Saturday, August 23, 2014


Coffee granizado.

I adore Spanish bar coffee—strong espresso with a shot of foamy, hot milk, served in a short glass.  But, in this hot weather, steamy coffee offers no pleasure. I order a tall glass of ice cubes and, after sweetening the coffee to taste, I pour it over the ice. Still tastes wonderful, but now it’s cold. I chill out with the local newspaper at my favorite café in the plaza.

Café con leche and a glass of ice.

My iced coffee reminds me of one of summer’s treats from many years ago, before there were ice cream stands on every corner, enjoyed on infrequent trips into Málaga city. There, on Calle Nueva, was a famous heladería, Casa Mira, founded in 1890, that served wonderful house-made ice creams (turrón ice cream was a specialty) and granizado de café.

A granizado is somewhere between a granita and a slushie—strong, sweet coffee turned into crystalline ice. Add a dollop of ice cream (a favorite flavor was nata—cream—plain vanilla without the vanilla) or sweetened whipped cream and call it a blanco y negro—“white and black”.

So, why not make coffee granizado at home? What a lovely idea.

Easy method: pour cold, strong, sweetened coffee over crushed ice, stir.

Frozen coffee.
Or, freeze the coffee and grind it to snow. Use either 4 cups of freshly brewed coffee, sweetened to taste, or instant coffee (“gold” brand) and water. Freeze, break up the ice and use an immersion blender to blend to slush. Blending incorporates air and turns the ice to “snow.” The ice will change color, from dark coffee to what looks like milky coffee, though it contains no milk.

As the granizado melts, the coffee separates from the "snow."

Serve the ice in short coupes or tall glasses. The slush begins to melt quite rapidly, separating into snow and dark coffee. Add a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream, if desired. Or, how about a splash of brandy?  A cool finish to a summer’s meal.

Serve in coffee cups, dessert coupes or tall glasses.
Granizado de Café
Coffee Ice

3 tablespoons instant coffee powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup boiling water
3 cups cold water

Combine the coffee powder and sugar in a heatproof bowl. Add the boiling water and stir until dissolved. Add the cold water. Pour into a bowl and place in the freezer until partially frozen, about 3 hours.

Break up the ice. Use an immersion blender to blend the coffee to slush. Return it to the freezer. Before it freezes hard, break it up again and blend until smooth.

Spoon the coffee ice into short coupes or tall glasses and serve immediately. The granizado can be stored in the freezer. Before serving, partially thaw it and blend again.

Lemon granizado is made in the same manner: Prepare lemonade and freeze it, blend to snow. My lemon tree has only green fruit right now, so lemon granizado is not on my play list.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Cooking class: tapas and Sherry.


Come along on a cooking class and learn how to make tortilla and more great dishes from Spain!


“You can do it, Sarah,” I coach her. “Hold the plate tight on top of the tortilla, let some of the oil drain off into the bowl, then turn it right over.”

¡Olé! Sarah flips the tortilla and eases it back into the pan.

But, oh no!, some of the egg-potato mixture is sliding into the bowl too. We decide to put the tortilla back over a low flame and let it cook just a tad longer. The next try, Sarah turns the golden-brown tortilla onto the plate and slides it back into the skillet to cook on the reverse side. ¡Olé! Well done.

This is Day 1 of a three-day cooking course in My Kitchen in Spain with Sarah and Rosemary from Bristol, England. The tortilla is a variation on the classic one with just potatoes and onions. This one has diced chorizo (“everything can be improved with chorizo!” declares Sarah) and chopped chard as well.

We’ve already prepared three different gazpachos—traditional tomato, white-garlic with almonds and watermelon-yogurt—and put them to chill.

For the white gazpacho, we gather the almonds in the garden, crack them, blanch them to slip off the skins, then grind them in a food processor. That’s eating local!

The tomatoes, too, are from the garden. We do a taste-test—“long-life” supermarket tomatoes, all of them stamped out of the same mold, identically red and unblemished; big, misshapen beefsteak tomatoes from the market, and ones from my garden. The supermarket tomatoes, Sarah and Rosemary say, are considerably better than the ones they get in England. The market tomatoes are way sweeter and more flavorful. Lastly, the homegrown, organic ones—wow! What a difference!

That gazpacho, with no cucumbers or peppers in the blend, is one of the best ever to come out of my kitchen.

Day 2, we are off to the local market in the morning to get everything for a paella dinner today (the paella shopping list and recipe appear here) and a tapas spread tomorrow.

Disappointment at the fish stall—“No quedan boquerones,” we are told. The  boquerones, fresh anchovies, to prepare al natural, in a vinegar marinade, are all gone. We compensate with some tiny clams to cook with wine and garlic, a la marinera.

