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Posts Tagged ‘tapas’

Olives marinated in orange and thyme infused olive oil

Olives marinated in orange and thyme infused olive oil

My friends have been known to say that I like to complicate things.    I once complained to my husband that there was too much sun coming into the bedroom window which was waking me up earlier than I wanted.  I thought long and hard about how to fix this and finally I decided that I was going to buy large sheets of black paper and sticky tape and cover the windows to block out the morning sun.  So off I went to buy the supplies and was excited to show my husband my handiwork.

“What are you doing??”  My husband asked when he entered the room.

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Chicken Wings with Spicy Basque Ketchup

Chicken Wings with Spicy Basque Ketchup

This, my friends, is going to be a very short post. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed the lack of any online presence lately… and there’s certainly a reason for my silence. First, my parents are around for another few weeks – and family always takes priority so I am trying to squeeze in as much time as I can with them while they’re here. Then, there’s the new job which has been keeping me quite busy as I try to  to navigate my way around a whole new business. So something’s got to give –  and in this case – it’s catching up with friends, those I see in person as well as in cyberspace.   So this unfortunately means  there’s also less time now to visit my favourite blogs and I am sorely missing you all (and my RSS feed).

I’m hoping February should quiet down somewhat (but of course, you never know!) and things return to normal…  But I couldn’t let this week pass without sharing another recipe I made for our New Year’s Tapas Party.  If you love chicken wings, you’d be crazy not to try this recipe.  Everyone at the party went crazy for them. I had initially used only half the wings I had bought thinking I had too much food.  Half way through I had to bake the rest which was also promptly devoured.  So advice, when you’re making this – make lots!

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Tortilla Española (Spanish Potato Omelette)

Tortilla Española (Spanish Potato Omelette)

Very early on Saturday, with my husband still in a deep slumber, I snuck out of bed, put on my thickest pair of socks and tiptoed down to the kitchen.  I held my breath as I passed the guest room, fearing that even my breathing would be loud enough to be heard.   The wagging of the dog’s tails against the wooden walls magnified across the hallway and I tried to calm them down to prevent anyone from waking.

Finally, I got to the kitchen… “I made it!” I thought.  I was finally going to have a few hours in the kitchen all to myself!

Because as you all know, when Mom’s are visiting – you pretty much have to give up whatever rights you have in the kitchen because, when they’re around the kitchen ain’t yours… it’s theirs!

I wanted to make this this Tortilla Espanola (Spanish style Potato Omelette) for a tapas party I was throwing for New Year’s day.  Made with only four very accessible ingredients (eggs, potatoes, onions and olive oil), a really good tortilla is guaranteed not only to bring any Spaniard to their knees, it’s also sure to please any guest for a tapas party. It’s also great eaten cold or at room temperature so you can make it in advance for any occasion.

And whatever happened to my covert CIA operation? It pretty much lasted a whole five minutes before I turned around, saw my Mom and heard her ask “Can I help?”

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Bechamel and Prawn Stuffed Mussels

Bechamel and Prawn Stuffed Mussels

Is it any surprise that my most favourite presents to give (and receive) during Christmas are cookbooks?  I consider myself a pretty good judge cookbook character.  For example, my brother who is a bachelor loves the four ingredients or less series and his idea of cooking is to buy a chicken, buy a packet of spices and chuck everything in the oven. For one of my sisters, I am always on the look out for cookbooks that have recipes that can be completed in thirty minutes or less.  She is so keen on saving time (in fairness to her, she does have a four month old baby), that we call her “Miss Shortcut”.

My Mom is getting a book I bought a few weeks back, Miguel Maestre’s first cookbook, Miguel’s Tapas.

Born in Murcia Spain, Miguel has worked in many celebrated restaurants including Bather’s Pavillion and Bilson’s in Sydney and even Ferran Adria’s El Bulli in Roses, Spain. He has also been on a number of TV shows including the popular Boy’s Weekend.  Today Miguel owns two restaurants in Sydney, El Toro Loco and Argyle Bazar.

The cookbook is divided into seven sections based on the times of day the tapas are meant to be eaten. Breakfast, morning tea, lunch, dessert, afternoon tea, dinner, and evening snacks. Hmmm… the Spanish seem to love their tapas anytime of the day!  There is also a section at the very end covering basics and sauces which includes among other things, a variety of stocks, flavoured oils and vinaigrettes.

Miguel has managed to strike a balance between the classic tapas such as the tortilla (potato omelette), paella and churros (his chocolate sauce is made with condensed milk!) and some tapas he gives a contemporary twist.  For instance, Wild Rice Popcorn and a Deconstructed Spanish Omelette inspired by his time at El Bulli.

I’ll be honest, the reason I’m giving my Mom this book isn’t so much that I want her to enjoy it (well, that’s part of it), but mainly because I want her to cook many of the dishes from it while she’s here for a visit.  Top of the list would be the Flamenca Eggs, Manchego Bread Rolls (inspired by the very popular Brazilian cheese bread), Salted Cod Croquettes, and Wagyu and Chorizo Meat Pie.  For dessert, I’m thinking she could make Bombe Alaska Fruit Skewers, Santiago’s Tart and Bread and Butter Pudding…

Like his TV shows, Miguel has a light hearted approach to cooking tapas.  As he shares his recipes, he also shares stories behind the recipes, in particular about his childhood growing up with a large family from where he got his love for cooking from.

