Since COVID-19 has put a temporary halt to this year’s travel plans I’ve been bringing our favorite travel destinations to our home by making the foods we’ve always enjoyed during our travels.
I know that travel restrictions have been eased and many countries are avidly awaiting the return of tourists. But right now our family isn’t quite yet ready to resume our regular travel routines which in the summer usually includes several weeks visiting our daughter in Italy and a cruise around the Med. So until we are ready to resume our normal traveling lifestyle we’ll just have to make do with enjoying homemade dishes from the countries we love to visit.
Recently I’ve had a hankering for Spanish cuisine, it reminds me of fun filled days spent wandering Barcelona or exploring sunny Ibiza and the Canary Islands. So I’ve been putting together some of my favorite Tapas and other Spanish dishes to enjoy with my pitcher of Cava Sangria.
One of our favorites is Spanish Chicken and Rice. It’s pretty easy to make, you use just 1 skillet! I love the taste and smell of the spices used to create this simple dish. I make a seasoning mix to use in this dish, I usually make a jar and keep it on hand to use on other dishes we love. I hope you’ll love it too!
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Spanish Chicken & Rice
6 Chicken thighs – remove the skin
3 Tbs. Olive OIl
1 Cup long grain white rice
2 1/4 cup chicken broth
Spanish Seasoning Mix (recipe below)
Make 1 recipe of Spanish Seasoning Mix
2 Tsp. Smoked Paprika
2 Tsp. Garlic Powder
1 Tbs. Salt
1 Tsp. Ground Cumin
1 Tsp. Chili Powder
1 Tsp. Ground Coriander
1/2 Tsp. Italian Seasoning
Place chicken thighs in a bowl and toss in 2 Tbs. Olive Oil until well coated.
Rub 1/2 of the Spanish Seasoning Mix on the chicken. Be sure you rub it on all sides of the chicken thighs.
Heat remaining Olive Oil in a skillet. Cook chicken about 3 minutes on each side until browned. Remove from heat and set aside. Chicken will not be cooked at this point.
Add rice, chicken broth, and other half of seasoning mix to the skillet. Squeeze 1/2 of the lemon over all and combine well. Place chicken thighs on top of the rice and cover.
Cook for 25 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender and chicken is fully cooked.
Garnish with slices of the remaining lemon half and chopped cilantro. Serve hot.
- Instead of long grain rice I sometimes use frozen cauliflower rice. When I do this I reduce the chicken broth to 1 1/4 cups and cook until the chicken is fully done. If it is too watery I remove the lid and cook until the liquid has evaporated.
Torta can be different things depending on the type of cuisine and if the dish is sweet or savory. It can refer to a cake or tart in several countries including Italy, Spain, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. In Mexico it’s a sandwich. In both Spain and the Philippines it can be an omelette. Confusing, I know.
Well since today I want to make Tapas the word Torta will refer to a Spanish Omelette. Tapas play a big part in Spanish social life. Tapas refer to appetizers or small sized dishes that are served as snacks with beer, wine, or cocktails. Sort of what in Hawaii we call pupus. I love having Tapas, it gives you a chance to sample many different things at a time. When we’re in Spain we usually start the evening at a cafe where I can order a refreshing pitcher of Sangria and an array of Tapas. Many times we make a whole meal out of all the Tapas we order.
At home I sometimes make an assortment of Tapas and call it dinner or I can put together a “Tapas Board” for casual entertaining. Tapas can be just about anything, as long as it’s a small portion.
One of my favorite Tapas is Torta, that Spanish Omelette. It’s probably one of the easiest omelettes to make, but unlike most breakfast omelettes where the filling is folded into scrambled eggs Torta fillings are actually cooked into the egg and it comes out looking like a pie which is then cut into wedges for serving. Served with fresh bread it’s delicious.
Here’s how to make Torta at home. It’s really easy and you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen. Remember you can serve it as an appetizer or make a larger version and serve it for breakfast or lunch. You can even make it into a sandwich, placed in a baguette it’s delicious and filling!
