A Harmony of Flavors

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Curried Lamb Dish for Dinner

Heidi and me opening gifts
I have mentioned quite a few times lately that a friend, Heidi, and I had celebrated our birthdays together. When asked what she would like for our dinner, she said Indian Curry. Since I am a total lover of Indian spices and flavors, an Indian Curry sounded perfect for our birthday dinner. Most times, I use a recipe from somewhere and then embellish to my husband's and my taste. Most often, the changes and embellishments leave little of the original recipe. However, since I had already had at least one and up to 3 guests at a time for the previous three weeks, I was seriously cooked out by the time it came to our birthday dinner. I looked desultorily through some of my Indian cookbooks but could not find a single recipe (which attests to my tired and scattered state of mind) that seemed to fit. The only specific was that it was to have lamb in it for the meat. 

More often than not, when cooking Indian food for guests I really go crazy, making all the side dishes I love so much like Palak Paneer or a Dhal recipe using little red lentils. I make Paneer from scratch, along with whatever is the main dish. I made Gulab Jamun once. I just love those little things for dessert. I have oodles of recipes I have made successfully and deliciously. Besides being hurried, and because I had absolutely no plan for a dish for this meal, nothing sounded good. Maybe I need more cookbooks! Probably not, though I will likely get more. I was updating cookbooks on my Amazon Marketplace and found a couple of books that sound like they could be good. (Indian cookbooks I am interested in here). But seriously, it was not the cookbooks that were lacking. It was just that I had no free time in peace and quiet to peruse and select at my leisure, pure and simple. I am a planner. When something special is required, I take plenty of time ahead and look carefully through my books for inspiration.

Curried Lamb with Peas over Saffron Rice
So it was that I came to the time to prepare the meal (my kids who were visiting had just left that morning, so I was still missing them acutely), with my guest Heidi having just arrived, and still with absolutely no plan for my Indian Curry. I was beginning to panic. Finally I just decided to wing it; something that is very rare for me. I knew I wanted to use coconut milk, because my husband and I really love curries with that flavor. I most often include green peppers and peas in my curries, purely because they are some of the very few vegetables my husband will eat. 
Basmati rice

This time though, I also had Heidi's tastes to consider. She is willing to try things, but to date, her tastes are quite different than mine. She likes more simple foods, and nothing too exotic. I had her taste plantains. She was completely unimpressed and left them on her plate barely tasted. Black beans, the same. She will eat, but sparingly, if she doesn't care for it. She surprised me on two counts this trip, because she tasted my Serbian Grandmother's Beets and Horseradish with ham for breakfast, and while serving herself sparingly at first, she went back for a little more, then a little more, and yet again. Yea, Heidi!

I had already butchered a leg of lamb in preparation for the meal. I just had to find something to do with it. I started pulling out spices that sounded good to me (ALL Indian spices sound good to me!), resulting in quite a list. I got out the coconut milk. I opted to set the meat to "marinate" briefly with a few things while prepping others. The only accompaniment to the curried dish was saffron rice. I could not believe Heidi was unaware of saffron! She loved the flavor of the rice and the smell of the saffron, so I have hopes for her on that score! My saffron rice is simple, but we love it. I buy large bags of Basmati Rice (from India, it says on the bag) when making this rice, and we love the flavor. It is a side dish for many meals - not only Indian.

Saffron Rice

serves 4 - 6

1 cup Basmati rice
1 tablespoon butter or ghee
1 teaspoon salt
pinch saffron
2 cups water

Place rice, butter and salt into a medium saucepan with tight fitting lid. Rub the saffron between fingers to break up into very tiny bits. Add water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes with the lid on. Remove from heat and leave lid on until ready to serve. 

