Sunday, August 26, 2018


In Galicia (northwest Spain), a sardiñada is an outdoor party with heaps of grilled fresh sardines served with cachelos, potatoes boiled in their skins, and pan de millo, a kind of cornbread. (n the Galician language, a sardine is a sardiña. sardina in castellano Spanish). To try out my new gas grill, I staged a mini-sardiñada on my patio.

The roasted sardines, dripping with fat and juices, are heaped on slabs of Galician bread, a yeasted bread made with both wheat flour and corn meal. I made a traditional bread, but instead of baking it, I turned the dough into a flatbread and cooked it on the grill. I added a garlic-parsley oil to dribble on the bread, potatoes and sardines. The only thing missing at my sardiñada were the Padrón peppers!

Fresh sardines, roasted on the grill, with cornbread, potatoes and parsley oil.

Serve these with a roll of paper towels! Pick up a sardine with your fingers, break off the head, pinch out the innards (easy once cooked) and eat the flesh right off the bone.

Use slices of grilled cornbread to soak up the sardine's juices.

Grilled Sardines
Sardinas Asadas a la Parilla

Sardines for the grill don't need to be gutted. Sprinkle with coarse salt and they're ready to be cooked.

Sardines stay juicier if grilled whole, so don’t remove scales nor gut the sardines before grilling. A hinged grill makes flipping the small fish easier. If not available, try wrapping the sardines in grape leaves. Grill them until skin begins to turn brown and crackly. I overcooked my first batch, because they didn't brown properly. I needed to close the grill cover to keep the temperature hot enough to grill the fish. 

Serve the sardines accompanied by the grilled flatbread (recipe follows) or slices of baguette that have been grilled.

6-12 sardines per person
Coarse salt
Sliced, grilled bread, to serve

Rinse the sardines in water. Drain them well. Put them in a shallow bowl and sprinkle generously with coarse salt.

A hinged grill makes turning the sardines easy.

Grilling with a view. I am trying out a new gas grill on my patio.

Skin gets crackly-brown with grilling.

Preheat grill. Arrange sardines on a hinged grill. Grill until skins begin to turn brown and crisp. Turn the rack of sardines and grill reverse side. Serve accompanied by slices of grilled bread.

Cachelos, potatoes boiled in their skins, are a typical Galician side. Here they are served with pungent garlic-parsley olive oil aliño, or dressing.

Garlic-Parsley Oil Dressing
Aliño de Aceite con Perejil y Ajo

Drizzle this on the cachelos (potatoes boiled in their skins) and the sliced cornbread.

1 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2-3 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
Red pepper flakes (optional)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt

Place the parsley and garlic in a blender or mini-processor and chop finely. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.

Grilled Cornbread
Pan de Millo a la Parilla

A flatbread of mixed wheat flour and cornmeal bakes on the grill.

Millo is the Galician word for maíz, or corn. This Galician bread can be made with half cornmeal and half wheat flour. Sometimes a little rye flour is added too. If baking it as bread, shape the dough into a 12-inch round loaf. Let the loaf rise again before baking. For the grill, the dough is rolled out about ¾ inch thick to make a flatbread.

1 cup warm water
¼ teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 ½ cups flour (preferably bread flour) + additional for flouring the board
1 cup yellow corn meal
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil + more to brush the dough

Place the warm water in a small bowl. Add the sugar and yeast. Allow to stand 5 minutes, until yeast is bubbly.

Combine the flour, corn meal and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the center. Add the oil and the yeast water. Use a wooden spoon to mix the dry ingredients into the liquid. Once combined, turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead the dough until smooth and stretchy, 5 minutes.

Gather the dough into a ball. Place in a clean oiled bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and put in a warm place to rise, approximately 2 hours. 

Brush dough with oil on both sides.

Punch the dough down. Turn out onto lightly floured board and roll it out into a circle or rectangle, approximately ¾ inch thick. Brush the top with oil. Place the dough, oiled side down, on a baking sheet or bread peel.

Heat the grill on maximum. Slide the bread onto the grill and close the cover. Immediately turn off the heat beneath the bread. (If grilling over coals, push coals to the edges before placing dough on the grill.) Bake the bread 5 minutes.

