Saturday, March 18, 2017


I am all about traditional Spanish cooking, home cooking, which, although often inspired, is seldom fancy. Variations on family dishes are legion, with every housewife adapting recipes to availability, but innovations are few. No one would dream of putting basil or chile into gazpacho, let alone of making a jellied variation with shrimp or turning it into ice cream or foam or smoke.

But, sometimes even the tried and true needs a little tweaking, just for fun. So after I decided on a very traditional Málaga recipe to make this week—potaje de jibia con garbanzos—cuttlefish and chickpea stew, a traditional dish for Lenten meals in which cuttlefish takes the place of the meat and sausage in typical legume stews —I dreamed up some variations to jazz it up a bit.

A traditional Lenten stew with chunks of cuttlefish, chickpeas, chard and potatoes.

Potaje is a sturdy, one-pot family meal--

Same potaje with the addition of shrimp and an inky alioli sauce.

I served the original stew in small portions molded in a disc and embellished them with a garlicky alioli sauce colored black with cuttlefish ink.  The kids thought it was a hoot. I loved the way it looked—right up until I stirred the inky sauce into the chickpea stew, turning it a weird grey! See what you think.

Cuttlefish (jibia, sepia, choco) is a cephalopod, like squid and octopus. It is exceptionally meaty, making it a good choice for this stew. However, either squid or octopus could be used instead. Squid is not so thick as cuttlefish and needs less cooking time. Octopus should be cooked whole for 30 minutes, then cut into pieces to continue cooking in the stew.)

Traditional stew.

Same stew, jazzed up. Serve it as a starter.

Cuttlefish and Chickpea Stew
Potaje de Jibia y Garbanzos

Put the chickpeas to soak a day before cooking the stew.

Char-roast the head of garlic over a gas flame or under the broiler until blackened. Rub off outer skin, but leave the head of garlic whole to make it easier to remove from the stew later.

Serves 6.

Meaty chunks of cuttlefish.
1 pound chickpeas
Hot water
2 bay leaves
1 onion
2 cloves
10 peppercorns
1 tablespoon salt
1 ¼ pounds cleaned cuttlefish, cut in bite-size pieces
1 head garlic, char-roasted
1 green frying pepper, stem and seeds removed
1 medium tomato
1 tablespoon pimentón (paprika, not smoked)
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups chopped chard
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
Sprigs of fresh mint to serve

The day before cooking the stew, put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with hot water to 1 ½ their depth. Soak overnight.

Drain the chickpeas and rinse them in warm water. Fill a large pot with 10 cups of water: Bring it to a boil and add the chickpeas. When water again comes to a boil, skim off the froth that rises to the top. Add the bay leaves, whole onion stuck with cloves, the peppercorns and salt. Simmer, covered, 40 minutes. (Chickpeas will be about half-cooked.)

Add the cut-up cuttlefish, the whole head of garlic, green pepper and whole tomato. Mix the pimentón and cumin with the oil and stir into the pot.  Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, 40 minutes. 

Squeeze pulp from garlic cloves.

Use a skimmer or slotted spoon to remove the onion, garlic, pepper and tomato. Discard the cloves and put the onion in a blender. Slip skins off of the pepper and tomato and place them in the blender. Squeeze the garlic cloves into the blender. Blend the vegetables, adding a little liquid from the pot, as needed. Stir the blender mixture back into the pot. Add the chard and potatoes. Bring again to a boil, reduce heat and cook, uncovered, until potatoes and chard are tender, about 20 minutes.

Allow the stew to settle 5 minutes before serving with a sprig of mint in each bowl.

Molded tower has collapsed!


Mold the well-drained stew in ring molds or oiled flan cups. (You can make a disc mold by removing both top and bottom from a 3-inch diameter tuna-fish can.)

Use ink sacs from fresh cuttlefish or packets of frozen cuttlefish ink to color the sauce. Ask your fish vendor for the packets of ink or look for them in the frozen foods section.

