Recipes - Talking Tapas
October 12, 2017

Champiñones con Jamón al Jerez (Mushrooms with serrano ham in sherry)

This simple and speedy little tapas dish is served all over my favourite city of Sevilla, and is one I have enjoyed over and over again! Although every tapas bar has its own way of serving it, the combination of earthy mushrooms, salty jamón and fragrant fino sherry is a winner every time!

I like to serve it simply with some lovely crusty bread to soak up the delicious juices, and of course a chilled glass of fino sherry, ¡claro! 

Ingredientes (Serves 4 as tapas)         

  • 2 tbsp. of good quality olive oil
  • ½ small onion finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves crushed
  • 3 slices of Jamón Serrano finely chopped
  • 250g mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 40ml dry sherry (fino), or dry white wine
  • 40ml chicken stock (or just crumble in ¼ chicken or vegetable stock cube with 40 ml water)
  • 1 tbsp. chopped, fresh parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Metódo

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan or skillet over a medium heat, and fry the onion and garlic until soft but not browned (about 5 minutes).
  2. Add the chopped jamón and continue to fry for another 2 minutes until it starts to colour.
  3. Now add the mushrooms, sherry and stock to the pan, along with a generous few grinds of black pepper, lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the mushrooms have released their juices and the liquid has started to reduce a little.
  4. Stir through the chopped parsley and then transfer to a warmed tapas bowl and serve. ¡Qué rico!
September 18, 2017

Ajo Blanco

This delicious cold garlic and almond soup reminds me of hot summers on the coast in Andalucía, enjoying a chilled ajo blanco in a little chiringuito at lunchtime looking out to sea! Its simplicity is not only in its ingredients but also in its appearance; this white, pure looking soup, with just a few grapes or small chunks of melon scattered on top is quite beautiful. It is a great alternative to a traditional, tomato based gazpacho, and at this time of the year with autumn and winter germs looming a big hit of garlic and almonds can only help us ward off the colds! It is so quick and easy to prepare with no cooking required, just a blender, and will also keep in the fridge for at least 3 or 4 days, if it lasts that long!

Ingredientes (Serves 6)         

  • 100g blanched almonds
  • 3 slices of stale white bread, crusts removed
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled
  • About 100ml good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • About 600ml cold water
  • About 24 seedless green grapes

 Metódo

  1. Break up the bread and put in a bowl with about half of the water, leave to soak for about 15 minutes.
  2. Put the soaked bread into the blender, with the garlic and the almonds and blitz until you have a smooth paste.
  3. Whilst the blender is still running, slowly pour in the olive oil, followed by the vinegar.
  4. Now add a tsp salt and the remaining water a little at a time (you don’t need to use all the water, just enough to make the soup a good consistency, not too thick or too thin!).
  5. Transfer to a jug, cover and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours if possible, or even overnight. (If in a hurry add a couple of ice cubes.)
  6. Just before serving stir and taste again; you may need to adjust the seasoning at this point with a little extra salt or sherry vinegar, or even a little more water as it tends to thicken when left to stand.
  7. Serve in chilled bowls with the halved grapes scattered in the centre, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

¡Delicioso!

April 11, 2017

Tarta de sidra, canela y manzana (Cider, cinnamon and apple cake)

Although the Spanish are not really known for their desserts, they do love a sweet pastry or cake with a coffee, or even with a glass of cider or sweet sherry in the afternoon. You will see the windows of pastelerías (cake shops) laden with beautiful little cakes ready to be enjoyed, often using a mixture of fruit and sponge with some sort of jelly or glaze on top.

This delicious, moist cake is a variation of one of my favourites growing up: a scrumptious apple cake my mum used to make with fruit from our orchard mixed with cinnamon and topped with brown sugar. This Spanish version from Asturias is similar in many ways, with the addition of cider, which I am sure my mum would have approved of!