As for my curry recipe, it came out well, following no recipe at all, but only adding in things I really love. If ground fenugreek is not available, soak a teaspoon of whole fenugreek seeds in hot water to cover for about 15 minutes, then add the seeds and water to the main dish while it cooks. Many Indian dishes are well spiced with chile of some kind. I have red chile powder (not the kind used in Chile con Carne - just plain ground chilies) and added 1/2 teaspoon. The heat was not very noticeable. If desired hotter, use cayenne or add in some hot chiles of choice to cook with the dish. Here is what I did:


Curried Lamb with Peas


serves 4 to 6

Curried Lamb with Peas

2 pounds lean lamb stew meat
1 teaspoon rosewater or water
1 pinch saffron
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon fenugreek powder
1 tablespoon Tandoor Spice

MASALA MIX:

2-inches true cinnamon, broken
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
4 whole cloves
4 cardamom pods, seeds only
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 tablespoon ghee or oil of choice
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, cut into cubes
1 can coconut milk, stirred
1/2 teaspoon hot chili powder
1/2 cup almond meal
1 1/2 cup frozen peas
2 teaspoons Garam Masala
cilantro leaves for garnish

In a small bowl, soften the saffron threads in the rose water or water. Set the meat into a mixing bowl, add in the saffron mixture with the ginger, garlic, salt, fenugreek powder and Tandoor Spice. Allow the meat to marinate while preparing the remaining ingredients.

Heat a dry skillet to medium high and add in the whole Masala spices. Stir them quickly, moving constantly, to bring out their fragrance and oils. Pour onto a plate to cool, then grind them in a spice grinder and set aside.

In a large skillet or pot, over medium heat, melt the ghee. Add in the meat and stir quickly to sear slightly. Add in the onion and cook, stirring frequently until the onion has softened. Add in the ground Masala and stir to combine, then add in the green pepper and about 1/2 to 3/4 of the can of coconut milk. Bring the mixture to boil, then reduce heat, cover and cook for about 45 minutes, or until the meat has become tender. If at any point the pan becomes too dry, add in a little more of the coconut milk, as needed. Stir in the almond meal, which will thicken the mixture slightly. About 5 minutes before serving, add the frozen peas and allow them to that and the curry to come back to full heat. Add the Garam Masala and check for salt. Serve over Saffron Rice. Garnish with cilantro leaves. 

As it turned out, I am glad to report that both Rich and Heidi loved the curry. They each served them selves seconds or more and were so taken with the flavors and style of the curry. We loved it too, so obviously winging it once in a while is also a good thing!





My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.   

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Maraschino Cherry Cake Revision a Success

I know, cake/frosting/filling recipes two days in a row! There are lots of birthdays in April around here between friends and my family!
Maraschino Cherry Cake, revised, Moist and perfect!


In yesterday's blog I mentioned wanting to see if I could make the Maraschino Cherry Cake I made last August for my husband into something actually moist enough to be edible. I tried one of the tips I found online (using a vanilla pudding mix) in a white cake recipe, but I was less than pleased. While the cake may or may not have been more moist, the flavor was all wrong. Okay, so scratch that particular tip. But the real reason I looked for tips on making a cake more moist was for that Maraschino Cherry Cake. The original cake I made was tasty. Nothing wrong with flavors. It was just way-the-heck too dry. Still, when a friend of ours, Tetiana, stopped over and I offered her a piece, with the caveat that it was far too dry. I had not realized at the time that she also was a cherry fiend along the lines of my husband. For her (she said) the cake was perfect and she loved it!

Some of the other tips on making a moister cake were things like adding more sugar than the cake called for, adding more butter, adding some oil to the recipe, folding in either yogurt or sour cream at the end, and other things such as substituting brown sugar and using more egg yolks. These last two were not ones I would use in my Maraschino Cherry Cake, because I was basically using a white cake recipe and adding in Maraschino cherries and some of the syrup. I took the recipe I had originally created (see that recipe here) and looked through the ingredients to see where I could use some of these suggestions. 

Tetiana's Maraschino Cherry Cake
The changes I made were minimal. Instead of milk I used an equal amount of heavy cream. I added an extra 4 tablespoons of butter and an extra half-cup of sugar, lowered the baking powder amount by a teaspoon and the salt by 1/4 teaspoon. And lastly, 3/4 cup of sour cream was folded in at the end with the cherries. Looking at these changes, I was worried about the extra butter and sugar making it too thin a batter, so I added one more egg white for binding power. I had forgotten I had some Washington cherry flavor I had gotten at the King Arthur Flour website. While it is not Maraschino cherry flavor, I figured it would still bring more cherry flavor to the cake, so I added a little dash of that too.

