Wednesday, August 10 –
This dinner was a challenge to my sense of timing, more than anything. It is always a trick to get stuff to the table, all being warm and done at the same time. I started with the trinxat, which is basically a cabbage, potato patty. I chopped up two potatoes and a half a head of cabbage into roughly one- to two-inch pieces and dumped them in a big pot of boiling water. Then I moved on to braising the spinach (which if you’re like me and you’re not sure how exactly to braise something, youtube is a great resource). I used an entire package of spinach from the premade salad mix section of the grocery store. Then I took the spinach out of the pan, finished the recipe, and mixed it all together in a bowl and wrapped it in aluminum foil to keep it warm.
This was about the time that I started checking on the potatoes and cabbage, and started on the bread mixture. When someone says to me, “Get some good, crusty bread.” I usually head straight to the loaves of garlic rustic bread, which is exactly what I did here. I toasted the slices and spread a little bit of roasted garlic on top, topped with the tomatoes and serrano ham like the recipe calls for. It looked like a little open-faced sandwich of goodness.
The potatoes and cabbage were done by now, and I set my Wonderful Boyfriend to smashing it all together with the garlic. I diced and cooked the bacon, leaving the bacon grease in the pan. Our Roommate Extraordinaire made the patties and I cooked them in the bacon grease. (Yes, I really did. Everything is better with bacon. And garlic. And wine. But really, bacon makes my world a better place. Both the guys agreed wholeheartedly.)
While this was all being put together, I figured that I had to do something with the other half of the cabbage. Cabbage is dangerous to crohn’s, so I don’t cook with it much and I didn’t want it to go bad in our refrigerator. So I made coleslaw. I know, it’s not really something that screams “Andorra” from the recipes that I read, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to make as a side. So I threw it together to go with the dinner we were making.
We ate outside, and both my Wonderful Boyfriend and Roommate Extraordinaire made sounds of contentedness throughout the meal. I would have to say that the spinach dish was my least favorite, but the dish was almost empty at the end of the meal, so I think the guys liked it.
After dinner was over, I started on the honeydew dish, which while it was cooking smelled like candied heaven. It made a lot more than we could eat in one sitting, so it will definitely be warmed and appreciated again over the next couple of days. The weird thing about this recipe was the way the sugar behaved. The recipe said to let the sugar melt over the heat and then throw in the melon. I did, and it instantly hardened into candy crystals. I let the little pieces melt again into the melons but had to scoop out the bigger crunchy pieces. I let the melons warm up and then I sprinkled a little more sugar on top to make up for what I scooped out. It worked much, much better that way. Then I added the honey as a drizzle from the bottle, and then juice from a whole lemon and a whole orange. I used white wine and poured about a quarter of the bottle into the mix. I let it bubble for a little bit and then took it off the heat so it would thicken. We were too impatient to wait for it to cool very much, so I scooped it over the vanilla ice cream and it turned into a melty, delicious mess. People with more willpower than us would probably have more luck waiting for it to cool a little longer so the ice cream wouldn’t turn into instant soup, but it tasted amazing anyway. Believe me, all three bowls were scraped clean of any lingering sauce.
Things I have learned: Making this many dishes at the same time is possible to do by yourself, but having an extra set of hands is nice. Don’t turn down help when easy stuff like smashing potatoes can be done out of the way. Cold melons makes hot sugar crystallize. And don’t be afraid to add something extra to use up an ingredient that would otherwise go bad, it might be just the right touch to round out the meal.
Recommendations from our sommelier, Leigh Olson: Today’s meal, with it very diverse flavors and ingredients, gives us an opportunity to do some course pairing. Simply put, each course will have a specific wine matched to the dish. Though not necessary, it is fun.
For the sake of tradition, we will assume that the salads ~ Catalan Spinach Salad and Andorran Onion Salad with Honey ~ would be served first. Both salads have an underlying “green” flavor that is punctuated with some sweetness (raisins in the case of the spinach salad and honey for the onion salad). In steps Sauvignon Blanc with its bright green grass flavor to complement the green flavors of these two salads. Truth be told, if you are serving a salad this wine is a pretty sure bet.
Next comes the Trinxat. This course is pure comfort on a plate. There is nothing pretentious about the ingredients or the preparation. Just earthy, smooth flavors. In my mind a French Chablis would work wonderfully. The brisk, flinty flavors would be a perfect contrast to the silky textures of the Trinxat.
For our last course, Pan con Tomate, we will end with a Soave (pronounced So-Ah-Ve as in Rico). This is a wine from the northeast region of Venento in Italy and is a very subtle wine that will play nicely with the tomatoes and the ham.
Fun Facts: Sauvignon Blanc was dubbed so due to its early origins as an indigenous grape in Southwest France ~ sauvage (“wild”) and blanc (“white”). The Chardonnay grape grown in the Burgundy Region that creates French Chablis has endured The French Revolution, The Little Ice Age, the Prussian Invasion, an odium outbreak, the phylloxera epidemic and two World Wars. Soave is experiencing a revival in the United State somewhat due to the movie “Letter to Juliet” which was filmed partly in the town of Soave, Italy. Oh, how our movies inspire us!
Serving Temps: Mid 40’s – 50 degrees. No wine cooler, no problem. Store your wines in the refrigerator and pull it out 45 minutes before serving.
Vessel of Choice: General White Wine Glass with a tulip shape to capture the aromas of these three whites. Remember, if you can’t smell the wine, you can’t taste the wine.
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.alleasyworld.com, www.curiositykilledthecook.blogspot.com, and www.celtnet.org.uk)
- Savoy or green cabbage
- 10 thick slices of salt pork or bacon, diced
- 2 lbs. potatoes, peeled
- 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
Directions: Boil the cabbage and potato until well done and very tender. Mash both ingredients together with a potato masher. Season to taste with salt, and set aside. In a frying pan, lightly brown salt pork or bacon on both sides, drain on kitchen roll and set aside. Fry garlic, in olive oil until soft, 2-3 minutes; then add oil and garlic to cabbage mixture, mixing until thoroughly combined, but still a bit chunky; Stir in the bacon or salt pork. Drop the mixture into hot oil by large spoonfuls, pat into smooth patties with a spatula and fry until browned on both sides, or mound onto a serving platter without frying and garnish with any leftover bacon.
Catalan Spinach Salad
- 2 bunches of spinach, chopped and blanched
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, sliced
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/3 cup pine nuts (I used slivered almonds)
Directions: Wash, chop, and blanch the spinach. Warm the oil and garlic in a pan until the garlic turns golden, then add the raisins and nuts, cooking until the raisins are plump. Place spinach in a bowl and top with the raisin/garlic/nut mixture. Serves 4
Honeydew Melon with Caramelia Sauce
- 1 Medium honeydew melon, peeled, de-seeded and cut into 2cm cubes
- 4 tbsp Sugar
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 120ml (just under a half cup) White or red wine
- 1 tbsp runny honey
- The juice of half an orange
- The juice of half a lemon
- vanilla ice cream
In a large frying pan, cook the sugar until it melts then add the honeydew melon and stir to coat in the sugar before adding the remainder of the ingredients. Continue cooking until the sauce begins to thicken and bubble then serve immediately with vanilla ice cream.
Bread with Tomatoes (Pan con Tomate)
- 4 thick slices of good, crusty, bread
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 large, very ripe, tomatoes
- extra-virgin olive oil
- sea salt
- 4 slices Serrano ham
Method: Toast the bread, then rub it all over with the garlic. Halve the tomatoes then rub one half over the top of each piece of toast, squeezing them to get the pulp out. Season with salt, drizzle a little olive oil over the top, add the Serrano ham and serve.