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1 Potato – peeled and sliced very thin (I use a mandolin to slice it)
1/2 Onion thinly sliced
2 Eggs beaten
Heat about 1 tsp. Olive Oil in a frying pan.
Add onions and potatoes. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn.
Cook until onions start to caramelize or turn brown and the potatoes are soft.
Beat Eggs in a small bowl and add potato and onion mixture. Stir well.
Add more Olive Oil to frying pan. I use a 7″ pan to make this omelette if I’m making it for Tapas.
Pour egg mixture into pan.
Cook over medium low heat – you must cook this slowly to avoid burning the omelette. Do not touch the omelette while it’s still liquidy. The omelette will take on the shape of the pan.
Cook until the center is just about dry, it will still a bit soft in the center.
Gently separate the sides of the omelette from the pan.
Using 2 spatulas gently flip the omelette over.
Cook for about a minute then slip on to a serving dish.
Slice into wedges and serve.
What is a Pavlova? It’s a sweet cloud of deliciousness! Actually it’s a meringue based dessert that’s named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. It’s lightly crispy on the outside and light and marshmallowy on the inside. It’s usually served topped with fruit and cream.
Pavlovas can be a cake like dessert or they can be individual shells filled with cream that’s topped with fresh or preserved fruits. I love meringues and Pavlovas are one of my favorites. It’s one of the desserts I always choose when we’re on a cruise.
Most folks think Pavlovas are for company desserts, yes, they’re that impressive. But really Pavlovas a pretty easy to make. I usually make them after I’ve made my grandmother’s flan which uses up a lot of egg yolks. Pavlovas handily use the remaining egg whites. Other than egg whites all you need is sugar, preferably caster or baker’s sugar (it’s super fine sugar that is between regular sugar and powdered sugar), cream or tartar, cornstarch, and vanilla. You probably have all those things already. (If you don’t have caster sugar you can either pick some up at the grocery store’s baking aisle or place regular granulated sugar in your blender and pulse until the crystals turn into a fine grains, sort of like sand, but not powdery.)
You’ll also want to use your standing mixer with a whisk attachment. You can also use a hand held mixer. You’ll need parchment paper to line your baking sheets, and a piping tip and bag if you have one. Otherwise you can spoon the meringue onto the parchment paper for baking.
For my Strawberries and Cream Pavlovas I make individual shells that I fill with the mascarpone cream I make and top with Riesling Marinated Strawberries. Click here for the Riesling Marinated Strawberries recipe!
Here’s how to make these delicious Pavlovas. Your family and friends will be impressed!
4 Egg Whites
1 Cup Caster Sugar
1/2 Tsp. Cream of Tartar
1 1/2 Tsp. Cornstarch
2 Tsp. Vanilla
8 Oz. Container of Mascarpone Cheese
1 Cup Cold Heavy Whipping Cream
1/4 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Tsp. Vanilla
Preheat oven to 320 degrees.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form.
Gradually add caster sugar and cream of tartar. Continue beating at high speed.
Add cornstarch and vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form.
Pipe or spoon meringue on to the parchment paper. If piping start with a small circle for the base then pipe coils of meringue on top of it. If spooning meringue drop them on the sheet and use the back of the spoon to make a shallow indentation in the middle. (I usually drop meringue Kisses with any leftover meringue. I use them to top the strawberries)
Place on sheet in the oven and IMMEDIATELY lower temperature to 245 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes. Lower temperature to 200 degrees and back until the meringue is dry to the touch. Touch carefully as they are fragile.
Turn off the oven and open door halfway. Leave meringues inside to cool down to prevent them from cracking.
Meanwhile whip mascarpone, whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla together until fluffy. Refrigerate until ready to use.
When meringues are cooled fill the wells of each meringue with cold cream mixture. Top with Riesling Marinated Strawberries. If you have a meringue kiss place one on top to decorate the pavlova, you can also add a fresh mint leaf if you like.
Strawberries & Cream Pavlovas
Strawberries & Cream Pavlovas