The term “Spanish-American” is used to refer to Americans whose ancestry originates directly from Spain. Spanish Americans are the longest-established European-American group with a continuous presence in Florida since 1565 and are the eighth-largest Hispanic group in the United States of America. The emigration of great numbers of Spaniards from Spain during the last decades of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth century was significant enough to place Spain among the most active migratory peoples of Europe, ranking behind the United Kingdom and Italy and ranking closely with Austria-Hungary and Germany.
Throughout the colonial times, there were a number of settlements of Spanish populations in the present-day United States of America with governments answerable to Madrid. The first settlement was at St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565, followed by others in New Mexico, California, Arizona, Texas, and Louisiana. In 1598, San Juan de Los Caballeros was established near present-day Santa Fe, New Mexico by Juan de Oñate with about 1,000 other Spaniards. Spanish immigrants also established settlements in San Diego, California (1602), San Antonio, Texas (1691) and Tucson, Arizona (1699). By the mid-1600s the Spanish in America numbered more than 400,000. After the establishment of the American colonies, an additional 250,000 immigrants arrived either directly from Spain, the Canary Islands or from present-day central Mexico. These Spanish settlers expanded European influence in the New World. The Canary Islanders settled in bayou areas surrounding New Orleans in Louisiana from 1778 to 1783 and in San Antonio de Bejar, San Antonio, Texas, in 1731.
Like those aboard the Mayflower, most Spaniards came to the New World seeking land to farm, or occasionally, as historians have recently established, freedom from religious persecution. A smaller percentage of the new Spanish settlers were descendants of Spanish Jews and Spanish Muslims. Also coming to the Americas were the Basques (an ethnic group from north-central Spain and south-western France) who excelled as explorers and soldiers. A second reason for their emigration was their region’s devastation from the Napoleonic Wars in the first half of the nineteenth century. In the 1930s and 1940s, Spanish immigration mostly consisted of refugees fleeing from the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) and from the Franco military regime in Spain, which lasted until his death in 1975.
Many Spanish Americans still retain aspects of their culture. This includes Spanish food, drink, art, and annual fiestas. The influence of Spanish cuisine is seen in the cuisine of the United States throughout the country. A study published in 2010 by La Caixa found that in Spain, there’s an average of 1 bar for every 129 Spaniards, thus eating and drinking are a very important part of Spanish culture. In Spain most bars are restaurants. These establishments are social meeting places where people can just have fun. A typical bar will always have a variety of tapas that vary from region to region and are usually included in the price of the drink or offered at a discount. Many bars offer a ”menú del día” (a three-course meal offered at a fixed price), “platos combinados”(one plate with different types of food), and “raciones” (large plates of food to share with the entire group). Another popular option, especially for Spanish dinner, is “irse de tapas/pinchos”, which means to hop from one bar to the next, enjoying a tapa at each place until you’re stuffed.
According to The Joy of Cooking, the original tapas were thin slices of bread or meat which sherry drinkers in Andalusian taverns used to cover their glasses with between sips. This was a practical measure meant to prevent fruit flies from hovering over the sweet sherry. The meat used to cover the sherry was normally ham or chorizo, which are both very salty and activate thirst. Because of this, bartenders and restaurant owners created a variety of snacks to serve with sherry, thus increasing their alcohol sales. The tapas eventually became as important as the sherry.
Enjoying food served as tapas at home or in restaurants has become popular in the U.S. A tapa is a small portion of Spanish food. Tapas may be cold (such as mixed olives and cheese) or hot (such as battered, fried baby squid). Tapas can also be combined to make a full meal. Here are a few recipes for tapas that you can easily make at home. The recipes make large portions, so I cut the amounts in half for our small family.
24 Medjool dates
1/2 cup cream cheese
12 strips bacon, cut in half (not thick-cut bacon)
Preheat oven to 375°F.
With a small sharp knife, make a slit in one side of each date and remove the pit.
Stuff about 1 teaspoon of cheese into the cavity.
Wrap 1/2 slice of bacon around each date. Secure with a toothpick.
Place on a rimmed baking tray lined with foil and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven, turn each date over and bake for 8 minutes. Repeat this step one more time, or until all the bacon is cooked. Cook longer if you prefer crispier bacon.
Drain on paper towels. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Tortilla (Spanish Egg and Potato Omelette)
2 pounds of potatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
8 large eggs
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Beat the eggs in a large bowl and season with some salt and pepper.