At the butcher’s shop, we get chicken for the paella, pork to make pinchos morunos, spicy mini-kebabs; and sliced serrano ham to go with sweet melon. Later, I discover I’ve forgotten the ground meat (mince, as the English call it) for the albóndigas, meatballs in almond sauce, one of my favorite tapas. I stop at the supermarket later in the afternoon when I pick up Sarah and Rosemary who have stayed in the village to shop for gifts.

Sarah mixes white sangría.
Back in the kitchen, we make a white wine sangría with orange slices, peaches and melon to sip while we prep the paella. “Not too sweet,” says Sarah. “Just right.”  They choose not to dilute it with fizzy water.

Rosemary enjoys a sangría.

Prepping for paella. Artichoke!

We’ve already prepared leche merengada, meringue ice milk, and put it in the freezer. A sweet and cold finale to our meal.

Day 3, Sarah and Rosemary enjoy leftover gazpacho for lunch by the pool and we start our cooking class in the late afternoon. Lots to do today!

The “lesson plan” for our tapas class is my cookbook, TAPAS—A BITE OF SPAIN (the book, with photos by Michelle Chaplow, is available from Santana Books). Rosemary is looking ahead for ideas for a party she is planning for her husband’s birthday. I show them how to adapt tapa-bar favorites to home entertaining.

Because tapas in their origin—Sevilla, Jerez de la Frontera—are so closely associated with Sherry wines, our tapas party will also be a Sherry tasting. So, to get us rolling, we make dessert (or, as the Brits say, “pudding,” even if it’s not pudding)—Tipsy Cakes, squares of sponge soaked in Sherry syrup.

Here’s our tapas menu.

Manzanilla fino from Sanlucar de Barrameda with gambas al ajillo (sizzling shrimp), toasted almonds, regañas (crackers), manzanilla olives.

Pinchos morunos- pork kebabs.

Fino Sherry from Puerto de Santa María with serrano ham, figs and melon; pork kebabs (pinchos morunos) and Málaga salad with oranges.

Ensalada malagueña with oranges.

Oloroso seco Sherry from Jerez with meatballs in almond-saffron sauce, potato salad with lemony dressing and fried eggplant (aubergine) drizzled with molasses.

With tipsy cakes, in theory, we should have had an accompanying PX Sherry, but we are happy to keep sipping the mellow oloroso seco with dessert. Sarah and Rosemary have a scoop of the remaining meringue ice milk too.

Meatballs in almond sauce.

Potatoes with lemon dressing.

All of the mentioned recipes, except for the tortilla with chorizo and chard, have previously appeared on this blog. To find them, go to the “Search” window at the upper-left corner and enter the recipe name.

Would you like to join me for cooking classes? Go to this blog post,, and follow the link there to send me an inquiry.

Tortilla de Patatas con Chorizo y Acelgas
Potato Tortilla with Chorizo and Chard

Tortilla with potatoes, bits of chorizo and chard.
Makes 20 tapas or 4 main dishes.

1 kg / 2 ¼ lb potatoes (about 4 large)
120 ml / 4 fl oz / ½ cup olive oil
150 g / 5 ¼ oz chard leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped onion
85 g / 3 oz chorizo, cut in ½ cm / 3/8 in dice
1 teaspoon salt
6 eggs

Peel the potatoes, cut them in half lengthwise and slice thinly crosswise. Heat the oil in a 28-cm / 11-in no-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the potatoes, turn them in the oil, then reduce heat and let them cook slowly, without browning, 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, blanch the chopped chard in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain well.

Add the onion, diced chorizo, chard and half of the salt to the potatoes in the pan. Continue cooking potatoes until they are completely tender, 15 minutes longer.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl with the remaining salt.

Place a large plate on top of the pan of potatoes. Tilt the pan so the oil runs to one side. Holding the plate tightly, carefully tip the pan and drain the oil into a small heatproof bowl. Stir the potatoes, chard and chorizo into the beaten eggs.

Return a spoonful of oil to the pan over medium heat. Pour in the egg-potato mixture. Spread it evenly. Reduce heat and cook, without stirring, until the tortilla is set on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Do not allow the bottom to brown too much. You can shake the pan occasionally to make sure the tortilla doesn’t stick on the bottom.

Again, place the plate on top of the pan. Working over a bowl to catch any drips, hold the plate tightly in place and turn the pan upside down, reversing the tortilla onto the plate. Slide the tortilla back into the frying pan. Let it cook on the bottom, 2 minutes.

