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July 2009

Torrijas (Spanish French Toast)


Torrijas final

Very similar to American French toast, this dish is served for dessert in Spain, especially on Sunday. Chef Sandro di Marco from the Palace Hotel in Madrid

( www.palacemadrid.com )  shared his recipe for this simple but delicious dessert.

Torrijas ingredients

1.    Arrange 1” thick slices of day old baguette in a single layer in large glass dish.

2.    In medium saucepan, combine:

1 cup of water

1 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of honey

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

1 cinnamon stick


3.    Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium low heat and let simmer for 7 minutes and slightly thickened. Remove the cinnamon stick and allow to cool.

4.    Beat 4 eggs with 1 Tablespoon water in shallow dish and set aside

5.    Mix together in heavy saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved and milk is hot:

2 cups milk

¼ cup sugar

Peel of 1 lemon

1 cinnamon stick

 Torrijas hot milk

6.    Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large griddle to medium heat (or 350 degrees on electric griddle).

7.    Pour warm milk over baguette slices. Dip each slice into egg wash and drop onto hot skillet. Cook until golden brown, adding more oil as needed, about 2-3 minutes per side. Arrange on serving platter and pour honey syrup over bread slices and serve.

Torrijas with milk 

Torrijas dipped in egg wash 

Torrijas in oil  

Torrijas pour syrup 

Torrijas covered syrup  

The Palace Hotel - Madrid, Spain


Palace hotel night   

La Rotonda Restaurant at The Palace Hotel


Dining room Palace hotel  

Croquetas de Jamon - Spanish Ham Croquettes

Croquetas final  

The Palace Hotel in Madrid (www.palacemadrid.com)  has become a home away from home in Spain. I was first introduced to it by artist and photographer Christopher Makos (http://www.makostudio.com) who has been staying there for nearly 20 years.  On my most recent visit, Chef Sandro Di Marco of the Palace was kind of enough to share his recipe for Croquetas de Jamon. Croquetas are found in nearly every restaurant in Spain.

You can make them with ham, fish, chicken, or spinach, and they are easy freeze (just make the dough ahead of time and freeze it. Then, take the "croquetas" out of the freezer, coat and pop them into the frying pan)

Croquetas de Jamon - Spanish Ham Croquettes

 Download Croquetas de Jamon

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup finely minced onions

1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 cups hot milk

Salt and black pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

12 ounces finely chopped Spanish ham (Jamon Serrano)

2 eggs, mixed with 1 tablespoon water

1 cup dry bread crumbs

2 tablespoons flour

Olive oil for frying (not extra virgin)


1.    1. Preheat the fryer. 

2.    2. In a large saute pan, melt the butter. When the butter is melted, add the onions and saute for about 2 minutes, or until translucent and soft. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook for about 1 minute and remove from the heat.

3.    3. Whisk in the milk to form a smooth sauce. Return to medium heat and cook until the sauce is very thick and creamy. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the ham. Mix well and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on low heat. 

      4. Pour the mixture into a glass  baking pan and cool in the refrigerator so that the mixture will be easy to handle. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours or until well chilled. 

      5. In a small mixing bowl, beat the eggs with water until frothy and pour into a medium bowl. Combine the bread crumbs and flour in a second bowl. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. 

      6. Using your hands, shape the ham mixture into a log about 3/4-inch thick. Using a knife, cut the logs into 1 1/2-inch thick. Dip the logs in the egg wash, letting the excess drip off. Roll the logs in the seasoned bread crumbs. Place the logs on a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the logs for 2 to 3 hours. 

      7. Fry the croquettes in the hot oil (about 360 degrees), a few at a time, until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the croquettes from the oil and drain on a paper-lined plate. Season the croquettes with salt and pepper. Serve the croquettes with fresh lemon juice and garnish with parsley

