Jaleo inspired Spanish tapas dinner

Before I forget, have you entered my Nasoya giveaway? Go do it and then come back, ok?

So let’s talk about eating out. While I really love the whole process of preparing meals at home, from the menu planning to grocery shopping to cooking and finally eating my creation (best part when I see someone else enjoy my food as much as I do!), going out to eat is still one of my favorite ways to spend time with Adam, friends and family. Similarly to cooking at home, I love the whole process of searching for the perfect spot for the occasion, the anticipation of a great night out, then dressing up and finally experiencing the whole event. It is an event, isn’t it? From the atmosphere of the restaurant, to service to the wonderful food shared with lots of wine and laughs – there is so much to experience! There are nights and dishes I remember for years. They are special to me. Most of them I’d never dream of recreating but once in a while I eat something simple yet perfect and I vow to try creating a little restaurant meal right in my own home.

This is one of such meals.

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This dinner was inspired by our favorite dishes from a spanish tapas restaurant, Jaleo, on our trip to Washington DC over the summer. The place was recommended to me by several readers and twitter friends, so one random day, we decided to rest our feet and have a glass of sangria with a few apps at the bar. There was no planning – it was a spur of the moment decision when we stumbled upon the place. I think because we had no expectations, it was especially surprising how much we enjoyed the few bites we had that first visit. So much that we had to go back 2 days later and have a whole meal!

Although every single thing at Jaleo was fantastic, hands down are two favorites were pan de recapte con anchoa (traditional Catalan bread with peppers, tomatoes and salt-cured Spanish anchovies) and gambas al ajillo (the very famous tapa of shrimp sautéed with garlic). These are my versions of these dishes.

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For the play on pan de recapte con anchoa, I actually started with my mom’s recipes for perzzi (roasted peppers) and sinii (eggplant/tomato spread) and layered them over fresh slices of baguette, topped with garlic-marinated anchovies. I find the salt anchovies to be very pungent. They are fantastic melted into sauces or whipped into dressings, but I prefer the marinated kind when eaten “straight up.” The anchovies seem to mellow out as the vinegar breaks down some of that intense fishiness.

Aren’t these gorgeous? They were delicious Smile

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Next up, I followed America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe for Spanish-style garlic shrimp. I love how garlic is used in three different ways in this recipe (to marinate the shrimp, infuse the olive oil and finally to cook with shrimp). I used a dried habanero (much spicier than the cascabel chile that’s traditional) so my shrimp also had a bit of a kick. We like it spicy in these parts Winking smile

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This turned out fantastic! It was hard to not soak up every morsel of that garlicky spicy oil with baguette slices. So simple yet so perfect. I think it would be a fun dish to serve to company too with everyone just digging in straight into the skillet. Smile

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Simple roasted cauliflower to lighten up the fare:

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Are you a tapas fan? Do you ever recreate restaurant dishes at home?

Next up: I’m getting crafty with my super awesome food art project. Can’t wait to share it with you!!

What you missed this week…

Oy vay. Looks like I abondoned this blog for a week. Totally unintentional. You see, I was in Maine, then I was out every night of the week… but I’ve been thinking of you, I promise. And cooking delicious things and totally working on loving myself and being happier (thank you, by the way, for your amazingly supportive comments – as always, you guys rock!!). It’s been a really good week. I hope yours was just as good (or better!!).

So, here is what you missed…

  • I joined Pinterest and have been pinning like it’s going out of style. I’m obsessed… and in love. It’s good kind of obsessed.
  • We finished our guest bathroom. Today actually. It looks incredible. I promise to post pics once all the accessories are purchased and the whole thing looks complete (my mom literally forbid me from posting the current pictures because our towels “need to be retired.” I laughed out loud reading that email).
  • It’s Adam’s birthday today. He now joins me in being on this earth for 29 years. You’re no longer younger than me, Adam. Sorry! Please wish him a happy birthday in the comments. I think he’ll like that!
  • We went to Maine for 4 days. It was glorious. I cooked lots of deliciousness. Maybe you’d like to recreate them? You should!

The weekend started by me attempting to make s’mores (with homemade marshmallows, but of course! I’m becoming a marshmallow making machine… in case you were wondering. lol). I was so dissapointed when I realized that my little culinary torchdid not come with butane fuel. Father-in-law to the rescue!

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Yessss

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No bake s’more bars

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Lunch on Saturday turned out exceptionally well with grilled maple chili salmon

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served with black bean and corn salad which my mother-in-law made. Good team work :)

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She made a few modifications… 2 ears of corn, 1 bell pepper, 1 cup of snow peas, some crushed red pepper flakes. It was unbelievably refreshing and a little spicy. Super addictive too (I didn’t mind that)! The salmon turned out smokey, sweet and spicy – this really was the perfect summer lunch. Both recipes are going on my favorite recipes list for sure!

This potato green bean salad was another winner. I loved the mustardy dressing. The potatoes and the green beans were from the farmers market and the peas came straight from the garden in Maine. It doesn’t get much fresher than this!

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… and you know life wasn’t so tough when watermelon margaritas (from farmers market watermelon too!) seemed like the most natural thing in the world. What, you didn’t have one in the middle of Monday? ;)

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… yeah, tough life for sure. :lol:

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What have you been up to?

Healthy and Sane in the kitchen: summer feast

It’s been a while since I’ve actually cooked anything substantial. Sure I’ve grilled up some chicken and drenched it in buffalo sauce, stuffed it in tortillas with veggies and called it tacos for dinner. I’ve made burgers (actually I showed Adam how to) and salads. I’ve utilized leftovers from numerous nights out (is it just me, or do you also eat out more in the summer months?). And then there was of course the DC vacation. In short, I missed some real cooking. And yesterday’s trip to the farmers market during lunch, gave me just the kick in the butt I needed to get back into the kitchen and whip up something good!

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This corn was picked that morning!! Look at these juicy kernels!!

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Dinner is served!

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We ate out on the patio. I love summer nights!!!

On the menu (see links to recipes):

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This salad was spectacular! I loved the spicy arugula paired with the lemon drizzled zucchini disks and shaved Asiago! Going on my favorite recipes list Smile

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We had a hard time making the bacon bits stick to the corn (I think I didn’t use enough butter to that much bacon and didn’t cut it up finely enough) and then the cheese didn’t really want to stay on the corn because it wasn’t wet enough… but we made it work. One delicious smoky, cheesy, corn-y (lol) bite at a time. [Edited to add: Jessica let me know that if you chop the bacon into teeny tiny pieces, it works great... so go ahead, make it! :) ]

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Fresh, tangy, cheesy, buttery… so many textures and flavors. This was the perfect summer feast!

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My kitchen is full of dirty dishes, which is a sure sign I’m finally back to what I love Smile

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