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This recipe is from The Spanish Home Kitchen by José Pizarro who cooks from the heart. It takes a little while to cook but is so simple and delicious. It would also be easy to cook when camping if that matters to you. As José says, this is the comfort dish that his mother would cook … need we say more.

Wine Suggestion: Spanish inspired, but off the beaten track is a Garnacha Blanco from Terra Alta (quite possibly one of the best places in the world for Garnacha of both colours alongside Chateauneuf du Pape … although quite different in style). If you can stretch to an old vine expression like this you’re in for a treat. For us tonight an easier, fresher style with Edetària’s “via Terra” which is charming with layers of fresh stone fruit, nuttiness and salinity. It tastes both of the earth, sunshine and fresh cooling breezes.

Hake with slow-cooked onions and tomato salsa – serves 4

  • 100ml olive oil
  • 3 large onions, finelly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 150ml white wine
  • 150ml vegetable stock
  • 4 hake fillets (200-250g each)
  • a handful of basil leaves

FOR THE TOMATO SALSA:

  • 500g ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
  • ½ small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp capers, chopped
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Heat the oil in a deep sauté pan with a lid. Add the onions and season well with salt and black pepper, then cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes. Cover with the lid and cook for half an hour until really soft but not coloured.

Meanwhile, mix all of the salsa ingredients together in a bowl, then season well and set aside to mingle.

Add the wines to the onions and bubble for a minute before adding the stock. Simmer, uncovered for 10-12 minutes then seaon the hake fillets and nestle them into the onions. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover with the lid and leave to cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and rest for 2-3 minutes.

Spoon the salasa over the fish and onions, then scatter the basil over before serving.

(Original recipe from The Spanish Home Kitchen by José Pizarro, Hardie Grant Books, 2022.)

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It’s the first night of our holidays and we felt like eating something to remind us of the beach!

Wine Suggestion: Dominio de Tares La Sonrisa Godello, or something similar with a chalky, Chablis-esk minerally finish; unoaked, vibrant and dry.

Baked sea bream – serves 2

  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, sliced
  • 400g tin tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 large waxy potatoes, peeled
  • 2 x 400g whole sea bream, scaled and gutted
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 60ml dry sherry
  • a small handful of flatleaf parsley leaves, chopped

FOR THE PICADA:

  • a small handful of flatleaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • ½ tsp sea salt

Warm 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the onions, garlic and pepper and cook for 10-15 minutes or until soft. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf and a splash of water, then cover and cook gently for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180C/Fan 160C. Slice the potatoes, not too thin and not too thick so they hold together but cook through. Spread them over the base of a roasting dish that can easily accomodate the fish. Drizzle over 2 tbsp of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss together then bake for 20 minutes.

To make the picada, put the parsley, garlic and salt into a pestle and mortar and grind to a paste, then set aside.

Season the fish with salt and pepper and put on top of the cooked potatoes. Spread the picada over the fish. Add the lemon juice and a couple of tbsp of water, then pour the tomato sauce over everything. Drizzle over the last tbsp of olive oil, add the peppercorns and sherry, then bake for 20-25 minutes. Scatter with the chopped parsley to serve.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein at Home, BBC Books, 2021.)

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This is a great dish for using up bits of leftover veg and antipasti things. Keep the base of onions, garlic, rice and veg stock but after that you can use up whatever you’ve got – we’ve given what we used below as an example.

Wine Suggestion: This Spanish inspired dish encouraged us to have a glass of a Spanish Garnacha Blanca, the Edetària via Terra Blanca which we find unprepossessing and charming, plus with the right textures and flavours to match this paella. We dare say their equivalent via Terra Tinto (Garnacha Negra) would also be a good match too if you fancied a glass of red instead.

Baked veggie paella – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • half a red pepper, sliced
  • half a yellow pepper, sliced
  • half a green pepper, sliced
  • 1 courgette, halved lengthways and sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp sundried tomato purée
  • 300g bomba paella rice
  • 850ml vegetable stock
  • 100g chargrilled artichokes in olive oil, halved if big
  • 75g mixed olives
  • 75g Sunblush tomatoes
  • a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • lemon wedges, to serve

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Heat the olive oil in a shallow casserole and cook the onions, peppers and courgettes with some salt for about 10 minutes or until softened and starting to caramelise.

Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the tomato purée and rice and stir until the grains are coated.

Add the stock, artichokes, olives and Sunblush tomatoes, then season and mix well. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook in the oven for 45 minutes or until the rice is cooked.

Scatter over the parsley and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

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A traditional Galician broth from Claudia Roden’s superb book on Spanish food. Make it after you boil a ham as you will have lots of ham stock to use.

Caldo Gallego – Potato, cabbage & bean soup – serves 6

  • 2 litres ham stock (you can also use chicken stock)
  • 150g smoked streaky bacon rashers, cut into pieces
  • 400g potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
  • 250g green cabbage leaves (pointed cabbage or spring greens), cut into thick strips
  • 1 x 400g tin haricot beans, drained

Put the stock into a large saucepan with the bacon, potatoes and cabbage leaves. Bring to the boil,then season. Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Add the beans and warm through for 5 minutes, then serve.

(Original recipe from The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden, Michael Joseph, 2012.)

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This all cooks in one pot and the sauce is lovely. We’ve been informed by our daughter, Orlaith, that we can definitely do this dish again as it is almost as nice as noodles. The recipe is by Diana Henry, the queen of chicken recipes.

Wine Suggestion: Earthy reds are what are called for here and tonight it was the turn of Herdade do Peso “Trinca Bolotas” kindly shared by our friends T&M who joined us for dinner. An Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional & Aragonez blend from the Alentejo, Portugal; rich, earthy and complex.

Chicken with chorizo and peppers – serves 4

  • 8 chicken thighs (we used a mix of thighs and drumsticks)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 225g chorizo, sliced
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 red peppers, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 200ml rioja
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 sprigs of thyme, plus the leaves of an extra sprig, to garnish

Trim the skin on the chicken, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Heat the oil in a large shallow casserole over a medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook for a few minutes, then scoop out with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the onions and peppers and cook for about 10 minutes, until softening. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, then tip everything into the dish with the chorizo.

Brown the chicken in the chorizo oil until browned on all sides. This is easier in batches. Set the chicken aside, then tip off all but 1 tbsp of oil from the pan.

Add the rioja and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, then add the stock, bay and thyme, Add the chorizo and veg and bring to a simmer. Nestle the chicken into the sauce with the skin-side up. Transfer to the oven, uncovered, and cook for 35-40 minutes. Add some water if the sauce reduces too quickly.

When the chicken is cooked through, season, and sprinkle with the thyme leaves.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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A Spanish-inspired breakfast or brunch dish. The serrano ham is good on the side but not essential.

Piperada vasca – serves 2

  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 small red chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • 3 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • a knob of butter
  • 3-4 large eggs, lightly beaten and seasoned
  • slices of serrano ham
  • toasted bread, to serve

Grill the peppers until blackened all over, then place in a bowl and cover with cling film. When the peppers have cooled, peel and deseed them, then cut into strips.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then fry the onion, until soft and golden. Add the garlic and chilli and stir, then add the tomatoes. Add the sugar and season, then cook for 10 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes have collapsed. Add the roasted peppers.

When almost ready to serve, melt the butter in a small frying pan and gently scramble the eggs. You’re looking for a creamy texture.

Serve the piperada with the eggs, ham and some toast on the side.

(Original recipe from The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden, Michael Joseph, 2012.)

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Spanish seafood pasta, made like a paella and with a dollop of alioli … what could be more reminiscent of dinner by the sea on holidays; this dish smells like Spain. Lightly does it when cooking the seafood.

Wine Suggestion: A lighltly chilled Garnacha Negra (Grenache Noir) from Terra Alta springs to mind – they really have a wonderful affinity for this grape there, alongside the Garnacha Blanca too. Edetaria’s basic “via Terra” has all the joy, freshness and perfume to compliment the flavours of the food while adding an extra warm spice and red fruits to lift it further. 30 minutes in the fridge was enough to make it taste and feel like sunshine in Spain, even if the weather outside isn’t quite like that at the moment.

