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Dinner in a Spanish Mood

by Lou Seibert Pappas

From a Spanish Parador feast comes the inspiration for this flavor-packed spring menu, ideal for entertaining. Endive tipped with curried scallops makes a delightful appetizer. A spicy tomato soup leads off the dinner menu. An aromatic sausage and vegetable-stuffed lamb follows with pine nut and currant-strewn pilaf and fresh seasonal artichokes or new peas. The citrus zest of orange and peppery bite of arugula compose a refreshing salad course. Dessert features the Spanish favorite-caramel-glazed custard with berries. Preparations can be done well in advance for the soup, dessert, and stuffing the lamb. The other elements are fast to assemble.

For a wine, consider a Spanish Red Rioja or an Oregon or California Pinot Noir, such as one from Rex Hill, Robert Sinskey, Truchard, or Saintsbury. A Geyser Peak Shiraz, or a Duckhorn or Franciscan Merlot, would also be delightful.

Endive with Scallops
makes 2 dozen appetizers

3 heads Belgian endive (red and green)
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 pound small scallops
Cornstarch seasoned with salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Separate the endive into stalks. Microwave the curry 30 seconds to remove the raw taste and stir into the sour cream. Toss the scallops in cornstarch seasoned with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium heat, saut» the scallops in oil, turning to brown both sides; remove from pan and let cool. Place 1/2 teaspoon of curried sour cream on the tip of each endive and top with a scallop. Arrange like a sunburst on a platter.

Spicy Tomato Soup
Makes 6 servings

1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon olive oil
6 medium tomatoes, peeled, or 1 can (13 ounces) whole tomatoes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
3 cups chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Plain yogurt or 1 small avocado, peeled and diced for garnish

In a large saucepot over medium heat, saut» the onion, garlic, curry powder, and ginger in the oil until soft. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and chicken broth. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Puree in batches in a blender or food processor. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or cold, garnished with a spoonful of yogurt or avocado.

Boned Stuffed Lamb
makes 8 servings

1 large onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound mild turkey sausage or Italian sausage
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 slices country-style white bread, cubed
1 leg of lamb, boned and butterflied, yielding about 3 pounds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Rosemary sprigs and lemons for garnish

In a large skillet over medium heat, saut» the onion and carrots in oil until golden brown; remove from the pan and set aside. Add the sausage and saut» until crumbly; pour off any fat. Add the garlic, oregano, bread, and sauteed vegetables to the sausage and mix lightly. Lay out the meat flat, cover evenly with stuffing, roll, and tie with string to make a compact roll. Season with salt and pepper. Place on a rack in a roasting pan and insert a meat thermometer. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheit. Roast in the oven until the meat thermometer registers 140 degrees Fareneheit for medium rare meat or 150 degrees Farenheit for medium meat, about 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours. Place on a platter and ring with rosemary sprigs. Halve the lemons zigzag style and arrange on the platter with the lamb.

Pilaf with Pine Nuts
makes 8 servings

1 quart chicken broth
2 cups white rice, preferably arborio
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1/3 cup dried cherries or currants

In a large saucepot, heat the broth to boiling, add the rice, and when it "dances" and comes to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes or until the rice is just tender. Add the nuts and cherries or currants and toss lightly.

Whole Steamed Artichokes
makes 6 servings

6 medium artichokes
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil

Break off the outer leaves of the artichokes, cut off the stem end evenly, and trim the tips of the leaves with scissors. Place the artichokes in a steamer, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle the garlic on top. Steam over simmering water for 40 to 45 minutes, or just until tender. If desired, serve with a dish of hot mustard sauce, made by blending hot mustard with plain yogurt.

Orange, Arugula, and Red Onion Salad
makes 8 servings

1 bunch arugula or small bunch curly endive
6 navel oranges, peeled to remove white membrane and thinly sliced
1 medium sweet red or white onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/3 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Salt to taste

Line a large platter with arugula or endive and arrange the orange slices in an overlapping pattern on top. Scatter over the onion rings. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. For the dressing, shake together in a jar or whisk in a bowl the oil, lemon peel, orange juice, lemon juice, mustard, and salt. Pour over the salad.

Flan
Makes 8 to 10 servings

3-1/2 cups milk
4 eggs
4 egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups strawberries, hulled
2 tablespoons kirsch or Grand Marnier
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
Few sprigs mint (optional)

Prepare the caramel-lined pan, below. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheit. Scald the milk. Whisk together the eggs and egg yolks until blended and whisk in the granulated sugar, vanilla, and hot milk. Pour into the caramel-lined pan. Place in a pan containing 1 inch of hot water and bake in the oven for 1 hour, or until the custard is set. Remove from the water bath, let cool, and chill. Loosen the caramel custard with a knife and invert on a platter. Toss the berries with the liqueur and powdered sugar and spoon in the center of the ring. Tuck in a few sprigs of mint, if available.

Caramel-lined pan: Heat 1/3 cup of sugar in a heavy saucepan until it melts, caramelizes, and turns amber. Immediately pour into a 1-1/2 quart ring mold, swirling the pan to coat.

Lou Seibert Pappas is a former food editor of the Palo Alto Times Tribune and a home economist with Sunset Magazine. She currently writes food, home, and travel-related articles for national magazines and newspapers and is the author of more than 30 books.



Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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