So yes, this book’s going to my Mom for Christmas… unless of course… I decide to keep the book for myself…

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Pinchos Morunos

Pinchos Morunos

Today at work we chatted about our favourite pastimes as children. I mentioned that , to pass the time during summers, my siblings and cousins would meet at my grandmother’s place every day. We would swim, watch (music) videos, eat, sleep, fight, swim some more, eat some more and definitely fight some more. Almost like a day care for grandchildren.

Today, I am much more civilized. If I have any spare time I like to pour over the pages of cookbooks, food magazines and food blogs. I love stacking cookbooks by my beside pouring over them to get myself to sleep.

My husband was recently away for three weeks so I left all the cookbooks on his side of the bed. In an attempt to tidy up one Saturday morning, I covered the books with the bed cover. A friend came over and did a double take when she entered the room.

“Is that your husband?” She whispered. We both had a good laugh when she realized that I had accumulated enough cookbooks to make her think it was him under the sheets.

Equally as addictive is my love of food blogs. I have recently discovered many great food blogs like this one and there are many that I visit regularly. I find their stories, recipes and photography inspiring and definitely, they take up less space that the cookbooks! A few weeks ago I came across Peter’s swordfish souvlaki and I was reminded of a Spanish tapa called Pinchos Moruños. These moorish inspired Spanish  skewers are usually made from pork but the recipe is easily adaptable to chicken, lamb and yes, I think even swordfish! It’s so easy to make, just marinate a few hours (overnight is preferable) and grill. They are great served with lebanese bread and aioli (Spanish mayonnaise).

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Chorizo Croquetas

Chorizo Croquetas

The other day, as I do every morning, I took my two labradors for a walk. Nothing out of the ordinary except I had overslept and had less time to walk them and get ready for work. I knew I had to rush. So we went to a park that was 10 minutes away and I let them loose thinking I would let them spend a good ten minutes chasing each other and sniffing other dogs. This took longer than I expected because the little one, Bizou, decided to forage for breakfast which meant I had to spend an extra ten minutes chasing her and trying to get her to stop.

As we made our way home I saw a man stading infront of his truck. He must have been in his twenties, and I suspect he was in the construction business because he was wearing a fluorescent yellow safety jacket, worn boots and had a rugged look about him. As we walked towards him I saw him look at them and his face broke into a wide grin and then he looked at me and said “Can I pat them?”.

He kneeled down and my dogs made a dash for him. He started patting them and then Baci, flirt that she is, lay on her back as if to ask for a tummy rub, which made him smile and happily oblige.

“You have a labrador too?” I asked him.

“Had,” he replied. “She died early this year. She was fifteen.” Then I saw him close his eyes and give each dog a big hug.

I was in a hurry and had an early morning meeting that I didn’t want to be late for… but at that moment none of that was important.

“There’s a park across the road, I was going to take them there for a little run. Did you want to come along for a few minutes?” I asked.

What mattered was that I felt like I was giving him a few moments with his dog back.

There are times in our lives when we have the opportunity to help someone relive a certain moment, it’s wonderful when we can oblige. Whether it’s spending an extra few minutes with them… or even cooking a dish that brings back the memory.

Which is why I made these Chorizo Croquetas the other day.

But I’ll save that story for another time.

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Beef with Garlic

Beef with Garlic

While I do believe that most dishes should be enjoyed in the company of friends and family, there are however, a number of dishes that are sometimes best eaten alone.  Sometimes, it’s a secret indulgence that you’d rather not let anyone know about.  After my workmate made fun of me eating a Mc Chicken for lunch (He said: “A foodie eating Mc Donalds?!  I never thought I’d live to see the day!), I vowed never to have fast food in front of anyone again.

Other times, it’s aesthetics – a friend of mine once admitted that he would never eat oreo cookies in front of a crowd after an incident where he went around the whole day with chocolate crumbs stuck between his teeth without anyone telling him.

And then there are foods that I think are quite anti-social in nature…. think dried squid… or maybe raw onions…

And on top of my list would probably be this gorgeous porterhouse steak with garlic chips.  With all that crispy, pungent garlic on top of a well seasoned steak, I’d really rather not share this dish with anyone, plus I suspect after eating three garlic cloves to myself, people would be inclined to stay away.   The recipe was adapted from a family recipe for salpicado, a spanish style tapas dish of beef strips on garlic.

And yes, I did have this for dinner one night when my husband way away…

Beef with Garlic

Beef with Garlic

Beef with Garlic Chips

  • 300 grams porterhouse steak (or other good quality cut)
  • 2 plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely sliced
  1. Marinate the steak with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, soy sauce and worcestershire sauce for 30 minutes
  2. Heat the pan over high heat and sear the beef on each side for around 3 minutes each side (depending on the size of the steak)
  3. Allow the steak to rest for half of the cooking time.
  4. In the meantime, heat the rest of the olive oil and add the garlic. Fry off until golden brown.
  5. Pour the garlic chips and flavoured oil over the steak. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve with baked potatoes or warm crusty bread.

Stumble It!

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