Spanish Cuisine Feed

Quick Skillet Paella for Two

Quick Skillet Paella for Two final

Some may scoff at the idea of a “shortcut” paella that tastes great, but this recipe really delivers amazing flavor in record time. A few key ingredients lend to the authentic flavor – saffron, smoked paprika, and Spanish chorizo – all add tremendous flavor. Everything is cooked in a 12-inch nonstick skillet, but a well-seasoned 12” cast iron skillet will work too, and either pan will produce the paella’s signature crispy bottom crust called soccarat. If you are cooking Paella for more than 2 or 3 people, you might want to consider a traditional paella pan.  These are wide and shallow dishes that are perfect for cooking and serving paella.  Typically you can get them in carbon steel or enameled steel.  Carbon steel lasts longer but is more work to maintain; enameled steel is easier but won’t withstand heavy use.

Download Quick Skillet Paella Two recipe

6 ounces extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled, deveined, and tails removed

8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 small onion, chopped

½ red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped

¼ cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

1 bay leaf

¾ cup Valencia or Arborio rice

Salt and pepper

2 ¾ cups chicken broth

3 ounces Spanish dry-cured chorizo sausage, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

Pinch saffron threads (optional)

2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley

¼ cup frozen peas, thawed, optional

Lemon wedges

  1. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper and refrigerate until needed.
  2. Season chicken thighs with salt and ground pepper, set aside until needed.
  3. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and red pepper and cook until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in wine, tomato paste, garlic, paprika, and bay leaf and cook until liquid evaporates, and mixture looks oily, 2 to 4 minutes.
  4. Stir in rice and cook until grains are well coated with tomato mixture, about 1 minute. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Stir in broth, Spanish chorizo, saffron, (if using); chicken; and ⅛ teaspoon salt.
  5. Bring to strong simmer and continue to cook, uncovered, over medium heat until liquid level falls just below surface of rice but paella still looks wet, 10 to 14 minutes. (After first 5 minutes of simmering, do not stir or paella will become starchy.)
  6. Add shrimp to pan and nestle halfway into rice. Continue to cook until shrimp are mostly pink, and all liquid has been absorbed, 4 to 7 minutes longer (paella will crackle and pop when liquid is absorbed).
  7. To develop crust (socarrat) on bottom of paella, continue to cook until crackling and popping sounds become more pronounced, while occasionally rotating skillet over the burner for even browning, 3 to 5 minutes. At this point, shrimp should be almost completely pink, and paella should look dry on top.
  8. Discard bay leaf. Sprinkle with peas and parsley, cover, and let warm through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and s.erve with lemon wedges and drizzle with extra oil.

Quick Skillet Paella arborio rice
Quick Skillet Paella arborio rice 

Quick Skillet Paella shrimp layer
Quick Skillet Paella shrimp layer

Best Spanish Sangria

Spanish Sangria1


I generally don’t care for Sangria, except for when I’m in Spain - it just seems to taste better there. Sangria makes a perfect summer drink when entertaining, because you can make large batches ahead of time. This recipe is based on one I received during my stay at Le Meridien Barcelona (click here for Le Meridien Barcelona) from the General Manager, Gonzalo Duarte Silva. They served his sangria during a wonderful cooking event which I attended at the hotel called "Paella Atelier" where their chef Eugeni Cortés demonstrated how to prepare a traditional paella. The recipe below is very similar but I've added a few "enhancements". Choose an inexpensive Spanish Rioja, I like to use Campo Viejo Rioja Crianza, but a fruity Merlot will work as well. Be sure to allow time for the flavors to blend, it really does get better as it sits. 

Download The Best Spanish Sangria recipe

4 large juice oranges, washed; two orange sliced; remaining oranges juiced

2 large lemons, washed and sliced

½ cup granulated Superfine sugar

½ cup Cointreau or Triple Sec

½ cup brandy

1 apple, sliced thin

1 small handful of red grapes

2 bottles inexpensive Spanish red wine, chilled

1 liter bottle of seltzer or Orange soda (like Orangina)

1. Add sliced oranges, lemons, and sugar to large container; mash gently with wooden spoon until fruit releases some juice, but is not totally crushed, and sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Stir in orange juice, Triple Sec, brandy, apple slices, grapes, and wine; cover and refrigerate for at least 2, and up to 8 hours. When ready to serve stir in seltzer (or orange soda) and serve with ice and fruit.

