Num num mis amigos!
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Finding an affordable, cool, authentic and close tapas bar remains my gastronomic Holy Grail, but I did hit on a brilliant (and yes, alright, possibly a teeny bit lazy) alternative last month.
Rather than go out for an expensive dinner to treat S for his birthday, I gathered up a contribution from two lots of friends and forked out the remainder for ex-Daylesford head chef Paul Collins (www.chefpaulcollins.co.uk) to come over and cook tapas for everyone. And when I say cook, I mean, work out the menu, buy the ingredients, cook the food in situ, serve the food, tidy up afterwards and leave me to tumble into my bed stress-free. A meal worth paying for!
I’ve used Paul for bespoke dining before (he lives in Oxfordshire – super local), so it was no surprise that the tapas was exquisite. There were about 12 dishes – so much food in fact that we couldn’t get through it all and I spent the next three days in tapas cielo, scoffing the leftovers. There were certain dishes I loved so much that I extracted the recipes from Paul – my absolute favourite was the chickpea tapas below (it tasted even better cold the next day).
So I thought I’d share the pleasure with you. Seriously, try them. I had a go the other day, and though it shames me to say it – if I can do it (*sniff*), anyone can.
CHICKPEAS WITH BLACK PUDDING IN GARLIC & PARSLEY
1*400g tin Chickpeas
150g Black Pudding, fried & coarsely chopped
10g Pine Nuts
25g Sultanas (soaked in hot water for 15mins then drained)
2 tbsp Finely Chopped Fresh Parsley
1 Clove Garlic, Finely Chopped
½ Large Onion
- Put 2 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan over a low heat, sauté the onion until tender then add the garlic, parsley, sultanas and pine nuts and mix.
- Add the black pudding and chickpeas and heat through, stirring all the time. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving platter, drizzle with olive oil and serve at once.
4 thin slices mild, easy to melt cheese
4 Asparagus Spears, cooked until just tender
4 thin slices cooked Ham
Beaten Egg for coating
Flour for coating
- Put 1 slice of the mild cheese and 1 asparagus spear on each slice of cooked ham and carefully roll each one up to form a cylinder.
- Dip the ham rolls in the egg and then the flour, then fry them in a little hot oil until they are golden brown. Serve immediately.
SPICY SAUSAGE IN RED WINE
Sorry, there’s no photo for this one but it is so utterly delicious and wonderfully simple that I’ve included it anyway.
Serves 4 tapas
550g Spicy Sausage
350ml Dry Red Wine
1 Bay Leaf
- Place the sausage in a frying pan with the wine and bay leaf. Cover and cook over a low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the wine has slightly reduced.
- Remove the sausage from the pan and cut it into 1cm slices. Return the slices to the wine and stir. Serve in individual earthenware dishes with chunks of French bread.
All photos courtesy of Tory McTernan