Tag: Spanish Cooking Saturdays

Spanish Cooking Saturdays – Torrijas & Mosto

Ever wondered how to get a little red wine into your breakfast?


No? Is that just me?

Well, in case you HAVE ever wondered that and just don’t want to admit it, never fear. I have found the way!

All you have to do is make Spanish Torrijas and a little Mosto to drizzle on them and that’ll get you about a bottle and a half…of red wine…for breakfast!  It goes a little something like this:

The night before you plan to eat this wine soaked breakfast go ahead and make the Mosto.  What is mosto, you ask?  According to Mario in my Spain…On the Road Again cookbook, it is a “term that refers to unfermented grape juice” (p. 28).  You basically take the following ingredients:

put them in a sauce pan and boil them down for about 15-20 min like so

until it reduces by 3/4.  According to Mario, it should get “thick and syrupy” by the time it has cooked down sufficiently.  My experience was not that it got to the consistency of say maple syrup, more like the consistency of cough syrup.  I recommend making it the night before so that will have plenty of time to cool down and get thicker and more syrupy before serving.  To say that it smells divine while cooking down is the understatement of the century.  (Would it be too much of a pun to say that with 3 cups of Spanish red wine, sugar, apple cider, and cinnamon the smell was intoxicating?) The only danger in making it the night before is that the Mosto will not survive the night…and by that I mean, it was all I could do not to pour it in a bowl and eat it with a spoon!

You’ll be pleased to know that I was somehow able to restrain myself and it was appropriately bottled and ready to be served the next morning when we made Torrijas for our friends H & C.

If you are not familiar with Torrijas, it’s basically the Spanish version of French toast.  Mario described it as “fried bread soaked in wine.”

Enough said.  Fried.  Bread.  Wine.  Sign me up.  I need no further convincing.

In the manner of French toast, you basically take some artisan bread and drench in the dry Spanish wine of your choice

then egg it

cook it in olive oil

drain it

sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar

pinch yourself to make sure you haven’t died and gone to heaven

drizzle it in your Mosto

and enjoy! (Sorry that’s not a great pic.  I was too preoccupied with wanting to eat it to bother with details like focusing when I took the shot!)

From our experience, it’s best served with a side of good friends and good conversation on a lovely Sunday morning!

And THAT, my friends, is how you get red wine in your breakfast!

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

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Paella’s Key Ingredient

Consider this post to be an addendum to my initial Spanish Cooking Saturday’s post on paella.  When I made it at home for me and the Beer Guy, I did it for two reasons: 1) I’d been wanting to make it for over a year and I finally had the pan to do it, and 2) I needed a trial run before I made it for my family while we were at the beach.

Since we were on the coast and I had access to more beautiful, fresh, local seafood,  I decided to add a few ingredients that I didn’t have in my first batch.  In doing so, I realized there is one ingredient that you should never make paella without.

Was it these beautiful scallops…

or these meaty little mussels…

or the smoked sausage (the shrimp, lobster, and peas were in my first batch)….

or the moonlight under which it was cooked?

Nope.  While all this ingredients definitely added more depth and ambience to my seafood paella, none of them are essential as paella can be made with any kind of meat/game, chicken, duck, or seafood.

The key ingredient to paella is COMMUNITY!  I mentioned in my inaugural paella post that real Spaniards eat the paella right out of the pan.  While BG and I had a blast doing that very thing the first time around, my pan holds 8-10 servings.  So the first night we had it, we got to eat it out of the pan  but the subsequent nights we had to dish it out in to bowls and reheat it.  That, of course, dried it out a little.

But to sit it in the middle of a table, encircled by my family, was priceless!  We had a little pan con tomate on the side too.  (I was too busy eating to get a pic of that.)  The fact that we were doing this seaside, poolside, and under the stars wasn’t too shabby either!

We neatly avoided the whole reheating-and-drying-out issue by eating it until there was nothing but empty lobster and mussel shells in the pan.  🙂

This is how this dish was meant to be served – IN COMMUNITY.  Lesson learned – Never make paella without loved ones around you!

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

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Spanish Cooking Saturdays – Paella

Today, I introduce what I intend to be a regular spot on this blog – Spanish Cooking Saturdays.  I do not promise that it will be a weekly spot, but it will be at least a monthly spot, possibly a little more frequently than that. I’ve got a big cookbook full of Spanish recipes, courtesy of Mario Batali, which will serve as fodder for many future blog entries.

Since I have this handy dandy new paella pan, I shall start this adventure by trying my hand at paella.  Apparently, before actually using the paella pan, it must be properly seasoned.  I don’t remember all the rationale as to why this needs to be done, but I think it’s got something to do with keeping the pan from rusting.  Anyway, seasoning the pan involves wiping it down with canola oil and placing it on my stove burners until it changes from the pretty, shiny, silvery steel color to a golden brown throughout the surface of the pan, like so:

Being generally persnickety and liking for things to always be clean and new looking, this sort of distresses me.  However, I choose to look at the seasoning of my pan as evidence that it is being put to good use, not just getting “messed up.”

And speaking of good use…

Now, Mario and Gwyneth made this on a open fire in Valencia with a well “seasoned” chef.  Not having access to a space for an open fire in the heart of Charlotte, I asked the Beer Guy to fire up the grill for me.  I’m not exactly sure how to go about doing that myself.  We made a”rule” when we got married – I’m in charge of indoor cooking, he’s in charge of outdoor cooking…and he who does not cook it is in charge of cleaning it up! (That’s works out pretty well for moi as most of our meals are made indoors. 🙂 )

Making paella isn’t difficult, it just has several steps.  The whole process took about 1 1/2 hrs, but it was well worth it in the end.  I chose to make a seafood paella since I will likely be making this for my family at the beach next week.  I grabbed some lobster tails, shrimp, tiger prawns and the like from the seafood department at my local Harris Teeter.  First you throw those in the pan to brown them and establish the seafood flavored base for the dish.

Looks good enough to eat by itself, right?  But we must press on…Remove the shellfish, add the onions, and cook until soft.

Next add pureed tomato, sweet Spanish pimentón, and saffron.

Add the Bomba rice and the stock.  If I was super cool I would have made my own stock.  But when there’s no time for that, store bought stock works just fine.

Cook until the rice has absorbed nearly all the liquid

Add the shellfish, any other uncooked seafood, and some peas into the mix and cook until the remainder of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is all brown and crunchy around the edges of the pan.  Mario says to cook it until the pan starts to make a funny “crackling noise” and you are starting to worry that it’s burning.

Voila-The finished product!

(And yes, I’m aware that I used a French term to punctuate the completion of my Spanish dish, but I am unaware of the Spanish equivalent.)  Since the paella needed to “rest” for 10 min or so before serving, there was ample time to snap some “finished product” shots.

Next up, crack open a great Spanish wine

eat it right out of the pan (‘cuz that’s what real Spaniards do)…

and enjoy your Saturday evening!

I can think of no better way to eat in on a Saturday night, can you?


Wine Girl

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