For our second week we moved to Spain. Sergio was set on making a bomb Paella and I was excited to make one of my favorite dishes- Gazpacho. There are certain foods and dishes that I absolutely love and I always want others to share in that love. I understand that sometimes I get overzealous and end up sounding like I’m being paid by that food’s foundation. But hey, I love what I love. Foods that I’m particularly fond of are beets, burrata, and gazpacho. I understand these may not seem appealing to everyone at first, but I think they are life changers.
Back to the dishes- For our appetizer we had a lovely assortment of Spanish Cheeses, olives and nuts, and Ashley made up a quick olive tapenade. For a secondi, we wrapped prosciutto around asparagus and baked until salty and tender. Then I busted out my gazpacho ingredients. Assorted tomatoes, cucumber, avocados, garlic, red onion, jalepenos, bell pepper, lime, and the best EVOO I’ve got. I’ve made gazpacho enough to whip it together without a recipe, but there are several different styles. My go-to is to finely dice a portion of the ingredients, then mix the rest together in a blender. You place the diced veggies at the bottom of each bowl and pour the gazpacho on top. I also usually sieve the gazpacho to give it a nice smooth texture. I like the contrast of the fresh, cubed vegetables with the liquid rather than a chunky cold soup. I’ve made gazpacho two other ways, although I’m certain there are variations multiplying in the thousands. The first way was in a Spanish themed cooking class. We made a very nice, creamy gazpacho. This is one of my favorites to savor, although not my favorites to make. To get a really thick gazpacho you need to add bread. This, I believe is how most gazpacho you would get in a restaurant is made. When I make gazpacho at home I like the idea that I’m eating a very healthy, raw dish. And adding bread spoils that vision. The second alternative way I’ve made gazpacho is the insane way, tomato essence. Tomato essence, or tomato water is one of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth. It’s seriously life changing. That is, life changing for people who love tomato things like gazpacho and bloody marys. I saw Jamie Oliver make it on his cooking show and I had it at a Bloody Mary making class (um, yes it was the best class ever). Basically you let crushed tomatoes strain through a cheese cloth overnight in the fridge and the next morning you have a perfectly clear, perfectly sweet gift from God. I dare you to try it! I didn’t use an entire cup of tomato essence in my gazpacho, but just a little goes a long way. And the rest is used with Vodka.
Enough about my obsession with tomatoes and onto the main dish. Paella is a beautiful family style dish and Sergio wanted to do it right. So he brought out his authentic Paella Pan. Now, Sergio and Ashley live in a pretty small SF apartment, so owning a paella pan is making somewhat of a commitment space-wise. I can’t remember if he already owned it or if he bought it for that night, but either way I was impressed. Sergio had the paella going by the time I came over, but he had left out some of the shellfish to steam separately. He used authentic Spanish rice and just about every meat under the sun. He had sausage, chicken, mussels, clams and shrimp. He steamed the mussels and clams separately, but I believe he did so using some of the broth. The shrimp were added last so as not to overcook. The Paella turned out perfect. The rice was nice and tender and all the flavors blended together so well. After all that food we thankfully skipped on dessert, so we just washed everything down with big glasses of sangria.
Some recipes to inspire you: