Spanish Traditional Cooking–The Mortar and Pestle 3

mortar and pestleThe mortar and pestle, a millenary evolution of grinding ingredients between two stones, remains today the most primitive food processor in our kitchens and a basic utensil in traditional Spanish cooking. Used for pounding and muddling mixtures of herbs and spices for sauces (mayonnaise and ali oli, for example), marinades, dry rubs, etc., it is ever present in Spanish kitchens. Can it be replaced by more modern food processors? Yes, but the results are never the same. Where the French use roux for thickening sauces the Spanish often use fried bread crushed, usually with other flavorful ingredients, in a mortar. More…

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Still More Traditional Spanish Cooking 2

Spanish Emulsions: Mayonnaise and Green Sauce

ensaladilla mayonesa caseraPhoto Javier Peñas/Copyright ICEX–When the troops of Mareschal Richelieu attacked the Fort of San Felipe de Mahon and invaded the island of Menorca (Balearic Islands off the northeast coast of Spain) on April 18, 1756, besides defeating the British defenders, they discovered the local garlic and olive oil sauce: all-i-oli. They took the recipe home, removed the garlic and called the resulting sauce “mayonnaise” from “Mahon.” This is why the Spanish have two ways of spelling “mayonnaise:” mahonesa, in pure Spanish and mayonesa, re-importing the French version.

Many Spanish housewives still make their own mayonnaise, though not many of them do it with a wire whisk any more. More…

Traditional Spanish Cooking Techniques–Frying and the Sofrito 2

Spanish sofritoHave you tried Spanish cooking? Would you like to learn? Here we’re going to show you a series of short videos from Foods from Spain.com demonstrating the cooking techniques that are the basis for many delicious dishes prepared by housewifes and chefs throughout Spain.

Later you can apply them to almost everything you cook Spanish style. We’ll start with two techniques–frying in olive oil (extra virgen, please) and the sofrito, a sauteed mix of vegetables and herbs that is the starting point for oodles of Spanish standard dishes from stews and sauces to paella. A good friend who makes a wonderful paella (always on a pine-wood fire) reminds us: “A good paella is just a good sauce with rice cooked in it.” More…