Cuisine: Spanish

Spanish Potato Salad by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan


My Irish-German aunts made potato salad without mayonnaise.  As a curious kid, I found it intriguing because it was not what we did at our house.


There was bacon fat and vinegar drizzled over the hot potatoes and crumbled crispy bacon and chopped hard cooked eggs mixed in as well. To be sure, it was delicious and there was nary a drop of olive oil or any other unsaturated fats to be found.


Fast-forward many decades later, a mayonnaise-less potato salad is still not very common.  It makes an early summer appearance in the food magazines, but mostly remains the provenance of restaurants and/or family traditions.


This recipe with olive oil, smoked paprika, green olives and sherry vinegar give this potato salad its Spanish flair and its improved nutrition. The recipe is vegetarian and with a nod to my aunts; the addition of paper-thin slices of smoky ham would not be amiss.



Fideos: Spanish-style Toasted Noodles with Poached Shrimp & Romesco Sauce By Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan


‘Fideos’ is both a dish from Spain and a short, spaghetti-like noodle that is usually toasted.  Toasting gives the noodles a warm golden color and a deep rich flavor.  And it is very easy to accomplish in your home kitchen.


The recipe includes a simple and quick-cooking shrimp stock.  Both the toasted noodles and the peeled shrimp are cooked in this broth which builds in a supporting layer of flavors to the finished dish.


A traditional Catalan sweet red pepper sauce, Romesco*, adds body and a bright punch of flavor to the finished dish.



GAZPACHO The Classic Chilled Tomato & Vegetable Soup from Spain By Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

This is the answer to the ‘Dog Days of Summer’ dinner-dilemma. This soup can be made in 45 minutes or less and you may reap some leftovers for lunch. Add grilled shrimp or scallops for an easy protein upgrade.

The ingredients are raw, so be sure your vegetables are in primo condition.
Choose an olive oil that has a smooth, mild finish; a harsh or bitter olive oil will provide a jarring note in your finished soup.
All the vegetables are cut into pieces and blended together until smooth. Soaked bread is traditionally added; it provides a bit of body and creaminess. (and it’s fine to omit for a gluten-free version.)
Sherry vinegar is traditional; as it’s a vinegar from Spain. And it’s fine to substitute red wine vinegar.
Finally, a small amount of each vegetable is held back from blending and is finely-diced and added back to the finished soup. The diced vegetables provide a pleasing texture-crunch at the end.

Tacos al Beef Barbacoa by Chef Laura Brennan


Lately I’ve been spotting random recipes for “Beef Barbacoa” and wondered if it was a Mexican barbecue technique…and it is…kind of.


“Barbacoa” may be the precursor to the word “Barbecue”; they sound similar, right?   But all the “Barbacoa” recipes I’ve read have instructed the cook to both grill and continue cooking in some liquid; which is braising. Grilling the meat and onions before braising adds another layer of flavor, so I have combined both grilling and low-and-slow in-the-oven braising techniques in this recipe to create a tender, highly flavored ‘pull-apart’ meat, ready to stuff into taco shells (or burrito wraps).



Spring Eggs ‘n’ Ham by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan


With a nod to the famous children’s author, I’ve made a batch of molded green egg ‘frittatas’ to serve with an Easter Sunday brunch.  They are green from pureeing sautéed swiss chard and leeks with egg whites and cream.  I’ve baked them in small, silicone, prism-shaped molds; never-opened treasures found in a yard sale.  But fear not, bake them in non-stick muffin tins or in one larger well-buttered casserole dish. For convenience, they can be made and baked ahead and gently re-heated in a microwave before guests arrive.



‘SPARKLING’ WATERMELON GAZPACHO by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan

‘Tis the season for GAZPACHO, the iconic Spanish chilled soup.

This version uses seedless watermelon as the soup base instead of the more prevalent tomato juice base.This makes a soup that is a bit sweeter and that can be offset with fresh lime juice and a feta cheese garnish. The sweet, salty and lime flavors provide the soup with a savory balance. And adding a bit of flavored sparkling water at the end provides a bit of fizz. (I have made this soup for a wedding shower and added, an Italian sparkling wine.(Very Festive!)

As this soup is fruitier-tasting than the tomato-based version, serve it for lunch or brunch along with grilled baguette slices, rubbed with a clove of garlic and drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil.
Watching an internet video on the techniques of dicing, especially bell peppers, would be very helpful. I still watch other chefs’ techniques.
(I love watching other chefs cook!)

“DINNER AGAINST the CLOCK”: a quick Paella with chicken, shrimp and chorizo By Foodie’s Markets Chef Laura Brennan


This the first in a new series of recipes designed to help you get dinner on the table in an hour or so…. depending on your experience in the kitchen.


‘Paella’ is a traditional Spanish rice dish which usually includes the evocative and expensive spice:   saffron.  (Not to worry, you can still make a delicious paella without it.)  Paella is made with a short-grain rice and is a one-pot wonder.  Gather all your ingredients and do all the advance prep work first.  This is your ‘mise-en-place’.  Once your ‘mise’ is-in-place, the assembly/cooking of the paella goes quickly.


And note:  For expediency, I have chosen to use some pre-cooked ingredients:  pre-cooked chicken breast and cooked chorizo.  And some other shortcuts:  peeled and deveined shrimp, canned diced tomatoes and prepared chicken stock.    


There is an expanding world of excellent quality, prepared ingredients available.  When you find products that are carefully made and tasty, it’s a smart time-saving move to incorporate them into your cooking.  Without a prep cook or two at home, most of us (including myself) find it daunting to have to prepare everything from scratch, every time.