Saturday, March 16, 2013

March 3, 2013

We met at my house and all were in attendance except for Teresa.  

Appetizer:  Carol, Individual Seven Layer Dips
Cocktail:  Janet, Agua de Valencia:  Made with Cava
Salad:  Tonya, Argula, Apple and Manchego with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Side Dish:  Carol, Parmesan Baked Tomatoes
Main Dish:  Angie, Spanish Style Toasted Pasta with Shrimp
Dessert:  Mary, Sweet Catalan Cream and Bizcochos Borrah

Carol started us off with Individual Seven Layer Dips with homemade pico de gallo.    These were as tasty as they were pretty.   Piping using a Ziploc bag was the key to the neat layers. 

Our cocktail was Agua de Valencia made with Cava.  It is a Spanish cocktail that was first made in 1959 in Valencia.  You can ask for it in Spain and there are bottled brands of the drink for sale.

The salad had sweet apple, slivered almonds, spicy arugula and shaved cheese.  The slightly sweet vinaigrette pulled all the elements together.  Tonya picked the perfect salad recipe for our dinner!

Carol brought Parmesan Baked tomatoes as our side dish and it paired perfectly with the pasta.  The dish is simple and showcases the freshness of the tomatoes.  The green herbs on top add color and flavor.

I picked the main dish, Spanish Style Toasted Pasta with Shrimp, from Cooks Illustrated.  It had an interesting technique of cooking the pasta dry to a peanut butter color.  It then is finished in the wine, chicken broth and water in the oven.  Since we doubled the recipe the pasta was not all able to brown because my pan was too small. 

I really liked this dish and it re-heated well for days of left overs! 

Spanish Style Toasted Pasta with Shrimp

Serves 4

3 tbs plus 2 tsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds extra large shrimp
2 3/4 cups water
1 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
8 oz thin spaghetti, broken into 1-2 inch pieces by wrapping dry pasta in kitchen towel and breaking on counter
1 onion, chopped fine
14.5 oz petite diced tomatoes, drained
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp anchovy paste
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tbs chopped parsley
lemon wedges
1 recipe Aioli (optional - we did not use)

Peel shrimp, reserving shells.  Combine 1 tbs oil, 1 tsp garlic, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper in a medium bowl.  Add shrimp, toss to coat and refrigerate until ready to use.

Place reserved shrimp shells, water, chicken broth and bay leaf in a medium bowl.  Cover and microwave until liquid is hot and shells have turned pink, about 6 minutes.  Set aside until ready to use.

Toss spaghetti and 2 tsp oil in skillet until spaghetti is evenly coated.  Toast spaghetti over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until browned and nutty in aroma (should be color of peanut butter), 6 to 10 minutes.  Transfer to bowl.  Wipe out skillet with paper towel.

Heat remaining 2 tbs oil in now empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.   Add onion and 1/4 tsp salt;  cook, stirring frequently until softened and beginning to brown, 4 to 6 minutes.  Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally until mixture is thick, dry and slightly darkened in color, 4 to 6 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium and add remaining garlic, paprika, smoked paprika and anchovy paste.  Cook until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes.  Add spaghetti and stir to combine.  Adjust oven rack 5 to 6 inches from broiler elements and heat broiler.

Pour broth through fine mesh strainer into skillet.  Add wine, 1/4  tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and stir well.  Increase heat to medium high and bring to simmer.  Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until liquid is slightly thickened and spaghetti is just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.  Scatter shrimp over spaghetti and stir in to partially submerge.  Transfer skillet (OR, put in casserole dish without shrimp, then add shrimp, if your skillet is not oven proof) to oven and broil until shrimp are opaque and surface of spaghetti is dry with crisped, browned spots, 5 to 7 minutes.  Remove from oven and let stand, uncovered, for 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately, passing lemon wedges and, if using, Aioli separately.

We had two desserts from Mary!  HOORAY!  This is starting to be a trend to have multiples of the same course.  I shall never complain about this!  One was a cake and the other a creamy custard.  The cake is light with a hint of lemon.  The custard is silkier than creme brulee and also has the taste of lemon.  Both were delicious  and complimented each other perfectly!

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