Jan 18 2012

Romesco Sauce

If you want to try your own Spanish night at home, check out my recipe for Romesco. Perfect with roast shrimp, grilled vegetables, chicken or pork. The possibilities are endless with this versatile sauce.

1 ancho chile

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1.5 cups small cubes of stale sourdough bread

25 skinned almonds

15 skinned hazelnuts

4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 large jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped

2 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (about 2/3 cup)

1/3 cup dry white wine

2-3 tablespoon olive oil

2-3 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1/2 teaspoon paprika (sweet or spicy depending on your desired heat)

1 Tbs lemon juice

Salt to taste

1. Remove seeds and stem from the ancho chile and place in a bowl. Cover with boiling water, weighing it down with a plate to keep it submerged. Set aside for 30 minutes.

2. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add bread cubes and stir until they just begin to turn golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the nuts and continue to stir until they are golden. Next add the garlic, and stir until lightly browned. Finally, add the red peppers. Remove from heat. Season with salt as you go.

3. Drain and chop the chiles, add them to the pan, heat and stir briefly. Add the tomato, stir and cook a minute or so until softened. Remove from heat.

4. Transfer to a food processor or a blender and pulse until a rough paste is formed. With the machine running, slowly pour in the wine and oil. Turn off the machine, add vinegar, paprika, lemon and salt, to taste, then pulse briefly to blend. The sauce will have a slightly nubbly texture.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups.

Jan 15 2012

An Evening in Espana

I had one of the most wonderful meals in Chicago on Friday night and I didn’t even have to make a reservation! Every 6-8 weeks I get together with a group of talented chefs and foodies, otherwise known as my “dinner club.” Each meal is a carefully planned orchestration meant to challenge and inspire all of us, centered around a specific culinary cuisine. Friday night’s theme, Spanish Tapas, was dear to my heart, having lived in Spain nearly 10 years ago when fell in love with the cuisine. At Kasey’s home on Friday night we stood around drinking Cava and Rioja, just as if we are at bar in Espana. Check out a few of the items we whipped up:


Crostini with fresh anchovy, fennel and orange

Bacon Wrapped Dates stuffed with Manchego

Mushroom Confit

Tortilla Espanola

A feast of food and wine

……grilled vegetables/roast shrimp with Romesco, cheese, salad and port, braised chicken with dried fruit and chocolate crostini with fine sea salt…

And what’s the best way to work off all those calories? A drunken dance party of course! A dinner club first, but won’t be the last. The end of the night may be a bit (or a lot) fuzzy, but I do remember amazing food, great wine and, most importantly, the best company.

Dance Party

You want an invitation, don’t ya?