Saturday, April 2, 2016

Tapas - Cookbook Countdown

I'm still exploring the food of Mediterranean countries with this month's choice for Cookbook Countdown, a cooking challenge hosted by food bloggers Emily and Joyce that's motivating me to cook from some of my neglected cookbooks. Food of Spain, written by renowned cookbook author Claudia Roden, provides a comprehensive look at the rich and varied traditional cuisine of the country's regions. With over one hundred pages devoted to Spain's culinary history, there is much to learn.
Tapas, small plates of food to snack on before dinner, generally in a bar, is one Spanish tradition I think is familiar to most. For me, it was an excuse to try several recipes in the book since just about anything can be served as a tapa.
Ham Croquettes, Croquetas de Jamón, are typical tapas. I had no idea that these little fritters were made of deep fried béchamel! Of course it's a thicker than usual sauce and it includes sautéed onions and bits of Spanish serrano ham. Double-dipped in breadcrumbs, the chilled mixture was actually quite easy to work with and resulted in a super crispy treat with a creamy interior. The flavour was a nice balance of sweet onions and salty ham.
Salty, briny foods are popular tapas as well so these Marinated Mushrooms with Lemon seemed a good choice. They were dry cooked first in a hot pan to lose some of their moisture and to better absorb the flavours of lemon juice and zest. They were sharp and refreshing, a great palate awakener. I followed the author's suggestion and served them with olives and bread. This cooking event is encouraging me to use new cookbooks before they get lost on a shelf as well as old so that's a slice of Overnight 40% Whole Wheat Bread from Ken Forkish's new to me book, Flour Water Salt Yeast on the plate.
Potato Omelet, or Tortilla Española as it's often called, is one of the few dishes that is found everywhere in Spain, in every region and in homes and tapas bars alike. It's like an Italian frittata usually made with potatoes or onions or both. This one included both. Stewing the vegetables in olive oil, a relatively slow process, was worth the effort, resulting in soft, creamy potatoes that became one with the eggs (and a batch of onion-infused olive oil that was put to other uses). Excellent hot or at room temperature.
Empanadillas, savoury Little Pies with Tomato, Pepper and Tuna Filling, were easier to make than I anticipated since the olive oil dough was quite forgiving. And the filling was just fabulous: a little sweet and salty and not at all fishy made with some nice Spanish canned tuna. Joining them on this little plate was a simple salad of cooked Vegetables with Tomato and Hard-Boiled Egg Vinaigrette, a dish that can be made with any mix of seasonal vegetables.

Now, what's for dinner?
I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.


  1. Oh I Like This Post! You are making me aching to cook from my one and only Tapas book! My top two fav from your post ~ ham croquettes and marinated mushrooms with lemons!

  2. Hi Zosia,
    You have been busy with this book! Everything you've made looks delicious. And I'm intrigued with your ham croquettes with the bechamel filling!


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