Now prepare yourself, for this is just the first recipe I will give you from this truly wonderful cookbook. I confess, however, that the author, Penelope Casas, is a childhood friend, whose mother is the Toni mentioned in earlier posts (Toni's Rice Pudding).
Penny's story is completely romantic: on a study year in Madrid, she met and fell in love with her hostess' handsome medical student son - certainly fate in action. At the same time, she fell in love with Spanish food, over the next 40 years researching and writing a series of beautifully detailed cookbooks which earned her a number of awards from the Spanish government and made her a familiar name in the US food world.
"La Cocina de Mama" or "The Great Home Cooking of Spain" is one of her later books, and while all are filled with interesting recipes, this is the one I have cooked with most, recently, perhaps because of my focus on home cooks.
Penny tells us that hake in garlic sauce is known all over the Basque country and she considers this one of the simplest and most delicious ways to prepare hake or its cousin, cod. This version came from the mother of the acclaimed chef Juan Mari Arzak and I can only say that the first time I made this recipe in my kitchen - sitting at my own table I felt as if I had unexpectedly discovered a spectacular secret little restaurant.
How to make hake in garlic sauce for 2:
2 hake or cod steaks, 1 inch thick
1/4 cup virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lb small clams or cockles (or 1/2 dozen)
1/2 tablespoon flour
1/8 cup clam juice or fish broth (ideally from a batch enhanced with onion, thyme, bay leaf, parsley, celery, saffron and strained) Or, as I did, use a little dry white wine.
1/8 cup minced parsley
Sprinkle fish with salt and leave to sit for a few minutes. In a shallow casserole, heat half the oil and sauté half the garlic over medium heat until the garlic is lightly coloured. Add fish and clams and sprinkle the flour over the fish. Gentle shake the casserole, adding the fish broth and continuing to shake the pan until the sauce becomes smooth and slightly thickened. Cover and cook for 3 minutes over medium-low heat,
Turn the fish and continue gently shaking the casserole. Sprinkle the parsley over the fish, shake again, cover, and cook for about 3 minutes more until the fish is just done.
In a small skillet, heat the remaining olive oil with the remaining garlic until the garlic begins to colour. Spoon the garlic and oil over the fish and parsley (the oil will fry the parsley). Shake again and serve. Enjoy!