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.
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