A selection of tapas-style dishes which make great party or pre-supper nibbles.
CHEESE PUFFS WITH TOMATO SALSA
50ml olive oil
125ml flour, sifted
a pinch of cayenne pepper
180ml grated Gruyere cheese
oil for frying
Combine the water and olive oil in a saucepan. Bring to the boil then remove immediately from the heat and add in the flour. Beat well until the mixture forms a ball in the middle of the saucepan.
Put the mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer. Cool for a few minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and cheese.
Fry spoonfuls of the mixture in hot oil until golden, puffed and cooked through.
Drain the cheese puff on a paper towel.
Serve with tomato salsa.
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
4 spring onions, finely chopped
1 red chilli, seeded and chopped
30ml olive oil
salt and pepper
45ml chopped coriander
Combine all the ingredients and mix well.
CHORIZO AND CHICKPEAS
300g chorizo sausage
1 onion, finely chopped
5ml crushed garlic
400g can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
125g pickled peppers, drained
15ml white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
45ml chopped parsley
Cut the chorizo into slices then cut each slice in half. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry gently until the chorizo releases some of its oil.
Add the onion and garlic and fry until soft. Add the chickpeas and peppers. Remove from the heat and add the vinegar, seasoning and parsley.
Serve at room temperature with crusty bread.
BABY MARROW AND PEPPER SALAD
1 red, 1 yellow and 1 green pepper
4-6 baby marrows, thinly sliced
60g black olives, pitted and halved
45ml olive oil
15ml sherry vinegar or lemon juice
5ml chopped garlic
pinch of sugar
slices of olive ciabatta for serving
Cut the peppers into quarters and place, skin side up, on a baking tray. Place under a hot grill until the skins are charred. Remove and put the peppers into a plastic bag and set aside to cool.
Brush the baby marrows with olive oil and cook on a griddle pan. Remove the skins of the peppers and cut the peppers into strips.
Combine the baby marrows, peppers and olives. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, garlic and seasoning.
Pour over the peppers and baby marrows. Serve piled on to slices of bread as part of a tapas platter.
LAMB AND LEMON SKEWERS
1 small onion, finely chopped
10ml chopped garlic
30ml lemon juice
10ml grated lemon rind
80ml olive oil
5ml ground coriander
5ml ground cumin
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
600g lamb cubes
lemon wedges to serve
Combine the onion, garlic, lemon juice and rind, olive oil, spices, seasoning and thyme and add the lamb. Cover and marinate for 1-2 hours or overnight.
Thread the meat and lemon wedges on to skewers and cook on a griddle pan until done to your liking. Baste with any remaining marinade.
Serve warm with extra lemon wedges.
* I found it easier to first cook the lamb cubes and lemon wedges in a griddle pan, and then to thread them on to skewers once they were cooked.
1 bunch of spring onions, chopped
1 red, 1 green and 1 yellow pepper, seeded and sliced
4 small potatoes, boiled, peeled and diced
200g mature cheddar, grated
salt and pepper to taste
6 eggs, beaten
125ml sour cream
60ml chopped chives
Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the garlic, onions and peppers until soft. Remove from the heat and add the potatoes, cheese and seasoning.
Spoon the mixture into a greased 20x30cm oven-proof baking dish. Combine the eggs, sour cream and chives and pour over the potato mixture.
Bake at 180°C for 30-40 minutes until set. Remove and cool before cutting into squares.
MEATBALLS WITH TOMATO SAUCE
Makes 70 small meatballs
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 slices of bread, crumbed
500g lamb mince
500g pork sausages, removed their from casings
10ml ground coriander
10ml ground cumin
flour for dusting
olive oil for frying
Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs and mix well. Using a food processor will make this easier.
Roll the mixture into balls about the size of a walnut. Toss them in a little flour and fry in batches in olive oil.
15ml olive oil
1 onion, chopped
400g can of chopped tomatoes
60ml dry sherry (optional)
3ml smoked paprika
100g green olives, pitted
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the onion and garlic until soft. Add the tomatoes, sherry, sugar, paprika and seasoning and simmer for 10 minutes. Puree using a hand blender.
Pour over the meatballs, add the olives and simmer until heated through.
THE STORY BEHIND TAPAS
The tradition of tapas started hundreds of years ago in Spain when innkeepers placed slices of bread on top of drinks to keep out the dust and insects. (The word tapa means lid).
The bread was later topped with slices of meats or cheese to boost trade, which eventually evolved into what is served in tapas bars across Spain.
Tapas can be as simple as a bowl of flavoured olives or spiced almonds to sophisticated dishes like croquettes or saffron prawns.
Tapas served in Spain will reflect local produce and can differ widely from region to region.
Many authentic Spanish ingredients like Serrano ham, Manchego cheese and chorizo sausage are available in local supermarkets, but these can easily be replaced with local produce to create tasty morsels to serve as cocktail dishes. - The Star