Ingredientes (Serves 8)         

  • 3 large dessert apples (fairly tart ones such as Braeburn or Cox)
  • 3 tbsp good quality medium, dry cider
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

      Sponge

  • 6oz / 175g butter
  • 6oz/ 175g caster sugar (golden ideally)
  • 5oz/ 150g self raising flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 50g ground almonds
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 tbsp cider

      Glaze

  • 150ml cider
  • 150g icing sugar

Metódo

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°, and grease and line a 23 cm cake tin, ideally a loose bottomed one.
  2. Peel, core and thinly slice the apples, place in a bowl and add the cider, cinnamon, caster sugar and vanilla, toss the apples to coat them and leave to one side.
  3. To make the sponge I always do an all in one method, measuring all the ingredients into a mixing bowl, and combining using either a mixer or a hand held whisk, starting slowly and gradually increasing the speed over about a minute.
  4. Once combined, drain off about 2 tablespoons of the liquor from the apples and stir into the sponge mix.
  5. Spoon half the cake mixture into the tin and then evenly scatter half of the apples over, topping with the remaining cake mixture. Finally lay the rest of the apples on the top (you can do this in a pattern if you like), and sprinkle with an extra teaspoon of golden caster sugar.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes, until golden and cooked through (check by inserting a skewer, it should come out clean).
  7. Leave the cake to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove from the tin to cool completely.
  8. In a small pan make the glaze by rapidly boiling the cider until it has reduced to just a couple of tablespoons, then tip into a small mixing bowl to cool. Once it has cooled add the icing sugar and beat until you have a smooth consistency.
  9. Drizzle the glaze over the cake (I do this using a disposable piping bag, filling it with the icing then snipping off the end so I can get an even drizzle) and leave to set before serving.

    ¡Qué rico!

February 22, 2017

Magdalenas – a sweet breakfast treat!

Try these delicious little lemony cakes for a weekend breakfast treat! They be found on the breakfast table in many Spanish households, and are definitely always a hit in mine (any time of day!). They are usually enjoyed with a coffee and being fairly dense they hold together when ‘dunked’ into your hot drink in the morning, delicious! I like to make them in traditional fairy cake tins, but in Spain they are also often square or rectangular in shape, perhaps even easier for dunking! You can even make a batch in advance, and as they are not iced they will keep extremely well in the freezer.

I use the ‘all in one’ method for this recipe using my mixer (you can also do this with a whisk), or there are instructions for doing it by hand if you prefer.

Ingredientes (makes 12-16 cakes)  

  • 3 eggs
  • 150g softened butter or margarine
  • 150g granulated sugar (plus extra for the crust)
  • 150g plain white flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Water

Metódo

  1. Weigh out all your ingredients in your mixing bowl.
  2. Using your mixer, gradually beat the eggs, sugar, soft margarine, zest, flour and baking powder in a mixer until thoroughly combined (I start at the lowest speed and gradually, over the space of a minute, increase the speed until it is at maximum). The mixture should be quite thick. (If you are not using a mixer then start by beating the eggs and sugar, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.)
  3. Divide the mixture between the paper cases, filling each one half full.
  4. Sprinkle them with a little of the extra sugar.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven (180) for 20 minutes or until they have risen and are a lovely golden colour.
  6. Enjoy warm, straight from the oven, ¡perfecto!

¡Disfrútalo con un café! (Enjoy with a coffee!)

December 08, 2016

Huevos Rellenos y Boquerones

 

Eggs are used so much in Spanish cooking, a cheap ingredient that can be elevated with just a few simple additions, and this little tapas is no exception. Often seen in Spanish bars stuffed with tuna, in this recipe I add some simple spicing to the egg using paprika, and then top with the delicious bite of a boquerón (fresh anchovy) marinated in vinegar and oil, delicious and so quick to prepare! If you don’t like fish, you can replace the anchovy with half a griddled asparagus spear tossed in sherry vinegar and split length ways. In Spain they would be more likely to be served with a beer rather than wine, but I also think a nice dry and chilled manzanilla or fino sherry works very well!

