A Tapas Revolution in my kitchen - simple Spanish dishes to make
I have been accused of stalking Omar Allibhoy, the owner of Tapas Revolution. It is fair to say that over the years I've been to a number of press events where he's opened a new restaurant, written a cookbook, launched a summer pop-up, or been the brand ambassador for Spanish olives, Estrella beer or Iberico ham. Once dubbed the Antonio Banderas of the kitchen he's in no doubt how much I love his food. I even have a signed copy of Spanish Made Simple cookbook. Do I look like a stalker?
Lockdown has left us missing eating out as well as visiting Spain, so I set to in the kitchen with the aim of bringing a little Spanish sunshine to South London.
With some olives to nibble and a bottle of cava to sip, I got cracking. First up were pan-fried figs, serrano ham, cream cheese and walnuts on toasted sourdough.
This was very easy to make. About a quarter of a tub of cream cheese mixed with some walnut pieces, spread over the toasted sourdough. The figs were cut to resemble flowers and then cooked in a little olive oil and brown sugar, deglazed with a splash of sherry vinegar. The figs go on top of the toast, then add a slice of ham, drizzle with olive oil and a few walnuts.
Someone once said, 'Life's too short to stuff a mushroom'. I disagree, especially when the result is so delicious. The mushrooms are seasoned, drizzled with olive oil and thyme leaves and baked in the oven for 15 minutes. Then sprinkled with chopped spring onion. Mix mayonnaise with chopped serrano ham and dollop on the cooked mushrooms. Return to the oven until the top gets some colour.
During lockdown I've been ordering seafood from the Oyster Shed on the Isle of Skye. The last box that arrived contained 1 kg of red velvet crabs. I've often cooked brown crab, but these were new to me and looked a bit small and fiddly, so had been languishing in the freezer for a month or so. They were pre-cooked, so just needed the meat picked from them. This task was delegated to Alex. Whilst he was doing that I sweated some chopped onion, then added the crab meat, some chopped fresh tomato and 60ml of cava and seasoned. If you had a brown crab, you could re-fill the shell with the mix. I used our scallop dishes instead - there was enough mix for 4. I then topped with breadcrumbs and baked for 10 minutes. Omar flambés his at the table for extra drama.
We served this with a hot salad of pan fried lettuce with a sweet and sour bacon vinaigrette.
Finally a really simple dish of charred octopus on a bed of saffron boiled potatoes served with Romesco sauce. This was made easy by purchasing the octopus ready steamed, it just needed finishing on a griddle pan. I used a different recipe for the Romesco sauce that didn't contain bread, and made it earlier in the day.
red peppers 3
red chilli 1
olive oil 3 tbsp
blanched almonds 50g, toasted
coriander leaves and stalks a handful
garlic ½ clove
limes 2, 1 juiced, 1 wedged to serve
steamed octopus tentacles 4 (about 450g)
STEP 1 Heat the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Put the peppers and chilli into a roasting dish, pour over 2 tbsp of the olive oil, season and toss. Remove the chilli and set to one side. Roast the peppers for 20 minutes, then turn them and add the chilli. Roast for another 20-25 minutes until everything is charred and tender. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Peel the skins off the chilli and peppers, and discard the seeds from the pepper. If you like your sauce spicy, keep the chilli seeds, otherwise discard.
STEP 2 Put the almonds into a blender and whizz until fine. Add the peppers, chilli, coriander, garlic and lime juice. Season well and blend to a smooth sauce.
STEP 3 Heat a griddle pan over a high heat until very hot. Rub the remaining oil over the octopus and griddle for 2-3 minutes on both sides until the tips of the tentacles are crispy. Serve immediately with the sauce and lime wedges for squeezing.
I hope that these small and not-so-small dishes have whetted your appetite to give tapas at home a try. It's easier than you might think.