Slice the onion as thin as possible and fry in a large skillet with a tablespoon or two of olive oil for about 10 minutes until they begin to caramelize (stir often).
When the onions are caramelized, drain off any excess oil and add to the egg mixture.
Peel the potatoes and rinse them under cold water. Slice the potatoes into thin slices.
Pat the potato slices dry and put them into a large bowl, sprinkle with salt, and mix well.
Heat a ½ inch of extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan at medium-low heat.
When the oil is hot, add the potatoes and add more oil if necessary until all are covered by the oil.
Cook the potatoes for 20 minutes over low heat. When the potatoes have been frying 20 minutes, remove them with a slotted spoon into a strainer and allow to cool off while any excess oil drips away. Save the oil to use for cooking.
After a few minutes, add the potatoes to the egg mixture and stir well. Let the egg mixture sit for about 20 minutes.
Reheat the pan where you fried potatoes over medium-low heat and add the egg mixture.
Over low heat, cook the eggs for about 6-8 minutes per side.
When you are sure that the bottom is cooked and you want to flip the tortilla, take a large plate and put it over the pan and flip it over quickly! When the second side is cooked, slide the omelet out of the pan onto a serving plate and let cool before serving.
Pan con Tomate (Spanish-Style Grilled Bread With Tomato)
2 large, ripe beefsteak tomatoes
1 loaf ciabatta, split in half horizontally lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch slice
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic, split in half
Flaky sea salts, such as Maldon or fleur de sel
Split tomatoes in half horizontally. Place a box grater into a large bowl. Rub the cut faces of the tomatoes over the large holes of the box grater, using the flattened palm of your hand to move the tomatoes back and forth. The flesh should be grated off, while the skin remains intact in your hand. Discard the skin and season the tomato pulp with kosher salt to taste.
.Adjust rack to 4 inches below the broiler and preheat the broiler to high. Place bread, cut side up, on a cutting board and drizzle with olive oil. Season with kosher salt. Place bread, cut side up, on a rack set in a tray or directly on the broiler rack and broil until crisp and starting to char around the edges, 2 to 3 minutes.
.Remove the bread from the oven and rub with the split garlic cloves. Spoon tomato mixture over bread. Drizzle with more extra-virgin olive oil and season with large flaky sea salt. Serve immediately.
Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)
12 cloves garlic
1 pound large shrimp, peeled, shells reserved
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch red pepper flakes or a 1-inch piece dried guajillo chili
1 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
Finely mince 4 garlic cloves and place in a large bowl. Smash 4 cloves under the flat side of a knife and place in a large skillet. Thinly slice remaining four garlic cloves and set aside.
Add shrimp to the bowl with the minced garlic. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and baking soda. Toss to combine thoroughly and set aside at room temperature.
Add shrimp shells to the skillet with smashed garlic and add remaining olive oil and pepper flakes. Set over medium-low to low heat and cook, stirring and tossing occasionally, until shells are deep ruby red and the garlic is pale golden brown about 10 minutes. Oil should be gently bubbling the whole time. When ready, strain through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl, tossing and pressing the shrimp shells to extract as much oil as possible. Discard shells and garlic.
Return flavored oil to the skillet and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add sliced garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until pale golden brown, about 1 minute. Add reserved shrimp and cook, tossing and stirring constantly until shrimp are barely cooked through about 2 minutes. Add sherry vinegar and parsley and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt. Serve immediately.
While many readers are experiencing spring at this time of year, here in the deep south it is summer – hot -90’s already! Here are some ideas for supper when it gets hot in your region.
Sliced Smoked Salmon
2 large slices of smoked salmon per person. Place the slices of salmon on a serving plate.
Sprinkle the salmon slices lightly with fresh lemon juice, freshly ground black pepper and chopped fresh dill.
Slice or cube a ripe cantaloupe and place in a serving bowl.
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, plus additional leaves for garnish
½ teaspoon black pepper
8 oz whole wheat penne pasta
½ cup finely chopped celery
½ cup finely chopped green bell pepper
½ cup shredded carrot
3 scallions, finely diced
½ cup finely chopped cucumber, peeled and seeded
Cook the penne in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain.
In a large casserole dish with a cover, mix together the dressing ingredients. Add the hot pasta and mix well. Stir in the vegetables. Cover the dish and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Just before serving, mix the salad again and garnish with parsley.