Cuttlefish and chickpea stew
Rainbow chard
18 cooked and peeled small shrimp
For the inky alioli sauce:
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 clove crushed garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 or 4 (4-gram) packets of cuttlefish ink

Make the stew as in the preceding recipe, using rainbow chard. Use a slotted spoon to separate 6 cups of the cuttlefish, chickpeas and vegetables. Drain off as much of the liquid as possible.

Place a small ring mold on a plate. Fill it with about 1 cup of the cuttlefish and chickpeas, pressing down slightly to pack the mixture. Blot any liquid that runs off with paper towels. Carefully lift off the ring. Continue to mold the remaining 5 servings.

Place 3 cooked shrimp on top of each mound. 

Squeeze ink from packets.

Make the ink sauce. Stir the mayonnaise until smooth. Add the garlic. Beat in the oil little by little so the sauce emulsifies. Stir in the lemon juice. Squeeze cuttlefish ink into the sauce and stir.
Use a spoon to dribble and trail the sauce around the mound of chickpea and cuttlefish stew. Serve room temperature. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017


While I was working through the cocido leftovers last week, I made an Andalusian classic, montadito de pringá, a sandwich made with the cooked meats and fat from the cocido mashed to a kind of pâté.  That inspired a week’s worth of montaditos!


A classic--montaditos de pringá--cooked meat from the cocido, mashed with pork fat--on toasted rolls.

Montadito means “mounted,” or “up in the saddle.” A slice of juicy, fried pork loin, “mounted” on bread and topped with strips of red piquillo pepper, is a classic montadito.  You can heap just about anything on a bread roll and call it a montadito—for example, Russian salad, fried fish, sautéed mushrooms or leftover cocido. So, go ahead, invent some montadito combos for yourself.

A montadito isn’t your ordinary sandwich, something slapped between two slices of sandwich bread. The bread—a fresh, crusty roll—is as important as the filling. Montaditos are served in cafeterias for “elevenses,” segundo desayuno, second breakfast, eaten mid-morning. They’re a favorite tapa bar selection and, of course, they make an ideal lunch. Sometimes the bread is toasted or grilled. Some montaditos are served cold, some hot.

On the left, molletes, smooth buns; above them is a chapata, a small ciabatta; next, a whole-wheat barra, or "bar" loaf; the other three are bollos, crusty rolls, each one makes an individual sandwich.

Usual breads for montaditos are bollo, a crusty roll; barra or baguette, a long, crusty loaf that, once filled, is cut into shorter lengths; mollete, a soft, flat bap of a bun, somewhere between a pita and hamburger bun (but, unlike hamburger buns, with no sugar); chapata, from “ciabatta,” with air pockets in the spongy crumb, and pan de país, country bread baked in round loaves and thickly sliced.  

Blood sausage, raisins and pine nuts, heaped on toasts.

Spread rolls with a spicy tomato sauce, add sardines and strips of piquillo pepper.

Pepito--a steak sandwich, with a tangy mushroom sauce.

Kale with walnuts and cheese, stuffed in a bun called mollete.

Leftovers on a Bun
Montadito de Pringá

Use any leftover boiled meats from the cocido—beef, pork belly, chicken, ham, chorizo, morcilla (blood sausage). Shred or chop them. Be sure to include some tocino, fatty cooked salt pork. The fat, heated and mashed, binds the shredded meat and turns the mixture into a spread for the toasted rolls. (The recipe for complete cocido is here.)

The meat mixture probably needs no added salt or other seasoning. 

Use crusty rolls or soft molletes, which are like buns. Split the rolls and toast them. Spread the pringá on the rolls and press the top half down so the bread absorbs the juices. The montaditos can be prepared in advance. Spread the pringá in the rolls, wrap them in foil. When ready to serve, heat them on a griddle or in the oven.

2 cups chopped or shredded meat, fat and chicken
3 tablespoons cocido broth
4 small rolls, split and toasted

Heat the chopped and shredded meat and fat with the broth in a skillet. Mash the fat to make a sort of paste. Heap the hot pringá on the toasted rolls.

