About Natacha Sanz Caballero

http://www.natachasanzcaballero.com

Writer, mother, cook, photographer and lover of all things Spain. In a previous life I was a pharmacist, and in my dreams I play piano, write novels and travel in time to all periods of Spain’s history, where I gather all the recipes cooked by my ancestors and invite them for a timeless feast. The gathering will be in Spain, of course, even though Indiana has been my home for the last —many years.

Posts by Natacha Sanz Caballero:

Dinner rolls three ways, Mama ía blog

Dinner Rolls Three Ways, and an Autumnal Tablescape

Dinner rolls three ways, Mama ía blogI hope I get to your table in time for you to make these tasty dinner rolls three ways, because they should be on your Thanksgiving menu. I’m serious! They will be a hit. If you can’t fit them into your cooking and baking schedule for the day, plan on making them the day before, freeze them in freezer bags (I vacuum pack them) and defrost outside of the bags a couple of hours before your Thanksgiving dinner. That’s exactly what I am doing.

Autumn tablescape, Mama ía blog (more…)

Rhubarb almond cake, Mama ía blog

Rhubarb Almond Cake, and Preparing for Thanksgiving

Rhubarb almond tart, Mama ía blogI made this rhubarb almond cake a while ago, and I was hesitating whether this was the right time to post the recipe, given that rhubarb is not in season, at least where I live. I decided that this was perfect timing: with Thanksgiving next week, pie and cake are words that are dancing in my head, and this rhubarb almond cake is so versatile, you could swap the fruit and obtain the same wonderful result. The traditional ones, pumpkin, apple, and pecan pies, will be on many tables next Thursday, but alongside those, I always like to have something different. My friend Shelby makes coconut cream pie, and I absolutely love it. This rhubarb almond cake could become a pear almond cake, or a plum almond cake, and be a new addition to your Thanksgiving menu. I love it with rhubarb, so if you can find it, by all means, make it! Rhubarb gives the cake a certain tartness that I love, much like I think plums would.

Rhubarb almond cake, Mama ía blog (more…)

Braised cod with white beans, Mama ía blog

Braised Cod with White Beans, and a Year of Lasts and Firsts (Hint: Video Recipe)

 

Braised cod with white beans, Mama ía blogThis is not the first time I post a recipe for cod, and it will certainly not be the last. You know that cod is one of my favorite kinds of fish, and I like it in any way and manner: baked, seared, in soups (click here), in fritters (croquetas or buñuelos, click here ), in green sauce, pil-pil style, with roasted vegetables or esgarraet, you name it. The recipe I am sharing today is delicious, but what can I say! The cod is first salted for ten minutes and then rinsed and seasoned with Spanish flavors, pepper and pimentón de la Vera, garlic, thyme. It’s then baked in a cocotte, and laid over a bed of black-eyed peas simmered in a butter, olive oil, and lemon sauce (you could use almost any kind of legume or dry bean of your liking). Serve the braised cod with white beans with fresh crusty bread and you have a fantastic meal.

Senior Night, Mama ía blog (more…)

Pear tart, Mama ía blog

Pear Tart, Fruit Trees, and Bougainvilleas

Pear tart, Mama ía blogA pear tree grows in the woods next to my house, and I made a pear tart (actually two!) with its fruit. This pear tree is just one of the wonderful discoveries in my garden this summer and fall. Another one, that I’ve mentioned before, was the “resurrection” of the fig tree I planted last year. And it came out in force. It’s now almost taller than me! The weather is still summer-like, we are having a beautiful, beautiful autumn, but I start to worry about how I will protect it for the winter. I think replanting it in a pot and bringing it indoors is out of the question, the tree is too big. What should I do? Do you have any suggestions? If you do, please tell me! I’d love to see the tree alive and well next spring, and I’m afraid much of it will depend on the kind of winter, less or more harsh, that we have. If there’s a special way of wrapping the tree that will protect it better, I’d love to know.

Pear tart, Mama ía blogPorche del Taron, Mama ía blog (more…)

Slow baked baby back ribs, Mama ía blog

Slow Baked Baby Back Ribs and Grilled Corn with Ñora Allioli

Slow baked baby back ribs, Mama ía blogI like ribs, but never loved them (I can hear you gasping). Of all the different pork cuts, I never found ribs to be tender enough, instead, I always found them kind of chewy, a cut of meat that was too much bone and not enough meat. In Valencia I had them mostly in rice dishes, like in hearty baked rice, arroz al horno. I love hearty baked rice, it’s one of my favorite rice dishes, but I would eat the chorizo, blood sausage, vegetables and rice before I ate the ribs (sometimes I even pushed them aside). So much so that I don’t even add pork ribs to my hearty baked rice recipe (find it here), even though they’re part of it.