4 large eggs
2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 scallion, finely diced
1 tablespoon of finely diced celery
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Paprika, for garnish
Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan and cover with 1 1/2 inches of water above the eggs. Heat on high until the water begins to boil, then cover and turn off the heat. Let the eggs rest in the covered pan for 14 minutes, then place in a pan of ice water. under cold water
When cool carefully peel the eggs and gently dry them with paper towels. Slice the eggs in half lengthwise, remove the yolks to a medium bowl, and place the whites on a serving platter. Mash the yolks into a fine crumble using a fork. Add mayonnaise (only enough to bind the mixture), mustard, scallion, celery, and pepper, and mix well.
Evenly spoon heaping teaspoons of the yolk mixture into the egg whites. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.
Entertaining at lunchtime can be relaxing and informal for the host. If you have friends that are on special diets, a lunchtime menu can be an easy way to meet their needs and guests, not on a special diet will be happy with your menu, Here are two recipes that work well for everyone.
Bacon Swiss Quiche (Gluten-Free and Low Carb)
Press in the Pie Pan Crust
1 ½ cups almond flour
1 teaspoon sweetener (sugar substitute such as monk fruit)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter, melted
5 slices bacon
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese, divided
For the pie crust:
In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, sweetener, and salt. Stir in melted butter until dough comes together and resembles coarse crumbs.
Turn out into a glass or ceramic 9-inch pie plate. Press firmly with fingers into the bottom and up the side of the pie pan. Use a flat-bottomed glass or measuring cup to even out the bottom.
To prebake the unfilled crust:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. and bake the crust 10 minutes. Cool slightly before filling.
To prepare the filling:
Turn the oven up to 375 degrees F.
Cook the bacon in a skillet until crispy and remove to a paper towel to drain. Break into small pieces.
Drain all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from the skillet. Add the chopped scallions to the skillet and cook until softened about 2 minutes.
Beat the eggs and cream together in a large measuring cup or a bowl.
Place 1 cup of the shredded cheese on the prebaked pie crust. Top with the crumbled bacon and cooked scallions. Place the pie dish on a baking sheet.
Add the egg mixture and top with the remaining shredded cheese.
Place the baking sheet on the middle shelf in the oven and bake the quiche for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 10 minutes before cutting.
No-Fuss Butternut Squash Soup
4-12 oz packages frozen pureed butternut squash or 4-15 oz cans organic butternut squash
32 oz container vegetable broth
4 oz container unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
Herbs for garnish, such as sage
Put all the ingredients in a Dutch Oven except the cream. Bring to a boil, stir well, lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes. Stir in the cream and serve garnished with fresh herbs.
Leftovers in my house always get reinvented into new dishes. In these recipes, they also change from breakfast meals to dinner meals.
Corned Beef Hash
Serve with Roasted Asparagus, recipe below.
2 cups leftover corned beef, cubed (recipe on how to make the corned beef)
1 cup diced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups cooked Yukon gold potatoes (or rutabaga for a lower carb option)
3-4 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Heat the butter in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the onion and cook a few minutes, until soft.
Mix in the chopped corned beef and potatoes. Spread out evenly over the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high and press down on the mixture with a metal spatula.
Cook until browned, then turn the mixture over. Do not stir the potatoes and corned beef but let them brown. If you hear them sizzling, this is good. (Use a metal spatula to peek underneath and see if they are browning. If nicely browned, use the spatula to turn sections over in the pan so that they brown on the other side. Press down again with the spatula.)
If there is too much sticking, you can add a little more butter to the pan. Continue to cook in this manner until the potatoes and the corned beef are crispy and brown.
Sprinkle with parsley and black pepper and remove the pan from the heat.
Fry the eggs in a separate skillet and top each portion of hash with an egg.
1 bunch thin asparagus spears, trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
Place the asparagus into a mixing bowl, and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to coat the spears, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper. Arrange the asparagus onto a baking sheet covered with foil in a single layer.
Bake in the preheated oven until just tender, 12 to 15 minutes depending on thickness. Sprinkle with lemon juice just before serving.
Spinach Cheddar Omelet
2 cups leftover cooked spinach
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup yellow onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 large eggs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Minced fresh parsley, for garnish
Additional black pepper, for garnish
Heat the butter in a large skillet and add the mushrooms and onions; cook until and soft and tender. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the leftover spinach and heat until hot.
