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Book triggers culinary adventure

'Shadow of the Wind' reading is sidetracked by Spanish food
by: , Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s “Shadow of the Wind” is the focal point for LO Reads and also is leading to some local exploring of Spanish menus.

I can't seem to finish 'The Shadow of the Wind.' It's not that I am not enjoying the book, I just keep getting sidetracked thinking about food. The book has me intrigued by Spanish cuisine.

Terri Fackrell at Lake Oswego Parks and Rec asked months ago if I would feature Spanish cuisine in my February cooking classes, in coordination with the Lake Oswego Reads program. Of course I agreed and began research to create an authentic experience for participants.

I am fascinated by what people eat. Sharing someone's favorite foods gives you an insight into them as individuals. You taste, you try - you broaden your horizons. It's the basis behind the Slow Food movement: people eat what they can produce locally. Unique regional dishes sprout up in answer to the question 'What's for dinner?'

What people can produce is dependent on the geography and climate of the region. Spain and Portugal share the Iberian Peninsula, bordered on the west by the chilly waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The Mediterrean Sea with its milder climate separates the peninsula from Morocco and the African continent to the south and east. The Pyrenees Mountains separate Spain from France to the north. It's a land of rugged mountains and dramatic seacoasts, lush valleys and arid plains.

Several distinct ethnic groups added their flavor to Spanish cuisine, including the ancient Phoenicians from present day Lebanon who planted the first vineyards, the Celts, Greeks, Romans; the Visigoths from Eastern Germanic tribes and the Moors who brought the Muslim faith across the Strait of Gibraltar. A significant portion of Spanish cuisine derives from Jewish and Moorish traditions. The Moors were a strong influence in Spain for many centuries and some of their food is still eaten in Spain today.

From your elementary school history class you will remember that Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain financed Christopher Columbus' expedition to discover the New World in 1492. Columbus brought back to Spain foods that slowly but surely found their way onto the Spanish dinner plate, causing a culinary revolution that spread throughout Europe. Columbus brought from the New World peppers and chiles, corn, green beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, avocados, summer and winter squash, pumpkins, regular and sweet potatoes, pineapples, vanilla, chocolate, cashews, Brazil nuts, peanuts and turkeys.

Portugese explorers ventured south, around the tip of Africa to open a sea route to India, the Spice Islands and the Far East. They sought to control the 'holy trilogy' of spices: cloves, nutmeg and pepper. Here are a few highlights of Spanish regional food finds:

New Castile - Don Quixote country - is the region from which we get that wonderful Manchego cheese.

The Basque country, with its Celtic influence is known for its dairy products.

The Andalusia region, home of flamenco dancing and bull fighting, is known for its sherry and olive oil.

Pamplona is famous for the running of the bulls and the hams of Pomeipolis.

The region of Douro boasts of the city of Oporto's port production.

The essential ingredients for real Spanish cooking are olive oil, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and beans, garlic and onions. Spain produces 44 percent of the world's olives.

After much taste testing and deliberation, I selected the following menu for the Shadow of the Wind cooking class::

Tapas: Toasted Almonds, Garlicky Fried Mushrooms, Manchego cheese and olives

Radicchio Salad with Spanish Blue Cheese and Peppered Almonds

Kale and Potato Tortilla

Pork Churrasco with Paprika and Garlic

Fresh Oranges with Spiced Red Wine Syrup and Honey Cake

I'm including the recipe for the Pork Churrasco for your culinary odyssey to Spain. Try it soon.

Thanks to Lake Oswego Parks and Rec for spurring us on to a literary and culinary adventure. Let's do it again next year!

Bon Appetit - Eat Locally!

Pork Churrasco with Paprika and Garlic

(Lomo de Cerdo Adobado)

Serves 4 to 6

Churrasco is Spanish for grilled steak. The term adobado is used for a traditional method of cooking in which the meat is left to marinate for up to three days in a mixture of garlic, paprika, cumin, herbs, olive oil and vinegar or wine.

For centuries eating pork in Spain was a statement of Christian ethnicity, because it was not eaten by Jews or Muslims.

You can cook this on a grill or roast it in a 350º F oven, allowing 45 to 60 minutes for a loin or about 25 minutes for the tenderloins.

1 boneless pork loin, 2 to 3 pounds, tied, or 2 pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each

2 tablespoons olive oil

1½ tablespoon finely minced garlic

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

1 bay leaf, crumbled

1 teaspoon salt, plus salt to taste

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus pepper to taste

½ cup dry sherry or dry white wine

Trim off any excess fat from the pork and place the meat in a shallow nonaluminum container.

In a small frying pan over low heat, combine the olive oil, garlic and oregano and heat for two minutes to release their aromas. Whisk in the paprika, cumin, thyme, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and the wine and cook for one minute over low heat.

Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature. When fully cooled, pour the marinade over the heat and rub it in well. Cover and refrigerate for at least overnight or for as long as two to three days.

Prepare a fire in a charcoal grill or preheat your oven broiler.

Lift the pork from the marinade and pat dry. Sprinkle the pork lightly with salt and pepper. Place on the grill rack or on a broiler pan slipped under the broiler and grill or broil, turning as needed to brown well on all sides, until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 147º F, about 10 minutes for the tenderloins and 40 minutes for the loin. Alternatively, test the pork by cutting into it with a sharp knife; the meat should be lightly pink at the center.

Transfer the pork to a cutting board and let rest for a few minutes. Slice and then arrange the slices on a warmed platter. Serve at once.

From Savoring Spain and Portugal, Joyce Goldstein

Randall welcomes your questions and food research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-635-8811 or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.