Gardening Magazine

Tapas

By Mwillis
All my regular readers know that I am very fond of food, and of cooking! Inspired by our recent trip to Seville, I made an array of tapas-style dishes for our dinner on Saturday. They turned out well, so I have decided to show them off...
This is where the evening begins - aperitifs, accompanied by a selection of olives. My drink is a fino sherry, Jane's is a Whisky Mac (whisky with Green Ginger wine).
Tapas
The tapas concept lends itself to the use of a multitude of small plates, so I took the opportunity to use some of our extensive collection of little dishes from around the world for this meal. In the photo above you see two which we bought last year in Tavira, Portugal. [Tavira is geographically quite close to Seville...]
The first "tapa" I dished-up is also inspired by our holiday in Portugal, though I'm sure it is ubiquitous in the Mediterranean area - a sort of bruschetta, with a piece of sourdough toast topped with chopped tomato and avocado, sprinkled with dried Oregano and drizzled with olive oil and a splash of sweet/sharp pomegranate molasses. Jane wasn't keen to have the pomegranate molasses, so I used Sweet Freedom agave syrup to add the sweetness on hers.
Tapas
Well, that was a nice easy one to start with; now for something more complex. These are my (experimental) version of "Croquetas" (croquettes).
Tapas
Everywhere we ate in Seville served croquetas! The authentic version is made with a stiff béchamel, but mine are potato-based. I boiled and mashed some potatoes, added some grated Parmesan cheese and left them in the fridge to firm up. Later on I incorporated Spring Onion, fresh Thyme and some reconstituted dried Winter Chanterelle mushrooms (foraged by me last Autumn). I formed the mix into a number of small oblong (croquette?) shapes and put them back in the fridge to chill. Just before cooking I coated them in flour, egg and breadcrumbs and then shallow fried them in sunflower oil, turning several times to achieve an even color. I served them with a Sweet Chilli dipping sauce - probably very un-Spanish, but very yummy all the same.
Time for some meat now. This dish is slow-cooked Lamb, served with flatbreads (home-made of course).
Tapas
After browning all over in a searing-hot pan, the Lamb is cooked for about 3 hours in a covered Pyrex casserole, at low temperature, submerged in olive oil along with some sprigs of fresh Rosemary and a couple of cloves of crushed garlic. It comes out really falling-apart tender - and tasty too.
Back to the vegetables again now. The next course was a Carrot Hummus with miniature cucumbers and more flatbreads.
Tapas
The Carrot Hummus is very easy to make. You put some peeled carrots in a roasting-pan, along with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and loads of fragrant spices (I used seeds of Fennel, Caraway, Cumin and Coriander), and roast them for about 45 minutes until tender. Then you zuzz them up in a food-processor, adding a bit more oil if necessary to achieve the desired texture. A beautifully tasty alternative to the usual chickpea version.
My fifth and final offering was actually my personal favorite. It is "Lomo de Cerdo" (Loin of Pork).
Tapas
It doesn't look very ambitious, but I assure you it was fantastic! The meat is some slices of pork tenderloin, cut fairly thin. It was marinated in Oregano-flavoured olive oil (left over from a jar of olives!), with an added dash of Piri-Piri (hot chilli) condiment - again from Portugal, not Spain! I flash-fried it in a very hot dry pan. In retrospect, I think I'll nab this one as a recipe for some other time, but do it in larger scale - perhaps served with some more croquetas, which were Jane's favorite.
This was a really fun meal to cook, and very different to the typical British "meat and three veg" type of meal. The tapas concept is very flexible: you can have as much or as little as you want, and you can have loads of different things all in one meal without having to limit your options!

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