The outcome was absolutely spectacular. I made a smaller cake (two 7-inch layers instead the regular 8 or 9-inch) for Tetiana and then made one tiny 6-inch layer so my husband and I could taste and critique the cake. I divided the 7-inch layers in half, making 4 thin layers. I cut the little 6-inch layer in half also, making it a 2-layer bitty cake for us to try.The cake itself was moist as can be with fantastic cherry flavor and color. The crumb was delicate and fine. It was all I could hope for in a cake.

Maraschino Cherry Cake, revised
Tiny 6-inch Maraschino Cherry Cake

makes one (2-layer) 8 or 9-inch round cake

6 large egg whites
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup Maraschino cherry syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Washington Cherry Flavor, optional
2 sticks / 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups cake flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (10-oz) jar Maraschino cherries, drained
3/4 cup / 6-ounces sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 on Convection Bake). Spray two round cake pans with nonstick spray. Cut parchment rounds to fit the bottom of the pans and set them in place, then spray the parchment. Set the pans aside.

Drain the jar of cherries (keeping the syrup for flavor) and cut the cherries in half or quarters. Set them aside to drain well while making the cake batter.

Whisk the egg whites together in a bowl until just foamy and well broken down. Add in the cream, cherry syrup and extract(s) and whisk well. Measure out 1/2 cup of this mixture and set aside. 

In the bowl of a mixer, whisk together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add in the soft butter (not melted) with the 1/2 cup of liquid mixture. Begin beating slowly, increasing speed as the mixture begins to coalesce. Add in the remaining liquid mixture and beat slowly to combine, then increase speed to medium for about 1 minute to combine and aerate.  On low speed, add in the drained cherries and the sour cream. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, spreading evenly. Bake the cake layers for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a crumb or two. Do not overbake! The batter is very light and fluffy soft, so watch carefully.

Cool the cakes in the pans for about 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely before filling and frosting. 

MAKE AHEAD: If not using the cakes right away they may be frozen. The 8 or 9-inch cake pan with the cake in it can be placed inside a gallon zip-top bag and frozen for up to 2 weeks. Thaw before filling or frosting. To make the 4 layer cake, slice each layer in half horizontally to make 4 thinner layers.

In yesterday's blog I gave the recipe for the Blackberry Mascarpone Filling  I made for the birthday cake I made for friend Heidi and myself. (I just realized I forgot to even add the Mascarpone as an ingredient! That is now rectified.) I wanted to do a similar thing with the Maraschino cherry cake's filling, so I used the same recipe, using a cherry jam (again, not Maraschino cherry flavor, and I had to pass it through a sieve to make it smooth enough). To make the cherry flavor more intense, I boiled down 6 tablespoons cherry preserves with about 1/4 cup of the Maraschino syrup to make a total of about the same 1/4 cup of cherry as there was blackberry jam in that recipe. It worked very well and the cherry flavor was beautiful.

Cherry Mascarpone Filling

makes enough to fill a 4 layer cake with plenty left over

1 jar (10 ounce) maraschino cherries, drained, syrup reserved
6 tablespoons cherry preserves (not jelly)
1/4 cup reserved Maraschino syrup
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cherry flavor, optional

1 carton (8-ounces) Mascarpone cheese

Drain the Maraschino cherries well and cut them in half. Set them on paper toweling to drain while making the filling.


Pass the cherry preserves through a sieve. Measure the amount after sieving. In a small saucepan, combine the measured preserves and the Maraschino cherry syrup and bring to boil. Keep at a steady low boil for about 10 minutes, reducing the mixture to about 1/4 cup. Allow to cool while beating the butter.
Left: the cherry mixture cooked down to thick syrup       |               Right, the finished Cherry Mascarpone Filling


Make sure the butter is soft. If room temperature still has the butter too hard, hold it in warm hands or use the microwave in short 2 - 5 second bursts to soften, but not melt. One or two short microwave bursts should be enough. Place the softened butter into the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed or higher and beat it for 8 minutes, until very, very light and creamy-pale, stopping to scrape sides of the bowl once or twice during the 8 minutes. Add in the cooled cherry mixture and beat to combine. Add in the confectioners' sugar all at once and mix on very lowest setting until it is moistened. Add the flavorings to combine, then increase the speed to medium or medium high and beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 or 6 minutes more. Add the softened Mascarpone cheese and beat just to combine. 

