I really enjoyed reading through my latest cookbook acquisition: The New Spanish Table by Anna von Bremzen. Last night I had a few friends over and used several recipes from the book to great success.
The recipe for Torta de Almendras (almond cake) in the book is fantastic. The main ingredient is ground almonds (I used almond meal, as with Nigella Lawson's famous Clementine Cake) with just a bit of flour, olive oil, sugar and a hint of cinammon and lemon zest. The recipe includes a ganache to spread over the cake which I ommitted; instead, I served it with a bit of lightly sweetened whipped cream on the side. The flavor of the cake is outstanding -- it has a creamy almond flavor with just a hint of the cinnamon and lemon. And the texture is fantastic -- nearly as moist as the Clementine Cake but with better crowd appeal (not everyone likes orange peel, though I do). I have to say that as much as I enjoyed the Clementine Cake, I like this even more. If anyone would like the recipe, I can post it when I return from my business trip later in the week.
(Btw, for those of you who provided dessert advice a few days ago, I lightened up the meal a bit so the almond cake ended up being the perfect end. But thanks for the input, and I will try to make churros soon!)
The tortilla espanola recipe was also good, but I didn't like the huge quantities of olive oil it called for. My usual recipe requires much less oil (a cross b/w an M.S. and Epicurious recipe) but I did like the prep instructions for this recipe better. In the end, I just used less oil than the recipe specified, but more than my standard. It was wonderful.
The most interesting dish of the evening was a baked penne pasta. The book includes a baked Canneloni dish filled with Catalan-style spinach (cooked with raisins, garlic and pinenuts) and a bechamel sauce with fresh nutmeg. I was running short on time, so I cooked penne pasta (instead of preparing and filling the noodles for canneloni) and threw it together with the sauce and spinach to bake in the oven. It was fantastic! The flavor/texture combination was wonderful and it was sooo easy to make. As with any casserole, the leftovers are even better.
Roasted portabello mushrooms with drunken goat cheese melted on top, and camarones al ajillo rounded out this meal; it was started with dates, marcona almonds, olives and manchego and tetilla cheeses.
P.S.: I dug up some sangria recipes from a thread last year and used the collective advice to make a wonderful sangria that included white wine, apple liquor, nectarines, apples and oranges. Thanks everyone!