Blood Sausage with Raisins and Pine Nuts on Toast
Montadito de Morcilla

Sweet raisins and crunchy pine nuts contrast with rich and spicy blood sausage (also called black pudding or budin noir). Málaga muscatel raisins are the best, but they have to be seeded. Or use any seedless raisin. Use either morcilla de Burgos with rice or morcilla de cebolla, with onion. Use bollos, crusty rolls, or thickly-sliced country bread. These montaditos are served open-faced.

Makes 8 open-faced toasts.

Blood sausage, raisins and pine nuts.
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup pine nuts
10 ounces morcilla (blood sausage)
¼ cup seedless raisins
4 tablespoons white wine
2 rolls or 8 thick slices of country bread

Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the pine nuts until they are golden, about 30 seconds. Tilt the pan so the oil flows to one side and skim out the pine nuts. 

Remove the skin from the sausage and chop it into small pieces. Add to the frying pan with the raisins and sauté on medium heat, breaking up the sausage pieces, 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook until sausage begins to sizzle again, 4 minutes.

If using crusty rolls, split them open and cut each half in half crosswise. Toast under a broiler/grill.
Divide the sausage mixture between the toasts, pressing it down. Sprinkle toasted pine nuts on top. Serve hot or room temperature.

Mini Roll with Spicy Sardines
Mini de Sardinas Picantes

In the bars in the old quarter of Zaragoza, this tapa is known as a “guardia civil.” Pimentón picante, spicy-hot paprika, gives the sauce its fire power. If you haven’t got this sort of pimentón, use cayenne, but in a lesser amount. Piquillo peppers, sweet and piquant, come canned and ready to use. They are worth a search, but, if not available, use any red pimiento. 

Chopped pickles go into the spicy tomato sauce spread on these sandwiches.

Serves 6.

½ cup canned tomato sauce  (tomate frito
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 teaspoons hot pimentón (paprika)
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
¼ cup chopped sweet pickles
1 tablespoon chopped mild green chile (guindilla), optional
6 crusty rolls, split and toasted
3 (120 g / 4 oz-) cans sardines packed in olive oil (approximately 9 sardines)
6 piquillo peppers, split, or tinned red pimiento, cut in strips

Combine the tomato sauce in a small bowl with the vinegar, pimentón, onion, chopped pickles and chile, if using. Spread a spoonful on the bottom half of each roll. 

Strips of peppers on the sardines.

Lift the sardines out of the cans, discarding the oil. Carefully split them open lengthwise. (The bones can be removed, if desired, but they are perfectly edible.) Place 3 half-sardines on each bread roll. Top with half a piquillo pepper or strips of pimiento and cover with top of roll. Serve at room temperature.

Pepito Steak Sandwich with Mushroom Ketchup
Pepito de Ternera con Salsa de Setas

So, a guy named Pepe walks into a bar. Says, instead of the usual bocadillo de jamón, ham sandwich, he wants a hot sandwich. Bar guy griddles a beef filete, thin steak, puts it on a roll. Pepe, known to his friends as Pepito, orders the steak sandwich every time. Eventually, everybody justs asks for the “bocadillo como el de Pepito.” 

Pepito--a steak sandwich, here with piquant mushroom condiment.

At its most basic, this is just quickly griddled beef on a bread roll. Sometimes it has fried green Padrón peppers or cheese or mushrooms or a fried egg. 

Use thin “frying steak,” cut about ½-inch thick, for this sandwich—rump steak is fine, though thinly- cut strip steak or butterflied tenderloin is even better. Pan-grill the meat (use a cast-iron skillet or plancha, an unridged grill pan), about 1 minute per side, so it is still pink in the center. PX Sherry vinegar gives the sauce a slightly sweet tang. If not available, use balsamic. 

Serves 4.
Shredded oyster mushrooms.

For the mushroom ketchup:
8 ounces oyster mushrooms
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of fresh thyme
2 tablespoons PX Sherry vinegar
¼ cup water or beef stock
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Thinly sliced beef.

For the steak:
4 (½ -inch thick) frying steaks, each 3 to 4 ounces
Freshly-ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, sliced
Coarse salt for the grill pan
4 crusty rolls or a 22-inch baguette, toasted if desired
Rucola or other greens to serve.

