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Nov 19, 2017

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Goin’ Tapas
by Laura Holmes
Magazine Issue: U.S. Vol. 5.1

spanish treats that will heat things up

If you're like me, you've had it with fusion food. I could live a very happy life without ever seeing a piece of lemongrass or seared ahi tuna again. Ever. Luckily, restaurant owners seem to agree.

A plethora of Spanish-inspired restaurants has opened recently, bringing tapas - hot and cold Spanish appetizers - to the forefront of the culinary scene.

The story behind the word tapas reveals its anything-goes attitude: it comes from the Spanish word tapar, which means to cover. Tapas were originally free snacks for bar patrons; the plates covered wine glasses to keep the flies out. Now that the insect problem has been remedied, we can focus on the food. Tapas are still served with a glass of something, and are still made up of many different ingredients. Traditional tapas focus on meat and seafood dishes, but vegetables - especially potatoes - play a major role in these bar snacks.

The great thing about tapas is that you can prepare a slew, invite some friends over and call it a party. Or you can make one type of tapa and call it dinner. Your choice.

The main thing to remember about tapas is that you must use the freshest ingredients (i.e., no substituting Cheez Whiz for Spanish Manchego cheese). Make the extra trip to the store. Trust me. It's worth it.

One last tip: Spaniards like bold flavors - from their cheeses to olives to anchovies. The boldest flavor of all - garlic - plays a major role in most dishes. So be warned. Also, because Spain's known for its olive oil, everything's cooked in it.

Bev wise, you can either go the traditional Spanish route and serve sherry, or the Americana way, serving Sangria (the red wine/orange juice concoction). Another option's a red or white Rioja, the most common wine of Spain (although a merlot or zin would go just as well). When all else fails, grab some cervezas and start chowing.

(Patatas Alioli)

A standard in tapas bars in Spain; if you're really feeling crazy, make your own mayo.

1 lb. new potatoes (red or white)
1/2 bag frozen peas (or 1 cup fresh)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 cloves roasted garlic
Salt and pepper

Place potatoes in a large pot of cold, salted water. Bring to a boil and then simmer until tender - about 15 minutes. (Stick 'em with a fork to make sure they're done.) Drain and cut into large chunks. Set aside. Meanwhile, cook peas in boiling water for one minute. Drain and place in a large bowl. Grab three cloves roasted garlic (left over from the pepper-garlic dish), mash with a fork and stick in the bowl with the peas. Add potatoes, mayonnaise and salt and pepper, and mix well. Voila - Spanish potato salad.


Sure, you could buy these at the store, but the pride is in the work...blah blah blah. Make these if you have a spare 30 minutes. They're damn good; just don't kiss anyone afterward.

10 green olives (large)
5 anchovy filets

Cut anchovy fillets in half. Roll each and stuff inside the olives. (Sounds easy, but getting those puppies in there is a bit time-consuming.)


Cooking 101: anyone can roast peppers and garlic. And this is the one dish you can leave in your 'fridge for a week - on purpose.

6 red bell peppers
5 cloves roasted garlic
1 T olive oil
Salt and pepper

Roast peppers in saucepan over a gas flame (or roast in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven) until they turn black. Wrap a head of garlic in foil and pop it in the oven at the same time. It should take about 45 minutes to roast. Let cool for a few minutes. Peel off pepper skins and slice flesh into strips lengthwise, removing seeds and white part in the middle. Remove garlic from its skins. Mix peppers and five cloves of garlic in a large bowl, add olive oil and season to taste. Serve with little toasts or fresh bread.


A classic tapa, this one's really just a baked omelet. But it sounds fancy.

1 large onion, cut in large dice
6 T olive oil
1 lb. red potatoes (or Yukon Golds), sliced in 1/4" pieces
6 large eggs
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Cook onions until soft, about 15 minutes. Set aside. Heat two tablespoons olive oil in the pan, and cook potatoes until golden brown, about eight minutes. Don't worry if they stick together. Mix together cooked onions, eggs, salt and pepper. Turn heat to high, heating remaining two tablespoons olive oil. Add egg mixture and lower heat. Add potatoes, and cook eggs two to three minutes, until bottom is set. Make sure omelet isn't sticking to pan. After three minutes, shake omelet loose and flip over. Cook two more minutes. Flip onto a plate and cut into wedges.


Chorizo is a type of Spanish sausage, and let me tell you, it's nothing like Jimmy Dean. Go to the fancy grocer in town and buy chorizo and frozen puff pastry. You'll feel like a chef, I'm telling you. And your carnivore friends will love you.

1/2 lb. chorizo
1 package frozen puff pastry
1 egg, beaten (to brush top of pastry)
Salt and pepper

Season chorizo with salt and pepper, and brown it for about five minutes in a medium saucepan. Don't cook it thoroughly - just enough to lose the redness. Meanwhile, defrost pastry according to package directions. Roll out pastry and cut into two-inch squares. Place about one tablespoon of chorizo in each square, and roll into a sausage shape. Place squares on ungreased cookie sheet, brushing tops with egg. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit five to six minutes, or until puffs are golden brown. Eat immediately.

(Gambas Al Ajillo)

Say it with me: frozen shrimp. Sure, fresh shrimp are ideal, but I know how lazy you are. So buy the frozen ones and go crazy. But for God's sake, use fresh garlic.

Large shrimp (about 20), thawed if frozen
7 cloves garlic, chopped
2 T olive oil
Salt and pepper

Thaw shrimp under cold running water or in 'fridge. Heat oil in a saucepan and saute garlic for a minute or two on medium heat, but don't let it brown. (Brown garlic = bitter food.) Add shrimp and cook two to three minutes, only until shrimp turn pink. Season to taste and serve. (You can eat them all at this point, or stick 'em in the 'fridge and eat later.)

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