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Potato Omelete (Spanish)

21 Sep
Tortilla de Patatas or Potato Omelete, spelled omelette in France, is simple uncluttered food that is so easy to make once you get the heat and timing right. This is one of my favourite lunches or snacks and is sold in almost every Tapas bar in Spain, often cut into small squares to accompany drinks.
Serves Cook 15-25min
  • 3 Potatoes, thinly sliced (raw) or parboiled into thicker slices.
  • 1 Onion, thinly sliced into half rings (optional)
  • 4-6 Eggs, beaten
  • crushed rock sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • perhaps some fresh herbs for variation if you have them handy
There are three ways of making a traditional Spanish Omelette. All three require a good frying pan that will not stick and has a tight fitting lid.

  1. Fry onions in olive oil then take the onions out of the pan and set aside. In the same pan add a little more olive oil and fry the sliced raw potatoes over a very low heat (10 minutes) until almost cooked. Remove from heat stir in the eggs and cooked onions, season and cook over a very low heat with a tight fitting lid for 10-15 mins until set and without letting the bottom burn.
  2. Fry onions in olive oil add parboiled potatoes stir to coat in oil. Remove from heat, stir in the eggs making sure all the potato pieces are coated in egg pushing any protruding pieces of potato down under the egg, season and cook over a very low heat with a tight fitting lid for 10-15 mins until set.
  3. Fry the peeled and roughly sliced potatoes, with a little onion if using, in lots of olive oil covered to stew in the oil and steam. When cooked removed from the heat and stir into a bowl of beaten eggs. Season and return the mixture to the pan that has been cleaned and oiled or seasoned with lard. Cook gently until the egg sets.
Serve as a light lunch with salad or as canapés cut into bite size squares.
Cooks TIP if you have trouble getting the egg to set without burning the bottom finish off under a grill or turn the tortilla using a plate.

Green Lentil Salad

20 Nov

This tart and surprisingly juicy salad of mediteranean green lentils is dressed with a sour-sweet pomegranate molasses and aromatic cumin. This dish can be served as a side or as part of a mezze or tapas of small dishes.

Prep 10min Cook 30min Serves 4

  • 250g green lentils 
  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin freshly roasted and crushed
  • handful chopped parsley or coriander
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • Juice of half a lemon

Wash the lentils and boil in a large pan of water for 20-30minutes until the lentils are just soft but completely intact, drain and set aside. Meanwhile fry the onion in olive oil until translucent, add garlic and cumin and when the aroma rises add the drained lentils and stir to coat. Take off the heat stir in the pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, and chopped parsley. Season with a touch of salt and pepper and serve.

Cook’s Tip Pomegranate Molasses can be found in middle eastern shops and good food stores. It is also very easy to make and we are lucky enough to have a mature sour Pomegranate bush and make our own in November when the fruit is ripe.
Recipe Source This recipe was inspired by a plate of vegetarian tapas, I had at Tate Modern London a few years ago, the lentil dish stood out and I wanted to make something similar and this was about right for me.

Chorizo & White Bean Stew

18 Nov

This is Rachel’s dads’ favourite dish, the one he cooks for himself when he is left to his own devices in the kitchen and I can understand why, it is so easy and so delicious. He usually makes it with a jar of white beans, cooking chorizo and tomato passata. It is a Spanish store cupboard classic, great for camping or cooking on the hoof.

Serves 2-4 (as a starter or main)

  • 4 cooking chorizo
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Large jar white beans or freshly boiled butter beans 
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 250g passata (home made tomato puree) 
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley

Slice the sausages and fry in a good slug of fruity olive oil until starting to crisp around the edges, add the garlic and when the aroma rises add the paprika, tomato paste and cooked white beans. Cook for 10 minutes more until the sauce is all glossy and the flavours have infused. Sprinkle with bright green chopped parsley and serve in individual bowls to be mopped up with bread, or as one of a number of Tapas dishes.
Variation An equally good variation is to use potatoes instead of white beans to make another great Spanish dish add a few green peppers and cook until the potatoes are done.

Quince Cheese (Membrillo)

1 Oct

It is October, the quince trees are laden and it is time to make Membrillo, the famous Spanish sweet meat. A thick paste of sieved quince and sugar boiled down, poured into moulds and set in blocks. A favourite treat for winter pantry, delicious served with cheese such as Manchego and cured hams.

Makes about 1.5Kg (4lb)
*1Kg (2lb) ripe quinces
*juice of half a lemon
*a little water
*600-800g sugar (approx)

Wash and chop the quinces.  Place in a large pan with the lemon juice and just enough water to cover the fruit, simmer uncovered until the fruit is very soft. Push the quince through a metal sieve or vegetable mouli to get a smooth pulp. Weigh the pulp and put it back into a clean pan with the sugar. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and cook gently until the paste is thick. You will need to keep a constant eye on it and stir regularly to prevent catching on the bottom. The paste is ready to pour into moulds when it is thick. My test for being ready, for all cheeses, is when a spoon is drawn through the mixture and it takes a few seconds for the paste to fall back into the cleared line of the spoon – a parting of the seas moment you could say. Pour into lightly oiled moulds that are still warm from being sterilized, cover the top lightly with a piece of grease proof paper, and leave overnight to set. Once set wrap or cover tightly with a lid or cling film/tin foil. You are supposed to store membrillo for 3 months before using but I have never found this necessary. Turn the cheese out and serve in slices with sweet or savoury dishes. Membrillo will keep 2 years or more in the fridge in a covered container.