Seafood pasta – serves 6 (easily halved)

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g monkfish fillet
  • 4 baby squid, cleaned and bodies cut into rings
  • 12 raw peeled king prawns
  • 12 queen scallops (or you can cut bigger ones in half)
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • a good pinch of saffron threads
  • 1.25 litres of fish or chicken stock
  • 500g fideua pasta (or you can use vermicelli or spaghettini)
  • 3 tbsp chopped flatleaf parsley
  • lemons quarters, to garnish
  • garlic mayonnaise or alioli, to serve

Heat 4 tbsp of the oil in a large paella pan (40-45cm). Add the monkfish, sprinkle with salt, and cook for a few minutes, turning. Add the squid and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Add the prawns and scallops and turn until the prawns are pink and scallops just seared, just a minute or two. Transfer the cooked seafood to a platter and pour off and reserve any cooking liquid.

Heat the rest of the oil in the same pan, stir in the garlic and stir briefly, then stir in the tomatoes. Add the paprika, saffron and some salt, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring now and then, until the liquid has almost evaporated.

Meanwhile, bring the stock and cooking liquid to the boil. Add the pasta to the sauce in the paella pan and cook, stirring, until well coated. Pour in the boiling and cook until the pasta is al dente. Place the seafood on top a few minutes before the end.

Serve sprinkled with parsley and with lemon and alioli or galric mayonnaise on the side.

(Original recipe from Claudia Roden, The Food of Spain, Michael Joseph, 2012.)

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Try these to wet your appetite with a glass of sherry and some crusty bread.

Wine Suggestion: It only makes sense to drink a sherry with this dish with our suggestion being for either a good Fino or Amontillado. Fortunately our friends brought over Tio Pepe’s Fino En Rama. A savoury, minerally wine with grilled almond and iodine characters alongside some delightful lemon and apple fruitiness plus a good dollop of yeasty flor overtones.

Mushrooms with garlic & sherry vinegar – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 500g mushrooms, halve or quarter big ones
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • a pinch of hot paprika
  • a small bunch of flatleaf parsley, chopped

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minutes, stirring, then add the mushrooms and cook over a high heat until just browned. If they give out liquid, keep cooking until it’s all gone.

Season well with salt and pepper, then add the sherry vinegar. Allow to sizzle until almost evaporated.

Serve the mushrooms with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of hot paprika and the chopped parsley.

(Original recipe from The Hairy Bikers’ Mediterranean Adventure by Si King & Dave Myers, Seven Dials, 2017.)

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We’ve tried this Spanish pasta dish before, but with limited success, however this version was a triumph. We had the proper fideos noodles this time which we think might have helped. As we can’t go on holidays at the moment we thought we’d cook holiday dishes instead. Serve with some aïoli.

Wine Suggestion: this dish cries out for a fresh Garnacha like the Edetaria via Terra which is from Terra Alta DO in the south of Catalonia. Inland, at some altitude and on specific soils this area produces some of the best wines from this grape anywhere with a freshness and weightlessness from lovely ripe grapes.

Prawn fideua – serves 4

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 100g chorizo, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • a pinch of saffron strands
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400g tin of plum tomatoes, lift the tomatoes out of the juice with a spoon and discard the juice left in the tin
  • 350g fideos noodles
  • 600ml freshly boiled water
  • 400g whole shell-on prawns
  • lemon wedges, to serve

Cover the base of a paella or sauté pan with olive oil, then warm over a medium heat. Add the onion, pepper, chorizo and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes or until the onions and peppers are soft.

Add the paprika, saffron and salt and stir over the heat for a minute, then add the tomatoes – squeezing them with your hands as you add them to the pan to break them up. Cook for 2 minutes to thicken.

Add the fideos noodles and stir to coat well, then add the boiled water. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, then spread the prawns over the surface and cook uncovered for another 5 minutes, or until the water has evaporated and a crust is forming on the bottom of the pan. The prawns will turn pink when cooked, you can turn them over to help them along.

