The January Cookbook Club, hosted at Casa de Dunn, was filled with celebration, amazing food (as usual), and an uninhibited frenzy of fun!   We were also joined by a Baltimore Magazine photographer, who had the pleasure of documenting our monthly kitchen chaos.   The book for the evening was “Tapas – A Taste of Spain in America,” by renowned DC chef, Jose Andres, which provided many flavors and delights to our awaiting taste buds.

The evening started with a champagne toast to celebrate our spotlight in a “supper club” article in the upcoming March issue of Baltimore Magazine.   Cheers!

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I also picked up some gorgeous (and quite tasty) olives from the store to tide us over while the rest of the dishes were being prepared.

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And so began the procession of tapas…First up was Renee’s dish, Austurian-style Salmon, which is the fancy name for salmon ceviche.  Renee splurged at H-Mart and bought the good sushi grade salmon and it literally melted in your mouth.   The salmon was mixed with a medley of apples, juniper berries, blue cheese and salmon roe and dressed with a tasty apple cider vinegarette and chives.  The flavors and textures greatly complimented each other, although Elizabeth and I thought the salmon roe was a bit much.

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Next up was a refreshing salad from Julie, the Frisee with blood oranges, goat cheese, almonds, and garlic dressing.  I bet you can guess the ingredients she used!  The salad had a beautiful balance of bitter and sweet, with the blood oranges being the shining star.  They were perfectly ripened and juicy.

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Joanne went all out this month and decided to make two dishes.  First up were the Traditional Catalan flatbreads, which featured handmade dough topped with carmelized onions, roasted peppers, and manchego cheese.  Here’s a picture of Joanne adding the fixins…

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and here’s the finished product fresh out of the oven…

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Joanne also made the Morish-style chickpea and spinach stew, which finally brought the spice to the table.  Perfectly textured chickpeas in spicy spanish saffron and paprika broth and balanced with fresh spinach.

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Meanwhile, Elizabeth was busy making Serrano ham and chicken croquetas.  The croquetas had an crispy crust and a decadent creamy center that was bursting with flavor.  We paired these with the chickpea stew, which provided a nice contrast.

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And we’ve finally made it to the “main course” of the evening, a chicken and mushroom paella. I was really excited to test out my new paella pan and I was pretty satisfied with the results, although, I think it took a little longer to make than I had anticipated. Saffron is the main spice in this dish, and worked well combined with the chicken, serrano ham, and mushrooms. I honestly think the mushrooms (shitake, chanterelle, and oyster) were the star here and brought the most flavor to the dish.

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Maria was tasked with dessert, and while she was preparing, we decided to have an impromptu dance party (these are becoming a regular thing when cbc ladies get together).

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Back to business!  Maria was also adventurous and made two desserts.  First was a flan prepared ahead of time due to the timing in the recipe.  I’m normally not a huge fan of flan (ha!), but the flavor of vanilla and lemon zest, topped with gooey melted sugar syrup was out of this world.  I’m drooling just thinking about it again.

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Finally, we sprinted to the finish line with Maria’s Rustic Bread with dark chocolate, olive oil, and salt.  I know that you’re thinking “this sounds weird, how will this ever taste good?”  But trust me, it was pretty spectacular.  The chocolate mixed with the salt, was pretty heavenly, and how simple is it to melt chocolate on bread, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt.  I love simple and delicious!

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Our evening tour of spain was a success and I think all of the dishes had something unique in flavor, whether it be a spice or an interesting pairing (e.g. chocolate and olive oil. say what?!). And while I would never claim that the cbc is as talented as Jose Andres, I think we did a solid job of recreating his vision and ended up with an amazing array of dishes to enjoy.

Thanks for tuning in and don’t forget to check us out in the March issue of Baltimore Magazine!