Ingredientes                        

  • 6 small to medium fresh free range eggs
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise (homemade or good quality jarred)
  • ½ tsp hot paprika plus a little extra
  • ¼ tsp salt and a few twists of pepper
  • 6 fresh marinated anchovy fillets (split in half)
  • A little chopped fresh parsley

Metódo

  1. Cook the eggs in boiling water for 7-8 minutes depending on their size, plunge into cold water and leave to cool before removing shells (you can do this the night before, but refrigerate them in their shells and peel the next day when you are ready to use them).
  2. Once the eggs have cooled, carefully slice in half length ways, remove the yolks with a teaspoon to a small bowl, and put the whites to one side.
  3. To the yolks add the mayonnaise, paprika and a little salt and pepper, mash together with a fork and then taste.
  4. Stuff the mixture back into the egg white, lay two of the anchovy fillets over the top of each egg and then sprinkle with a little extra paprika and a little finely chopped parsley.
  5. Place each egg on top of a very thin slice of baguette (this stops the eggs slipping around the plate), and serve with a chilled Fino or Manzanilla, ¡deliciosa!
October 22, 2016

Albóndigas - delicious Spanish meatballs!

These delicious little meaty bites, smothered in a rich and slightly picante tomato sauce are a staple of the Spanish tapas bar, especially in the heartland of Spain, where meat is on the menu more than seafood. The dish is a great example of how simple Spanish cooking can produce wholesome tasty food, and is popular with both the grown ups and the little ones in our house! I tend to make a large batch of meatballs (double the amount of meat below) and then freeze half of them before cooking to be used again the next time. 

Ingredientes (Serves 6-8 as a tapa)  

  • 200g minced pork
  • 200g minced beef or veal
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chopped thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp of breadcrumbs
  • 1 small beaten egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Tomato sauce

  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 large red pepper finely chopped
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes, or 6 large fresh tomatoes chopped
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika (dulce)
  • ½ tsp hot paprika (picante)
  • Splash of sherry vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh chopped parsley to garnish (optional)

Metódo

  1. Make the tomato sauce first. Begin by gently cooking the onion to soften for 5 minutes in olive oil, add the garlic, paprika and diced peppers and cook for another few minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, sherry vinegar, a pinch of salt and twist of pepper, reduce the heat and leave to simmer gently for 15 minutes until rich and thick, then put aside until needed.
  3. To make the meatballs, begin by sweating off the onion for 5 minutes in olive oil until softened, then remove and leave to cool.
  4. In a separate bowl put the pork, beef, cumin, thyme, breadcrumbs, a good pinch of salt and pepper and then add the cooled onion, beaten egg and combine well.
  5. With wet hands (to avoid the mixture sticking) shape the mixture into small bite-sized balls. Place on a plate and chill in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.
  6. When ready to cook, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the meatballs off in batches for about 10 minutes each, turning as they cook to brown on all sides.
  7. Warm the sauce and pour over the meatballs, sprinkling with fresh parsley at the last minute if you wish. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the delicious sauce! 
¡Deliciosas!
September 24, 2016

Empanadillas de verduras - Vegetable Spanish pasties!

My first try of empanada came on a school exchange trip to the beautiful Salamanca, when on a picnic the lovely Spanish family I was staying with produced this huge, amazing looking rectangular pie. It was cut into great big slices and passed it round us all, oozing with a thick tomato sauce, vegetables and tuna. It was absolutely delicious!

Since then I have had many more empanadas, with many variations on the filling, and think the smaller ‘empanadillas’ are a great Spanish version of our slightly drier English pasty! This recipe is one I tweaked for my husband, who is not keen on the addition of tuna. The egg adds a lovely extra flavour but could always be left out if you prefer.   

These little beauties are great in packed lunches, for children and grown ups alike! You can also make a batch up and freeze them before cooking to get out and pop in the oven whenever you need them.