Yield: 2 dozen

Croquetas ingredients  

Adding the warm milk to the roux

Croquetas milk to roux  

Stirring in the ham

Croquetas adding ham  Spreading out the batter to cool

Croquetas batter  

Chef Sandro rolls out the dough

Croquetas log   

The croquetas are dipped in egg wash and then in flour and bread crumbs

Croquetas egg wash 

Fried gently until golden brown

Croqueta frying  

Croquetas drain

La Bola Taberna - Madrid

La bola  

This family restaurant, with a beautiful bright red facade, is located in the center of Madrid and has been cooking traditional recipes since 1870. When I was there for lunch, we tried the signature dish, Cocido Madrileno which is cooked the old fashioned way, over oak charcoal. La Bola cooks their Cocido Madrileño in a clay pot that seems too small to hold all that’s inside. The waiter first pours a saffron-colored broth with thin noodles into a shallow dish. Once you finish that, they bring a huge plate of chickpeas, with beef, chicken, and pork and cabbage. It isn’t necessarily the most beautiful looking dish, but it’s packed with flavor. If you’re in Madrid, add this to your list of restaurants. (http://labola.es/ )

La bola pot 
La bola stew pour 
La bola stew

Casa Lucio Madrid, Spain

Casa lucio raul 1  

Casa Lucio is one the most famous restaurants in Madrid. The PR Director at the Palace Hotel told me that if you have not eaten at Casa Lucio, then you have not really been to Madrid. I went with my friend Raul Olivo and he insisted that we try one of their signature dishes - Eggs with French Fries called “huevos estrellados”, literally "broken eggs" mixed with potatoes. It's simple, and simply delicious.

The atmosphere is completely authentic and charming. Cured hams hang from hand-hewn beams above a well-oiled wood bar. Among the clientele is a stable of sometimes surprisingly well-known public figures – even members of Spain’s royal family. This is where Laura Bush lunched with Queen Sofía during a state visit to Spain.

It’s always crowded it can be difficult to get a table, but well worth the effort. Prime seating is on the first floor, and Lucio himself will honor some guests with a visit.


A house specialty - Huevos Estrellados

Eggs and Potatoes

Huevos Estrellados - Eggs with Potatoes

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes (2 medium), cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt 

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil or peanut oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter 

3 -4 farm fresh eggs, seperated

Ground black pepper 


1.    Place diced potatoes in large saucepan, cover with 1/2 inch water, add 1 teaspoon salt, and place over high heat. As soon as water begins to boil, about 6 minutes, drain potatoes thoroughly in colander.

2.    Heat butter and oil in heavy 12” skillet over medium-high heat until butter foams. Add potatoes and shake skillet to evenly distribute potatoes in single layer; make sure that one side of each piece is touching surface of skillet. Cook without stirring until potatoes are golden brown on bottom, about 4 to 5 minutes, then carefully turn potatoes with wooden spatula. Spread potatoes in single layer in skillet again and repeat process until potatoes are tender and browned on most sides, turning three to four times, 10 to 15 minutes longer.

3.    Pour in egg whites and stir for 5 -10 seconds, until whites are billowy. Turn off the heat and stir in yolks until done to your liking. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a plate (or the heat from the pan will keep cooking the eggs) and serve immediately.

Spanish Gazpacho

Spanish Gazpacho  

This is a photo of the Gazpacho served at Mesón de Cándido in Segovia, Spain.

http://www.mesondecandido.es/ingles.html. Traditionally, the Gazapacho is served with garnishes made from the same ingredients in the gazpacho.


Segovia is also know for its incredible roast suckling pig. It's an easy day trip from Madrid, and the Mesón de Cándido is just steps from the incredible Roman Aqueducts.



3 slices day old French bread, crusts removed

2 pounds vine-ripe medium tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped

2 small Kirby cucumbers, coarsely chopped

2 red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (such as Vidalia, Maui, or Walla Walla)  

2 garlic cloves, chopped

3 cups tomato juice

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon Spanish paprika

2 tsp. Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup sherry wine vinegar

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

1/2 lemon, juiced


•Chopped tomato

•Chopped cucumber

•Chopped bell pepper

•Chopped onion

•Croutons from day old french bread

•Lemon wedges


Soak the bread in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes, and then squeeze out the excess water. Place the bread in a blender or food processor; add the tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Puree the ingredients until almost smooth, leaving a little texture. Pour the vegetable mixture into a large bowl; stir in the tomato juice, sugar, paprika, salt, pepper, vinegar, oil, parsley, and lemon juice until well combined. Cover tightly and refrigerate to blend flavors, at least 4 hours and up to 2 days; the flavors will develop as it sits. Season the gazpacho again with salt and pepper to taste before serving. Serve in chilled bowls or tureen and top with desired garnishes and extra virgin olive oil.


Segovia Aqueduct



Aqueducts Segovia