Some travellers prefer to visit a place once. Some prefer the beach and others the interior. Some want a tan whilst others are culture sponges – soaking up as much as they can.
I am a mixed bag of sweets. A true example of ‘pick ‘n’ mix’. I like to visit more than once and soak up as much as I can of the language, customs, and of course, cuisine, whilst topping up on vitamin A.
My taste buds were treated on this trip to some more Tapas dishes – some I have made from recipes and others which were quite new to me. Trying an authentic meal cooked in a restaurant away the well trodden tourist paths, is the place I levitate to.
Another trip to the Costa del Sol, and an opportunity to explore the delights of Fuengirola and El Chapparal as a ‘local’ was invigorating.
Having come home to wind, rain and potential need to built an Ark; I decided to board once more the culinary Airbus A320 and set course for Andalusia.
Presenting my latest supper of Tapas treats. Namely Padron peppers, beans in Morcilla, Haddock croquet, & baked salad potatoes.
Originating in the north of Spain these small peppers can be confused with chilli (jalapeño) peppers. The truth is they are sweet and delicate a flavour without any spicy heat. They are green peppers and aren’t as sweet as red yet that hint of bitterness (I really mean hint), makes them an ideal starter, side or nibble whilst enjoying a few beers.
Cooking the peppers is child’s play. Coat a pan with olive oil (using a good pan you can use 1cal olive), and add the peppers. Keeping them turning and moving for about 5 minutes. When wilted serve with a generous coating of ground sea salt.
Asda £1.35 for a 250g packet.
Another local delicacy in Andalusia is croquets. Whenever I have had them in Wales, its the potato version. Mash potato covered in breadcrumbs and flash fried, then baked. My take has always been, “they’re ok” – which is one level above “NO WAY JESUS!”.
Firstly in Mijas they are smaller. The contents can be stew, creamy mushrooms, pork or fish, and come in portion sizes 8 for tapas and mains at 16. They are a typical sharing food. Which is one of the nicest elements of dining on holiday. A picnic of hot food sat outside a restaurant, sipping cold drinks, talking and watching the world go by; it truly doesn’t get any better.
I cheated big style. I was in the local Co-Op and spotted the haddock fish cakes reduced to £1.20 and decided that was too good a bargain to pass up on. Cooked simply by baking in the air fryer for 25 minutes at 190c.
Habas con Morcilla
One of my favourite tapas dishes is ‘broad beans with ham’. Usually Serrano ham pieces cooked with broad beans, sautéed in olive oil. Some recipes call for some red peppers, oregano and garlic. I tried this time at Volpie restaurant and there seemed to be only 3 tastes: beans, ham and olive oil – beautiful.
If you like your black pudding then Morcilla is for you. It is a slightly sweeter version of that classic full “English” breakfast accompaniment. One option is to have it with a chorizo sausage served in a miniature roasting pot which has been baked for a good while. All the steam and flavours returning the bottom of the bottom, similar to how a tagine works.
At the heart of these dishes are beans. Broad beans and compared to what we source in the supermarkets this time of year, the Spanish serve mini, or baby ones. Smaller and more tender. I decided to go “off piste” with my beans and Morcilla and plumped for red kidney beans. I also wanted to significantly reduced the amount of olive oil I used.
A spray of oil, two medium tomatoes diced, one stalk of celery thinly sliced, two cloves of garlic coarsely chopped, 1 tps Marjoram and 2 tsp of mint. Cooked over a medium heat until the tomatoes and celery have softened.
Serve with a lightly fried egg on top. Supermarket own brand beans around £0.35 a can.
Whether you like chips, jackets, smash or boiled a spud is the gift that keeps on giving.
One of my favourite dishes is PATATAS BRAVAS. Originating in Madrid, pieces of fried potatoes are served covered in a rich spicy tomato based sauce. Hot paprika is a vital ingredient and so is a lot of oil.
I didn’t feel I could accomplish the sauce or optimise the recipe in the timeframe. I enjoy cooking but it comes at a premium. Though I use a perching stool, the pain is sometimes overwhelming to the extent I am relying on, sous chefs, plate dressers, waiting staff, and of course these are my guests, who no doubt wonder whether the food is good – “chef isnt eating!!!” Yes the pain puts me off.
When all is said and done, I still follow the lesson my mother taught. She was crippled by arthritis but always took delight in seeing others enjoy. I try to keep my studies on-going.
And there you have it. A gastronomic journey to Spain and back inside of 40 minutes, and change from a fiver!
I like to think Mam would be proud… Thanks Mam x