To fill the cake, spread a good layer of this filling onto a cake layer, setting some of the drained cherry halves onto the filling. Top with another cake layer and repeat, then once more, pressing gently on each cake layer as it is added. If any filling oozes out, use the tip of a butter knife or table knife to scrape away any excess. Refrigerate the cake before frosting to set up the filling so the layers do not slide around.. 

Use this filling between the layers of the Maraschino Cherry Cake for those Maraschino cherry lovers in your life!  

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  

Monday, April 20, 2015

Yummy Blackberry Mascarpone Filling for Cake

My birthday was just a few days ago, though we celebrated it the week before, with our guests. One of the guests, Heidi, had her birthday just a few days before mine, so we celebrated together. Luckily, we both love white cake with white icing, so that part was a no-brainer. I did play with the white cake recipe just a bit, to see if I could get it to be more moist. For me, the recipe is delicious as is. I found it someplace on the web but I am not sure exactly where. It is quite similar to Sweetapolita's Fluffy White Cake, but without the whole egg and slightly differing measures for flour and sugar. Wherever I found the recipe I use, it is quite wonderful, but you know, I just have to tinker. Tweak. Nudge. 
White Cake with Blackberry Mascarpone Filling



The reason I tinkered with this recipe at all is because last year for my husband's birthday I made a Maraschino Cherry Cake. He is a total Maraschino cherry fiend, so I thought this cake would be a treat. I had used this white cake recipe as the basis, and added in a 10-ounce jar of cherries with some of the juice. The cake looked lovely. It tasted great. Unfortunately it was just so dry it was very hard to enjoy. Looking ahead to trying this Maraschino cake again, I'd been planning to do some research on how to make that cake (and any cake) more moist. There just happened to be a site out there with a lot of tips, some of which I decided to try. Off the top of my head, some of the tips were:
  • if possible, use brown sugar instead of white sugar
  • if possible, use whole eggs, or add more yolks
  • mix a dry instant pudding mix with the dry ingredients for the cake
  • add one (8-oz) carton of yogurt or sour cream to the batter
  • use more sugar than called for
  • add more butter or some oil
There were more tips (go here for the site), but these were ones I recall. For the white cake I was going to make for our birthdays, I would not be adding whole eggs or yolks, and even less use brown sugar. I did decide to try adding one vanilla pudding mix with the dry ingredients, but I will probably not use that particular tip again. I could taste the artificial flavors of the pudding. It was still really good cake, and possibly more moist, but at least for the white cake recipe itself, I will be leaving well-enough alone.

So, although I was making white cake and white icing for our birthday cake, I did decide to make a filling that was different. I know Heidi loves fruit pies, particularly berries. I have made a fruit pie for her once, but this time I wanted to try something new. I wanted to use blackberries, to make the filling berry flavored and colored, and I wanted to use Mascarpone for some tang and to cut the sweetness. My first dilemma was to figure out how to make the filling taste of berries without adding too much liquid. The last thing I wanted was for the layers to squash the filling out, making the cake look like it had a few spare tires.

White Cake with Blackberry Mascarpone Filling and fresh blackberries

Finally I came up with an idea. I would use some seedless blackberry jam. I chose Polaner's only because it had no added sugar, per se (I know it has sugars, but it is not as sweet as some). If you use a jam with seeds or bits of fruit, press it through a strainer first. I do not suggest using jelly as it is too difficult to get it to meld into the icing. I used a version of my standard icing recipe and just added in some of the blackberry jam. It was too pale (I felt) so I added a little red food coloring. Unfortunately, this removed any trace of the pretty pale purple and turned it solid pink. Oh well. I do have some blackberry flavor extract (see here at King Arthur Flour site), so I added in a tiny bit of that, as well as 1 tablespoon of Chambord liqueur. Chambord is raspberry flavored, but I just wanted to up the berry flavors as much as possible. I didn't add the Mascarpone until the icing was finished, and then only mixed until it was just all incorporated. This filling was absolutely stellar!