Beat the eggs in a small mixing bowl and pour over the vegetable mixture. Stir the eggs around the pan with a rubber spatula, pulling the sides in towards the middle, swirling the pan slightly so the runny egg mixture on top hits the pan and cooks. Cook about 2 minutes, until the eggs are just slightly shiny on top. Sprinkle the cheddar over the top.
Carefully lift up the edge of the omelet and check to see if the eggs are lightly golden on the bottom. Once they are, gently fold it over the filling and let cook another minute over low heat.
Slide omelet out of skillet and divide in half. Serve garnished with minced parsley and extra black pepper.
Baked Parmesan Tomatoes
2 large tomatoes
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Cut a thin slice off the top and the bottom of each tomato. Cut them in half, horizontally.
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
10 oz pkg frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup minced red onion or scallions
1/4 cup chopped red or yellow bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 cup chopped seeded tomato
A few Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
Dried or fresh dill for garnish
Chop spinach and mix well with minced dill and crumbled feta. Set aside.
Place diced tomatoes on paper towels to dry. Set aside.
Crack the eggs into a bowl with the black pepper and oregano. Whisk with a fork. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add garlic, onion and bell pepper and saute until tender. Add the spinach mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables. Move the outer edges of the eggs inward and cook until set and none of the mixture looks uncooked. Slide the omelet onto a serving plate. Sprinkle the top of the omelet with remaining feta, chopped tomatoes, sliced olives, and dill. Cut into serving pieces.
Cranberry Orange Muffins
Nonstick cooking spray
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon. ground cinnamon or apple pie spice
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/4 teaspoon. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat twelve 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with nonstick spray or line with paper baking cups; set aside.
In a large bowl combine all-purpose, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In a medium bowl combine egg, milk, sugar, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture; stir just until combined. Fold in the cranberries and toasted walnuts. Spoon into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until tops are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool muffins in pans for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from pans. Serve warm. Makes 12 muffins.
Low Carb/Gluten-free Recipe
Makes 9 muffins
2 cups Low-Carb Baking Mix (I use Bob’s Red Mill) or Gluten-free Baking Mix
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 cup Low Carb Sweetener ( I use Lakanto Monk Fruit Sweetener)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat 9 muffin cups with baking spray.
In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (Low Carb Baking Mix, baking powder, cinnamon, and sweetener). Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and add the eggs, water, oil and orange extract. Whisk until just blended. Stir in cranberries and pecans. Take care not to overmix.
Using a scoop divide the batter into the 9 muffin cups filling them to the top. Bake 25 minutes. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Remove the muffins to a wire rack to finish cooling.
2 center-cut skin-on salmon fillets, 6 to 8 ounces each
1 teaspoon Asian chili oil or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh garlic
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Combine the glaze ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat the oil in a 10-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.
Place the salmon fillets, flesh-side down, in the skillet and cook until well browned about 1 minute. Using a fish spatula ora flat spatula, carefully turn the salmon over and cook on the skin side for 1 minute.
Remove the skillet from the heat and spoon the glaze evenly over the salmon fillets. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the center of the thickest part of the fillets are cooked and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of fillets registers 125 degrees F, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer fillets to individual plates and serve with Asian fried rice.
Asian Fried Rice
4 servings. Makes a great leftover for lunch,
4 cups leftover cooked rice or uncooked cauliflower rice
2 bacon slices, cooked and diced
2 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
2 tablespoons Asian chili oil or peanut oil, divided
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce or coconut aminos
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup finely diced banana pepper or other thin-skinned pepper
1 teaspoon Asian Fish Sauce
Heat 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat. Add the beaten eggs and cook, without stirring, until fully cooked on one side, about 30 seconds. Turn the omelet over and cook for 15 seconds. Transfer the omelet to a cutting board and cut into ½-inch pieces.
Add 1 tablespoon chili or peanut oil to the pan along with scallions, ginger, and garlic; cook, stirring until the scallions have softened, about 30 seconds. Add banana pepper and celery; cook, stirring, until just tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer everything to a large bowl.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon chili or peanut oil to the pan; add the rice and stir-fry 2 minutes.
Return the vegetable mixture, bacon and eggs to the pan; add soy sauce, fish sauce and remaining sesame oil and stir until well combined. Serve with the salmon.