Ahhh, gazpacho. My favorite of all summer things. I apologize for all the tomato-heavy posts lately, but ‘tis the season, so to speak. When living in the Northeastern United States, I always looked forward the produce output of August. What other time of year can you find plump, fire-engine red tomatoes with a flavor so intense it (almost) makes you sad for cooler temps?  This being my first year in Barcelona, I’m not sure what I can really expect from the produce season. Maybe the novelty of being able to get delicious summer fruits later in the year will wear off, but then again, I seriously doubt that.

Gazpacho can be a personal, creative dish depending on your mood or whatever ingredients you happen to have at hand. I like mine as simple as can be: tomato, garlic, bread and olive oil. However, I still have half a watermelon in my fridge, so I might get creative this weekend…

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Pasta Carbonara

Pasta carbonara is something that I’d actually never tried until I moved to NYC. We ate a lot of pasta when I was a kid, but normally pasta was with tomato sauce and that was about it. Lately, Davis has been the one to break out this dish on nights when I get home late from work. It is incredibly easy to make and always super filling. I normally am not one for carb-bomb dinners, but Davis can’t get enough of them. Somehow, he manages to stay rail-thin in spite of his predilection for less than nutritious fare. Life isn’t fair.

This weekend, with the slightly cooler breeze coming through the windows, I decided to make an all out carbonara feast. A small thank you, if you will, for him always trying to make it easier for me to come through the doors after a rough day

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Jan & Robin – English Breakfast

One of my best friends in the USA works at NYC’s best English restaurant, and as a birthday present to her a few years ago, I surprised her with a full English breakfast. Ever since, I’ve loved making this hearty meal for Davis and myself on weekends. The Dr. Who mug and an episode of QI nicely completes the Anglophile experience.

Jan & Robins are simply yummy things to look at.

Tomato Salsa and Guacamole

The one thing we always try have in our refrigerator at almost any given moment is fresh, homemade salsa. We usually make it pretty chunky and really spicy. However, the one thing we have a hard time finding in Spain at our local grocery store are jalapenos. The only place we’ve found them is at La Boqueria, so we have been substituting in habaneras or cayenne peppers when we can find them instead. Let me tell you, they’re not kidding around. However, as true and blue jalapeno fans we’ve been, we’re becoming converts to the habanero.

Some nights after a super long day, we simply don’t want to cook much of anything. Instead of ordering take away or delivery pizza we will go into the fridge and see what we’ve got. It’s not technically a smorgasbord – we prefer the phrase “hodge-podge.” Those are the nights when you’re always glad to have fresh salsa in the fridge.  The same goes for avocados. You can always make guac when you’re making salsa with one extra ingredient.

This recipe makes a lot of salsa, but not enough to freeze or can. Then again, there can never be enough salsa in our house.

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Patatas Bravas

In Spain, there is the one dish that gets ordered nearly every time it is on the menu and that is Patatas Bravas. I don’t know if that stands true for everyone in the whole country, but almost every time we’re out with anyone, some version of the fried potato and spicy-sauced deliciousness finds its way to our table.

Patatas Bravas translates to “Brave Potatoes” which doesn’t really mean a whole lot in the literal sense of the phrase. However, any potato that gets dipped in hot oil and spicy pimentón sauce is pretty brave by my standard.

It seems like every coffee shop, restaurant, and cervecería has their own take on bravas sauce. Some serve it with just a spicy oil sauce, while others create a creamy mixed sauce with the addition of mayonnaise. We decided to make these bravas with a bit more kick with the addition of cayenne pepper, but the cayenne is not in the traditional recipe and you can do without it. We also skipped pouring the mayo over the dish and kept the mayo on the side as a dip. I guess the point is: this dish is flexible. Here is how we did it.

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Watermelon Lemonade

It is the hottest week of the year in Barcelona right now. You know those scenes from movies where there is a heat wave and people are sprawled out and sultry in front of a dinky fan? (If you’ve seen Do the Right Thing, you’ll know what I’m talking about.) Well, that somewhat sums up what we’re dealing with this week in our AC-less apartment.

Last night as I was daring myself to turn on the stove to cook some dinner, I thought to myself “what is the most refreshing thing I could make right now?” and the answer was brought to me in a resounding chorus – non-other than “WATERMELON LEMONADE!” For just a second while I was sipping this down, I could have sworn a cool breeze had flown through the apartment.

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Sweet Potato & Cilantro Hummus

During our jaunt through London we came upon a restaurant that advertised a sweet potato and cilantro hummus. Unfortunately, we were not able to try the dish due to a persistent and insatiable desire for Sunday roast; you only have so many meal opportunities when you’re on vacation. Still, I thought it sounded interesting enough that I wanted to try and see what we could do with these flavors at home.

I had originally wanted to make this as the filling for a “quesadilla” using red peppers, but I couldn’t get the texture quite right. You need the crunch of the pepper to make the quesadilla concept work, but the flavor of the roasted red pepper is required to create the best taste. Unfortunately, roasting the pepper means no more crunch. The compromise I found was to add the red pepper to the hummus and serve with crunchy crudités. The flavors together work in almost perfect harmony. Yes, it’s a simple recipe, but who says that easy can’t be tasty, too?

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Baked White Beans and Rice

Today I woke up feeling a bit under the weather, and I needed something filling without being too overpowering. The perfect meal in a time like this is some good ole’ fashioned baked beans and rice. I suppose this would be considered peasant food, and there is nothing wrong with that. This batch of delicious requires nothing fancy, no long grocery list, and not a ton of standing up in the kitchen time. As Davis mentioned mid-meal, this also accidentally filled our vegan dish requirement for the week. You can make the beans from scratch, but in a moment like this, I felt a jar of canned white beans did the trick just fine.

Aside from feeling a bit ill, I have been recently a craving salad like nobody’s business, so I had to have one of those to round out the meal. I’ve never been very good at making salad dressings; it’s a skill that I’ve been working on improving and have to say this one turned out brilliantly. Adding white wine to the dressing and red pepper to the salad provides the tie in to the baked beans and rice, keeping the flavors relatively consistent. Similarly to how a rug that can bring a room together, using the same ingredients in two different ways can bring seemingly disparate dishes into unison.

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Tenderloin with Camembert Potato Puree and Grilled Peaches

It has been a whirlwind two weeks in the Roxie Ginger household. We normally take an annual vacation to coincide with our anniversary, but this year due to work commitments, we had to make some scheduling compromises and couldn’t be gone on our anniversary day. We spent 9 days in the UK watching the Olympics and spending time with dear friends in Scotland, and as soon as we returned I had a whirlwind week with my boss visiting from New York. In all the excitement, Davis and I almost didn’t find time to celebrate 6 wonderful years together.

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Jan & Robin – Marinated Beef Tomato, Goat Cheese & Basil

My husband and I just got back from a week-long trip through the UK, where we stayed with friends in Glasgow, hiked through the Scottish countryside, saw the USA Women’s soccer team at the Olympics, and did some sightseeing in London. We managed to squeeze in a quick lunch at Gordon Ramsay’s York & Albany in London before catching a train, and this tomato and goat cheese starter was one of the culinary highlights of the entire trip.

I’ve been working on some new recipes that I can’t wait to post later this week, including a special dinner I made for our 6th wedding anniversary.

Jan & Robins are simply yummy things to look at.