Fresh flavors |

Fresh flavors

Eileen JoycePam Scanlon prepares the dishes for a Catalan-themed dinner party at her Lake of the Pines home Friday.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

As a person who can trace her family back five generations in Nevada County and who spent 27 years in the Catalan region of Spain, Pam Scanlon of Lake of the Pines is at home in both places.

Her Irish heritage is from the mining families that, from the 1850s to the 1940s, owned and were partners in more than 40 mines and claims, mostly near Graniteville and Gold Bug. From the other side of the family, Scanlon’s Swedish grandfather owned a jewelry shop on Mill Street.

In Catalonia in northeast Spain, Scanlon found the climate and geography so inviting, she developed a tour business that allowed her to stay and feast on the landscape and agricultural bounty of the area for many years.

Catalonia is unique in Spain. It has its own distinct language shaped by its early Roman conquest. Like the Provencal region of southern France, it produces very fine wines and rivals France in the export of champagne. Fine cuisine is a daily event.

Nestled against the Pyrenees with a beautiful Mediterranean coastline and two huge agricultural plains, Catalonia also offers a great variety of fruits, nuts, vegetables, livestock and seafood. Scanlon’s recipes reflect the diversity of the area, where the emphasis is on fresh, seasonal and local ingredients.

Pa amb Tomaquet

(Toasted Bread with Tomato)

1 large loaf French bread

Several cloves garlic, peeled

2 fresh ripe tomatoes, mashed

1/2 cup olive oil (or more to taste)

Slice bread and lightly toast on grill or barbecue. Serve one slice with garlic and tomatoes to each person. Rub garlic on toasted bread and smear/slather with tomato. Dribble with oil and salt to taste.

Serve Pa amb Tomaquet already prepared or in a way for guests to assemble. It is also good with ham or anchovies, or as an omelet or open-faced sandwich.

Bolets amb Pernil

(Mushrooms with Ham Bits)

6 portabella mushrooms, stems removed

Extra virgin olive oil

6 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 pound ham (Bayanne, Parma, prosciutto or jamon Serrano), chopped small

1/2 cup fresh parsley minced

Brush mushrooms with mixture of olive oil and garlic. Grill or barbecue.

Quickly fry ham; add parsley. When mushrooms are cooked, sprinkle with ham mixture. Pepper to taste.

Espinacs a la Catalana

(Catalan Spinach)

3 bunches fresh spinach, washed and stemmed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup raisins, slightly soaked

1/2 cup pine nuts

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook spinach with only the water left after washing until barely wilted in large covered saucepan. Chop coarsely.

Add olive oil to frying pan and saute raisins, pine nuts and lastly garlic. Add cooked spinach and mix. Warm through; do not overcook. Salt and pepper to taste. Swiss chard can be substituted for spinach.


(Roasted Vegetables)

2 sweet red peppers

2 small onions

2 medium eggplant

1/2 cup olive oil

Coat surface of vegetables with olive oil and place on baking tray. Roast in 350-degree oven 40 to 45 minutes, until veggies are soft and skins browned. Can also be done on barbecue.

Let cool then peel and slice into large strips. Drizzle with olive oil; salt and pepper to taste. Serves three to four.

Filets de Bou amb Figues i Salsa

(Top Sirloin with Dried Fruit and Cream Brandy Sauce)

1 cup dried apricots

1 cup dried figs

1 cup pitted prunes

6 (5 ounce) top sirloin steaks

4 ounces brandy

Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste

4 ounces heavy cream

8 ounces beef stock

Place fruit in saucepan, cover with boiling water, let soak for one hour. Pat steaks with pepper and let sit in refrigerator about one hour. Salt lightly.

Sear steaks on grill or under broiler about one minute on each side. Quickly remove to shallow pan and dowse with brandy; allow to flambe about one minute. Continue to grill steaks to desired doneness.

Meanwhile, remove fruit from soaking water; over heat, reduce water from fruit mixture to about three ounces. Add fruits, cream and beef stock; reduce liquid to about one third. Salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, place steaks on individual plates and pour fruit sauce over steaks.

Pollastre amb Xamfaina (Roast Chicken in Xamfaina Sauce)

1 whole broiler-fryer, cut up

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 pound tomatoes, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

3 small eggplant, cubed

2/3 cup dry white wine

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon thyme

Flour for dredging

1/3 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Saute peppers, onions and eggplant in small amount of oil for 10 minutes. Drain off excess oil; add tomatoes and garlic. Cook gently 10 minutes more. Stir in wine, bay leaf and thyme. Pour into oven-proof casserole (oven roast) or leave in pan for stove-top method.

Dredge chicken parts in flour. Heat oil in another frying pan. Brown chicken parts on all sides. Transfer to casserole and bake in 350-degree oven about 30 minutes. Alternately, transfer to frying pan with veggies and simmer over medium-low heat 20 to 30 minutes.

These desserts are very simple and an elegant way to end the meal. The Cremat makes an exciting finish.

Musico amb Muscatel

Serve to each person a glass of muscatel along with a small dish of mixed raisins, dried figs, walnuts, toasted almonds and hazelnuts.

Miel I Mato

Whip ricotta cheese in a blender until smooth. Remove to serving plate and drizzle with honey. Garnish with chopped, toasted nuts.


2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon coffee beans

1 cinnamon stick

Lemon and orange peel twists

11/2 quarts freshly brewed coffee

12 ounces brandy or rum

Place all ingredients except coffee and beans in flameproof casserole and heat. When hot but not boiling, ignite, and flambe about one minute. Dowse flames by pouring in coffee. Add beans and serve.

Bette Worth writes a column for The Union on Wednesdays. You can write her in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945; or she can be reached at

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