A few weeks ago I was in Home Bargains when I saw a selection of tapas plates for a mere £7.99 and obviously I couldn’t resist buying them. I have never cooked tapas before but I adore it and thought that the plates would be the inspiration I needed to try. I have been quite slack lately with cooking new and interesting dishes – it’s a bit of a first world problem but because we now live on the water front and have been working quite a lot, we have been spending our evenings in the pub rather than cooking nice food. This is a lovely way to live, if you don’t put on weight just looking at a chip like me!I had the day off last Monday so thought it would be the perfect time to experiment with different flavours and try to recreate some of the amazing dishes we had in Barcelona (which was simply the best tapas of my life). Before I started cooking, I didn’t realise how much of a faff homemade tapas could be! I imagine working in a tapas restaurant, you would need plenty of chefs alongside you to bring all the elements together in a reasonable space of time. Luckily, I love to cook so it wasn’t that much of a chore for me, but I wouldn’t recommend doing it unless you have plenty of time for yourself, and for a special occasion. I did it as I wanted to do something nice for my boyfriend who was been wonderful to me and also, I knew it would inspire me to write something for my blog!I made five dishes, none of them particularly complicated, but tapas is all about flavour and I wanted to wow my boyfriend with the dishes and flavour combinations I used. I chose to do Patatas Bravas, Cod, olive and sweet pepper fritters, tempura squid with alioli, chicken breasts marinated in lime and chili, with a chestnut mushroom, sherry and paprika sauce and slow cooked chorizo in red wine, honey and mustard. I will go through each dish individually including ingredients, prep time and cooking time.Patatas BravasPrep time: 10 minutes.Cooking time: 45 minutes.Ingredients:
- 300g charlotte potatoes quartered.
- 1 medium brown onion finely chopped.
- 2 cloves of garlic crushed.
- 50g cherry tomatoes chopped.
- Half courgette diced.
- 1 red pepper diced.
- Handful chestnut mushrooms finely chopped.
- 1 tsp dried mixed herbs.
- 2 fresh chillis finely chopped.
- Tin of chopped tomatoes.
- 100ml red wine.
- 2 tbsp tomato puree.
- Salt and pepper.
- Add the potatoes to a large saucepan and boil them until soft. Set aside.
- In a large pan, heat up some oil and add the onion, garlic and chilli. Cook for 10 minutes on a medium heat or until they begin to soften.
- Add the pepper and courgette to the mix and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Season the vegetables and add the mushrooms and cherry tomatoes.
- Add the red wine and cook on a high heat until it has reduced by 3/4.
- In the meantime, place some oil in a roasting tin and add the cooked potatoes. Cook for 25 minutes, or until crispy.
- Add the tomato puree and chopped tomatoes. Cook on a low heat for 25 minutes.
- To serve, add the potatoes to a large bowl and generously pour the sauce over.
Cod, olive and sweet pepper fritters.Prep time: 15 minutes.Cooking time: 30 minutes.Ingredients:
- 1 sweet red pepper diced.
- 100g mixed pitted olives.
- 200g poached cod fillets.
- 200g white potatoes mashed.
- 1 tsp lazy chilli.
- Tempura batter (200g plain flour/ 200ml sparkling water).
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees, place the red peppers in some olive oil, salt and pepper and some dried mixed herbs. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
- While the peppers are cooking, cook the potatoes until they are soft enough to mash and poach the cod fillets in water for around 10 minutes and set aside to cool.
- When the cod and peppers have cooled, add them to a large bowl, along with the potatoes, olives and lazy chilli.
- Mix together and form into fritters. Place in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes. Allowing them to cool means they keep their shape and are less likely to fall apart when cooking.
- I used a mini deep fat fryer to cook mine, but you can always fill a large saucepan with oil, but don’t allow the oil to get above 180 degrees as the batter will just burn. As the batter uses sparkling water, you don’t want to make it until the last minute.
- When the oil is up to temperature, coat the fritters in plain flour and then coat in the batter. Cook for five minutes.
Slow cooked chorizo in red wine, honey and mustard.Cooking time: 3 hours 10 minutes.Ingredients:
- 12 pieces of cooking chorizo.
- 750ml bottle red wine (it doesn’t need to be an expensive bottle).
- 100 g honey.
- 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard.
- This was the easiest dish to cook, and my favourite one! We first tried these in Barcelona and attempted them once when we came back but didn’t cook the chorizo for long enough. To start, seal the chorizo for one minute each side, before adding the red wine. Turn the heat right down and cook for 3 hours.
- Just before serving, transfer the chorizo to a frying pan and add the mustard and honey, cooking on a medium heat for 10 minutes until they are ready to serve.
Chicken in a chestnut mushroom and sherry sauce.Prep time: 10 minutes.Cooking time: 35 minutes.Ingredients:
- 1 chicken breast per person.
- 2 limes (you need the zest and juice).
- 1 tbsp lazy chilli.
- 1 tsp smoked paprika.
- 150g chestnut mushrooms diced.
- 1 medium brown onion finely diced.
- 2 cloves of garlic crushed.
- 100ml medium sherry.
- 150 ml single cream.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Score the chicken breast and rub in the lime juice and zest, the chilli and season with salt and pepper. Cover with cling film and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, heat some oil and add the onion and garlic. Cook gently for 10 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms, paprika and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Remove the cling film from the chicken and put it in the oven to cook for 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, add the sherry to the onions and mushrooms and reduce by 3/4.
- Five minutes before serving, add the cream and gently heat it through on low.
- To serve, place the whole chicken breasts in a dish and pour the sauce over the top.
Tempura squid with alioli Prep time: 5 minutesCooking time: 1 minuteIngredients:
- 7 squid rings per person.
- Tempura batter (see cod fritters).
- 3 garlic cloves crushed.
- 100g mayonnaise.
- These are super easy to do and will always be a winner for a tapas night! Cut the squid into rings before coating in flour.
- To make the alioli, just mix the garlic and mayo together. Put in a separate bowl and set aside.
- Just before cooking the squid, coat in the tempura batter and cook for 45-60 seconds. Place the rings in separately if not they will stick together.
That’s it! It took a couple of hours to do it all but it was worth it and it tasted authentic so I would do it again, particularly if I was entertaining!