Tear or slice the mushrooms into strips. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a skillet and sauté the mushrooms on moderately high heat until they begin to brown and crisp at the edges, 6 to 8 minutes. Scoop them out and reserve.

Cut onion in half and thinly slice crosswise. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan and sauté the onions until they are very browned, about 8 minutes. Season with ½ teaspoon salt, pepper and a pinch of thyme. Add the vinegar and water or stock.

Return the mushrooms to the pan and heat 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley. (Mushroom sauce can be prepared in advance. Reheat it before spreading on the bread.)

Season the steaks with pepper and sliced garlic. Allow to come to room temperature.

Heat a plancha or heavy skillet very hot. Sprinkle it with coarse salt. Pan-grill the steaks until browned on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Remove.

Spread mushrooms on baguette, top with steak.

Split the rolls or the baguette. Spread the mushroom sauce on the bottom halves. Top with the steak and a few leaves of rucola. If using a baguette, slice the sandwich into four sections to serve.

Add sliced tomatoes to the steak sandwich.   

Kale and Walnut Sandwiches
Montaditos de Kale

Pile sauteed kale on toasted buns.

Taking my own advice—"invent some montadito combos for yourself"—I turned garden kale into these sandwiches with chopped walnuts, dried apricots and goat cheese, packed into molletes, buns. 

For a vegetarian sandwich, omit the optional bacon. 

Serves 4,

Toast mollete in toaster.
1 tablespoon olive oil plus more to drizzle on the bread
2 tablespoons bacon (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 cup cooked and chopped kale
2 dried apricots, diced (about 1 ½ tablespoons)
¼ cup chopped walnuts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces soft goat cheese, cut in pieces
4 (3 ½ -inch) molletes (buns), split, toasted and drizzled with oil

Add goat cheese to hot kale.

Heat the oil in a small skillet with the bacon, if using. Add the garlic and shallot and sauté them gently until softened, 5 minutes. Add the kale, apricots and walnuts. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the kale is bubbling. Add a little water if needed. 

Add the goat cheese to the hot kale. Stir to combine and allow the cheese to soften. Remove from heat.

Spread the kale on the split and toasted buns. Serve warm or room temperature.

Garden kale--inspiration for a montadito sandwich.

More sandwich ideas:

Serrano ham and pork loin sandwich; Tuna and roasted pepper sandwich; Fried ham and cheese sandwich.

Another recipe with kale:

Saturday, March 4, 2017


Last week I prepared a full-scale cocido madrileño, meant to serve six. As it happened, we were only three at table, so I’ve got lots of leftovers from that boiled dinner. Leftovers are cause for pleasant anticipation, as they mean several days worth of meals, ready and waiting.

I intentionally cook double the quantity of chickpeas required, so that I will have some to freeze for future use—hummus, salads, a potaje of spinach with garbanzos that can be put together in 20 minutes. I used most of the leftover cooked cabbage in this gratin recipe from the New York Times.

Leftovers from the cocido: boiled chicken, beef, pork and ham; potatoes and vegetables, chickpeas, tomato sauce plus a pot of flavorful broth.

The leftover soup with fideo noodles, with the addition of cooked chicken and carrots, disappeared for lunch the next day. Remaining is a pot of caldo, the deeply flavorful broth from the cocido pot. It’s the starting point for a different soup.

Soup with cooked chickpeas and broth from the cocido, topped with crisp croutons.

Beef marrow bones.
Unctuous like butter.

The bone marrow, reheated and spread on toast, makes a small snack while I work on chopping up the other leftovers. I’ve got the remains of stewing hen, beef shin, pork belly, ham, chorizo and morcilla sausages. Plus, potatoes, turnips, carrots, cabbage chickpeas and relleno, the “dumplings” from the cocido.  Sounds like hash to me!

In Spain, the classic hash is called ropa vieja—old clothes. Frankly, I think boiled serrano ham is more like old shoes, but the other ingredients make for a savory hash.

Raggedy "old clothes"--a classic hash to make with leftover cocido.

Mild green chilies go with the hash.

Top the hash with a poached egg and call it "brunch."