Sangria fruit wine

Spanish Tapas Style Shrimp - Gambas al Ajillo

Garlic shrimp 2


One of the most common "tapas" of Spain, "gambas al ajillo" requires only a few ingredients, and can be prepared fairly quickly. Be sure to serve shrimp with some good crusty bread for dipping in the delicious garlic flavored olive oil. If you’re planning a trip to Spain, here are a couple of great tapas bars in Madrid near the Prado Museum - Estado Puro and La Trucha -

Download Spanish Style Shrimp Recipe


14 medium garlic cloves, peeled

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

8 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 bay leaf

1 (2-inch) piece mild dried Cascabel chile, roughly broken, seeds included

1 ½ teaspoons sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves

1.    Mince 2 garlic cloves with a garlic press. Toss minced garlic with shrimp, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and salt in medium bowl. Let shrimp marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2.    Meanwhile, using flat side of chef's knife, smash 4 garlic cloves. Add remaining 6 tablespoons of olive oil and smashed garlic to 12-inch skillet and heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is light golden brown, 4 to 7 minutes. Remove pan from heat and allow oil to cool to room temperature. Using slotted spoon, remove smashed garlic from skillet and discard.

3.    Thinly slice remaining 8 cloves garlic. Return skillet to low heat and add sliced garlic, bay leaf, and chile. Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is tender but not browned, 4 to 7 minutes. (If garlic has not begun to sizzle after 3 minutes, increase heat to medium-low.)

4.    Over medium-low heat, add shrimp with marinade to pan in single layer. Cook shrimp, undisturbed, until oil starts to gently bubble, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, flip shrimp and continue to cook until almost cooked through, about 2 minutes longer. Increase heat to high and add sherry vinegar, lemon and parsley. Cook, stirring constantly, until shrimp are cooked through and oil is bubbling vigorously, 20 to 25 seconds. Serve immediately.

The slightly sweet Cascabel chiles

  Garlic shrimp chiles 


Adding garlic with aromatics adds intense flavor

Garlic shrimp skillet oil

Garlic shrimp plate

Sergi Arola Gastro - Madrid, Spain



Arola plaintain crisps

Last year I was in Spain for Madrid Fusion, one of Spain's biggest gastro-festivals that included a “who’s who” of culinary heavyweights from Spain and elsewhere, including Ferran Adrià (who announced his two-year sabbatical from his famed El Bulli restaurant), Sergi Arola (in the photo below), Grant Achatz, Sergi Arola, Alain Ducasse, Cheong Liew and Mark Best.


While there, I enjoyed an extravagant lunch at the 2 Michelin star rated Sergi Arola Gastro (, a top restaurant in Madrid and probably one of my best dining experiences in Spain. It is presided over by avant garde chef Sergi Arola, who enjoys a unique culinary pedigree. A disciple of Ferrán Adrià (who has redefined culinary techniques with over-the-top creations like freeze-dried foie gras, atomized martinis and edible hibiscus paper) Arola trained in Adrià’s kitchen laboratory in Barcelona, working alongside the master chef for 8 years.


Make sure you set aside two to three hours for this extraordinary gastronomic experience.  The menu is simplified by offering 3 “sampler” selections – a “Gastro” menu (160€) , “Sergi’s” menu (125€) and a “Basics” menu (105€).  There is an incredibly extensive wine list that features over 500 labels, mostly from small producers, which are, shockingly, all available by the glass. I was dining with two wonderful food journalists from Sydney and Singapore, and we chose the “Basics” menu – which consisted of 10 courses from the “Sergi’s” 14 course menu,.