Lift the front edge of the tortilla and carefully slide it out of the pan onto a serving dish or cutting board. Cut into 5-cm / 2-in squares to serve as a tapa or into wedges if serving as a lunch dish. Serve hot, warm or cold.

Saturday, August 9, 2014


Perfect summer dessert--frozen torte with whipped cream and squiggles of chocolate.

I remember my mother making “ice-box cake,” put together with layers of vanilla wafers and pudding. Yeah, ice-box. Back in the late 40’s, in the Midwest town where I grew up, the ice man delivered chunks of ice that cooled the insulated box for storing milk, butter, meat.

Spain has its version of this summertime dessert, tarta helada, or frozen torte. Here it’s put in the freezer, not the fridge. It comes out much like an ice cream cake.

Retro, sure, but a really good idea for a hot weather dessert to serve to guests when I certainly am not going to turn on the oven. Nope, not even for pie, something else I remember fondly from Midwestern summers.

Tarta helada has lots of variations. Add a layer of chopped fruit, such as peaches or dried figs that have been soaked in brandy. Add a spoonful of coffee to the milk for a mocha flavor. Substitute sweet Sherry or a liqueur for the brandy or, if serving to children, omit the alcoholic flavor completely. Sprinkle toasted almonds or hazelnuts on top. Because it's so rich and sweet, this torte makes enough to serve a crowd. Prepare it days ahead of a party and have it ready in the freezer. Add it to last week's menu for summer dining.

Cookies for layering the cake.
I used rectangular galletas tostadas, a type of plain, not-too-sweet cookie. Each cookie measures 2 ¼ inch X 1 ½ inch. I needed about 45 cookies, about 9 ounces, to fill a 11 ½ X 4-inch loaf pan. To substitute graham crackers, use 1 packet, or about 11 sheets. It’s fine to break them up to fit the pan. Don’t soak the cookies in milk—just quickly dip them, in and out. Otherwise they turn totally soggy before you get them placed.

I found the buttercream filling to be so sweet that I didn’t want more sugar added to the whipped cream frosting. I suggest you taste as you go. This recipe calls for raw egg yolks—if that is a health problem in your area, just omit them.

Tarta Helada
Frozen Torte

Freeze the cake days before, then slice and serve.
Serves 12.

For the torte:
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 egg yolks
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
½ cup cream
6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons brandy (optional)
Plain cookies, graham crackers or galletas María, about ½ pound

For the frosting:
¾ cup whipping cream
½ tablespoon confectioner’s sugar (optional)
Drop of vanilla extract

For the chocolate glaze:
2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil

Cream the butter in a mixer at medium speed. Beat in  the confectioners’ sugar, little by little. Beat in the egg yolks, vanilla and pinch of salt. Set aside.

Put the cream in a small pan and bring to a boil. Add the chopped chocolate. Remove from heat and allow the chocolate to soften for 5 minutes. Stir the chocolate until it is completely smooth. Set aside.

Prepare a loaf pan (approximately 11 ½ X 4 inches). Oil it lightly. Line it with a sheet of plastic film.

Spread a layer of the buttercream mixture in the bottom of the loaf pan.

Place cookies on a layer of buttercream.
Combine the milk and brandy in a shallow bowl. Dip cookies, one by one, into the milk-brandy and place them in a single layer onto the buttercream. Spread ½ of the chocolate on top of the cookies. Add another layer of cookies dipped in milk, then buttercream. Continue with cookies, chocolate, cookies, buttercream and finish with cookies. (Five layers of cookies.) Fold the plastic wrap over the top and place the mold in the freezer for at least 8 hours.

Prepare the frosting. Chill the beaters and bowl before whipping the cream. Whip the cream until it holds soft peaks. Beat in the sugar and vanilla.  

Slather the torte with whipped cream.
Remove the torte from the freezer. Let it set about 4 minutes. Loosen edges with a knife and unmold the torte onto a platter that will fit into the freezer. Remove the plastic wrap.

Working quickly so the torte doesn’t melt, frost the torte with the whipped cream. Return it to the freezer for 1 hour.

Prepare the chocolate glaze. Combine the chopped chocolate and oil in a small saucepan. Heat gently until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and beat the chocolate until smooth and glossy.

Again remove the torte from the freezer. Drizzle the chocolate over the frosting. Return to the freezer.

When the frosting and glaze are frozen, remove the torte from the freezer and wrap it in plastic wrap and foil. Store it in the freezer until serving time. 

Cold and luscious.
To serve, dip a sharp knife in hot water and cut the torte into slices. For easy serving, the torte can be pre-cut and individual slices wrapped in plastic wrap and returned to the freezer.