The Salvador Dalì exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is a masterpiece, a tour de force of more than 200 awe-inspiring works by the legendary surrealist.
Dalì was born May 11, 1904, in Figueres, Spain on the French border. This region, which includes Barcelona, is known as Cataluna or Catalonia, and Dalì would have been the first to call himself Catalan rather than Spanish. There is a Catalan language and a distinct style of Catalan cooking.
Because much of Catalonia is nestled next to the sea, fish and shellfish figure prominently in Catalan cuisine. Go to the exhibit and see Dalì’s whimsical telephone with a lobster handset. Olive oil, almonds, pine nuts, garlic, saffron, oranges, raisins and parsley are often used in the cuisine of the artist’s native region.
In honor of this extraordinary exhibit — Philadelphia is the only American city in which to see it — Tracey Hopkins, executive chef at the restaurant at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, has arranged a delicious menu of scrumptious Catalan and Spanish favorites. He also offers the famous Serrano ham, manchego, Spain’s most famous cheese; chorizo, the celebrated sausage of Spain; marvelous Spanish olives and a host of dishes for lunch and dinner. Spanish wines also take pride of place and there is a variety of reds and whites to enjoy, especially the noble Rioja, the red wine of Spain.
I always enjoy Hopkins’ cuisine and decided to prepare more Spanish dishes at home. I never met a tapas I didn’t like and paella is a one-pot wonder –easy to prepare.
The Salvador Dalì exhibit runs through May 15. Don’t miss it or Hopkins’ delicious fare.
Here are easy recipes for Catalan dishes I know Dalì would have enjoyed. They are from Tapas: The Little Dishes of Spain by Penelope Casas.
Zarzuela de Pescado
Mixed Seafood in Almondand Wine Sauce
4 cups clam juice
4 cups water
16 jumbo shrimp, in their shells
Freshly ground black pepper
1 carrot, scraped and coarsely chopped
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 pound monkfish or halibut steak
12 very small squid, cleaned, with tentacles
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup very finely chopped onion
2 medium to large tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
1 cup dry white wine
4 cloves of garlic, minced
12 blanched almonds, lightly toasted
2 tablespoons minced parsley
Minced parsley for garnish
In a large saucepan, combine the clam broth and water. Shell the shrimp and add the shells to the pot, along with the salt, pepper, carrot and the coarsely chopped onion. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, over medium heat for about 30 minutes. The liquid should be reduced to about one-half. Strain and reserve 4 cups.
Sprinkle the fish steak well on both sides with salt. Let stand for 10 minutes. Sprinkle the shrimp and the squid lightly with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a large shallow casserole. Sauté the fish steak, shrimp and squid over high heat, turning once, about one minute. Remove all the seafood to a warm platter. Divide the fish steak into bite-size pieces, discarding any skin and bone.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in the same casserole and sauté the finely chopped onion slowly, covered, until tender. Add the tomato and cook over medium heat, uncovered, for about five minutes. Add the wine and boil down to one-half. Add the reserved fish liquid. Return to a boil and keep simmering.
In a blender or food processor, process the salt, pepper, garlic, almonds and 2 tablespoons minced parsley until mixture is as finely chopped as possible. With the motor running, gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and 10 tablespoons of the simmering liquid and blend until smooth. Add the contents of the processor to the casserole where the broth is simmering.
Thicken the sauce by reducing to about 1-1/2 cups. Strain and return to the casserole. Add the seafood and cook for about three minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve.
Note: Hopkins prepares this zarzuela with lobster and chicken at the Museum Restaurant.
Llagostino a l’Allioli
Prawns Grilled with Garlic Mayonnaise
1/4 cup mayonnaise (preferably homemade)
2 cloves of garlic, mashed into a paste or put through a garlic press
1/2 pound large or jumbo shrimp, shelled
Combine the mayonnaise with the garlic and set aside.
Grease a broiler pan, preferably one in which the shrimp can be served. Arrange the shrimp in close rows, fitting one shrimp against another. Sprinkle with salt.
Place under the broiler, about 4 to 5 inches from the heat, for about two to three minutes. Turn the shrimp, keeping them in rows. Spoon a strip of mayonnaise down the center of each shrimp. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on the mayonnaise and dot the crumbs with butter. Broil about two minutes more, until the mayonnaise topping is golden and the shrimp done.
Llenguado a la Nyoca Sole with Raisins, Pine Nutsand Hazelnuts
2/3 cup raisins
4 sole fillets, about 1-1/2 pounds
Flour, for dusting
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices of lemon
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
4 tablespoons pine nuts
30 hazelnuts, each cut in half
Soak the raisins for 20 minutes in 1 cup warm water. Drain.
Cut the fillets in half, crosswise, and dust with flour. Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet. When the butter just begins to color, sauté the fillets until golden on both sides. You may have to do this in two batches, adding more oil and butter if needed. Do not overcook.
Remove the fillets to a warm platter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and decorate with the lemon slices and parsley.
Cool the skillet slightly, then add the raisins, pine nuts and hazelnuts. Sauté slowly until the pine nuts begin to turn golden. Pour this nut mixture, along with any oil and butter remaining in the skillet, over the fish and serve.