Patrons are first served some “snacks”, consisting of large olives, croquetas, thin plantain chips, Arola-style spicy stuffed, potatoes and spicy tomato toasts.


Arola snacks tomato crisps stuffed potatoes 

This is followed by Sushi-sashimi

Marinated Hake with rice ice cream

Arola marinated hake rice ice cream 

Maki - Squid stuffed with vegetable and monkfish liver

Arola squid stuffed with vegetable and monkfish liver

Sausage of duck liver and sweetbreads

Arola sausage of duck liver and sweetbreads 

Baby Scallops with Creamy rice cooked with Idiazάbal cheese, bacon and asparagus

Arola Baby scallops with creamy rice  


Roasted Skate with Green Lentils du Puy

Skate and lentils 


Slow cooked Sirloin braised with turnip from la Cerdaña, carrots, and salsify

Arola sirloin   



And finally, we chose a "light" dessert -


Sliced Granny Smith Apple, confit of celery, and apple and celery ice cream

Arola apple dessert

And just in case that didn’t satisfy your sweet tooth, a canister full of macaroons, grated chocolate, and hard candies, was presented as a final touch.




I was truly inspired by the magnificent presentation and the unique combination of ingredients. If you're feeling up to the challenge, check out his recipes -



Sergi Arola at work in his kitchen

Sergi arola chef







The New Spanish Table Cookbook by Anya von Bremzen

New spanish table

A wonderful resource for anyone interested in Spanish cooking. "I doubt there's another writer—even in Spain—who knows more about the electrifying flavors of Spanish food. This stunning book is fascinating to read, with compelling recipes that make you want to rush to the market."
—Steven Raichlen, author of The Barbecue Bible and How to Grill

Buy it at Amazon

Tortilla de Patatas (Spanish Potato Omelet)

Cayena spanish omelet  

I spent an afternoon at the Escuela de Cocina Cayena in Madrid (a Cooking School)

They offer great cooking classes to learn how to make Spanish cuisine. I took the course in tapas and one of the recipes was for the classic Spanish Potato Omelet. They have a delicious yellow potato in Spain called Mona Lisa, that I have never found in the states. The closest would be Yukon Gold or Red Potatoes. The classes are easy to do, and everyone enjoys the finished product at the end of the class!


The instructor holding a "Mona Lisa" Potato


Cayena instructor potato  



Tortilla de Patatas (Spanish Potato Omelet)

Download Tortilla de Patatas Recipe

6 large Yukon gold potatoes (in Spain they use “Mona Lisa Potatoes”)

2 red onions

5-6 eggs

Olive Oil

Sea Salt

Peel and slice potatoes into thin rounds; slice onion into thin pieces. Wash both in cold water and pat dry; set aside.

Heat 1 ½ cups olive oil over medium-low heat in a deep frying pan. Add the onions and potatoes and stir gently for 5 minutes. The mixture should not brown, just soften.

Drain mixture into a large bowl and reserve olive oil; set aside.

In small bowl, beat 5 eggs with 1 tsp of sea salt. Pour beaten eggs over potatoes mixture to cover completely. Add additional beaten egg if necessary.

Add 1 tablespoon of reserved oil to a frying pan over medium-high heat and add potato-egg mixture. When eggs are set, turn omelet over onto a plate; add a bit more oil to pan, and slide the omelet back into the pan to finish cooking the other side. Slide onto plate and serve warm or at room temperature.


Cayena simmering potatoes


Cayena cooked potatoes


Cayena eggs into potatoes

Cayena omelet sliding 

Cayena omelet flipped  

Culinaria Spain

Culinaria spain 

Order from Amazon -

Check out my Spanish influenced recipes here - Spanish Cuisine

For anyone interested in Spanish cuisine, this is an excellent cookbook to own. It’s filled with wonderful regional recipes, beautiful photographs and interesting stories. I’m planning to attend Madrid Fusion 2010 - – so look forward to seeing more recipes from Spain.

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

( )  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 (  has become a home away from home in Spain. I was first introduced to it by artist and photographer Christopher Makos ( 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

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.