I has sliced the two layers of the cake in half, making 4 layers. The filling went onto the first half, and then I sliced fresh blackberries lengthwise and set them onto the filling. I did the same on the next two layers. Then I went ahead and made the white icing and frosted and decorated the cake with that. This filling did separate a little, looking slightly curdled, but I was not intending it for the outside of the cake anyway. As a filling, the flavors were just fabulous. Except for the artificial flavor component in the cake itself, this cake was (to me) just to-die-for. Here is the filling recipe as I made it:

Blackberry Mascarpone Buttercream Filling

Makes enough to fill an 8 or 9-inch cake, layers cut in half (three inner layers)


2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) seedless blackberry preserves (not jelly)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon blackberry flavor
1 tablespoon Chambord liqueur, optional
1 carton (8-ounces) Mascarpone cheese, softened
1 small carton fresh blackberries, sliced in half lengthwise

Make sure the butter is soft. If room temperature still has the butter too hard, hold it in warm hands or use the microwave in short 2 - 5 second bursts to soften, but not melt. One or two short microwave bursts should be enough. Place the softened butter into the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed or higher and beat it for 8 minutes, until very, very light and creamy-pale, stopping to scrape sides of the bowl once or twice during the 8 minutes. Add in the blackberry preserves and beat to combine. Add in the confectioners' sugar all at once and mix on very lowest setting until it is moistened. Add the flavorings to combine, then increase the speed to medium or medium high and beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 or 6 minutes more. Add the softened Mascarpone cheese and beat until just combined.

Spread the filling onto the first cake layer, evenly. Set blackberries, cut side down onto the filling. Top with the next cake layer and repeat. Do this once more, then top with the remaining cake layer and frost the cake as desired. 
Blackberry Mascarpone Filling          |       spread on first layer, with blackberries      |            the four layers, stacked


My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Delicious Fish Stew

Okay, I know many might read this title and think, "What in the world could possibly make a fish stew delicious?" My husband is one of these. And then there are more adventurous people who might just be intrigued. The dish in question is one I learned to make while living in Guatemala, and it was made exclusively for Good Friday. I made this stew every year for Good Friday, once I learned to make it, and I truly looked forward to making it, because I really loved it. Originally, the recipe is called Bacalao a la Vizcaina, or Cod in the style of Biscay (as in Biscay, Spain). In Guatemala, the dish was traditionally made with salt cod. Learning to use salt cod was interesting. Granted I was in my early 20s at the time, and had never heard of salt cod before. 

Bacalao a la Vizcaina

Variations on a Dish from Spain

As with any dish, who makes it will determine how it is made. Even in a small area, each cook will have their own spin put on the "way it should be done." To have a dish from northern Spain, made in Guatemala, one can imagine how far some of the changes might go. And yet, there are still some basic ingredients that stay the same. Salt cod of course, is the basis of this dish, whether in Spain or Guatemala. The use of olive oil, onions and tomatoes to make the sauce is held in common, though even in Spain there is question as to whether the sauce should be made with only red bell peppers rather than tomatoes. In my recipe from Guatemala they added both, and I have noted in looking around the internet that most recipes use both. Some recipes call for potatoes. Some call for olives. Some for garbanzo beans. Still others for other vegetables such as peas or carrots. The recipe from my ex family in Guatemala uses potatoes, carrots, capers and pickled cocktail onions! 
Not endorsing these brands; just using what was on hand!

The Spanish, apparently, use this dish for Christmas and Easter holidays where it often has chorizo sausage added in. This would exclude the dish from strict Catholic Good Friday meals. In my opinion, the dish is certainly a holiday-type fare, with all the little additions I mentioned at the end of the last paragraph, and the fact that it is so very delicious.

On Using Salt Cod

If you have never used salt cod, it is cod that has been dried and salted heavily to preserve. To use salt cod, it must first be soaked in clear water for 2 or 3 days, changing the water daily, to both plump the fish back to its mostly original size and weight, and more importantly to remove the heavy amount of salt, which would make it completely unpalatable otherwise. The salt cod I bought when in Guatemala was sold in a wooden box. It came from Spain or Norway, usually. The fish was rather strongly scented and quite hard. It is set into a container with a lid, covered in water, lid placed on and refrigerated. The next day, it would be removed from the fridge, drained, again covered in clear water, lidded and refrigerated. Next day, this step is repeated, and only on the fourth day was it ready to use in a dish. To make the Bacalao a la Vizcaina for Good Friday, I would start soaking the cod on Tuesday in order to be ready to make the stew on Friday. Even after all this soaking, one never, ever had to add salt to the dish, as there was always a significant amount of residual salt in the fish; enough to salt the dish perfectly.

