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Posts Tagged ‘tapas’

cooking Pimientos de Padron

a panful of Pimientos de Padron

So we cooked and ate them, following the instructions provided by Elizabeth Luard in her delectable tome, The Cooking of Spain and Portugal: A Regional Celebration, which great good fortune allowed me to pick up for £4.99 at tkmaxx the other week (possibly to the great relief of my local library, having clung to their copy for the last 4 months, post-it marking every other page and the prospect of returning the thing increasingly unthinkable with each passing day).  Whichever way wangled, it’s definitely a keeper.

Ms Luard’s food writing is a joy to read with her frequent canny little asides, vignettes and scene settings before the directions, giving just that little bit of extra information you need to make the thing properly, that is with the right attitude and in good spirits.  And a cook in a good mood always, always, always makes a dish taste more authentic and delicious; the right spirit is just as important as the right ingredients, temperature and timing.  A glass of champagne helps, too, by the way.

Here’s how to set off your Sunday afternoon with a bang:

  • 200g Pimientos de Padrón
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • Maldon salt flakes

Rinse and dry the peppers, but leave whole, stalks intact: you’ll be needing them later.

Grab a heavy based, preferably cast-iron, frying pan that can just about accommodate the peppers in one layer.  They will shrink a little as they cook, but you will want each pepper to have contact with the hot oil.

Heat the oil in the pan over medium-high heat until a pepper will sizzle, then tip in the rest.  Cook over high heat for a couple of minutes or so until the skins are blistered and browned in places (you’ll hear them pop and see them hop, which is fun), then turn the heat to low and cook gently another 2 or 3 minutes until the peppers are soft. You may find a splatter guard comes in handy.

Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and serve sprinkled with salt and some decent bread on the side to mop up any juices.  To eat, hold each pepper by the stem and bite off the flesh.

Legend tells that every nth pepper is super-hot – estimates vary from 1 in 5 to 1 in 30 – which is why this dish is often referred to as Spanish roulette: apocryphal hype I pooh-poohed – until KABOOM!!  I got one.   Ouch.  But there’s nothing to fear for a chile lover; anyone who likes a bit of heat shouldn’t need to call the fire brigade – a quick sip is all that’s required to carry on until they’re all gone.  The delightful thing about these peridot nuggets is the scintillating mouth mosaic made by the flickering interplay between their subtle variations in flavour and heat; that plus the occasional firecracker.

Terrific tapas? I should coco loco.

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I read Nigel Slater religiously for years, but of late this gastro hag’s favourite fag has me feeling like an asylum seeker on the wrong side of a razor-wire fence.  Sophisticated as my crowded corner of Blighty sees itself, it’s outside the orbital, pretty far from any gastro-shopping epicenter and a long way from urban allotments.

Sure, I check out the local farmers’ markets, and yes, I visit local farm shops, but even so I lack access to the exotica veggie cornucopia enjoyed by a Londoner and moreover I’m a plod, so hauling my ass up to New Covent Garden for 6 am just ain’t gonna happen, and a train ticket to Borough market would up my grocery bill by a good twenty quid; not to mention supersizing my carbon footprint.  So what’s a gourmet girl to do?

A: Visit Waitrose and find these emerald gems to go home with. Frying tonight!


pic and recipe to follow….gotta cook and eat ’em first

200g bag £2.99 at Waitrose

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tapas time

Aha! The sun’s back and that means it’s time for tapas.  Lovely summery little dishes: as I now have an enormous collection of the real deal terracotta, courtesy of Waitrose (again), plus a handy mini toaster oven, I make a batch, keep it in the fridge and portion it out in tapas or raciones as the mood and need arise. It’s not so hard with good ingredients on hand: 

Octopus and potato tapasA bag of frozen seafood, sliced potato and some garlic butter

 

tomatoes stuffed with rice and pesto

 

 home-made pesto and leftover rice stuffed inside Lidl’s bargain monster tomatoes

 

Hot spinach and artichoke dipfrozen artichokes and spinach baked with mozzarella, crême fraîche and a nugget of parmesan become a tasty hot dip 

 

 

 

Butterbean, tomato and anchovy tapabutterbeans, tomatoes and anchovies, all coaxed from their cans, make yet another another little snack

 

All that’s needed is a grating of garlic here and a pinch of pimentón there; parsley for greens, good bread and a jug of sangria.  Followed by a siesta – buen día!

a flask of sangria on a summer lawn

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