Showing posts with label coca. Show all posts
Showing posts with label coca. Show all posts

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Coca with Roasted Peppers and Eggplants

Learning about a place through the food makes the learning process enjoyable. In Claudia Roden's newest book, The Food of Spain of which I received a review copy, you'll learn the history of all of Spain's regions and how the different people who settled in each area and later moved about the country shaped what has become Spanish cuisine. Because of this background information, you'll know that meat cooked with fruits came from an Arab influence, eggplant fritters and adafina, a slow-cooked stew, came from Jews, bechamel and the use of cream and butter was from the French, and the chiles which became the ubiquitous pimenton arrived after explorations in the New World. All of these angles of influence along with descriptions of the different types of geography from one region to the next explain the evolution of Spanish food over time. Through the recipes, you'll see how food traditions live on in typical home-cooked dishes, and all of the recipes in the book are written for contemporary cooking styles with ingredients that are easy to find. There are classic dishes like tortilla espanola with potatoes along with variations like the vegetable tortilla with peppers, eggplant, and tomato. There are fish dishes like salmon with peas and fish stew with peppers and tomatoes. From the poultry chapter, there's chicken and shrimp with almond and chocolate sauce and quail with grapes. There are meat dishes, rice and pasta and paella of course, and bean and chickpea stews. The dessert chapter offers everything from fruit in wine to ice creams, cakes, pastries, and flans. To begin cooking from this book, I chose the coca which is like pizza. Ordinarily, the toppings for coca are made up of whatever is available or leftover from previous meals. Some canned anchovies or tuna or maybe sliced sausages could be added, but I prepared the version shown in the book with just roasted bell peppers and eggplants.

The dough for the coca is almost exactly the same as the dough I use for pizza. Bread flour, salt, olive oil, yeast, and water were combined, kneaded, and left to rise for an hour or two. Meanwhile, eggplants were pricked with a knife and placed on a baking sheet with whole bell peppers. I found some pretty local, sweet peppers in red and yellow. The vegetables were roasted in a 350 degree F oven for about 45 minutes or until the skins were blistered. After the peppers had cooled, the skins and seeds were removed, and they were sliced. The skins of the eggplants were removed, and the flesh was placed in a colander to drain and then chopped into big chunks. The eggplant and peppers were seasoned and tossed with oil and set aside. Rather than spreading a thick sauce on the dough, a mixture of sauteed, chopped onion and tomato was used. Onion was sauteed in olive oil until soft, and fresh, peeled and chopped tomatoes were added and left to cook until the liquid evaporated. The dough was cut in half and each half was rolled into a big oval. Each oval of dough was placed on an oiled baking sheet, topped with some of the onion and tomato mixture, and the bell peppers and eggplant were placed on top. The cocas baked for about 30 minutes until browned and crisp.

Reading the book was like a whirlwind, guided tour of Spain, and cooking from it is like stopping in at private homes along the way. Next, I'd like to try the fideos with seafood or maybe the chestnut and chocolate flan. It'll continue to be a delicious learning experience.

See my review of The Food of Spain and get this coca recipe at Project Foodie.

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