Remove from the heat and rest for 5 minutes before serving with lemon wedges and aïoli.

(Original recipe from New Kitchen Basics by Claire Thomson, Quadrille, 2019.)

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Spanish rice with pork & spinach

Another great one-pot dish by Diana Henry – one our absolute favourite food writers (we might have said that already). Don’t be tempted to stir the rice, it’s not a risotto.

Wine Suggestion: this dish goes with juicy Spanish reds with a good option being the Finca Antigua Syrah from La Mancha. While not a traditional grape variety for Spain, Syrah is increasingly seen and seems to take on a local twist which we find works really well; creamy with warm spices.

Spanish rice with pork and spinach – serves 6

  • 350g pork fillet, halved lengthways and sliced
  • 7 tbsp olive oil
  • 100 chorizo, skin removed and cut into chunks
  • 300g bacon, cut into meaty chunks (you might have to order a piece of bacon from your butcher)
  • 2 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 red peppers, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 300g paella rice
  • 1.2 litres hot chicken stock
  • 650g spinach
  • 1 lemon

Season the pork. Heat 3 tbsp of the olive oil in a large frying pan and quickly brown the pork until cooked through, then set aside.

Reduce the heat and add another 3 tbsp of the oil and the chorizo and bacon. Sauté for a couple of minutes, then add the onions and peppers and cook over a medium-low heat for 20 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic, paprika and chilli and cook for another couple of minutes, then add the rice. Stir the rice into the juices (this is the only time you will stir it), then add the stock and season. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until there is only a little liquid left and the rice almost tender.

Meanwhile, wilt the spinach in the last tbsp of oil and season. Scatter the spinach over the rice and tuck in the pork pieces. Check for seasoning, then reduce the heat to its lowest, cover and leave for 5 minutes. Squeeze lemon juice over the top and serve.

Original recipe from Food from Plenty by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2010.)

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White aspargus with serrano ham and chive dressing

We adore this stuff. A piece of salty ham and mustardy dressing are all that’s needed for a delicious starter or light lunch.

Wine Suggestion: given the ham and mustard dressing we chose a bottle of Dönnhoff Liestenberg Riesling Kabinett which was superb. It had a vibrancy and freshness to match the salty fatiness of the ham and the tangy dressing.

White asparagus with serrano ham and chive dressing – serves 4

  • 16 fat white asparagus spears
  • 4 slices serrano ham

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp clear honey
  • 3 tbsp walnut or hazelnut oil
  • 1 tbsp snipped chives

Trim the asparagus and peel the stems with a potato peeler. Boil in salted water for 12-15 mins until the spears are tender, then drain well.

Whisk together the lemon juice, mustard and honey with some salt and pepper. Whisk in the oil, then stir in the chives just before serving.

Divide the warm or cold asparagus between 4 plates. Lay the ham on top and drizzle over the dressing.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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Albondigas

These spicy Spanish meatballs are delicious and just the sort of casual thing we feel like on a Friday night with some patatas bravas, a green salad, and a glass of wine.

Wine Suggestion: Our choice for this tonight was the Dominio de Tares Baltos, a Mencia from Bierzo in Spain. Velvety and dark fruited with a fresh finish and medium body.

Albondigas – Spanish Meatballs – serves 4-6

  • 600g lamb mince
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • small bunch of flatleaf parsley, finely chopped plus 3 tbsp finely chopped parsley to serve
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 50ml double cream
  • 1 egg
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil

FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 400g tin of tomatoes
  • 1 tsp honey

To make the meatballs put all the ingredients, except the oil, into a large bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper and mix with your hands. Shape into 16 meatballs of about 50g each.

Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6.

Put the meatballs onto an oiled baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes or until browned and cooked through, keep them warm.

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan, then add the onion and fry gently for about 10 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, spices, and bay leaves and cook for another couple of minutes, stirring, then add the tomatoes and honey. Pour in 200ml of water and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down, cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for another 5 minutes.

To finish the dish, put the meatballs into a large, deep frying pan, and cover with the sauce. Simmer gently for 5 minutes to heat the meatballs through and reduce the sauce a little. Serve sprinkled with the parsley.

