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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tapas with Don Draper

I've anticipated the new season of Mad Men with the most excitement since My So-Called Life, probably more than is healthy for a television show.  Sunday night the wait was finally over, and if you haven't watched the season premiere yet, stop what you're doing and pick up your remote.  Without any spoilers, I will say that while the BF felt it lacked a little spark, I felt like it was the perfect buildup to what promises to be a challenging new season in the Mad world.  They can't give it all away in the first episode, right?  As my friend Ethan put it, it's foreplay.

In celebration of the arrival of season four, I decided some celebratory food was in order.  A nightshade
celebration, to be precise.  See, it turns out that the BF and his steel cable tendons just weren't responding to our nightshade withholdings like they had been.  After a few trial runs with reintroducing the illicit vegetables, he's thrown himself with full force back into the delicious world of tomatoes & peppers (and sometimes potatoes).  What better cuisine to welcome his return to civilization than Spanish tapas?  After a visit to Granada a few years ago and a summer study in Santander at 16, I've had a passion for Spanish food that's only deepened since I've become a bit of a cook myself.  A lovely friend gifted me with a tapas cookbook that is incredibly difficult to track down online, but you can find it here, and I relished the opportunity to rip out all my nightshade-free tabs and track down tomato & pepper filled vittles for the Mad Men tapeo.

The Alhambra in Granada
In my characteristically excessive cooking nature, I made way too much of everything, but have been eating my way through leftovers happily for two days.  Here's what we had, in no particular order: traditional tortilla española, romesco sauce, albondigas in almond sauce and sautéed green beans with toasted pine nuts.  Plus vino, of course.  The almond sauce for the albondigas, or Spanish meatballs, was like heaven and I will definitely make that again to top everything from beef, pork or chicken to squash, sweet potatoes or leafy greens.  It was that good.  The version in my cookbook called for white bread, but I omitted it without any ill effects (to my American tastes), so here's basically what I did:

Salsa de Almendra (Almond Sauce)
Olive oil
1/2 cup blanched almonds
2 cloves garlic
2/3 c. white wine (can omit & sub stock if not using alcohol)
1 1/2 c. vegetable, chicken or beef stock
salt & pepper
*If you are not using blanched (de-skinned) almonds, you can quickly blanch them yourself by boiling skin-on almonds for 30 seconds, running cold water over them to stop the cooking process, letting them cool to the touch, then pinching each almond between your fingers to slip off the skins.  Not too taxing, just a little tedious.  You can find blanched almonds in the bulk section of most grocery stores and save yourself the trouble, though.

Heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil in skillet on medium (you can use the same skillet you cooked your meat in)
Toast the almonds in the oil until beginning to brown, 3-5 minutes
Mince the garlic & toss it in with the almonds, stirring until lightly browned
Pour in the wine and boil for a couple minutes
Remove from heat & cool slightly, then pour mixture into food processor along with stock
Process until smooth (or if you're impatient like me, until it's a texture you like)
Season to taste with salt & pepper

You can serve it immediately with just about anything, you can save it and serve it at room temperature as a veggie dip, or you can add it to your scrambled eggs the next morning like me.  It's that tasty & versatile.


  1. Oh that looks yummy. Keep em coming!

  2. Will do! Like how I gave you a shout-out?

  3. @Ethan: You are now.

    @Mel: It truly is a tasty treat. Let me know if you discover a great pairing for it with your culinary wizardry.

  4. After watching the season premier as a three-season Mad Men fan I'll likely still watch the rest of the season, but foreplay it was not. Foreplay is supposed to turn you on more, not force you to admit you're resigned to continuing what's now inevitable.

  5. @weston: Oh, you're finishing the season whether you want to or not. And, alas, I believe there may be two disparate definitions of foreplay depending on who you're asking.