Ingredientes (Make 6 to 8 empanadillas)    

  • Ready to roll shortcrust pastry (you can make a dough, like a pizza dough, as they would traditionally in Spain but I think short crust works just as well)

Filling

  • 1 small container of sieved tomatoes (Passata or tomato frito) about 250ml
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 large courgette diced
  • 1 red pepper diced
  • 1 green pepper (or yellow) diced
  • 1tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp thyme, chopped
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 tbsp good quality olive oil
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
  • 1 beaten egg

 Metódo

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently fry off your onion, courgette and pepper until soft and sweet but not browned (this can take about 10 minutes to do properly), adding the garlic for the last couple of minutes.
  2. Add the tomato and paprika, and then the herbs, season with salt and pepper.
  3. Leave to cook gently for another 5-10 minutes and taste. Leave the mixture to cool.
  4. Roll out your pastry (as thin as you can) and then cut into circles about 10-12 cm across (use a large cookie cutter or small bowl as a guide).
  5. Brush the edges of the circles with some beaten egg, put a generous tablespoon of filling in the middle, followed by a slice of boiled egg.
  6. Bring the two opposite sides of the pastry up to meet over the filling and then pinch the edges together. Turn the empanadilla onto its side and then use the back of a knife to press the edges to seal.
  7. Place on a lightly oiled baking tray, brush with egg and then bake in a preheated oven on 170° for about 20 minutes until golden and crisp. Serve warm or cold.
¡Deliciosas!
July 25, 2016

El Gazpacho Clásico - Delicious, healthy and refreshing!

This amazingly healthy, chilled vegetable soup orginates from the South of Spain and is not only a staple in the Andalucian diet, but also seen on almost every menu del día blackboard. Designed to cool and refresh in the heat, it really does hit the spot, and in the summer months Spaniards like to keep a batch of gazpacho in the fridge ready to enjoy at any time.

Made from only fresh raw vegetables, olive oil and vinegar it is a very healthy way to start a meal or snack. The best gazpacho I have had was in one of my favourite restaurants in Sevilla (El Rio Grande), where it was topped with chopped spring onions and jamón as well as the traditional diced vegetables (shown in the photo below!).

Eaten from a bowl or drunk in a glass, Gazpacho is so easy to make, and has to be one the most tasty ways to cool down on a hot day!

Preparación: (serves 4-6 in bowls)

  • 8 ripe tomatoes 
  • ½ cucumber 
  • 1 red pepper 
  • ½ onion
  • 1 clove of garlic 
  • 30g stale bread
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar 
  • 300-500ml water (as much as you want to add depending on preferred consistency)
  • ½ tsp salt


Metódo:

  1. Chop the tomatoes and pepper and place in the blender.
  2. Peel and chop the cucumber, garlic and onion and add to the tomatoes and pepper ready to blend. (Keep back some pieces of cucumber and pepper for decoration).
  3. Add the olive oil, vinegar and salt.
  4. Blend in the blender until it is a smooth consistency, then add the water a bit at a time, until you have a consistency and thickness you like.
  5. Place in the fridge and serve chilled (the flavour develops after a few hours or even overnight), with the reserved diced vegetables on top (you can also add a few slivers of jamón if you have some to hand) and bread on the side. 

    ¡Delicioso!

 

June 16, 2016

Espárragos con Jamón Serrano - Simple!

So to celebrate World Tapas Day on June 16th, I want to share with you one of the quickest, simplest and yet most delicious tapas you can make yourself at home! Only two ingredients and one pan needed, and it takes not more than ten minutes from start to finish!

In Spain they love asparagus, and will often serve the tinned white asparagus with salads, as well as enjoying the fresh green spears when they are available. It is currently in season here and as a result is available (and on offer) in all the supermarkets at the moment. I love it, with so many dishes, but this one for me sums up what tapas is all about: being able to create a simple and tasty dish with very few ingredients in very little time!

