If you want to bring a taste of Spain to your kitchen this summer, invite a few friends over for tapas
Tapas are the perfect party food – they spark conversation, debate and they’re a great icebreaker (if you happen to need one!). They can be enjoyed as a meal in themselves or simply as finger food. It’s all about sharing. And the best part is that you don’t have to commit to one dish – you can sample them all.
Blasta Books authors Anna Cabrera and Vanessa Murphy have just released their sixth book, Tapas. These gorgeous recipes will give you an idea of what you can expect:
1. Chorizo in white wine
350g raw cooking chorizo, left whole
1 medium red pepper, sliced (approx. 85g)
1 medium green pepper, sliced (approx. 85g)
300ml white wine
- Heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the whole chorizo and cook for 5 minutes to give it some colour. Add the sliced peppers and cook, tossing occasionally, for 4 minutes.
- Add the wine to the pan, reduce the heat to low and cook for 25–30 minutes, until the wine has reduced but there’s still enough for some bread soakage.
- Once it’s cooked, cut the chorizo into 2cm pieces in the pan, then it’s ready to serve with a large chunk of bread.
Plenty of sourdough bread
Author’s note: There are so many ways in which to enjoy chorizo, whether it’s on the BBQ or simply fried in a pan. Here, we have a simple classic that’s easy to make – just be sure you have enough sourdough to mop up all the cooking juices. We love to serve this dish on a white plate, as the colours that come from the chorizo with the white wine are stunning when left behind.
2. Traditional Spanish meatballs
1 tsp olive oil
½ small onion (50g)
4 garlic cloves, minced
375g minced beef
375g minced pork
1 large egg
½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp fine sea salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
For the sauce:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, diced
½ red pepper, diced
½ green pepper, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
40ml red wine
½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp fine sea salt
A pinch of ground black pepper
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
½ tsp caster sugar
- First, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, peppers, garlic, wine, oregano and the salt and pepper. Sweat for 15 minutes, until soft. Stir in the tinned tomatoes and sugar, then simmer on a medium to low heat for 1 hour. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan).
- To make the meatballs, heat the oil in a pan on a low heat. Add the onion and garlic and sweat for about 10 minutes, until cooked. Put to one side to cool.
- Put the minced beef, pork, egg, oregano and the salt and pepper in a large bowl, then add the cooled onion and garlic mix. Wearing disposable gloves if preferred, use your hands to combine well. Shape the mix into 40–45g balls (roughly 16 meatballs), then place in a single layer in a baking dish. Depending on the size of your dish, you might need to use more than one to keep the meatballs in only one layer.
- Cook in the preheated oven for 18 minutes, then remove the dish from the oven and pour over the sauce. Return to the oven to cook for a further 5 minutes, until the sauce and the meatballs are hot.
- To serve, simply pour the meatballs and their sauce into a bowl. A sprinkle of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley is a nice finish. As a tapa we like to split them up over a few smaller dishes and dot them around the table for people to enjoy.
- Our meatballs are easily frozen for another day. Just cook them for 20 minutes instead of 18 and allow to cool, then freeze them without the sauce.
3. Croquetas with serrano ham
½ onion, finely diced
250g serrano ham, minced
160g plain flour, sifted
1 litre warm milk
1 tbsp fine sea salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
1½ tsp ground nutmeg
To deep-fry the croquetas:
150g plain flour
4 eggs, whisked
150g fine breadcrumbs
2 litres sunflower or vegetable oil
- Melt the butter in a large pot set over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 8–10 minutes, until soft, then add the minced serrano ham and the sifted flour, stirring constantly until the flour is golden. Pour in the warm milk and whisk constantly until the mixture starts to thicken. Stir in the salt, pepper and nutmeg, then remove the pot from the heat.
- Scrape the mixture out onto a baking tray, cover immediately with cling film and leave to cool, then refrigerate for at least 6 hours (or until the next day).
- When you’re ready to cook, set up three bowls: one for the flour, one for the whisked eggs and one for the breadcrumbs. Using your hands, shape the croquetas to your desired size (we suggest 6–8cm long). Roll through the flour, then the eggs and finish with the breadcrumbs.
- Heat the oil in a deep-fryer to 190°C. If you don’t have a deep-fryer, you can use a deep pot but make sure it’s no more than half-full of oil.
- Working in batches, deep-fry the croquetas for about 2 minutes, until golden. Remove with a slotted stainless steel spoon to a plate lined with kitchen paper to remove any excess oil. Croquetas are always served hot, but we’ve been known to steal them cold from the plate at home!
4. Alioli (garlic mayo)
Makes approx. 500ml
1 large egg, at room temperature
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
A pinch of fine sea salt
500ml extra virgin olive oil
- Crack the egg into a Pyrex jug, then add the garlic, a pinch of salt and 250ml of the olive oil. Blend until nice and smooth.
- Now this is the hard part. You may find that you need to try this a few times as it can be tricky, but don’t despair. While still blending (don’t stop!), slowly – very slowly, little by little – we’re talking drop by drop here – add the rest of the oil. The key words here are very slowly so as not to ‘break’ the allioli.
- Keep blending until it’s all combined. If it does split, start again. You’ll eventually get it! Promise.
5. Patatas bravas with alioli
3 large Maris Piper potatoes (roughly 250–300g), unpeeled
Sunflower or vegetable oil, to deep-fry
A large pinch of fine sea salt
- Cut the unpeeled potatoes into chunks (roughly 2–3cm). Rinse the potatoes in cold water. Drain and pat dry.
- To parcook the potatoes, heat the oil in a deep-fryer to 120°C. Working in batches if necessary, add the potatoes to the hot oil and cook for 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
- When you’re ready to serve, heat the oil in the deep-fryer to 190°C this time. Add the parcooked potatoes and deep-fry for about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper to remove any excess oil, then transfer again into a bowl and toss with a pinch of salt.
- To serve, divide the potatoes between a few serving dishes so that they can be spread along the table. On each pile of potatoes, add 2 tablespoons of allioli or brava sauce (brava sauce recipe can be found in the new book) or a sauce of your choice. Garnish it all with a sprinkle of finely chopped parsley.
Blasta Books #6: Tapas by Anna Cabrera and Vanessa Murphy (€15) is available to buy now (blastabooks.com)