Friday, August 18, 2006

Feeling better...feeling like tapas

I have been feeling infinantly better since my weekend of flu and pickles (btw: the best pickle shirt ever is here) So much so that I decided to go on a bit of a mission and try cooking some traditional tapas dishes. Tapas is something I've wanted to get my head around for a while - I haven't had much exposure to Spanish cuisine, I'm embarrassed to say that in all my travels I haven't been to Europe yet.

There are a number of tapas restaurants in Sydney - I haven't been to many, the one in Manly - Alhambra Cafe and Tapas Bar has a nice selection but the prices are a little prohibitive. Not exorbitant but enough to stop you ordering all the dishes you'd like to try. They have Flamenco dancers there on Saturdays - I suppose to add to the atmosphere but it's was all a little cheesy for me.

I have been coming across chorizo a lot recently after never really eating at all. My sister and I had dinner with our partners at Whitewater not so long ago. They do a decadent tasting menu and have the most divine martinis - if you are ever in my neck of the woods I highly recommend that you eat here. But I course we had that night was seared scallops on thick slices of chorizo drizzled with a BBQ style sauce. The sweetness of the scallops was perfect with smoky sausage - the sauce was almost too much but it was drizzled so sparingly that it managed to complement both flavours well. We have also recently eaten pizza, paella and a myriad of other dishes with chorizo featuring prominently.

When it came time to decide which dishes to cook chorizo was always going to be there, but we also decided on some meatballs, a seafood dish and plenty of vegetables.

The final menu was as follows:

  • Patatas Allioli (Potatoes with garlic mayonnaise)
  • Banderilla (Tuna skewers with caper berries and olives)
  • Marinated Capsicums
  • Champinones al ajillo (Sauteed mushrooms with garlic)
  • Chickpeas with chorizo
  • Albondigas (Meatballs in spicy tomato sauce)
  • Calamares a la plancha (Squid with picada)

It sounds like a lot but most of it is quite easy to prepare - there was an awful lot of garlic in almost every dish. I'm not squeamish about garlic at all but I did pity my co-workers the next day. While all the dishes were nice, for me the standout was the chorizo and chickpeas, I am biased though, I'll just about eat chickpeas with anything and need little excuse to add them to a dish.

Chickpeas with chorizo
(adapted from A little taste of Spain - Murdoch books)

1 can of chickpeas drained and rinsed
I bay leaf
4 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup of chicken stock
2 stalks of fresh thyme
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove crushed
375g chorizo sliced
1 Tbsp flat leaf parsley

The original recipes called for the soaking and cooking of dried chickpeas - I had neither the time nor inclination to do that so used a can of chickpeas and simmered them in the stock with the garlic, cloves, cinnamon and fresh time to give them extra flavour. Let them simmer till they had almost boiled dry making sure not to let them get mushy.

Heat the oil in a large frypan and add the onion and cook over a medium heat till translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so. Turn the heat up to high and add the chorizo and cook for a couple of more minutes.

Add the chickpeas and stir until heated through. Remove from heat and mix in the parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This dish can be eaten hot or at room temperature depending on your preference.

1 comment:

Lynda said...

I love tapas! I like having the opportunity to try a lot of small bits rather than be limited to one full multi-course dinner (though sometimes I get in the mood for that as well).

Unfortunately, I don't get the chance to go to tapas bars often, as there aren't any in my area. Living in the Los Angeles area as I do, you'd think there would be a lot, and that may be the case in some sections of L.A. However, there aren't any in my area, and L.A. is so spread out, and the traffic can be so bad, that I don't often go to restaurants outside my area. I'll have to make tapas at home more often - the chickpea and chirizo recipe looks particularly good.

On another note - thanks so much for the Blogging by Mail package (Stephanie gave me the link to your blog). I can't wait to try everything, and my boss (who is a 30ish immigrant to the US from Australia) got all nostalgic when I told her about the Violet Crumble, TimTams, etc.