Ingredientes (Serves 4 as a tapa)       

  • A bunch (at least 12 spears) of fresh, green asparagus (woody ends removed)
  • Thinly sliced Jamón Serrano (a 100g packet will be plenty)
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • Black pepper to season

Metódo

  1. Wrap each asparagus spear with a slice (or half if they are big) of Jamón Serrano.
  2. Heat a non stick frying pan until fairly hot, add the olive oil, and carefully place your wrapped spears into the pan, 5 or 6 at a time so they have room to move in the pan and are not on top of one another.
  3. Fry for a couple of minutes each side until the ham is crisp and the asparagus starts to char and change colour to a darker green (they will still have crunch but that is the joy in my opinion!)
  4. Remove to a warmed serving platter and repeat with the remaining spears until all are done.
  5. Grind a little black pepper over the spears and serve warm, ¡disfrútalo! (Enjoy!)
May 25, 2016

Tortilla Española - A Spanish classic!

The name of this Spanish omelette, ‘tortilla’ actually means a small cake or tart, and really refers to the shape and depth of this delicious dish, which can be found in any Spanish restaurant or bar the length and breadth of the country! It is also the most common filling for a bocadillo (sandwich/ baguette), packed into hundreds of lunchboxes across Spain each day.

There are many variations of course, from the tortilla brava in Madrid, where they serve it with a spicy tomato sauce, to one made with peppers and chorizo. However, the best tortilla I ever tasted was that made by a Spanish friend of mine, Ana, in her home in Gijón in the North of Spain. Made in the more traditional way with just potatoes, onions and egg, the key is to take your time and not rush it. I have spent the last 10 or so years using her recipe and having fantastic results each time, so here it is!

Ingredientes (Serves 6-8 sliced up as a tapas dish, or cuts into 20 pincho squares as in the picture)        

  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 8 medium eggs
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Metódo (Main steps in the photo above to help!)

  1. Slice and dice the potato as small as you can, then do the same with the onion.
  2. Pour enough oil into a large and fairly deep frying pan to cover the bottom by about an inch and heat on a medium temperature.
  3. Once the oil is hot (but not too much, just enough for the mixture to gently sizzle) add the potato and the onion and fry gently and slowly in the oil, moving around from time to time, for about 10 minutes until soft but not brown (if it starts to catch or brown you need to turn down the temperature).
  4. Once soft, remove the potato and onion mixture to a separate bowl with a slotted spoon, draining off (and reserving) as much oil as you can, allow the mixture to cool a little.
  5. Pour the oil from the pan into a separate container, wipe the bottom of the pan with kitchen roll to remove any bits (this stops the tortilla from catching and sticking later), and then pour the oil back in.
  6. In a separate bowl beat the eggs together, add a large pinch of salt and a twist of pepper, then once the potato and onion mixture is cool add it to the egg and leave to stand for a few minutes.
  7. Warm the oil in the frying pan on a medium heat, then very gently pour in the egg, potato and onion mixture; making sure it is evenly spread out.
  8. Cook gently and slowly, until the edges and top of the tortilla start to set.
  9. Now come the tricky bit! Take a large plate or board, and carefully slide the tortilla out of the pan onto the plate, then place the frying pan upside down over the top, and holding both together firmly, turn quickly so that the tortilla end up back in the pan the other way up. (If you are worried about this you can always finish it under the grill instead!)
  10. Finish cooking the tortilla for another 3-4 minutes and then slide out onto a plate. At this point I tend to use some kitchen paper to blot away some of the excess oil from the top of the tortilla.
  11. Leave to cool and then slice and serve. It makes a delicious pincho (canapé) with a square of roasted pepper on the top as you can see in the picture, or just tuck right in!

¡Disfrútalo! (Enjoy!)

(Don't forget! If you fancy eating but not cooking this tortilla, why not join our next beginners Spanish course with tapas starting June 22nd! Click here for more details)