Monday Meal Review: Spain

The more I need to laugh, the more I hole myself up in solitude. Does that make me an introvert?

This week I holed up… major. I watched my paella turn canary yellow while my husband and daughter played in the yard. The trees were budding. The birds were singing. But I stood in my windowless kitchen. I stared into the paella as it plumped up. I wondered if I could drink in the steam coming off the rice, and whether or not it would conjure up the most honest sort of happiness.

Can food do that?

Because, if it can, I want to eat it.

Surely Spanish food can.

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The truth is, I was so scared I’d mess up the paella, when my neighbors said they were too busy to join us, I decided not to invite anyone else over to try our Spanish Global Table. It just seemed easier to live a bit in the shadows.

You see, I’ve been working on my book to be published by National Geographic in 2014… writing some tough passages about the past. About my childhood. About what drove me to cook the world and bring spice, in a very real way, into my ordinary life. Stories as yet untold on this blog.

There can be no world peace without inner peace.

Delving into such intense subject matter meant that I really needed some laughs.

But the more serious things got, the less I knew how to laugh. Even when surrounded by this kind of joy…

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Does that ever happen to you?

The universe sure has a funny way of bringing people together. A few days after Spain was all cleaned up, Jesse and Laura from United Noshes popped over. They are cooking the world in NYC and happened to be on a road trip, driving through Tulsa. We sat and talked about the challenges of cooking the world. As you can imagine, the challenges in NYC are not quite the same as they are in Tulsa.

For one, my kitchen, although on the smaller side, is giant compared to NY kitchens.  That being said, they have a microwave and I don’t.  Which means they can make popcorn 2x quicker that I can.

Anyway, It’s amazing what  a night of Sangria, cheese, grapes, olives, and real laughter can do for the spirit. It’s so great to connect with another couple on the Adventure… in real life.

Remember, I love hearing about your Global Table Adventures… I’m nosy (and so proud of you), so be sure and tag your food pictures on Instagram & Twitter with #myGTA or #GlobalTableAdventure.

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THE FOOD

Weeknight Paella [Recipe]

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What I loved most about this dish:

Real life: I don’t have a lot of time to cook fancy meals. That being said, I’ve often thought about making Paella for my family (that counts right?). I never did because it seemed so involved.

That’s why I was so excited to develop this weeknight Paella for you… as much as I wanted to make a super complex recipe, I knew that real life means I often need something simple… and I have a hunch you might be in the same situation yourself. What really worked was the blast of flavor from the saffron and smoked paprika. We all loved this (and, hello, Keith ate three helpings!).

What I loved least about this dish:

Paella pans are really wide, which makes it a little trickier to cook the paella evenly. I made up for this by rotating the pan evenly over two burners… but I might try baking it at 500F for 20 minutes next time (a technique I read in Mark Bittman’s book The Best Recipe in the World)… or perhaps on the grill.

Sangria [Recipe]

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What I loved most about this dish:

I finally figured out how to make Sangria without the cloying sweetness of store bought mixes. There’s nothing better than fresh fruit, triple sec, and merlot over ice. Best of all, this is an impressive party drink that requires minimal effort (and is even better if you mix it up the night before – yay!). Win, win, win, win… and more winning.

What I loved least about this dish:

Nothing.

Churros [Recipe]

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What I loved most about this dish:

Cinnamon sugar CRUNCH! Do I need to say more? In case you aren’t convinced… let me say that the eggy dough makes for an especially delicious treat… and perhaps a little nutrition as well?? Ava ate four of these before I realized it. Keith did about the same. This was a definite winner.

What I loved least about this dish:

I had so much trouble getting straight lines out of the piping tip. They curled, they snaked, they twisted. I’ll tell you a secret, though – I liked the “messed up” churros best. Finally, there is some debate as to whether or not cinnamon goes on Spanish churros, or just Mexican. I’d love to hear your experiences to help sort this out.

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The Spiced Life
by Sasha Martin

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Comments

  1. Penélope says:

    Hi! I’m Spanish, so I thought I could weight in on the churros debate. I’m from Seville, in the south, and here you buy them without the sugar and cinnamon covering. Sometimes we do dip them in sugar, but you dip each bite as you go. Other times we dip them in coffee or hot chocolate. So that’s mainly the reason why they are sold with no covering. However, you can find them with coverings and fillings at the Feria de Abril fair, during Easter celebrations or other fairs, kind of like having “special occasion churros”.
    I also wanted to mention that we have 2 types of churros. One is the type that you made, which we call ‘churro de papa/patata’ (potatoe churro), and is usually served with the shape of a drop. The other one is plain churro, and it’s made with the shape of a spiral, and then cut into smaller pieces. If you write in google ‘churros porra’ you’ll see what I mean.
    I am a big fan, so I really enjoyed reading about your Spanish menu and experience.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Interesting, Penélope – I really appreciate your insider’s input :) I like the thought that we had special occasion churros .. cheers!

      • aunty eileen says:

        Hi Penelope from Seville: Quite a few years ago, for first year of college, my daughter lived in Seville with a Spanish family… for the purpose of mastering the spanish language and experiencing the Spanish culture along with her regular studies all presented in the Spanish language. She loved Seville and it’s people… especially the young spanish men who would come to her window at night to serenade her. :-)

        • Penélope says:

          Hahahhaha, I’m glad she liked Seville. It must have been an incredible experience, so different from what many students see. I can’t believe she had serenades, that is amazing!

          • aunty eileen says:

            haha… And, yes, it was an incredible opportunity for her Penelope. She was a natural with the Spanish language in High School and the teachers encouraged her to live in Spain with a Spanish speaking family and take all her classes in Spanish. She loves Italy and England also. After taking the bar exam… she took a couple of months of rest and relaxation in Italy…. again (always with a purpose)… to learn a bit of the Italian language as it is part of our heritage… Italian has alot of dialects tho…. etc.

  2. What a lovely meal! I look forward to making this paella. Here’s music, not from Spain but appropriate.
    http://www.myspace.com/0/music-player?songid=12819

  3. Rebecca Godfrey says:

    I was listening to NPR when you called in to tell about your food adventure. I wrote down the internet address but never got around to checking it out until today since I was home do to snow. I am planning to do this with my grandchildren when they get old enough. One is 9 months and the triplets are 6 weeks so it will be next year before I begin. We had a family gathering last night and the 9 month old seem to enjoy the Indian Fry Bread, so she is ready to go as soon as her cousins catch up and start eating solid food. Thanks for making your experience available to the rest of us.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      This is wonderful! I found that Ava was the most receptive when she was that little… after she turned about 1- 1 /2 things got a little more interesting ;)

  4. I am so glad to hear you are writing a book! Can’t wait to buy it. I love your blog- I have found so many cool recipes and ideas and experiences from it. Thanks for sharing it with everyone.

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