Note most membrillo recipes call for an equal weight of sugar to fruit pulp but I find that too sweet and prefer to add less sugar. At a ratio of 60% sugar non of the preserving qualities are lost.
Variation for a more pronounced citrus flavour simmer the quince with lemon or orange peel before sieving.
TIP Quince are very dense so I use a food processor to whizz them into small pieces because it saves on cooking time.

Originally posted onmas du diable  31/10/2007

Tuna, Pepper & Potato Stew

1 Oct

Rachel is half Spanish Basque, so every now and again I like to cook a dish from her heritage, and this is one of her favourites. In Spain this Basque dish is called Marmitako, and was traditionally made by bonito fishermen while at sea. The ingredients and the method of cooking are simple; potatoes, peppers and tuna fish stewed in olive oil. Something that can be knocked up on a galley stove, but the result is truly spectacular. It is deliciously rich and oily and a superb dish to keep out the cold.
Serves 2 Prep 10mins Cooking 40mins.

  • 400g tuna fish, de-boned, skined and cut into chunks
  • 150ml Olive Oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 green peppers de-seeded and chopped
  • 500g waxy potatoes peeled and quartered lengthwise
  • salt to taste if necessary
  • 3 tblsp home made Red Pepper Paste
  • 1 tsp Spanish smoked paprika

Heat a large cast iron pan, add the oil, onions and peppers and sautee over a low heat until they start to soften. Cut the potatoes into long quaters to make more of a virtue of them, they cook more slowly and somehow have a better taste than if cut into small pieces. Add the potatoes fry gently for a few minutes then add the pepper paste, paprika and enough water to cover and cook for 30mins. In another skillet fry the tuna pieces in a little olive oil until sealed and starting to brown. Transfer to the potato and pepper stew and cook for a further 1Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the bonito and cook for 10 minutes more. Check the seasoning and leave to rest for a few minutes before serving.

Recipe Source: This recipe came from The Heritage of Spanish Cooking – Alicia Rios and Lourdes March. The original recipe calls for 2 dried red peppers, soaked for 12 hours and then pureed and a much greater ratio of fish, twice the amount of fish to potato. But as we are land lubbers and tuna is expensive I have used more potato. I have also used pepper paste and paprika instead of dried peppers, long green medium chillis instead of sweet green peppers, which makes it spicier, but otherwise the dish remains true to its simple origins.

Cook’s Tip Dried red peppers can be difficult to come by which is one reason i use pepper paste instead. I make my own but you can make a quick verison of pepper paste by mashing up a jar of preserved red peppers and adding some chilli or paprika powder to taste

Cherry Chillies Baked

23 Sep

Cherry chilli’s are small round chillis with thick flesh and varying degrees of heat. Some can be mild, though I’ve yet to find those, and some very hot like the ones I grow, an Italian variety called Ciliegia Piccante or Satan’s Kiss. The hot chillis loose some of their heat when cooked and so can be made milder by first boiling them once or twice before baking.

Cut the tops out of the chillis and remove the seeds. Toss the hollowed chillis into a pan of boiling water and boil for 3 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and leave to drain. Once the chillis are cool enough to handle, at this point you could remove the skins if they are tough I don’t bother its too fiddly, stuff each chilli and lay on a baking tray bottom side down. Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake in a moderate oven for 30 -40 minutes or until the chilli flesh is soft but not falling apart.

I was experimenting with stuffing the chillis to see what makes a nice combination and so far tuna and halloumi have been pretty good but you could try anything; rice, meat, pulses whatever takes your fancy.
  • Tuna – For the stuffing paste I ground up tinned tuna, anchovies, capers, garlic, onion and a little mustard.
  • Halloumi – For the stuffing I simply stuffed them with chopped halloumi cheese, you could any cheese that cooks well. 

Roast Pepper Salad

23 Sep

There are many roasted pepper salads to be found all around the Mediterranean region; long sweet green or red peppers are roasted and skinned and served with a simple dressing.
To prepare the peppers
Preheat the oven to 240c (gas 9). Wash the peppers and lay whole in a large baking tray and place high in the oven. Roast the peppers for 30-40 minutes until the skins start to brown and blister. Better still is roast them over a charcoal flame until the skins are blackened. Put the peppers in a polythene bag or cover the tray and leave for 15 minutes to loosen the skins. While still warm peel the peppers, remove the seeds and cut off the stems but make sure to keep all the pepper juices. At this point the peppers can be stuffed into a sterilised jar, pour in the juices and top up with olive oil to form a seal from the air, cap and store. The peppers are ready to eat simply slice into long strips or squares, dress and serve.

