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Posts Tagged ‘spanish’

Chicken and chorizo paella

One of my best food moments is sitting outside at a pavement cafe on Rambla de Catalunya, just around the corner from Guadi’s Casa Milà in Barcelona. We had a wonderful tapas lunch of chorizo, pimientos de Padrón, tortilla de patatas, pan amb tomaquet and patatas bravas in the late September heat just before heading back to the airport to return home. Nothing about that meal is reproducable in the UK: sitting outside always involves dirty buses, loud police cars and beggars, and getting good spanish food is nigh-on impossible, although I’ve not yet eaten at Tapas Brindisa so maybe I could be proven wrong.

Erika and I are also fans of paella, but unfortunately the time that we had that in Barcelona was one of my worst food experiences. I won’t ruin the moment by going into any more detail but let’s say that we were starving and tired and it was the closest place. Regardless, we’ve cooked paella a few times at home in the past and always enjoyed it, so when deciding on meals for this week it came up as something I’ve not had for a while.

The recipe I follow is from delicious magazine. It’s not totally authentic: as I’m not a great seafood fan I go for a meat version but it’s nice all the same. The recipe is a bit confusing as it produces enough to freeze but involves cooking two panfulls at the same time. I say scrap that, halve everything and there will be enough to feed 4 hungry people. After 30 minutes of cooking you’ll have a fresh, spicy dish with a variety of textures and flavours ranging from the crunchy beans to the soft, slightly sticky rice.

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An impulse buy of some Padrón Peppers from Brindisa at Borough Market on Friday meant that we needed to work some tapas into our dinners for this week. We were then at the market yesterday and saw some lovely looking prawns which we bought to go alongside the peppers, meaning that tapas night had to be this evening. Unfortunately we hadn’t planned to cycle 35 miles today so attempting to cook 6 different dishes whilst feeling rather tired was a considerable challenge.

Padrón peppers - fried and salted

Padrón Peppers
We first had Padrón Peppers eating al-fresco at a tapas bar in Barcelona. We didn’t know what they were when we ordered them and after over-hearing some Americans at another table complaining about them we were very apprehensive! There was no need to worry as they tasted wonderful and we’ve loved eating them ever since. I’m drawn to the russian-roulette style of eating, as one in thirty is super-hot. Tonight I had the hot one – last time around it was Erika’s turn and she had to run off to the kitchen for a glass of milk!

The peppers were cooked in olive oil in a hot pan for a few minutes until their skins blistered. They were sprinkled with salt just before serving.

Chilli and garlic prawns

Chilli and Garlic Prawns
The prawns were beheaded(!) and the intestines removed. Some oil was heated in a pan then a minced clove of garlic was added, then cooked for 30 seconds or so. Next the prawns, half a diced chilli, some paprika and salt were added to the pan and fried for a few more minutes until the prawns were cooked through.

Simple salad of cherry tomatoes, red onion and toasted pine nuts

Salad
A simple salad of cherry tomatoes, red onion and toasted pine nuts.

Smoked paprika almonds

Smoked Paprika Almonds
We found this recipe in a ‘Tapas’ book, but these nuts would make a fantastic snack in their own right and are exceptionally easy to make! Take as many blanched almonds as you’d like (we used a 100g bag) and bake them at 200C for about 8 minutes (don’t burn them!). Transfer them to a heatproof bowl and stir in a little olive oil so all the nuts are lightly coated. Then add a few grinds of salt and a pinch of smoked paprika and stir again to distribute the flavours. The recipe called for 1.5tbsp coarse sea salt (ground with pestle & mortar) and 0.5tsp smoked paprika for 500g of almonds, but I found these proportions to be too salty and not paprika-ey enough! Leave the nuts to cool and munch away!

Tortilla D'Espanya (Spanish Omelette)

Tortilla D’Espanya (Spanish Omelette)
An old favourite of Erika’s since well before she ever set foot on Spanish soil, Spanish omelette is something she’s been trying to perfect for quite some time. Today, we par-boiled sliced potatoes and then left them in a frying pan over a low heat with some chopped onion until everything had softened. We then beat 3 large eggs in a bowl and stirred in the potatoes and onions along with a little seasoning. The mixture was poured into a small, oiled frying pan and flipped over after 10 minutes or so. It tasted delicious, but fell apart a bit and had a huge hole in the middle – one day she’ll get there!

Romano peppers stuffed with feta cheese

Feta Cheese Stuffed Romano Peppers
Having picked up more Romano peppers than we really knew what to do with, we decided to try something decidedly un-Spanish – splitting the peppers in half, filling with cubes of feta cheese and dried oregano and grilling for about 15 minutes. We both learnt something new – that feta doesn’t melt! They were really good though and we’ll have them again.

All this was served with an ice-cold Estrella each and was definitely worth the hard work.

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