Flip the bread and close the cover of the grill.
Turn the dough. Either flip it on the grill or slide it onto the baking sheet, turn it over and slide back onto the grill. Cover the grill and bake until bread is done, 10-15 minutes more.

Allow the bread to cool before slicing. 


More recipes for fresh sardines:

Missing from my sardine fest--Galician Padrón peppers. See more about these delectable peppers here.

Saturday, August 18, 2018


Seize any excuse for a party! The mid-August fiesta of Asunción or the feria of Málaga are two good ones. In my case, it was the blooming of the plumeria on the patio that inspired me to invite some friends over for a swim and some festive drinks. It turned into a sangría extravaganza.

Four kinds of sangría! From the left, moscatel with oranges and melon; rosé wine with pineapple and mango; white wine with fresh herbs and lemon, and blue moscato sparkling wine with blueberries, cherries and nectarines.

Sangría is originally a fruity drink made with red wine, served icy-cold in a pitcher. Discovering a bottle of blue moscato sparkling wine at the supermarket motivated me to explore other colors and combinations of wine and fruit—blue, rosé, white and amber moscatel. (If what you want is a classic red wine sangría, see the links below.)

Besides wine and fruit, classic sangría has sugar or sugar syrup, brandy or liqueur to fortify it, and, almost always, something to dilute the mix and add bubbles—seltzer/soda water (agua con gas); lemon soda or fruit juice.

Lightly sweet drinks are refreshing on a summer’s afternoon, but sticky-sweet ones spoil the accompanying foods. I’ve chosen not to add any sugar. I used sweet and semi-sweet wines as well as sweet liqueurs. I chose artirficially sweetened soda (gaseosa) and lime cordial with no sugar.

Quantities depend on the size of your pitchers. Mine are under 6-cup capacity, meaning none holds a whole bottle of wine plus liqueur, mixer and fruit.

What fruits to put in sangría? Clockwise from the top: sliced oranges, fresh pineapple, blueberries, cherries, sliced lemon, melon balls, sliced nectarines and cut-up mango. Apples, pears and peaches.
Mix and match the fruits to suit yourself and use more or less than the quantities suggested. Some fruits will bob to the top of the pitcher; others sink to the bottom.
Floaters: lemons, nectarines, mango, apple.
Sinkers: cherries, pineapple, melon, grapes, pears

Blue sparkling wine inspired me to invent colorful changes on the sangría original.

If possible, chill the wine as well as mixers in advance. Add ice as needed, both to chill the drinks as well as to dilute them.

Very sophisticated flavors--white wine and gin with lemon verbena, lemon thyme and sliced lemon. Lemon soda adds bubbles and sweetness. Pictured with plumeria flowers.

Sangría with rosé wine, a touch of anisette and grenadine. Fresh pineapple and mango give it a tropical flavor.

Blue moscato sparkling wine and blueberries. Use a clear fruit liqueur. I messed this one up by using blackberry liqueur, which spoiled the blue color.

Amber-colored moscatel is naturally sweet, needs only fruit and seltzer.

My guests liked best the blue sangría, in spite of its less than crystalline color. My favorite was the pink one, rosé wine with a touch of anisette and grenadine, but the white wine with lemon verbena was a close second. Today the leftover amber moscatel has gone off to an afternoon beach party.

Why are drinks measured in fluid ounces when other recipes are given in their cup equivalents? FYI, 2 fluid ounces =¼ cup, 16 fl. ounces = 2 cups.

Rosé Sangría with Tropical Fruits
Sangría de Vino Rosado con Frutas Tropicales

Aguardiente is a Spanish anise-flavored liqueur. It gives a wonderful flavor to this pink sangría.

½ cup chopped fresh pineapple
½ cup chopped mango
2 fl. ounces aguardiente (anisette liqueur)
2 fl. ounces grenadine (pomegranate syrup)
16 fl. ounces chilled rosé
1 ½ cups seltzer

Place the fruits in a pitcher. Add the aguardiente and grenadine. Immediately before serving, pour in the chilled wine. Fill the pitcher with seltzer and ice.