“Old Clothes” (Hash)
Ropa Vieja

Use any combination of cooked vegetables and meats, sausages and chickpeas for this hash. Fry the diced potatoes first and set them aside. Stir them into the hash right before serving. The hash should be juicy, not soupy, not too dry. Add wine, caldo or water to the hash as it cooks.

Serve the hash with bread as a main course. Top it with poached eggs and call it brunch. Wrap the hash in warmed corn tortillas with some sliced jalapeños. Use it as filling for empanada. Mix it with  beaten egg and make patties; dip them in flour, beaten egg and bread crumbs and fry them.

Serves 4 to 6.
Diced beef, ham, pork, chicken, sausage and vegetables.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ cups diced cooked potatoes
1 cup chopped green onions
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup cooked, drained chickpeas
3 cups combined diced beef, chicken, pork, ham, sausages, carrots, turnips, cabbage and relleno (dumplings)
1 tablespoon prepared tomato sauce
¼ cup fino Sherry or white wine
½ cup caldo (broth from the cocido)
Freshly-ground black pepper
Salt, to taste
Sprig of thyme or pinch of dry thyme
2 teaspoons green peppercorns (optional)
Chopped parsley to garnish

Heat the oil in a skillet and brown the diced potatoes. Remove them and set aside. Add the chopped onions and garlic to the pan and sauté until onion is softened, 5 minutes.

Add the chickpeas and diced meats and vegetables. Sauté on a high heat for a few minutes. Add the tomato sauce, Sherry, broth, pepper, salt if needed, thyme and green peppercorns, if desired. Simmer 15 minutes. Return the potatoes to the hash.

Serve the hash garnished with chopped parsley.

Chickpea Puree with Crisp Croutons
Crema de Garbanzos con Pan Frito

Crispy croutons accent the smooth chickpea puree.

This puree, with chickpeas, carrots and potatoes, is best made with the leftovers of a grand cocido. The cocido provides caldo, a full-flavored broth from slow cooking chicken, beef, and ham bone.

If you are starting with uncooked ingredients, you will need about 1 ¼ cups dry chickpeas to make 3 cups cooked. Soak them in water for 8 hours. Put them to cook in boiling water and simmer until tender, about 2 hours. If you want to approximate the flavor of the cocido broth, use a piece of (unsmoked) ham bone or pork hock and chicken broth to cook the chickpeas.

If using broth from the cocido, sieve it and, after chilling, remove the fat that rises to the top. For a vegetarian version, use water or vegetable stock and skip the salt pork or bacon in the first step.

Serves 6.

2 tablespoons plus 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup diced salt pork or bacon
1 cup sliced carrot
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove chopped garlic
1 medium potato, cut in pieces
3 cups cooked chickpeas
¼ cup tomato puree or sauce (not concentrate)
8 cups water, broth, or chickpea cooking liquid
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of cumin
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 ½ cups bread cut in ½-inch dice
½ teaspoon coarsely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
¼ teaspoon smoked hot pimentón

Use cooked chickpeas for soup.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a soup pot. Fry the salt pork or bacon until fat is rendered and pork is crisp, 2 minutes. Remove the pot from heat and tip the pot so fat drains to one side. Skim out the salt pork or bacon and reserve.

Return the pot to the heat and add the carrot, onion, and garlic. Sauté on medium heat until softened, 4 minutes. Add the potato and cook 1 minute. Add the chickpeas, tomato puree, and water, broth, or chickpea cooking liquid. Season with cayenne, cumin, salt, pepper, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender, 30 minutes. Discard bay leaf.

Puree the soup in batches in a blender. If desired, sieve the puree.

Shortly before serving, reheat the pureed soup. In a small skillet, heat 1 ½ tablespoons of oil. Toss the diced bread in the oil until lightly toasted, 2 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and the reserved salt pork or bacon. Fry 1 minute. Stir in the chopped parsley.

Serve the soup in bowls. Scatter the croutons, garlic, and salt pork over the soup. Top each serving with a pinch of pimentón.

Smooth chickpea soup.

More recipes for using cocido leftovers:
Empanada.(use ropa vieja instead of tuna).
For the complete: cocido recipe

Cocido in its first iteration.