pretend that I can speak, well, any Spanish at all. I mean, I can ask about the location of the bathroom, and I can say that I want more of something, but that’s about it.

Anyway, this was super easy and definitely worth heating up the kitchen on an already hot night. I could walk you through the process, but I actually have photos for once, and the whole recipe is at the bottom of this post. So, albóndigas from start to finish:

Making Albóndigas

Albóndigas in the frying pan

Making Salsa de Tomate

Albóndigas con Salsa de Tomate

These were excellent meatballs – sorry, albóndigas – and I loved the bright orange-yellow of the tomato sauce – sorry, the salsa de tomate – over the creamy polenta.  I have a feeling we’ll be making this one again soon.

Albóndigas con Salsa de Tomate
Adapted from Spanish

8 ounces minced ground pork
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons fresh oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil, more if necessary
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons red or dry white wine
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the pork, green onions, garlic, cheese, oregano, and plenty of salt and pepper.  Form into 12-14 small firm balls.  Heat the olive oil a large heavy frying pan over medium-high heat, then add the meatballs and cook for about 5 minutes, turning frequently, until evenly browned.  Add the wine and quickly deglaze the pan, then add the remaining ingredients and cover, lowering the heat to medium.  Cook gently for about 15 minutes until the tomatoes are saucy and the meatballs are cooked through.  Excellent served over polenta or with crusty bread.

0717 Tortilla with Beans

In honor of Spain’s recent win in the World Cup, I decided that I wanted to cook my way through a Spanish cookbook that has been lingering in my collection for several years.  I’m allowing myself to skip 10 (of 150+) recipes, with extra special dispensation given to pulpo gallego in honor of Paul the psychic octopus, who called the game in favor of España.  While I’ve made a few recipes from the cookbook, tonight marked the first meal since taking on this challenge.

AND unfortunately, it was a disappointment.  The fava beans were obviously past their prime, and so lacked the firm texture and fresh taste from earlier in the season.  The potatoes – harvested from our garden – crisped up nicely, but made for a super bland texture with the already bland beans.  The tortilla didn’t set in the middle, though I was able to easily invert it out and back into the pan.  We used medium eggs instead of extra large, which may have had something to do with how the dish set up, but shouldn’t have made THAT much of a difference.

I was also perplexed by the serving size.  The tortilla recipe on the facing page called for fewer extra ingredients beyond the classic eggs, onions, and potatoes, but served 4-6.  This recipe, intended to be served in cubes as tapas, was supposed to serve 2.  We both had generous portions topped with a lot of hot sauce, and still had more than half of the tortilla remaining.

I’m including the recipe below roughly as written, and would love your ideas for how to improve it.  Or maybe we’ll just stick with frittatas.

Tortilla with Beans
Adapted from Spanish

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 Spanish onions, thinly sliced
11 ounces waxy potatoes, cut into dice
1 3/4 cups shelled and peeled broad (fava) beans
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, oregano or summer savory
6 extra large eggs
3 tablespoons mixed chopped fresh chives and fresh Italian parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a deep non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Add the onions and potatoes and stir to coat.  Cover and cook gently for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked and the onions are translucent.  Add the beans and thyme (or oregano or summer savory) and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir well and cook 2-3 minutes.  Beat the eggs with salt, pepper, and the remaining herbs.  Pour over the potatoes and onions and increase the heat slightly.  Cook until the egg sets on the bottom, pushing the tortilla away from the edge of the pan so that the uncooked egg can run underneath.  Cover the pan with a large plate and invert the tortilla out onto it.  Add the remaining oil to the pan, then slip the now upside-down tortilla back in and cook for 3-4 more minutes.  Serves 4-6.