Friday, June 5, 2009


Tapas are a easy, though somewhat time consuming. They are great for a larger crowd as you can put out a variety of dishes and people can mix and match to their taste. Many can be prepared in advance, which is great for parties.

Last night I made several which I'll highlight.

Tortilla Espanola
1 - 2 small potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 small onion, sliced
8 eggs
about 1 Tbs salt

Toss the potato and onion with some oil and cook in a non stick pan or in the oven until soft but not browned.

Meanwhile, mix the eggs and salt in a large bowl. Once the potatoes are soft mix with the eggs and let sit 15 minutes. (This rest is the trick to making tortilla not an omelet.)

Heat a pan and coat with oil and add the egg/potato mixture. Cover, and cook a couple of minutes until the tortilla begins to set. Using a flexible spatula reach under the tortilla to make sure that it does not stick to the pan. It will still be soft but once the bottom sets you want to be able to rotate it in the pan to prevent sticking. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes until it is almost set. Flip* and cook the other side until completely set. Serve warm, room temp or cold.

*There are several ways to flip the tortilla without covering your kitchen in egg. The easiest is to slide it out onto a plate, cook side down. Then flip the pan over the top (so the raw side is now in the pan) and flip the plate and pan together.

You can also do the triple flip method. Put a plate over the pan and flip the tortilla (cook side up) onto a plate. Using another plate, place it on top and flip again (cooked side down.) Then place the pan on top and flip again.

A favorite of ours is Patatas Bravas (Bold Potatoes) or fried potatoes with "spicy" sauce. The Spanish are known for many thing, the best football (not the stupid American game) in the world is one, spicy food is not. I tend to make them spicier then you would find in Spain, but you can make to your taste. Traditionally it is served with aioli, which I often don't make every time, but it is a nice treat.

Patatas Bravas

potatoes, cubed
salt and pepper

Bravas Sauce
canned tomato sauce (or canned whole tomatoes, blended until smooth)
salt and pepper
hot peppers

To make the sauce blend the sauce ingredients. Adjust to taste. Warm slightly before serving.

Toss the potatoes with oil and salt and pepper. Bake in 400 deg oven, turning, until crunchy about 45 minutes.

Top with sauce.

Pimiento Alinado
Roasted Peppers in oil
salt and pepper

The simplest way to roast peppers is over a gas stove. Place directly over the flame and cook, turning until charred all around. Be careful not to over cook, it will turn white.

Once the peppers are charred, place in a bowl and cover with plastic, foil or a dish towel. Let rest until cool. Then peal the blackened skin. Though temping, DO NOT run under water. You will be washing away all the flavor. Using your hand you can scrap most of the skin and the seeds and core. Then using a kinfe, scrap the pepper clean.

For this dish, place in a shallow bowl, add sliced garlic and season with salt and pepper. Let rest before serving.

By far our favorite tapa is Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp). In this country there is a wide interpritation of this dish, in Spain there is none. It is shrimp bathed in garlic oil, served piping hot in a small ceramic dish. It is also know as Gambas Pil-Pil, the "pil-pil" being the sound it should make when it is served, hot and bubbly.

Gambas al Ajillo
garlic, sliced
hot peppers

I am convinced that one of the keys to making this dish is the hot peppers, known as guindillas. I have been know to bring them back from Spain.

Place everything exept the shrimp in a cazuela.

Cook in a 450 oven until the oil is hot and garlic is starting to brown.

Add the shrimp and cook about 3 - 4 minutes, then turn. When they come out the oil should be boiling hot. Serve with lots of bread to soak up the oil and garlic.

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