Cook’s Tip
Roasted peppers make a great preserve, once prepared, simply pack into sterilised bottles with their juices and cover with oil. They will keep in a cool dark place for years. Serve as an appetiser or tapas, add to a salad composé or serve with pasta for a quick lunch.
Dressing Variations:
  1. Basic Spanish Dressing: a simple dressing of crushed garlic and olive oil
  2. Garlic & Parsley as basic Spanish Dressing but with parsley
  3. Preserved lemon dressing: as basic dressing plus sliced preserved lemon skin
  4. Lemon & Parsley Dressing: salt & pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, chopped garlic and parsley.
  5. Salt Fish: in Spanish tapas bars roast preserved peppers are often served with flakes of salt cod.

Corn Chips

23 Aug

Corn chips are a wonderful snack food, little crisp triangles of ground corn. I remember making them as a student in Glasgow; corn chips and a hot chilli sauce were our flat’s party piece but I hadn’t made them for at least 20 years. I recently bought a packet of corn or tortilla chips in our local supermarket and was so disgusted by the list of crap they contained I just had to start making them again myself to go with all the Tomato Chilli Salsa I’ve bottled. If you make them yourself they are a healthy snack and simple to make.

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp of oil (corn, grape seed or sunflower)
  • pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup boiling water

Fill a cup with cornmeal and pour into a mixing bowl. Using the same cup fill, to just under 3/4 with hot water add the oil and salt stir and stir into the cornmeal. Work the mixture well, with a metal spoon, until it is well mixed. Leave to rest for 10 – 15 minutes or so, while the oven is heating. You should have a soft pliable dough that comes away clean from the bowl. Dump the ball of dough onto a sheet of aluminium foil, roughly press out with your fingers, then put another layer of foil over the top and roll out. The tin foil stops the paste from sticking and allows the paste to be rolled out thinly without breaking. If the ball is two large divide in two and roll out in two batches. Peel the top layer of foil away and score the dough into biscuit sizes then lift the sheet and place on a baking tray. Bake in a hot oven for 15-20 minutes until the chips are crisp and golden.

Cook’s Tip
The measurements here are in cups. Just a teacup, it doesn’t matter what size the cup is as the ratio that matters. Here in France I’ve used the kind of cornmeal normally used for making polenta, semoule moyenne, or medium ground.

Tomato & Chilli Salsa (Mexican)

23 Aug

This is the salsa I make with our summer bounty of peppers, chillis, onion and tomatoes. It is a cooked salsa, bottled and heat processed, so it has a long shelf-life right through the winter.

A rich red tomato, chilli and onion relish perfect with home made corn chips or as a base for many Mexican dishes. I wanted to make this salsa for preserving so my starting point was the encyclopedic book on preserving Putting Food By 4th edition from which I took the basic ingredients and method.

Makes about 4 x 300g jars

  • 1 kilo of tomatoes
  • 4 hot onions
  • 10-20 green & red fleshy hot chillis peppers (preferably Jalapeno)
  • 1 large sweet green pepper
  • 1 large sweet red pepper
  • 1 tbsp ground mulatto chilli pepper (optional)
  • 50ml cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1-2 tsp salt

Peel the onions and core and seed the chillis and peppers. Throw them into a food processor and grind to a fine chop. Peel the tomatoes and throw those in give the mix another quick wizz to pulp the tomatoes. Tip the whole lot into a large pan, add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 20-40 minutes or until the salsa turners a dark red and has a rich thick consistency. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Heat process for 15 minutes. See How to Make Passata for instructions on how to heat process in a hot water bath.

Cook’s Note Be careful with the chillis, if they are very hot use only a small number but if they are mild use 20 or more. Also the quantity of vinegar, sugar and salt required will vary depending on the variety of tomatoes used. If I’ve used beefsteak tomatoes like cuostralle, which are low in acidity I add the vinegar you may not need to just taste the sauce and adjust to taste.

Pan con Tomate

27 Jul

This celebration of fresh tasty tomatoes is one of my favourite snacks. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is Spanish Tapas at its best, transforming simple ingredients into gorgeous morsels that sing on the tastebuds. This tapa is best known in Catalonia, where it is called Pa amb tomàquet.

For the instant method simply dry or toast bread, rub with a clove of garlic, then rub with a tomato cut in half, drizzle with olive oil and lastly a sprinkling of salt.

In many Catalan restaurants, the tomato mixture is pre-made and is brushed onto the bread and may also include a dash of fresh parsley, if you are making a lot this method is easier. Simple chop tomatoes, add crushed or chopped garlic, season with salt and pepper, some chopped parsley and a generous slosh of your best olive oil. Give it a good stir and spoon onto the bread.

NB I’ve used a black tomato called Noir de Crimee which has bags of flavour and a slightly strange brown colour but any juicy tasty tomato is good for this dish.

This recipe was originally posted on on 27/7/2007.