Tag Archives: cooking

american as apple galette

the masterpiece.

Most of the time, I hate getting advice. Maybe I’m a know-it-all, but I like to think I can at the very least figure things out myself. Generally that means I make a lot of very avoidable mistakes (ice-related car crash over the Santiam Pass ten minutes after Mom tells you to drive SLOW and avoid sharp turns = embarrassing), but I guess that’s life.

Anyway, even though I’m not into taking suggestions, allow me to impart on you all a little wisdom I learned the hard way: don’t, as in DO NOT, try to make a pie crust with all the blinds up in the middle of siesta time in southern Spain. I know it’s hard to take, but trust me, it will save you a lot of heartache. Why shouldn’t I? you may ask. To which I answer, just trust me. But just to hammer the lesson home, here are a few reasons.

1. Your host family will think you are crazy for bumbling around in the kitchen right after lunch.
2. You will absolutely miss your nap and then you will be cranky.
3. All the butter in your dough will melt in .25 seconds and you will have to constantly throw everything in the freezer to keep your crust from being ruined.

i always write out the recipe i'm using by hand so i don't have to keep checking back with the computer, book, magazine, etc.

For those of you with no pastry experience, that last reason might be a little weird. After all, you might say, doesn’t it all go in the oven anyway? And isn’t butter supposed¬†to melt during baking?

Well, yes. But the key phrase there is during baking. Allow me to go all Bakewise on you for a second: the most important part of making awesome pastry is keeping the fat COLD and therefore separate from the dry ingredients. What makes a crust flaky is the pockets of butter that melt in the oven, leaving little holes all over the pastry. When I first started making pies, I had no idea how important this was, so I was always disappointed in the slightly soggy crusts I ended up with. But once you get the technique of “cutting in” the fat (butter, shortening, or lard) while it’s still cold, you’re almost guaranteed a successful pie crust.

Hence, the issue of the burning hot Spanish sun.

cold butter, ready for cutting.

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kitchen disasters, or: why i’m glad i didn’t wait for asa to get home before i tried out the kitchen

pretty ingredients all lined up in the smallest kitchen known to man!

So today I learned three things:

1. If you hunt through a Spanish kitchen, you can find ingredients fit for the best of light meals, no shopping required.
2.  Spanish homes are not required (or at least not inclined) to have smoke alarms.
3. If forgotten under a broiler long enough, bread WILL catch fire.

Needless to say, it’s been an interesting evening.

the oven that nearly ended it all. and no, you're not crazy, it really is super tiny.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up for a second. Today was one of those days where I really was not interested in doing much after siesta time. Usually I’ll go for a coffee, wander the shopping district, or at least go for a run, but for whatever reason I just felt like chilling with Elisabeth, my host mom’s friend who lives with us. But around 7:30 I started feeling a little antsy. Elisabeth was out doing some grocery shopping and I’d browsed through one too many pages of Tastespotting, and something needed to be done.

the red peppers here are so delicious! this one's on its way to the oven for some roasting.

Originally, I’d planned to make my first meal after Asa got back tomorrow from her long birthday weekend in Madrid. I wanted to show off my skills, after all. But today it occurred to me that maybe I ought to familiarize myself with the kitchen first. And since I was bored, I decided to give dinner a go. I knew there was the better half of a bell pepper lurking around, as well as bread and copious amounts of olive oil. Obviously I thought of roasted red pepper bruschetta and scuttled off to see what else could be thrown into the mix.

garlic is by far the best thing in the world.

What I came up with was a mix of the peppers, capers, rounds of goat cheese, and – most surprisingly to me – anchovy fillets. Anchovies tend to get a bad rap in the US for being salty and smelly, but here they’re a staple. And having never tried an anchovy (I know, I know, and I call myself a foodie) I thought it’d be a great experiment. But of course, in my life something always goes wrong.

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