Bacalao a la Vizcaina

Bacalao a la Vizcaina

Before moving away from Barcelona, the sweet ladies on my team gave me a book of tapas recipes as a going away present. Naturally, the book is written in Spanish, so it takes a fair amount of translation work on my part to figure out the recipes. I don’t think I always get it right, but it usually comes together in the end.

The book isn’t dedicated solely to Catalan tapas; all of Spain is represented, and this Basque classic has been tempting me from its pages for weeks. It has been calling to me like a salty sea siren (not a sea wife, mind you – shout out to my fellow Game of Thrones fans!), luring me in like centuries of sailors before me, and I decided to embrace the salt cod.

Davis and I entertain pretty frequently, and I wanted to shake up our Sunday supper menu a bit. As a good party hostess, I sent out a message before dinner stating that we would be eating something that might not suit everyone. Fortunately for me, everyone was stoked at the outcome – even the fish averse asked for seconds.

I won’t lie though – this is a labor-intensive meal that takes some forethought. You have to soak the fish for at least 8 hours, and change the water fairly often to make sure it’s not too terribly salty. It’s worth the effort, but a 30 minute meal this is not.

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Crostinis with Blue Cheese and Requesón

In my quest to try all things Spanish during my last weeks abroad, I attempted to make dishes using ingredients that I’ve not had much experience cooking with in the past (or at all; who cooks with requesón in Los Estados Unidos?!). Also, I’ve been trying to eat as many tiny dishes as I can to get my fill of European-style dining – big lunches, little dinners – before heading back to the gigantic-dish-with-an-extra-side-of-ranch-dressing extravaganza that is my motherland. 

Requesón is a Spanish cheese that I’d never heard of, to be honest, but I see it in every grocery and even a few little corner stores here. Its consistency lies in limbo somewhere between cottage cheese and ricotta, without an overwhelming flavor with a creamy/crumbly texture. Through a bit of online research, it’s also apparently low in sodium and calories, so it makes for a great diet cheese as well. Good to know. Yes – diet food. Sure.

Crostinis are, in my opinion, the world’s best appetizer. Handheld, immensely customizable with as many toppings as you can think of, and “crostini” sounds so much fancier than “little toasts” ever will. Unfortunately, I didn’t have anyone to share these little guys with, but that was probably for the best since it would have broken my heart to part with any them.

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Gazpacho

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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