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La Cena Español:Creating Your Own Spanish Feast

Aug 29, 2013 03:21AM ● By Erin Frisch

You don’t have to have an ounce of Spanish blood to throw a good Spanish fiesta. In fact, all you need is a pitcher or two of sangria, or “blood” (actually just a blend of juices and red wine), and our recipes below. A Spanish feast is the perfect end-of-summer spread. These dishes can easily be made in large batches; just double or triple the recipes to accommodate more guests. From tapas for starters all the way to a chocolate specialty to finish off the evening, here’s how to add a little Spanish spice to your life.

Sangria: Perhaps the epitome of refreshing summer drinks, this cocktail can be made as strong or as fruity as you like. For the classic recipe, simply combine in a large pitcher one bottle of red wine, ½ cup brandy, ½ cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Add one green apple, cored and thinly sliced, one thinly sliced large navel orange, and one thinly sliced lemon. You can also vary the flavor by substituting different fruits like blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, watermelon, or peach. Adding just one of these will give your sangria its own dimension. Chill this mixture, covered, for several hours, and serve on ice.

Pimientos con Queso: These spicy little devils are served at every respectable tapas bar in Spain. Grill as many poblano peppers as desired on your grill, rotating them often, for about 20 minutes, or until the outsides start to char and blacken. Place the hot peppers in a sealed plastic bag to allow them to steam. When cooled, peel off the charred skins, slit each pepper from top to bottom, and remove the seedpods from inside. Stuff each pepper with a mix of shredded manchego, cheddar, and mozzarella cheeses. Return the peppers to the grill for less than 10 minutes. Remove when the cheese has melted and serve immediately with a mild salsa.

Jamon con melon: Probably the simplest tapa to prepare, ham and melon is a crowd-pleaser. Simply slice a cantaloupe or a honeydew into wedges and wrap paper-thin strips of Serrano ham around the center of each slice. Garnish with sea salt and basil leaves.

Paella de Marisco: This is the main course for your feast. Paella is a one-pot wonder that’s surprisingly easy to prepare, and it’s perfect for a crowd. In a large paella pan, sauté 1 large white onion, diced, and a few spoonfuls of minced garlic in olive oil. When nicely browned, add 1 cup cubed chorizo sausage. Add a red, a green, a yellow, and an orange pepper, sliced into strips, and two diced tomatoes. Season generously with saffron, parsley, paprika, salt, and cracked pepper. Let this cook for a few minutes. Add 4 cups rice and stir, and then pour in 3 cups of warm water and 3 cups of chicken broth. Let simmer for about 10 minutes to allow the rice to absorb some of the liquid. Insert in the cooking rice a dozen or more littleneck clams, shells and all, and about 1 pound raw shrimp, tails removed. Let steam to allow the seafood to cook, for a little less than 10 minutes. When shrimp are cooked, stir in 1 package of frozen peas. Give the pan a few good stirs and then let the mixture simmer until the rice has absorbed the rest of the liquid (about 20 minutes). When ready to serve, turn the mixture into a big, beautiful serving bowl and garnish with a squeeze of lemon, lemon wedges, and fresh parsley.

Tres Leche de Chocolate: This spongy, milky classic is elevated to another level of richness with the addition of chocolate. Heat oven to 375°. In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup flour and ½ teaspoon each salt and baking soda. In another bowl, stir together ¾ cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons vanilla, and 2/3 cup warm water to form a paste. In a third bowl, beat together 6 eggs and 1 cup white sugar for about 5 minutes until fluffy. Stir in the cocoa paste, and then fold in the flour mixture. Pour into a greased pan any shape of your liking and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, bring ½ cup cream to a light boil and then remove from heat and immediately add ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate. Stir until chocolate dissolves, then add another ½ cup cream, a 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk, an 11-ounce can of evaporated milk, ½ cup regular milk (or ½ cup cream if you desire a richer cake), and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Return to low heat and stir until condensed milk dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool. Pierce several holes in the cake with a skewer and pour half of the chocolate cream over the top. Let absorb for about ten minutes, and then repeat with the remainder of the chocolate cream until the cake is well saturated. Refrigerate and serve cold with whipped cream.

What is your favorite traditional Spanish recipe?

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