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Spanish-Style Summer Dishes

Chef's Corner

Written by Samantha Lund

Photos by Taryn Emerick

Originally created in Spain, sangria is a summer drink that’s crisp and cool. The   wine punch has deviated far from its origins: now flavors range from bubbly sangria to rosé, red and white sangria.

The early Greeks and Romans drank “hippocras,” which was alcohol or wine mixed with sugar and spices (much like mulled wine). The most likely source of Spanish sangria, hippocras was a popular drink because wine and alcohol were seen as “clean” compared to water, which might not have been. Similarly, a touch of alcohol made other liquids drinkable and mixing it with fruits had a similar disinfecting effect. People who lived in modern-day Spain were doing something very similar with grapevines and wine around 1100 BC.

Variations on house sangria—which means blood in Spanish, in reference to the red wine used—ruled in Spain until spreading through England and France in the 1700s and 1800s. In the US, a love for summer sangria dates back to 1964 when the World’s Fair in New York City featured the drink.

Today, under European law, all sangria must be made in Spain or Portugal and have less than 12 percent alcohol by volume. However, we believe the best sangria can be made in your very own kitchen.

White Wine Sangria

• One bottle Sauvignon Blanc

• 1 1/2 cups St-Germain elderflower liqueur

• 1/4 cup Cointreau

• 6 strawberries, sliced

• 6 raspberries

• 2 peaches, sliced

• 1 orange, sliced

• 6 sprigs of lavender

• Ice

Combine all the ingredients in a pitcher, and let sangria stand at room temperature for three hours, or cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve in wineglasses over ice.


Grilled Rose Sangria

• 1 cup stemmed seedless red grapes

• 2 oranges, cut crosswise into half-inch  wheels

• 1 lemon, cut crosswise into half-inch wheels

• One bottle rosé

• 4 ounces simple syrup

• 4 ounces brandy

• Ice

Step 1

On a charcoal or gas grill, place grapes on a perforated grill sheet and grill them over high heat, tossing occasionally, until the skin just begins to break, about six minutes. Transfer the grapes to a plate to cool completely.

Step 2

Meanwhile, grill the orange and lemon wheels over high heat, turning once, until lightly charred, about six minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool completely.

Step 3

Combine all the ingredients in a pitcher, and let sangria stand at room temperature for three hours, or cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve in wineglasses over ice.

On a recent trip to Barcelona, Bellevue Club Executive Chef Justin Sledge was inspired to bring back another Spanish summer classic: paella. With similar origins to sangria, paella
is one of the most popular global dishes. However, defining paella is nearly impossible; understanding a bit of its history can help explain why.

Paella was originally cooked over a fire during lunchtime for farmers and laborers. It was made with rice and any other ingredients to be found in the countryside: tomatoes, onions, snails, beans, et cetera. Rabbits, duck or chicken would also be added for special occasions.

As the recipe grew in popularity and moved toward the coast, various types of seafood were added to the dish. Now paella is the generic name of 200 or so distinctive rice dishes originating from Valencia, while other regions of Spain and the rest of the world also use the term for rice dishes.

To this day, a true Valencian paella contains no seafood but rather a mixture of chicken, rabbit or sometimes snails with beans, tomatoes, spices and rice. However, we think the best paella can be made with any ingredients you crave. Chef Justin Sledge shares his favorite recipe:

Seafood Paella for two

• 2 cups chicken stock

• 1 pinch saffron

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• ½ yellow onion, diced

• 1 teaspoon minced garlic

• 1 red bell pepper, diced

• ½ cup Spanish chorizo, diced

• 1 cup Spanish Bomba rice (may be substituted

    with a  similar, short-grain rice)

• 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

• 6 fresh mussels

• 6 fresh clams

• 4 shrimps

• ½ cup English peas

• 2 sliced scallions for garnish

In a large saucepan, bring the chicken stock and saffron to a boil, and then turn off the heat and reserve.

Heat a medium-sized clay cazuela or stainless-steel paella pan to medium-high heat and add the oil, onions and garlic. Sauté until tender and then add the bell pepper. Cook for a few minutes, and then add the chorizo and rice.

Toast the rice for a minute or two while stirring, and then add one third of the chicken stock. Let the rice
and stock cook at a light boil until almost dry and then add another third of the stock and continue to cook at a low boil.

When almost dry, season the rice with salt, pepper and chopped parsley and then arrange the clams, mussels, shrimp and peas in the rice so that the top of the shellfish are standing up.

Pour the remaining stock over the top and cover the pan for the last five minutes of cooking.  When done, the rice and shrimp should be cooked and the shellfish should be opened up.

Garnish with the sliced scallions and enjoy.

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