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Many a visitor returned from Spain with memories of a cuisine which caters primaly for visitors foreigners' tastes.  Perhaps the best way of exploring what Spain has to offer is to visit the bars serving 'tapas'-small tasty morsels of food to be eaten with the fingers, accompanied by a glass of local wine or dry sherry.  These attractive dishes are eaten as snacks, though a gastronomic 'crawl' of a city's tapas bars would provide a substantial and delicious midday meal.

Tapas serve to introduce the abundance of fresh foods used in Spanish dishes-the fish and shellfish, also in rich stew-like soups and in famous Paella;  the vegetables, most delicious in the iced Gazpacho soup so welcome on a hot Spanish day, or folded into the Spanish omelette or Tortilla;  and the eggs, fresh meats, herbs, spices, dried sausages and stews which are all part of a strong, creative and thriving national cuisine.


| Breakfast | Starters | Soup | Vegetables | Sauce | Meat | Poultry | Mixed | Baking |

Mejillones en Salsa Verde
Mussels in green sauce

Serves 4       Preparation and cooking time:  10 minutes
  • 8oz (225g) canned mussels, drained

    The sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1 small green pepper, seeded and very finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons dry sherry

  Mix all the sauce ingredients together, seasoning to taste with salt, pepper and sherry.

  Pat the mussels dry on kitchen paper, then stir them into the sauce.  Transfer to a small serving dish, cover and chill well.

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        Alcachofas en Salsa Verde
Artichoke bottoms in green vinigrette

Serves 4       Preparation and cooking time:  10 minutes
  • 1 can artichoke bottoms, about 6oz (75g) drained weight
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives

    The sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • pinch of rosemary
  • salt and pepper

  Mix all the sauce ingredients together by shaking them in a small clean glass jar with lid.

  Arrange the drained artichoke bottoms on a small serving dish and pour a little of the sauce over each.  Sprinkle with chopped chives, cover and chill until required.

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        Pastéis de Pollo
Chicken croquettes

Makes 10 croquettes       Preparation and chilling:  20 minutes
                                         Cooking time:  10 minutes

  • 2 slices of white bread, crusts removed
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • about 10oz (275g) cooked chichen, finely minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 4-5 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
  • oil for frying

  Crumble the bread into a basin and mix in the egg yolks and milk. Place the chicken, salt and pepper, onion, cream cheese and parsley into the basin and mix everything together with your hands.

  Form into 10 little log shapes, then roll in the breadcrumbs until completley coated.  Chill for at least 30 minutes until firm.

  Heat the oil in a frying pan and quickly fry the croquettes, turning them to brown on all sides.  Drain on kitchen paper and serve piping hot, or cool, chill, and serve cold.

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        Gambas al Ajillo
Prawns (scampi) with garlic

Serves 4       Preparation:  10 minutes    Cooking time:  10 minutes
  • 8 scampi or large prawns, thawed if necessary
  • 7fl (200ml) olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed with a little salt

    The sauce:
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 tablespoons fine fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • pinch dried thyme or small sprig of fresh thyme, chopped
  • a few drops of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

  To make the sauce, blend together the egg yolks, garlic and breadcrumbs, then gradually whisk in 3 tablespoons oil, a little at a time, until smooth.  Stir in the herbs, then add lemon juice, salt and pepper.

  Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and gently sauté the garlic until golden. Remove garlic shreds from the pan with a slotted spoon, allowing the garlicky oil to run back into the pan.

  Pat the scampi or prawns dry on a kitchen paper, and fry them quickly in the hot oil (about 30 seconds each side).  Remove from the pan and drain.

  Serve them hot, with the cold sauce in a seperate bowl, or serve them cold with sauce.

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        Albondiguillas con Jamón
Meatballs with ham

Makes 15-20       Preparation and chilling:  about 40-45 minutes
                            Cooking time:  15-20 minutes

  • 12oz (350g) lean raw pork
  • 5oz (150g) Parma ham, thickly sliced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 6 tablespoons fine white breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil for frying
  • flour for coating

  Mince the pork and ham together, then stir in the beaten egg.  Add the breadcrumbs, spring onions, parsley, salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly with your hands.

  Shape the mixture into small-sized balls, place on a baking sheet and then leave to chill until they are firm.

  Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan.  Toss the meatballs in flour until coated, and gently fry them in the hot oil until golden, turning them from time to time. Remove from the pan, drain and serve hot or cold.

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        Paella à la Valenciana

Serves 4-6       Preparation:  30 minutes     Cooking time:  30 minutes

  • 6oz (175g) peeled prawns
  • a few saffron strands
  • 18fl oz (500ml) warm chicken stock
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 1 large onion peeled and chopped
  • 1lb (450g) raw chicken, diced
  • 1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 7oz (200g) long-grain rice
  • 3oz (75g) frozen peas
  • 1 pint (600ml) mussels in the shell, cleaned and drained
  • 4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into wedges
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • lemon wedges to garnish

  Thaw the prawns if necessary.  Soak the saffron in the warm stock, and heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based frying pan.  Toss the garlic and onion in the hot oil, then add the diced chicken.  Sauté gently until the onion is transparent.

  Add the pepper strips and rice and stir until coated with oil.  Cook for a minute then add the chicken stock and saffron to the pan.  Mix well, and cook gently for 15 minutes.

  Add the peas, cook for 5 minutes, then add the mussels and tomatoes.  Continue to cook gently until all the mussels have opened (discard any that remain closed). Stir in the parsley and prawns and heat through, mixing well together.  Season to taste and serve immediately with wedges of lemon as garnish.

Tip:  Leftover cooked chicken can be used.  Add with the mussels towards the end of cooking time.

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        Torta de Almendras
Spanish Almond Cake

Serves 8-10       Preparation:  20 minutes     Cooking time:  1¼-1½ hours
  • 7oz (200g) butter, at room temperature
  • 7oz (200g) caster sugar
  • 4 eggs, size 2
  • 7oz (200g) plain flour, sifted
  • 3½ (100g) ground almonds
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon almond essence
  • 4oz (125g) glacé cherries, quartered

  Grease and line a loaf tin about 9 x 7 x 3in (23 X 18 x 7.5cm).  Pre-heat the oven to 325F (160C) gas 3.

  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then fold in the flour, ground almonds and baking powder.  Stir the milk, almond essence and cherries into the mixture and turn it into the prepared cake tin.

  Bake for 1¼-1½ hours.  When cooked, the cake is golden in colour and will have shrunk away from the sides of the tin.  To test if it is cooked through, insert a thin skewer into the centre.  If the skewer comes out clean, the cake is ready.

  Stand the cake in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out on to a cooling tray and leave until cold.  Store in an airtight container.

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        Tortilla à la Española
Spanish omelette

Makes 2 omelettes       Preparation:  5-10 minutes     Cooking time:  20 minutes including potatoes
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 small potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced, or diced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • salt and pepper

  Heat half the oil in a frying pan and sauté the potatoes over a medium heat.  Do not allow to brown.

  Add the onion and garlic and cover the pan.  Cook gently until potatoes are soft - about 10 minutes.

  Beat the eggs with the milk, and season lightly.  Heat half the remaining oil in an omelette pan and pojr in half the egg mixture.  Arrange half the potatoes and onion mixture over the egg as it sets, and cook gently until the underside is golden brown and the top is set.

  Fold the omelette in half and slide on to a heated plate.  Make a second omelette, using the rest of the oil.  Serve hot with a salad.  Can be done for breakfast.

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