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    Infinite Jest
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    i'm marti.

    Thanks for coming. This is me —what I'm doing, loving, and, most importantly, eating. I hope you enjoy.

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    Tuesday
    Sep022014

    Juice: Never Out of The Bottle

    So you have a sweet tooth.

    Me too.

    Every day, usually around 4 p.m. or so, my body craves a bit of sugar. Sometimes I ignore it, sometimes I eat an almond blondie. 

    However, this summer, my Spanish kitchen welcomed a new gadget....the juicer.   (Cue life-changing drum roll sound)

    Now, instead of baking cookies, I press some carrots, oranges and nectarines into a glowing orange glass of fresh juice. It helps, of course, that it's hot outside, and that turning on the oven at home is not an appetizing thought after baking all morning long at work.  But honestly, the main reason I love the juicer is that it's just so easy. 

    And that it helps me feel all super-healthy self righteous.

    And that it's really good for juicing watermelons for a delicious vermouth-watermelon punch (recipe coming soon!)

    Modern technology is both our bane and our salvation. It gives us time to ponder both the important and unimportant, obsess over things our ancestors wouldn’t even be able to identify, and time to, well, waste.  But it has also changed the ways that we prepare our food. If you were like me, put off by the thought of purchasing another kitchen appliance, then just hear me out.  

    Juice is hot. So hot right now. It's also real expensive, if you go out to the nearest strip mall to grab some. Or, if you live abroad, impossible to find in those exciting, Cali-inspired combos.  But there's so much goodness to be got from the leftovers in your fruit and veggie drawers, and without spending 5-10 bucks for a designer drink.

    Modern juicers rule. They are highly efficient and produce little waste. And they just make your life a lot easier.…no peeling, no squeezing, just juice—fast. While many of us may associate juicers with as the means for producing a healthy beverage, guess what? You can also use them for mixing pastes, processing garnishes and blending sauces. 

     Basically, a juicer isn't just a juicer, if you know how to use it. Since we added one to our kitchen arsenal, you'd be hard-pressed to wrest it from my super healthy hands.  I know you might be thinking, I don’t have the space. But it’s one of those things that, once you get the hang of using, you can’t imagine life without it. The truth is these appliances can be so useful in preparing healthy foods and upping your kitchen wow factor. 

     Here’s the juice that, for me, epitomizes summer 2014:

     marti’s summer juice

    (serves two)

     

    • 2 carrots
    • 2 ripe peaches
    • 1 orange, skin removed
    • 1 apple
    • 1 TBSP ground flax seed

     

    Add first four ingredients to the juicer. You can peel the carrots, and you should peel the oranges.  However, I leave the rest of the fruit whole. Stir in the flax seed to the finished juice for added omega-3s.

    Tuesday
    Aug262014

    pintxo astearteak (tapa tuesdays)

    bar bergara::: ensalada de tomate con bacalao y pimientos (tomato salad with salt cod and peppers)

    Calle del General Artetxe, 8 ::Donostia-San Sebastián

    A lovely use of summer produce in the form of a cold pintxo, in one of the more traditional yet elegant bars of Gros.

    Wednesday
    Aug202014

    Sopa de Ajo, the 6am Soup

     

     What are you usually doing at 6 a.m.? Early morning run? Hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock, dreading your day of work ahead? 

    In Spain there are two classes of people awake at this hour, neither of them normal.  On one hand, you have partygoers, stumbling home after a night dancing and drinking and talking at each other. On the other,  in the Basque Country at least, you have a class of laborers that traditionally included fishermen and shepherds obligated to greet the morning before the sunrise.  And for these people, there is sopa de ajo, or garlic soup.

    Hearty and warming, this soup gives you the energy you need to face the day. Its warmth (and garlic's curative properties) are also said to be great for hangovers. Hence the double life led by this peasant-style dish. An integral characteristic of the soup, and perhaps the best part, is that it improves with time. Mom, grandma or wife makes soup alongside dinner and leaves it out, either for partygoing offspring, hardworking male companions, or the next day's hamaiketako.

    Said to have originated in Castille, each region of Spain has adopted and adapted this soup, while allowing it to remain true to its humble origins. So what makes a sopa de ajo more Basque than Castillian? The Basques have a special bread, devoted to soaking in soup and thickening traditional sauces, which they often use in their garlic soup. 

    More than one unsuspecting tourist has bought a loaf of zopako ogia, Basque bread that literally translates of 'bread of the soup'.  However, one bite of this crunchy, overly-toasted bread, pictured above in Galparsoro bakery, and he realizes that something is not quite right. It has almost no crumb, and it is made solely for cooking with, the sopa de ajo being one of its most common uses.

    Here you have my recipe for sopa de ajo, the humblest and heartiest of soups. It's a result of combing several old (and new) Basque cookbooks and a round of testing.  Sorry, purists, for the touch of vinegar. It's the cook in me.

    sopa de ajo

     

    • 1/2 c olive oil
    • 10 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 rounded Tbsp Spanish paprika
    • 4 oz bread, sliced (113g, about five slices)
    • 8 c water
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
    • salt

    Warm the olive oil in a saucepan over high heat. Add the garlic and saute until the garlic begins to brown, about one minute. Stir in paprika. Add bread slices to pan, allowing bread to toast slightly and absorb the oil, rotating if necessary.

    FInally, add the water, a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10-20 minutes.  Add sherry vinegar and taste for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary.  When ready to serve, reheat the soup and beat eggs in a separate bowl. Pour into soup while stirring. If any large pieces of bread remain, cut with kitchen scissors or dismantle with a spoon. Serve.

    Links of interest:

    Dan Lepard's Zopako Recipe

     

    Tuesday
    Aug192014

    pintxo astearteak (tapa tuesdays)

    pimientos de gernika.... EVERYWHERE.

    Today's pintxo goes unattached to any certain bar. Why?  Because these local peppers, about 3 inches long, fat, and fried in olive oil until tender, are available almost everywhere. Order a ración, or a media if you're not sure you'll love them. But what's not to love?  Huge flakes of salt are the only garnish necessary to enjoy this seasonal treasure.

    Tuesday
    Aug122014

    pintxo astearteak (tapa tuesdays)

    astelena:::solomillo a lo pobre (poor man's steak)

    Plaza Constitución, 1::Donostia-San Sebastián.

    This is a case of me asking myself, now why did it take so long to post this pintxo? Nearly every time we go heavy pintxo hopping, Chip orders this one. It's a perfect combo: meat, fries, egg, caramelized onions and a touch of red pepper sauce.