Wednesday, November 10

Maestra de Cocina

I will give ya'll an update on what I've been doing these past week (has it been a week or more? Time moves so slowly here...) but this blog will be dedicated to what I've been doing to occupy myself during the week.

As you may have heard, I was trying to get a job in a bakery, but I keep on forgetting to go to the bakery every day because I like to sleep. Also, the stuff in bakeries cost money so instead, I have been cooking lots! My first week here I made black bean soup (Ok- next time will be better), second week I made potato leek (yummy!) and the third I made a chicken curry.

 My family is amazing and they sent me a package from the US with some tasty foodstuffs: Mac and Cheese, Curry mixes and Penzey's Spices (I am currently waiting for the postman for the next package!). During one week, I was lazy and made a box of Kraft Mac and Cheese, accompanied by a tinto de verano. Also my roommate gave me some castanets to practice becoming more spanish. I still need to practice that!

 After I got back from a weekend in Barcelona (I will talk about that later), I found out that it was my roommate's birthday! Since I don't have an oven in my piso, I was extremely limited in what I was able to make. Also, I could not go out and buy a cake since it was siesta (nearly EVERYTHING in my town closes for it - except the bars of course) and I wanted to make her something because she has been so nice to me and very understanding with all my craziness/quietness.

The first attempt: Needs more time in the fridge!
After almost exhausting google search (no bake desserts, easy desserts, cooking with no oven, etc), I decided to make a Panna Cotta with this spiced red wine sauce. I had all the ingredients in my piso (except the gelatin or gelatina en espanol!). And since I've watched Top Chef so many times, I felt very special for making this fancy dessert- which was actually really easy.

Second attempt (after 8+ hours): Much better!
All you need for the Panna Cotta is: a box of whipping cream (nata para mandar- I think), 1/2 cup of sugar, 2.5 sheets of gelatin (you have to soak these in water for a couple minutes before using), and  a vanilla bean (also honey if you wish).

Making the spiced red wine sauce
To make the panna cotta, bring the cream, sugar and whole vanilla bean to a simmer. Remove from heat, cut open the bean and scrape out the black stuff and put that back into the milk. Stir in the gelatin sheets until they have dissolved (about 30-60 seconds). Then you pour the mixture into your molds (I used out water glasses and you can put honey in the bottom of them for extra flavor) and put the cups in the fridge for about 4 hours. To remove from molds, just heat up a bowl of water and put the mold in it. Slide a knife around the edges and then flip the cup. It should slide out -if not stick it back into the water.

Then the red wine sauce, all you need is about 2 cups of wine (I used cheap box wine: 55 cents!), 1 cup sugar, a cinnamon stick, orange zest and for some reason I stuck a bay leaf in it. But you can add anything you think would taste good in it. Bring all that stuff to a simmer and let it go until it turns syrupy (about 15 minutes), stirring often. Then turn off the heat, cover, and let steep for about 20 minutes, or as long as you like. Strain out of extra bits then bring it back to a boil for a few minutes until even more syrupy. Let cool and refrigerate! You can put this sauce on anything - my friends and I put it on some crepes I made and I also put some in vanilla yogurt. It's yummy.

 The next thing I attempted to make was Tortilla de Patatas, or Spanish Omelette. All the professors at my school thought it was quite impressive that I was attempting this without anyone teaching me how too - but Google is an amazing thing and Ana explained how to make it as well. Next time I might cook the potatoes a bit longer, add a bit more spices and also more eggs. But overall it was yummy- especially with Famous Daves BBQ sauce or the lentil stew one of my professors gave me. I made chili con carne this week, and I bet that would taste good on it as well!

I shall end this blog with another sweet I made. Lately, I've been making alot of crepes because they are hella easy and require little ingredients (Flour and water). This time I had some extra apples in the fridge which I would never eat, so I decided to caramelize them to make them yummy.
To caramelize an apple, just peel and cut them into small bits, heat about 2tbsps of butter on the stove, put the apples in with a fair amount of sugar and I put cinnamon in too. Sautee on a medium high heat until the apples are cooked, but not mushy. Place apples in a bowl, and if you want some extra sauce, add some apple juice (or in my case orange juice) to the pan. Scrap the bottom of the pan, and simmer for a couple minutes. Then place into a crepe and eat!

Tonight, I will eat some left over chili con carne (I will post that recipe later- once I can remember it) with toast. I am super excited today because Molly is coming to visit me! I hope she likes chili- if not there are plenty of tapas to eat as well.