reyes magosEpiphany is Wednesday, January 6 which commemorates the historic visit of Three Kings bearing gifts for the baby Jesus.  Tonight is Epiphany Eve and in Spain, children leave polished shoes outside with sweets for the Kings.  On January 6, gifts are exchanged and a big family meal is shared including a special King’s cake which contains a ceramic baby Jesus; the lucky recipient is crowned King or Queen for the day.

NY Times Galette des rois

Galette des Rois; New York Times photo

You can order a Galette des Rois (King’s Cake) from Le Panier bakery in the Pike Place Market.

January is the perfect time for slow-cooked meals that fill the house with enticing aromas.  Using beans in the recipe adds heartiness which is welcome on a cold, dark, rainy night.   See below for our White Bean Shellfish Stew Recipe.

Ashed goat cheese logArdoisee Poitou ash-covered goat log – Just before New Year’s, we received this stunning cheese from France’s Loire Valley.  An aged goat milk cheese, it has an earthy, mushroomy flavored rind with a snow-white, mild-tasting center.  With a crumbly texture and creamy paste, this pasteurized cheese is both gorgeous and delicious.  Serve it with a tossed green salad, or on crostini for a flavorful appetizer or snack!

seafood-white-beansWHITE BEAN SHELLFISH STEW (From The Spanish Table Cookbook by Steve Winston)
Feijão Branco Com Marisco   Serves 6

This is our version of the dish we enjoyed so much in Cabo Verde a few years ago.  It is one of those things where you use what your fishmonger has to offer the day you are shopping.  So substitute other shellfish such as clams, mussels, or crab freely.

The flavor will be much better if you start with dried beans.  To prepare, start the night before with 1 ½ cups dry white Judion beans from Spain.   You may also use cannellini beans or navy beans.   In a large bowl or Dutch oven, cover the beans with water and let them soak overnight.  The next day, drain the beans, put them in a large pot and cover with water 3 inches above the beans.  Add a bay leaf and clove of garlic.   Simmer on slow heat until the bean can be bitten in half, but not done, then add 1-2 teaspoons of salt.    Continue simmering until the beans are al dente, but not completely done as they will continue to cook in the stew.

½ cup Spanish Olive Oil
5 cloves Garlic, one whole, 4 finely chopped
1 Onion, chopped
1 pound Prawns
1 tablespoon Smoked paprika
2 Bay leaves
1 jar Tomate Frito
½ cup    Dry white wine*
1 pound Squid
3 cups   Cooked white beans
3 Baby lobsters, cut in half
1 Lemon for juice
¼ cup    Minced parsley

Heat oil in large olla (clay bean cooking pot, available at Paris-Madrid Grocery).
Add garlic and cook for one minute until softened.
Add onion and cook an additional five minutes until translucent.
Add shrimp and toss to coat in oil.
When prawns turn pink, stir in paprika and add bay leaf.
Add tomate frito and white wine.
Bring to boil.
Stir in squid.
Cover and cook until squid is tender.
Stir in beans.
Arrange lobsters halves on top
Drizzle with lemon juice.
Sprinkle on parsley.
Cover and simmer until all ingredients are hot.

*We recommend using As Laxas Spanish Albariño in this recipe and serve the rest with the stew.