About a month ago, I got quite a surprise. UPS delivered a huge box, marked “perishable”.
“Hmmm”, thought me. Who the heck would send me a box of dynamite marked as food??? (I think those thoughts because I’m very paranoid and well…there’s my history with nefariousness.)
Cautiously I pried open the package with kitchen tongs (from a safe distance of course), and found an enormous basket. “Hmmm”, thought me. Nestled in the basket was an amazing array of food and other wonderfulness. Still perplexed, I examined the box a little further. “La Tienda” – the venerable purveyor of all things Spanish, edible and otherwise. “Hmmm”, thought me, myself, and I. I was getting warmer! And my coffee was kicking in. I vaguely remembered entered a tapas contest a while ago – perhaps this was a prize!!
After some super sleuthing (I AM the Mom of a spy, you know) I figured out I was a first prize winner – not the Grand Prize winner, alas. That lucky winner received a whole tapas party at her home, complete with a tapas chef, who probably is insanely good looking and then he invites the hostess to join him in Barcelona to open a small and stellar tapas bar on his family’s olive farm that covers many acres and has 12 outdoor fireplaces and lots of cute goats. No, I’m not the Grand Prize winner. Or bitter.
But first prize was pretty freakin’ fabulous. An abundance of olives, olive oil, chorizo, a beautiful wheel of Manchego cheese, a fabulous cookbook by Jose Andres, a cool cheese board with cute cheese knives, Spanish tapa plates, a gorgeous wooden olive tray, a bunch of other stuff, and BEST OF ALL…a chefs jacket with “Olive Oil from Spain” on the sleeve! So…guess who wore the jacket to Safeway that afternoon? And pretended to be an olive oil authority in the condiment aisle? With no one listening?
> " Why, yes...I DO love Spanish olive oil...and your jacket! Let's make out!"
It was all very wonderful, yet strange…I never received a call or an email letting me know I won anything. I guess that’s the beauty of a complete surprise. One minute you’ll shuffling around in your bathrobe with some Windex in your pocket, singing “I’m Bringing Sexy Back”, the next minute you’re a Spanish chef! Making out with Xavier Bardem! (But not when he was in "No Country for Old Men")
Last night I made the “base” of our most favorite soup in the world. It’s a fennel and kale concoction, and I added some of the smoky chorizo – wow. The spousal unit said it was the “best” soup he’s ever had and believe me, I’ve made that soup a zillion times. The smoked paprika was released into the broth by the brief sautéing I gave the sausage, and completely changed the soup. For the better.
Here you go. I hope you get a food surprise someday. It’s a kick in the pants.
Oh, here is the link to Olive Oil from Spain….I can’t find my recipe anywhere on the site, or even reference to the contest. It’s so weird.
(thank you, thank you, thank you, oil people from Spain!)
"Booty Soup from a Big Box from La Tienda"
6 oz smoked Spanish chorizo, cut into bite sized pieces or “coins”
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium-sized fennel bulb, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
8 cups low-sodium chicken stock or broth
2 bunches kale, trimmed and roughly chopped (about 8 cups, I guess)
1 bag dry cheese filled tortellini (I use Bertolli…it’s easy to find for me)
Chunks of Manchego cheese
This pot made 6 big bowls of soup…and it is better left on the stove overnight and re-heated for lunch the next day.
1. In a large pot, sauté the sausage until sizzling and releasing the oil and paprika.
2. Add the onion, fennel, garlic, red pepper, and thyme. Sauté for a few moments, until vegetables are soft, but not browned.
3. Add the stock or broth and bring to gentle boil. Add kale, stir around, bring to boil again, then let simmer for 7-8 minutes.
4. Add tortellini, bring back to boil, and cook for another 8-10 minutes are until pasta is done.
5. Serve hot, with chunks of cheese on top.