Lemon Sangría with Botanicals
Sangría Blanca con Hierbas

I clipped some fresh lemon verbena and lemon thyme from my herb garden for this white wine sangría. But, you could experiment with other herbal flavors. Mint, rosemary, tarragon, bay laurel, hibiscus, elderflower and chamomile are possibles. Gin, distilled with several botanicals, seems the perfect fortifier.

Lemon soda provides the sweetener for this sangría. I use gaseosa, a “diet” soda with no sugar (best known brand in Spain is La Casera).

Sliced lemons will float to the top of the pitcher. For a prettier presentation, spear them on a skewer and stand it in the pitcher.

1 ½ cups boiling water
Sprigs of fresh lemon verbena
Sprig of lemon thyme
Strip of lemon zest
2 fl. ounces gin
1-2 lemons, sliced
20 fl. ounces chilled dry white wine
Lemon soda, such as gaseosa

Place 1 sprig of lemon verbena, thyme and lemon zest in a heat-proof bowl. Pour over boiling water.  Cover and let the herbs infuse for 5 minutes. Strain the infusion, discarding the herbs and zest. Cool the liquid.

Put the herbal infusion in a pitcher with the gin. Add sliced lemons. Pour in the wine. Fill the pitcher with lemon soda and ice, as needed. Garnish the pitcher with additional sprigs of lemon verbena.

Golden Muscatel Sangría with Oranges
Sangría Dorada con Naranja

Moscatel wines are famous in Spain, especially in the Málaga region. Typically, they are high-alcohol, sweet dessert wines, varying in color from gold to amber to deep mahogony.  Fruity, with a subtle citric taste on the palate and a slightly bitter finish, these wines definitely lend themselves to combining with fruit and diluting with fizzy water.

16 fl. ounces chilled moscatel wine
1 cup melon balls
2 fl. ounces brandy
4 fl. ounces orange juice
Sliced oranges
Seltzer, about 12 fl. ounces

Place the wine in a pitcher. Add the melon, brandy and juice. Skewer the orange slices and place in the pitcher. Add seltzer and ice to fill the pitcher.

Blue Sangría
Sangría Celeste

The color of a swimming pool—blue moscato sparkling wine seems made for a summer party. It’s low in alcohol (only 7 percent), so can stand some fortification with liqueur and doesn’t need to be diluted with a mixer. The semi-sweet wine needs no additional sweetener and blends beautfiully with fruit.

Use a clear (such as Cointreau) or blue (blue curaçao) fruit liqueur with the blue sparkling wine. I, unfortunately, muddied the waters by adding a blackberry liqueur. Lime cordial is a sweet, non-alcoholic lime juice. The one I used did not contain sugar (it had sugar substitutes).

½ cup blueberries
½ cup cherries
½ cup sliced nectarines
2 fl. ounces clear fruit liqueur, such as Cointreau
2 fl. ounces lime cordial
1 bottle blue moscato sparkling wine

Place the fruits in a pitcher. Add the liqueur and lime cordial. Add the contents of the bottle of wine and ice to fill the pitcher.

Plumeria flowers have a powerful perfume.

More ideas for sangría and summer cocktails:

More recipes with lemon verbena here.

Saturday, August 11, 2018


Move over meat. Make some room on the grill for the vegetables. Hey, let’s give fish some space, too. Fruit! Stand up for your rights! 

That’s what I wrote in the Weber magazine, GRILL ON, coaching grillers everywhere  to expand their grilling horizons, with a little Spanish flair. I didn’t provide recipes with the article (though there are lots of grilling recipes on Weber’s web site, just my suggestions for grilling veggies, fruits and seafood. Here are some of the ideas from my article, as I prepared them this week on my patio.

Make room for the vegetables! Whether the main event or a side, vegetables really pop with color and flavor. In the foreground are skewers with cherry tomatoes, eggplant, red pepper and mushrooms. On the right are thick slices of butternut squash,The sugar in the squash caramelizes, giving a golden crust. Behnd are potatoes that have been parboiled and thickly sliced. At the back are ripe figs stuffed with goat cheese and rolled in bacon.

