Friday, October 21, 2011

Day 167! Spain - Artichokes with Clams (Alcachofas con Almejas) Up Next, Sri Lanka


Many years ago, so many I don't remember, except that it was b.c. marriage and children, my Mom spontaneously decided to take my sister, Anna, and me to Spain. My adventurous Mom is a world class traveler who speaks fluent French, Haitian Creole and near fluent Spanish, as does my sister. I speak French, but Spanish? Sólo un poco, thank you, Google Translate. So off we went. We landed in Madrid on a rainy afternoon, rented a tiny tin Fiat and hit the highway, where we immediately learned that one does NOT drive the speed limit if one wants to stay alive on Spanish roadways. After a slight detour into a way sketchy road-side bar due to engine trouble, we were on our way. We drove up the southern coast of this beautiful country, stopping at little family-owned restaurants, b&b's and small hotels where we were warmly greeted and fed like queens, and visited Granada, Barcelona and Valencia (the best oranges I've ever had). We spent the night at an ancient paradores (an old monastery), in central Spain, the land of Don Quixote, where we immediately went to a local bar for tapas and wine. Later, we checked into our our room which was said to be haunted. It was in that paradores that we had the most delicious roasted chicken, platter of grilled artichoke hearts and crispy fries I'd ever had then or since. Oh, and several bottles of earthy Spanish.

Officially the Kingdom of Spain, Spain is situated in south west Europe on the Iberian Penninsula. Bordered by the Mediteranean Sea, a small land boundary with the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar, as well as France, Andorra, the Bay of Biscay, Atlantic Ocean, Portugal and a number of smaller islands. Said to date back to 12,000 BC based on human remains found in caves, the earliest humans to arrive in Spain came from Africa. Numerous Stone Age hunters also included Greeks, Romans, Visigoths and other Europeans. Berber tribes from Morocco and Phoenicians, Jews and Arabs from the Middle East also inhabited Spain. Spain became a unified country in the 15 century, and has grown to be a global empire with over 500 million Spanish speakers. The country is ademocracy that operates under a constitutional monarchy. Smaller than France and slightly bigger than California, Spain claims the 3rd largest Volcanic peak in the world, The Teide.

Cuisine in Spain varies depending on region and climate. In the Mediterranean section of the country, seafood, gazpacho, paella and arroz negro are common. Inner Spain leans toward hot, thick soups and stews, salted, cured hams and heavenly olive oil. On the Atlantic side of the country, vegetables, fish, stews, lightly cured hams, cod, albacore, anchovy and octopus based dishes are common. I can't say enough great things about food in this beautiful, warm country.

Scrubbed little neck clams

Roasted and plain artichoke hearts

White wine, vegetable stock, garlic and basis (for garnish)

Cook until clams open - discard any that remain closed

Serve up as an appetizer, or as a meal along side a salad and bread to mop up the sauce!

Artichokes with Clams - Recipe adapted from spain.recipes.com

20 preserved artichokes hearts (I used a combination of roasted and plain)
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup vegetable or fish stock (I used vegetable)
1 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. dry, white wine
24 clean clams (I used little necks)

Drain the artichoke hearts. Brown the garlic cloves in the hot oil in a deep frying pan or earthenware dish. Add the flour then mix in the white wine and stock. Add the clams and cook until they are open, discarding any that remain closed. Then add the artichoke hearts and cook for a few minutes before serving.

Final Assessment: This dish could hardly be easier. If I'd been able to find baby artichoke hearts, I would have used them, instead I used a combination of roasted and plain, because that's what was in my pantry. This makes a wonderful appetizer, served with chilled white wine. To enjoy as a meal, serve along side a green salad and good crusty bread to mop up the sauce, which is just slightly thickened with flour. A+

© 2010-2011, What's Cooking in Your World? Sarah Commerford/All Rights Reserved

6 comments:

SimplyMe said...

Looking forward to the SriLankan Dish, I have a few favorites from there.Like Sambal and bitter gourd fry.

Anonymous said...

On a bed of spinach linguine would make for a lovely, hardy meal...with some crusty bread along side, of course. Looks and sounds delicious.

sadie said...

I actually cooked up a pot of linguine after I took this photos at my husband's suggestion. And yes, crusty bread for sure! Thanks for connecting!!

sadie said...

Hi Liu! Could you send me a recipe (or link) to something you like? I'd love to try something you suggest! xoxo

witchywoman said...

That looks amazing! I'm lucky living in the Pacific Northwest, we have access to some of the best seafood on earth...including the elusive razor clam and goeduck clams...neither of which would have worked for this dish. I definately have to try this recipe...YUM! You'll have fun in Sri Lanka...I did a sambol, as well...and it was delicious. And I wound up roasting another coconut even though I swore I never would again...it gets easier each time...LOL! Great blog, Sarah. xoxoxo

sadie said...

You are lucky, Laurrie - you live in such beautiful, unspoiled country. I have yet to roast a coconut, but I've definitely enjoyed following your coconut escapades!! xox