My Latest Experience

My Bacalao a la Vizcaina, in the pot


Trying to find salt cod here in the US these days is a far more difficult task. I looked online for hours and was nearly ready to give up altogether. Most places that sold it had prohibitive prices. As if that were not enough, most places had absolutely scathing reviews on the fish. I finally ordered some through Amazon, though it was described as "12 ounces, which would plump up to 1 pound". The boxes I used to get in years prior were a pound of dried fish - VERY dried fish. I am pretty sure, though I never weighed it, that this would plump to something more like 1 1/2-pounds. The "salt cod" that actually arrived on my doorstep this year was already quite wet and slightly plump, though covered in salt. I proceeded to make my Bacalao a la Vizcaina as I always did, soaking the cod for three days, changing water daily. Then, when ready to make the dish, I made the "stew" part, cooking until the vegetables were tender. I cooked the drained fish, covered with another change of fresh water until it could be flaked. After flaking, it was added to the stew just before eating.

I will say, this fish, once reconstituted fully and cooked, seemed to be quite nice. However, my initial misgivings on seeing already partly plumped salt cod were well-founded. This cod was certainly not that fully dried-and-salted sort I'd had in past. As a matter of fact, the stew ended up needing salt added, which in many, many years of making this dish, had never been the case. 

My reasoning, then, is that:
  • If salt cod is nearly impossible to find here,
  • If it is not nearly as "salted" as the salt cod I'd had in past,
  • If I have to add salt to the dish anyway,
  • Then why not just use some nice fresh cod and add salt as I normally would in a dish?

A "Stretchy" Recipe

If you should choose to make this dish, please understand that (at least in Guatemala) this was one of those stews that could be stretched to fit the need. Less vegetables and water were added if the dish was to serve a small family. Lots more potatoes and carrots were added, with more water, if it was to serve a larger crowd. I suggest, if using fresh cod instead of salt cod, to use at least a good 1 1/2 pounds as the least amount. You might add more, if needed, for a larger crowd. The recipe is simplicity itself. Not overcooking the fish is the only thing to be careful of, as overcooked fish is rubbery, at best. The "stew" part of the recipe is the time it takes to cook the vegetables through, no more. The fish is added at the last minute. All that said, I love the reheated leftovers just as much!


Bacalao a la Vizcaina

Bacalao a la Vizcaina
serves 6 - 10, depending on how one makes the dish


1 pound salt cod, reconstituted, OR
   1 1/2 pounds fresh cod (in which case add salt to the stew)
2 - 4 tablespoons olive oil
2 - 3 white or yellow onions
2 - 6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 - 3 cans (6 ounce each) tomato paste
4 - 6 cups water
2 - 4 jars (4 ounces each) sliced pimiento, with their liquid
1 small jar green olives (about 15 - 20 olives, drained)
2 - 4 tablespoons small capers, drained
1 small jar cocktail onions, drained (about 15 - 20)
3 - 6 carrots, peeled, sliced in coins a scant 1/4-inch thick
3 - 5 medium potatoes, peeled, cubed

If using salt cod, begin 3 days prior: remove salt cod from wrappings, rinse and set into a glass or ceramic casserole with lid. Cover with water, set lid in place and refrigerate. Next day, drain the water, add fresh, cover and refrigerate. Repeat this again next day. On the day of making the stew, Drain the water again, set the fish into a saucepan, cover with water and gently bring to a simmer, cooking until the fish will easily flake when pressed with a fork. Drain, cool slightly and flake the fish. Set aside. 

To make the stew: Slice the onions in half, lengthwise and then cut across into 1/4-inch thick half-ring pieces. Heat a stew pot and add the olive oil. Cook the onions in the olive oil gently, stirring occasionally until tender and barely golden. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Add in the cans of tomato paste and begin adding water, mixing to make the stew base. Add in the pimiento slices with their liquid, the drained olives, capers and cocktail onions. Add the carrots and potatoes, cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 1/2 hour or 45 minutes. When ready to serve, stir in the flaked fish. Serve with crusty French bread.  



My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. 

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