Josph Decuis Farm, Mama ía blog (more…)

Grilled corn with ñora allioli, Mama ía blog

Grilled Corn with Ñora Allioli, on a Warm Fall Day

Grilled corn with ñora allioli, Mama ía blogThis might be the tail end of the corn season, but to go with the slow baked baby back ribs I made, I knew I had to make corn. Don’t ask me why, but I associate ribs with corn. And grilled corn with ñora allioli was the answer.

We are a divided house when it comes to corn, some of us like it grilled and some like it boiled. For this recipe I decided to grill it in its husk, and there were no complaints. The sun was shining, it was unusually warm for this time of year, and I was itching to go outside. I wonder, too, if the allioli I made to spread on the charred kernels had something to do with its success at the table. It wasn’t my regular traditional allioli (find that recipe here). The Spanish Tin had sent me a small batch of ground ñora peppers. Ñora peppers! I had never been able to find them in the US, and now I know where to go for them. Ñora is a small, round pepper that grows in the region of Murcia, just south of the Comunidad Valenciana, where I come from. It has a characteristic flavor and medium heat. To know that I can now source them through The Spanish Tin makes me very happy.

Grilled corn with ñora allioli, Mama ía blog (more…)

Monjavina, Mama ía blog

Monjavina, for “La Merienda”

Monjavina, Mama ía blogMonjavina is a sweet of arab origin, typical of the region of Játiva and of La Vall d’Albaida, where Onteniente, my hometown, is located. You can find it by other names like almoixàvena or monxàvena, but you will very rarely find it in any other regions of Spain other than the ones I just mentioned. My mom, in fact, never made it, as she comes from Seville, and I grew up eating it at the homes of friends. You could say that every household in Onteniente makes it.

The recipe is simple, with few ingredients, and that can mislead as to its result, which is a delicious, light, sugary cake that is best eaten on the day it’s made. My favorite time to have it is mid afternoon, with a glass of horchata (*) if I am in Spain, or an espresso if I am in America. This mid-afternoon snack is usually referred to as la merienda in Spain, a meal that is meant to stave off hunger between lunch and the late Spanish dinner. La merienda is most often also referred to as this meal in the context of children: the meal they eat right after they get home from school.

La Vila, Onteniente, Mama ía blog

La Vila and Carmelites Convent, Onteniente

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Calamari and bean salad, Mama Ía blog

Calamari and Bean Salad —and a hike on Sierra de Irta

Calamari and bean salad, Mama Ía blogI am very glad the weather is still decent and we are going to have a very nice weekend, because I’m not ready to let go of summer. I’m harvesting the very last of my vegetables, and dreaming of all the fish and seafood I ate while in Spain and Portugal this summer. So before I start thinking and cooking fall recipes, allow me one last one, which transitions very well from summer to fall, and where I can enjoy the last of my homegrown vegetables: calamari and bean salad.

Alcocebre, Alcossebre, Mama ía blog

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Crispy battered zucchini, Mama ía blog

Crispy Battered Zucchini, from a home vegetable garden

Crispy battered zucchini, Mama ía blogSo many zucchinis! When I planted my vegetable garden back in the spring, I didn’t realize I would get such a generous bounty. My friends Cort and Kathleen share the produce from their amazing garden as well, so I’ve ended up with quite a few of them! All the better, since crispy battered zucchini are a hit with my family.

I didn’t realize either, when I dug the holes for the seedlings, how large the zucchini plants would get. Lesson learned for next year: I need more room for the zucchini plants, and more space between them and the next variety of vegetable. But the lesson for this year, which I learned early: wear garden gloves! Those zucchini leaves are very spiky.

Higos del Taron, Mama ía blog

Cort and Kathleen's vegetable garden, Mama ía blog (more…)

Lobster stock, Mama ía blog

Lobster Stock, and a Grand Birthday Party

Lobster stock, Mama ía blogSome days I fantasize about my sister Susana and brother-in-law Jaime’s arroz con bogavante, soupy lobster rice. It usually happens around this time of year, after I’ve come back from my summer in Spain, while their vacation is only starting. The photos they send of their fun times at the beach, or the meals they enjoy, make me hunger for more. I followed Susana’s recipe for the lobster stock recipe I’m sharing today, which can be used as the base in the preparation of many delicate seafood stews and soups. Of course Susana and Jaime’s arroz con bogavante comes to mind, but very soon I’ll post a wonderful recipe of a seafood stew that I’m sure you’ll love, using lobster stock.

A few weeks ago I attended one of my best friends’ birthday party. It wasn’t just any party. It was a lobster bake party for a good number of guests, hosted by other good friends, at their farm house. I am not going to go into describing the beauty of this place, the manicured gardens and farmland and barns themselves, or the attention to detail that went into organizing the event —that would almost require another post.

Lobster stock, Mama ía blogLobster stock, Mama ía blog (more…)