We use a big grill fueled with charcoal or wood.  My son Ben is the experienced grill master. He’s expert in knowing just how hot the coals should be, the placement of the racks, the time before flipping foods. Experience is what it’s all about.

One trick I learned from Ben—don´t oil the grill. Just wipe it with a cut lemon. Get the grill good and hot before placing food on it. Food never seems to stick.

Cut vegetables in chunks for the kebabs. Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and sprigs of herbs. I'm using lemon thyme and fresh oregano.

Those figs--slit them open, insert a slice of goat cheese, wrap in bacon and skewer.

Too good--sweet figs, crisp bacon, creamy cheese.

Grill slices of baguette brushed with oil and heap the grilled vegetables on top.

Give fish some space too! I´ve got some fresh trout. I picked some grape leaves from the arbor and used them to wrap the fish. The leaves add a lemony flavor and keep the trout from sticking to the grill rack. The trout are wrapped in bacon first. A dusting of fine bread crumbs makes the slippery trout easier to handle.

Grilled trout stay moist in a grape-leaf wrap. The hinged grill makes flipping fish easy.

Fish and vegetables get equal space on the plate.

While we're eating the meal, chunks of pineapple and nectarines grill on the remaining coals.

We ate the grilled fruit straight off the fire. But they would also be delicious served with slices of sponge cake and vanilla ice cream.

Sauce for Grilled Vegetables and Fish
Salsa para Verduras y Pescado a la Parilla

Mayonnaise-yogurt sauce goes with the vegetables and the fish.

1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Salt to taste

Beat the mayonnaise until smooth. Beat the yogurt until smooth. Combine them in a small bowl. Beat in the oil, vinegar and mustard. Stir in the capers, onion and parsley. Add salt to taste.

More grilling ideas and recipes:

Saturday, August 4, 2018


My summer garden is a “gazpacho garden.” I´ve got onions and garlic, pulled up earlier in the summer, and now, with August heat, come the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.

Of course I’m making gazpacho. There’s usually a jug of it in the fridge, the perfect refreshment on a steamy summer afternoon. But I also enjoy variations on the gazpacho theme. So when I came across a recipe for a Gazpacho Salad—clipped from Gourmet magazine, June, 1970—I decided to give it a try. All the traditional gazpacho ingredients were chopped and layered in a tall glass jar with black olives and bits of briny anchovies in the mix and a dressing with shallot and parsley as well as the usual garlic, olive oil and vinegar.

Layered salad of chopped gazpacho ingredients--ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers and onions.

In the Gourmet spread, the gazpacho salad was the hors d’oeuvre for a picnic menu that included veal and tongue pie, deviled chicken and lemon meringue tarts. My rendition was a starter served on the patio while the pork chops grilled. I served it with spoons in short glass cups but I think it also would be good heaped on toasts and topped with anchovy fillets.

Salad chills in a glass jar, is served into glass cups as a starter.

Gazpacho salad has black olives and bits of anchovy.

Gazpacho Salad Gourmet
Ensaladilla de Gazpacho

Chop tomatoes, discard seeds.

It isn´t necessary to peel the tomatoes—but the variety of tomato I’m using has such tough, leathery skin that I prefer them peeled. They’re easy to peel with a knife or peeler—no need to plunge in boiling water which takes away the fresh taste of raw tomatoes. They are best chopped by hand, discarding as many seeds as possible. The other vegetables can be chopped by hand or in a food processor.

Makes 8-10 hors d’oeuvre-size servings.

Chopped vegetables are layered in a jar.
3 ½ cups chopped tomatoes (about 2 pounds tomatoes)
2 cups peeled and diced cucumber
1 ½ cups diced green pepper
1 cup diced onion
12 pitted black olives
6 canned anchovy fillets, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
¼ teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Lemon juice, as desired

In a deep bowl or 1 ½ -quart glass jar alternate layers of tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper and onion. Sprinkle each layer with salt and intersperse with olives and chopped anchovies.

In a mini-processor, chop the shallot, garlic and parsley with ½ teaspoon salt. Add the cumin, vinegar and oil and process until dressing is smooth. Pour the dressing over the layered salad. Cover and chill the salad for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Sprinkle the salad with lemon juice, if desired, and serve it in small bowls.

Related recipes: