Friday, May 7, 2010

The Story of a Dinner Inspired by Mario Batali's Spain: A Culinary Road Trip

It was Conrad's idea. Pick a cookbook and have everybody cook from it, a book-driven potluck just a bit outside our comfort zone.

The choice for the first evening was Spain: A Culinary Road Trip, by Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow. You can see more about this PBS show by visiting the "Spain on the Road Again" web site.

Conrad set the mood with his paella. And yes, the pan is supposed to make a crackling noise just as it's done.

Jason brought the chorizo empanada. Surprise, surprise--the base called for frozen pizza dough. Jason said it was quite easy to make, and just changing the seasoning convinced the palate that there was no pizza involved.

Rebecca brought pineapple with lime and molasses. Simple, different, and immediately eaten. The leftover molasses made a thoughtful gift to the hosts!

Anne brought pan con tamate, "the most emblematic of all Catalan food." Once again, changing the seasoning eliminated all thoughts of bruschetta. There's another recipe that involves pairing tomato and eggplant on toast, a Spanish ratatouille

Sharon stewed over stewed beans. Only 2 cloves of garlic? I would have added 8 at least. It was nice to have a few vegetarian options. There's a lot of meat and fish in this cookbook.

Pam made sopa de ajo (garlic soup). The poached eggs threw us for a loop, but I, like most of the attendees, was brave and tried it. There was talk of putting the beans in the soup. The idea was scratched, as it would make unclear who was to take home what.

The photo at left is of the soup in process. The poached eggs are ready to be added.

Amie made Batali family blackberry pie. She added a little extra sugar as the berries were particularly tart. Well, in retrospect that's why she did it.

I was lazy and brought sangria. The recipe isn't in the cookbook, but we improvised. I bought my fruit at Sendiks (Downer Avenue) and picked out a good bottle with Mike at Downer Wines and Spirits.

In the end, we thought the recipes were very interesting, and some were delicious. I tried everything, even the soup with the poached eggs. Very outside my comfort zone. The book is more of a travelogue with recipes, an advertisement for the cable show. Nobody was sure why Gwyneth Paltrow was given author credit. Why didn't Mark Bittman get any credit?

We're talking about doing it again, using the coming-in-July Rick Bayless cookbook, Fiesta at Rick's.

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