For the past two days it’s been rainy and chilly and horrible out, so my thoughts have turned from summer back to the best part of winter: eating. Winter means I get to stay inside and use the oven (at least when I’m in La Puerta since my Baeza apartment does not have an oven), and it also means soup, stew, and wearing lots of coats that cover my ever-growing body. I have been pretty lazy about cooking recently and I’ve been trying to buy easy, Spanish ingredients, but that has just meant that I’ve started every meal I’ve eaten with a lame version of a sofrito and somehow managed to include chorizo.
I decided I was bored with that and needed some new nutrients, so, inspired by Malaga and Marshal, I bought a big bag of mussels from Carrefour the other day and steamed them up in white wine and butter and garlic…and it was good! I felt bad killing all those innocent mussels, and after eating 15 of them or so I started getting concerned that maybe I hadn’t killed all of them, but by the end, I had not run into a survivor and I was feeling very impressed with myself. I’ve now decided that I should continue making foods that I actually enjoy eating because it is better for me and not that expensive! The mussels were only about a euro for the bag, which weighed over a pound.
I just came back from the local market in Baeza with a huge paper cone filled with a half kilo of strawberries, some lovely little tangerines, and two baby artichokes, which cost exactly three euros. I think the artichokes will be my next victims. I absolutely love the little market in Baeza because the people who work there are so helpful and patient, and it really is just like Baeza’s version of La Boqueria (meaning much smaller, less variety, and cheaper!). I always, always want to buy a pumpkin or squash to cook while I am there, but alas, I have no oven in Baeza, so all of the squash just taunt me daily. Having no oven has actually proven to be quite the inconvenience. I never realized how much I used it at home, and I have never wanted to bake so badly in my life! Aside from the lack of oven, the Baeza kitchen also has nearly no counter space, pretty much no bowls, and completely lacks anything more technically advanced than a vegetable peeler, which I had to add to the kitchen drawer myself. One of the things I am most excited for upon my return to America is a kitchen! I just can’t wait. I’ve started making a list of things I want to make as soon as I have the tools:
1. Beet and Ricotta Gnocchi: Marshal and I tasted a version of these from Angelini Osteria (I think!!!) at the LA Times Travel show last year, and I have wanted to make them ever since. They are so pink! If I had an oven, beets, money, and some clean counter space, I would be making these right now.
2. Sweet Potato Gnocchi: Ok, more gnocchi, but how good do they sound?!
3. PANINI! I miss my George Foreman grill so much more than I ever thought I would. I know there are other ways of making panini, but I just want the plug in and go kind. Preferably with some heirloom tomatoes, arugula, and some kind of tangy balsamic dressing. And hold the olive oil/butter, please!
4. Marinated Grilled Tri-tip: I ate this so much with Marshal when we were in Newport Beach and I miss it and the whole possibility of just lighting up a grill on the balcony quite a bit. I wish the Horseshoe hadn’t eaten my Weber before I left L.A.
5. Spinach in Puff Pastry: Or anything in puff pastry for that matter. It is very easy to trick the people that you are feeding into thinking you worked a lot harder than you did when you employ puff pastry. Plus, Ina Garten has yet to steer me wrong, though she does dote on Jeffrey entirely too much.
6. Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting: Cliché, I know, but they are so good that I don’t care. It makes me a little sick to put so much food coloring into something I’m about to eat, but I forget about that once I can smell them baking.
And sadly that is the end of my feeble little list. I would also like to add an appetizer of toasted baguette slices and/or those multigrain wafer-y rectangle crackers covered in seeds with herb chévre and Trader Joe’s roasted red pepper and eggplant spread. I MISS TRADER JOE’S!!!!
Ok, end rant. Next time I talk about food I will try to actually make it about Spain. Maybe a list of all the restaurants I’ve tried in Andalucía! ¡Hasta luego!