Home Made Tapas

Posted By Stephen

Saturday night! As we weren’t going out, that meant that it was time to cook something “interesting”. Where the exact meaning of “interesting” does of course vary depending on what mood we are in, but generally cooking on a Saturday means that there is more time available to prepare, so the range of what can be achieved without consequently eating at midnight is therefore greater.

As it turned out, most of what we ended up cooking this time round was relatively quick to prepare, but there was a range of it so that meant that it was still “interesting”: a range of small tapas-like dishes, mostly from the Moro cookbook. It did turn out to be something of a game of two halves though; more on that later. So, armed with a glass of Manzanilla, we set about preparing. First up was Chorizo in sherry. Very simple: Fry some chorizo and then splash some Fino (we used Manzanilla as that is what we had) over it. Tasty and chorizoey as it should be, with a light tang from the sherry but that mostly gets lost in the paprika-flavoured chorizo oil.

Next was clams in Manzanilla (we stuck to the recipe properly here, which was the reason we had Manzanilla at hand). Again, very quick but not quite as dead simple as the chorizo: Fry some thinly sliced garlic in olive oil. When it starts to brown, add the clams, manzanilla and some chopped parsley. After a few minutes, when the clams have opened, add some more chopped parsley and some black pepper and serve with a lemon wedge to squeeze over the clams if the fancy takes you. We ate them with some bread made from left-over pizza dough from last night, which was great to soak up the clam-and-Manzanilla-and-parsley sauce. The clams themselves were very good too; this was our favourite dish of the evening, which was good because at the last minute we had realised that we didn’t have any clams and had made a special trip to buy some.

We had had a bag of Padron peppers in the fridge for a while and this seemed like a perfect opportunity to use them up. Tossed in oil and salt, then fried until starting to blister, they came out looking good. But didn’t taste good as they were too old and some were going brown inside; clearly been in the fridge for too long. So we didn’t eat them, which was a shame as we had been planning to serve pork skewers on top of them. Remember I said this was a meal of two halves? This was the beginning of the not-so-good half.

Griddled chicory served with jamon and a sherry vinegar and thyme dressing sounded like a good combination and it mostly worked well: the bitter crunch of the chicory complemented the soft, salty jamon and the sweet and sour dressing. Kerri wasn’t a fan of the dressing though, finding it too sweet and cloying.

Finally onto the Moorish skewers, which were initially due to be served on top of the Padron peppers in the way that we had had lamb chops served on Padron peppers in a tapas restaurant. Seeing the recipe in the book, they looked familiar but we couldn’t remember if we had actualy cooked them before or not. Turned out that we had, and the reason that we couldn’t remember very well was that it was three years ago! This was the only part of the meal that required advance preparation – grinding up spices and marinating the meat in them for two hours before cooking – recipe for this at the end of the post.

Our original intention had been to barbecue these because the weather forecast had looked really good, but when the actual weather arrived it clearly hadn’t read the forecast because it wasn’t as good as we had hoped for. So we did these under the grill in our oven. The grill in our oven is really rubbish, It heats up and then turns itself off for a while and then heats up again. When I grill something I want constant, blasting heat, as if it was on a barbecue. Not some sort of thermostat-controlled namby pamby grill that means that by the time you have any sort of char on the outside of your meat you have completely overcooked it and dried it out. In fact we had to put the skewers in a frying pan eventually to try to get some char on them.

The spicy marinade gave the pork a lovely flavour, but they were dried out as you probably gathered from my rant. We made a comment on that previous post about using less saffron next time. We hadn’t read it, but ended up using less saffron purely because we didn’t have much left. Which worked out well.

1 pork fillet of 500g, trimmed of fat and sinew
sea salt and black pepper

1/2 heaped teaspoon each of coriander seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds, all roughly ground
1 teaspoon sweet smoked Spanish paprika
2 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste with salt
a good pinch saffron (about 60 strands) infuxed in 2 tablespoons of boiling water (we used less than half of this this time round)
1/2 small bunch fresh oregano roughly chopped or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf, prefereably fresh, crumbled or chopped very finely
1 dessertspoon red wine vinegar
1 dessertspoon olive oil

Cut the pork fillet in half lengthways and then into 3cm cubes. Flatten these cubes slightly. (We didn’t cut it in half and just sliced it into thinnish round slices, didn’t need to flatten them) Place the pork in a large mixing bowl and add the marinade dry spices, garlic, saffron-infused water, oregano, bay and vinegar and mix thoroughly. Then add the olive oil, toss again and leave in the fridge for 2 hours so the flavours or the marinade get into the meat.

Thread onto skewers (remember to soak them beforehand if you are using wooden ones) and cook over high heat, on a barbecue or griddle pan or under a decent grill (not like ours). Enjoy!

Oct 10th, 2010

6 Comments to 'Home Made Tapas'

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  1. Clams in Manzanilla — yummo! This would be something I am so scared of trying to cook myself, but you have made it sound so easy and tasty, thank you.
    .-= Domestic Goddess´s last blog ..Enter The Typical Male =-.

  2. Kerri said,

    Thanks, DG. I didn’t cook this, Stephen did but it looked very straightforward. I used to be wary of cooking fish, it’s so hard to get it cooked through but not overdone, but I find shellfish much easier. Once the shells are open, they’re done!

  3. Becky said,

    Mmm Tapas next weekend for sure this looks gorgeous.
    .-= Becky´s last blog ..Cévennes Pork – Kale &amp Chestnut Stew =-.

  4. Lizzie said,

    Excellent effort with so many dishes – i particularly love the sound of the clams.
    .-= Lizzie´s last blog ..LEscala- Spain =-.

  5. Antonia said,

    All looks lovely – even the peppers (what a shame!). I love tapas but have never really made dishes like these at home. Did you cook and eat them one by one or cook them all and keep them warm whilst you did the others? (or is that a strange question?!)
    .-= Antonia´s last blog ..Oriental steamed seabass =-.

  6. Kerri said,

    Thanks, Becky and Lizzie.

    I was so disappointed about the peppers, Antonia 🙁 They’re one of my favourites and so difficult to find.

    Not a strange question! We cooked and ate in two sittings I think, I guess we could have kept dishes warm but I quite like eating that way.

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