This cold version of stuffed piquillos makes an ideal tapa or salad. It requires no cooking and can be prepared in advance, if refrigerated until serving. Resting in a plastic snap-top container, the peppers transport easily.
Place the artichoke hearts in a colander, drain them completely and then chop. Halve the tomato; shake out the seeds, and dice, reserving only the firm flesh. It is important that there be no excess moisture in the stuffing mix. Combine the artichokes and the tomato with the Alioli (below).
Drain the piquillo peppers, then holding them point down in the circle formed with your thumb and forefinger, use a small spoon to fill them with the stuffing mixture. Makes 18 tapas.
In Catalonia this garlic version of mayonnaise is made from olive oil and purple-skinned garlic but without eggs. Elsewhere in Spain, eggs are included. Alioli adds healthy, rich flavor wherever you might have been tempted to use a dab of mayonnaise.
Mash up some chopped garlic, adding a little Spanish extra virgin olive oil until a rich paste is formed, then stir in commercial mayonnaise. How much garlic you use is a judgment call.
Grilled meat is an essential element of Spanish cuisine and one of the reasons traditionally structured Spanish wines such as Riojas are slightly acidic. This style of wine, in contrast to fruit-forward more syrupy wines, cleanses the palate of fats from the meat and refreshes the taste buds.
Oh, gosh, this version of French fries is so Spanish. We ate it standing at the bar in Casa Bigote. The man standing at the bar next to us was eating this dish. We asked the waiter what it was and before we knew it, we were eating one also. We had no intention of eating it all, just tasting it, but we licked the plate clean.
A heaping mound of thin-cut french fries cooked in olive oil and salted.
Heat oil in an 8-inch cazuela until it hazes, and then add garlic slices and brown. Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon when it is golden and reserve. Stir in the jamón and add the fish fillets. When the fish is browned on one side, flip and brown the other side.
Pile the fries on a plate and top with the fish and jamon. Return the garlic to pan with sherry and deglaze. Pour over the fish and dust with sea salt.
Accompany with a glass of fresh Manzanilla sherry chilled icy cold.
In this recipe, pork tenderloin is dry rubbed with pincho seasoning, then braised in an open cazuela. The liquid keeps the meat moist while it absorbs flavor from the smoke. Pork tenderloin is one of the ways you can reward yourself after a hard day’s work. For a tapa, the slices can be made into mini-sandwiches.
The day before, place each tenderloin on a sheet of plastic wrap and dust with pincho seasoning, turning to ensure complete coverage. Wrap tightly and refrigerate overnight.
When barbeque coals are hot, sear tenderloins on all sides on the grill. When browned, put in a cazuela with the oil and turn to coat. Add the wine and close the cover on barbeque. Cook 20-30 minutes until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F, turning every 10 minutes to ensure even cooking. Remove from cazuela and let cool slightly before slicing. Leave the cazuela on the grill, allowing the cooking liquid to reduce by 1/2 to form a sauce. Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice over the cut meat and serve with pan juices.
I keep a cup or two of simple sugar syrup on hand to make sorbet on the spur of the moment. Dissove one part sugar in one part water, bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes, then chill. Wash whatever ripe fruit you are using, chop it up and run it through a food mill to produce a seedless, uniform pulp. Chill the pulp and combine it with the syrup. This recipe works with any fruit but if you use a milder-tasting fruit, such as a ripe melon, reduce the saffron syrup accordingly. In Spain, frozen fruit syrups are often served in a frozen hollowed-out half of an orange or lemon.
Combine and chill first three ingredients and then freeze in an ice cream maker or in a pan in the freezer of your refrigerator, scraping the syrup several times with an olive wood spatula as it freezes. This keeps it from forming a solid block, the spatual substituting for the paddles in an ice cream maker. Top with nuts when serving. Serves 4.
A simple sugar syrup flavored with saffron quickly lends the flavor of Spain to many dishes.
Stir the sugar and water together in a medium saucepan, bringing to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. The bubbles should just break the surface. Remove from heat. Using a small mortar, grind the saffron to powder. Add to the syrup, stirring until evenly distributed and the syrup takes on a lovely orange hue.
Manzanilla sherry is only made in Sanlúcar de Barrameda where the breezes stir the air in the bodegas enough to keep the flora alive year-round. The bodegas are huge, filled with old barrels and with dirt floors that are sprinkled with water in the afternoons to keep the humidity high. Eventually, sherry barrels find their way to Scotland where they are used to age Scotch, which takes on some of the subtle aromas of the wines absorbed over the years by the oak wood.
From Steve Winston, The Spanish Table: Traditional Recipes and Wine Pairings from Spain and Portugal. Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 2009.