Sunday, August 9, 2015

Cook this: TAPAS

Last week's response to my recipe for chicken croquettes or Croquetas de pollo put me in a Spanish mood for days.  I must apologise to the neighbours for my thunderous Flamenco fumblings...

Here are a few more great Tapas recipes from my book Cocina Nueva - the new Spanish Kitchen. Published by Murdoch Books. 
An oldie but a goodie - even if I do say so myself!

Combine these 4 recipes with the Croquetas de Pollo and a few glassed of chilled fino sherry or Spanish Beer and you'll have yourself the perfect little tapas party for 6.

Add in a salad and let's call it dinner!

Smoky fried almonds

20 g ( 3/4 oz) butter
60 ml (2 fl oz /1/4 cup) olive oil
 2 garlic cloves, bruised
235 g (8 1/2 oz/1 1/2 cups) blanched almonds, preferably Spanish (such as marcona)
 21/2 teaspoons sea salt, lightly crushed
 1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano cayenne pepper, to taste

Makes about 250 g (9 oz/1 1/2 cups)

Melt the butter and oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and almonds and stir constantly for 4–5 minutes, or until golden.

Remove the almonds with a slotted spoon and drain briefly on crumpled paper towels. Mix the salt, sugar, paprika, oregano and cayenne pepper in a bowl, then add the almonds and toss to coat. Spread the almonds on a tray and allow to cool to room temperature. Serve in a small bowl to nibble on with drinks.

Although almonds — particularly the delicate-textured marcona variety — are enjoyed all over Spain in many incarnations, they are often eaten simply toasted and salted with a glass of chilled fino (dry) sherry This lightly spiced version is very moreish.

Garlic prawns with chorizo

6 garlic cloves
50 g (1 3/4 oz) butter
 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 chorizo sausage, cut into 1 cm ( 1/2 inch) cubes
 3 small dried, smoked red chillies, preferably red guindilla chillies if available
 12 raw king prawns (shrimp), peeled and deveined, tails intact
1 tablespoon fino (dry) sherry
 crusty bread rolls, to serve

Serves 4

Finely chop four of the garlic cloves and set aside. Finely slice the rest.
Melt the butter and oil in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the sliced garlic and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on crumpled paper towels. Increase the heat to medium–high and cook the chorizo and whole chillies, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until the chorizo becomes crispy and fragrant.

Add the chopped garlic and fry for 1 minute, or until lightly golden, then add the prawns and sherry and cook for 2 minutes, or until the prawns turn pink and curl.

Toss the crispy garlic slices through the prawns and season to taste. Turn out into a small bowl and serve with crusty bread rolls for mopping up the garlicky juices.

Manchego and cumin buñuelos

60 ml (2 fl oz /1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
 60 g (2 1/4 oz /1/2 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
 11/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
 1/2 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
11/2 teaspoons very finely chopped thyme
olive oil, for deep-frying
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
60 g (2 1/4 oz /2/3 cup) finely grated Manchego cheese

Makes about 24

Put the extra virgin olive oil in a small heavy-based saucepan with 90 ml (3 fl oz) of water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring just to the boil over high heat, then remove from the heat and immediately tip in the flour, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper, paprika and thyme and stir for 1 minute, or until the mixture forms a smooth paste and comes away from the side of the pan.

Put the pan back over medium heat and cook, stirring vigorously and continuously, for 5 minutes — a ‘film’ should start to coat the bottom of the pan, but if the oil starts to separate, the mixture is overheated and you will need to start again.

Meanwhile, fill a deep-fryer or large heavy-based saucepan one-third full of oil and heat to 165–170°C (315–325°F), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 20–25 seconds.
Take the flour mixture from the heat, allow to cool slightly, then gradually beat in the eggs with a wooden spoon until very well combined. Continue beating for a few minutes, until the mixture becomes thick, glossy and smooth. Mix in the cheese.

Working in several batches, drop slightly heaped teaspoons of the warm buñuelo mixture into the oil and cook for 7 minutes — they will become puffed and golden before this time, but be sure to leave them in for the full 7 minutes so they don’t collapse on cooling. Drain well on crumpled paper towels and serve immediately.

Note: Choux pastry can be temperamental so it is important to measure the ingredients precisely and to follow the method carefully.

Chilli mussels

chilli tomato sauce
 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1–2 small red chillies, seeded and very finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
24 mussels, scrubbed and bearded
60 ml (2 fl oz /1/4 cup) white wine
60 ml (2 fl oz /1/4 cup) fino (dry) sherry
125 g (4 1/2 oz /1/2 cup) crushed tinned tomatoes
 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
 1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar

30 g (1 oz /1/3 cup) finely grated Manchego cheese
55 g (2 oz /2/3 cup) breadcrumbs, made from day-old bread
 11/2 tablespoons flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped
olive oil, for drizzling

Makes 24

First, make the chilli tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add the onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until soft and golden. Add the garlic, chilli and paprika and cook for a further 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Increase the heat to high and add the mussels, wine, sherry and a large pinch of salt. Stir everything together, then cover and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, for 3–4 minutes, or until the mussels pop open. Discard any that remain closed. Remove the mussels from the pan and leave until cool enough to handle.

While the mussels are cooling, stir the crushed tomatoes into the sauce along with the thyme, sugar and 125 ml (4 fl oz/ 1/2 cup) of water. Bring to the boil and allow to boil for 15 minutes, stirring regularly, until thick and pulpy — you should have about 185 ml (6 fl oz/ 3/4 cup) of sauce.

Meanwhile, when the mussels are cool enough to handle, pull them out of their shells and set aside. Pull the shells apart at their hinges into two halves. Choose the 24 biggest halves, remove any muscle with a sharp knife, then rinse well and pat dry with paper towels. Discard the remaining shells.
Finely chop the mussel meat, stir it through the sauce, then take the sauce off the heat. Spoon the sauce into the mussel shells and sit them on a foil-lined baking tray.

Preheat the grill (broiler) to high. To make the topping, combine the cheese, breadcrumbs and parsley and sprinkle it over the mussels. Drizzle with olive oil, then put the baking tray under the grill and cook for 2–3 minutes, or until the topping is crisp and golden. Serve at once.

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