Each time I go to the market I get overly excited to buy fresh produce. Kind of like a child at a candy store. Everything is so colorful and my attention is everywhere. Colors. Textures. Taste. That’s mostly why I love making Asian inspired recipes, not only you get a wonderful flavor, but you also enjoy a diversity of textures. Also, who doesn’t like looking at a bright spread of fresh produce?
…Vegetarian ceviche style! God, I love ceviche on a crostini. It’s probably my favorite fish dish, except this isn’t a fish dish. Anyway, lemon-lime and everything acid truly make me happy, especially when this kind of vinaigrette seeps into toast or a crostini. I can already feel my tongue tingle. I also really enjoy the combination of mint and cilantro, reminds me a lot of Vietnamese style dishes (which are amazing!). This recipe is a very simple and quick one to make. Crostinis make the best kind of tapas! For guests, for date night, for yourself, it doesn’t really matter! Making the topping for the crostini is quite straightforward, you can use any kind of beans, it doesn’t matter. It’s not like you’re going to run a Likert scale questionnaire on yourself.
Falling into fall is so wonderful. All the deep colors. All the versatility of the ingredients in the season: squash, artichokes, cauliflower, pomegranate, sweet potato… Sweet, savory, sour, salty, bitter… You can achieve so many layers of flavor with these ingredients it just makes my mouth water with excitement. I just love going to the market and seeing how as the year progresses the colors at each section change. although in Barcelona autumn is pretty much an indian summer, it’s delightful. I’m constantly looking at different sources of inspiration, and I love sharing them with everyone else. One of my favorite blogs is The Delicious Life, it’s so beautiful and real. Just straightforward food without all of the nonsense of unnecessary adjectives to describe beautiful and delicious food. There, I found a tasty pomegranate salsa recipe, which I’ve decided to make and adjust to my likes and haves.
Also, I took advantage on the fact that it’s National Nachos Day, I just needed an excuse to make nachos and salsa!
This is what you’ll need:
Being in a relationship with someone from a completely different culture than I am surely is enlightening. Each time we enter a new weather season there’s a new tradition to be immersed in. This has made me begin a series within my blog where every time I try a different tradition, I’ll share it on here. Call it “Joanne and a series of catalan traditions” if you will. Fall brings ‘Panellets’. Panellets are probably the most traditional sweet pastries in all Catalunya. They’re made of almond flour, sugar and pine nuts. Think: marzipan with less sugar. Don’t tell Marc’s mom I compared them to marzipan.
In Catalunya you know fall is officially here when pastry shops and grocery stores start getting ready for “La Castañada” (the chestnut party). It’s the holiday where everyone take the streets to eat roasted chestnuts and sweet potatoes. I like to think of it as a street food festival. Everyone is drinking moscatell and eating chestnuts and sweet potatoes. On the following morning, to cure your moscatell hangover you eat panellets (I made up the hangover part). This weekend I learned how to make them, these you don’t enjoy on the street, you have them at home, I made them with guidance from Marc’s mom (Lourdes), of course. Not as traditional without a Mama present. But don’t worry, I’ll show you guys how to make them!
This is what you’ll need to make pine nuts, cherry, coconut, and membrillo (quince cheese) panellets:
My mom hosted the gnarliest girls night at home when I was a kid. To a five-year-old me, they were wild and insane. But now, in hindsight it was probably the only relaxation time she had with our family and her friends. It consisted in all of my aunts and their friends coming to the apartment and playing bingo. Also, some light gambling. I remember playing under the table while they gossiped about things I can’t remember or were beyond me. It was awesome. I remember feeling like a grown up (at 5!) just by being surrounded by the amazing women in my life. Also, my grandma was the fucking boss.
Often when they couldn’t play at home, they’d go to an underground bingo at the 181st subway station in Manhattan. My mom would take me with her when she couldn’t get one of my cousins or brothers to look after me. She doesn’t believe in baby sitters. So I would go there and hang out. But sitting down on a table wasn’t my thing. I would fidget and it was just terrible. I remember being restless and annoying so she’d leave me at the cafeteria with my brother’s godmother, Miriam. It’s the only place where I’d sit still. There, Miriam taught me how to make pastelitos. Pastelitos are pastry in the shape of small pockets. They’re also known as empanadas. Often filled with savory fillings such as chicken, beef, cheese, or sweet fillings like guayaba. I perfectly remember closing the little pockets with a plastic fork so vividly. My biggest responsibility in life at that moment: don’t let the filling spill. This memory came rushing to me as I was making these little hand pies on a Saturday afternoon, so I just had to share. Anyway, it’s fall! Time to bake pies nonstop, apple pie to be specific!
These past few days there has been only one type of weather in Barcelona: cloudy. Gloomy and grey. For that reason, it has made me want to eat soup all of the time. I blame my heritage. My parents are Dominican and they sure love their soups and stews on rainy days, even if the weather is perpetually hot in the island. As soon as there’s a cloud in the sky it’s time to whip out the sancocho. Sancocho is a type of stew with meats and starchy vegetables. It is very hearty and it goes accompanied by rice, avocado and a sour element that can be bitter orange vinegar or limes. Oh, and hot sauce. Because I’m so used to eating this on rainy days, every time it’s cloudy I need some kind of soup! I wanted ramen to begin with, but only had udon noodles at hand. Then I thought… udon soup! But didn’t have the base for it.
I consider myself a very resourceful person in the sense that I can make tasty food with whatever I have in the fridge. And that is exactly what I did here. I made a delicious udon soup with a pho base, so it’s basically a pho, right? I don’t even know. Help me. What started as a random soup ended up as a full on Japanese and Vietnamese ingredient fusion that tastes amazing! My apologies to the people who think these ingredients must only be eaten within the boundaries of the cuisine they’re from, but I politely disagree. Continue reading
It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is snoring! ♫♫♫
I think there’s a monsoon outside. I feel like I’m in Vietnam and not in Barcelona, it’s raining so much today and for some reason that nursery rhyme can’t get out of my head. I feel like a child trapped inside my home although I’m keeping it cosy listening to Otis Redding while I write this. I blame the rain. It makes me nostalgic and kind of soulful too.
Something that never fails to make me feel better when I’m gloomy and nostalgic is definitely comfort food. Oh yeah. For me, there are only but a few things better than getting cosy with a tasty bowl of food that just makes you feel amazing. Ramen soup is definitely number one on my list. When I was a kid it was probably one of the first foods I learned to ‘modify’. By “modifying” I mean adding soy sauce and scallions, by the way. Little by little as I grew up I learned how to make different versions (or modifications) of comforting dishes. This changed as I got older. When I was old enough to be left alone at home with my older brother, I had to make food for both of us, I’d modify Chef Boyardee’s raviolis by adding extra veg and cheese. Then when I was a teenager my dad only liked the spaghetti’s I made, which was a big deal ’cause it kind of offended my mom. After that, when my friends and I would have movie nights it was left to me to make mac and cheeses (I used to add like 4 kinds) for everyone. Anyway, I’m rambling.
This post isn’t completely about modifying dishes or recipes. It’s about the sense of comfort you get when you eat a bowl of happy. It can be a bowl of cereal first thing in the morning, half a sleep. Or if you’re an açai bowl kind of person, well that. That feeling of cosy you get inside on a cold, rainy day when you have a nice cup of tea and curl up with a book you happen to be obsessed with. That’s why I decided to make chilli. It’s something I’ve made before and when I have left overs I modify it into a hefty hangover cure breakfast. This time, I added corn and coffee.