(Original recipe from The Hairy Bikers Mediterranean Adventure, Si King & Dave Myers, Seven Dials, 2017.)

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Patatas Bravas

We love these crispy potato cubes with spicy sauce and this version roasts the potatoes in the oven rather than frying them in heaps of oil. Serve as a side dish or just on their own for a snack.

Wine Suggestion: We love a dry sherry with these, but can’t decide between whether we prefer Fino, Amontillado or Oloros – we recommend them all.

Patatas Bravas – serves 4

  • 800g floury potatoes, peeled and cut into 3-4cm cubes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flatleaf parsley, to serve

FOR THE SAUCE

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • ½ tsp sugar or honey
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika, plus extra to serve
  • 1 tsp hot paprika, plus extra to serve

Put the potatoes into a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, add plenty of salt, and simmer for 3-4 minutes or until starting to soften. Drain gently so they don’t break up too much.

Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6.

Put 2 tbsp of olive oil in a roasting tin and heat in the oven. Add the drained potatoes, toss in the oil, and roast for 40-45 minutes.

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a small saucepan and add the garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the garlic has started to soften but not coloured. Add the vinegar and sugar or honey and stir until dissolved. Stir in the sweet and hot paprikas.

Pour the sauce over the crispy potatoes and sprinkle with a little extra paprika and some finely chopped parsley.

(Original recipe from The Hairy Bikers Mediterranean Adventure by Si King and Dave Myers, Seven Dials, 2017.)

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Romesco de peix

We’re still trying to get in the last of the summery dishes before we succumb to roasts and pies! Season this well and add plenty of parsley at the end; a lift that can’t be understated.

Wine suggestion: cross the border for this and go to Portugal for an oaked and aged Alvarinho (there may be some similar oaked/aged Albariño from Rias Baixias in Spain but I haven’t found the right ones yet). Quinta de Soalheiro make a Reserva Alvarinho that with 12 months extra ageing from release makes a perfect match.

Fish Stew with Peppers, Almonds & Saffron – serves 4

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 dessertspoons of finely chopped rosemary
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 red peppers, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp sweet smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 tin of plum tomatoes, drain of the juice and roughly chop
  • 150ml white wine
  • 100ml hot fish stock
  • 50 saffron strands infused in 4 tbsp boiling water
  • 150g whole blanched almonds, lightly toasted and roughly ground
  • 650g monkfish fillets, cut into chunks
  • 500g clams, rinsed well

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, over a medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt, then cook for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Add the garlic, rosemary, bay leaves and red pepper. Soften for 10 minutes, then add the white wine and allow to bubble for a couple of minutes before adding the fish stock and saffron water. Add the crushed almonds and season to taste.

When almost ready to eat, add the monkfish and clams, put a lid over the pan and simmer until the fish is cooked through and the clams are open – about 5 minutes.

Serve with new potatoes.

(Original recipe from Moro the Cookbook by Sam & Sam Clark, Ebury Press, 2001.)

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Mussels with chorizo & spiced fries 1

One of our least favourite kitchen jobs is scrubbing mussels but they’re always worth it in the end. This chorizo sauce and spicy fries make a great casual dinner.

Wine Suggestion: Chill a Spanish red for 30-40 minutes. A good choice could be the Jesus Romero Rubus, and unoaked blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha & Syrah which has a brilliant purity and drive. Alternately, and contradicting our initial thoughts, a big robust Ribera del Duero, the Condado de Haza also worked a treat chilled down with this dish.

  • 250g skinny oven fries
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • olive oil
  • 125g chorizo, diced
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 200ml white wine
  • 125g tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • a pinch of sugar
  • 1kg mussels, cleaned

Heat the oven to whatever heat suggested on the pack of fries. Toss the fries with 1 tsp of the paprika and some seasoning, spread out on an oven tray and cook until crispy.

Put 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pan that you have tight-fitting lid for. Add the chorizo and fry until crispy, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the onion, garlic, 1 tsp of paprika, chilli and thyme springs to the pan. Cook over a low heat until softened, then turn the heat up, return the chorizo to the pan and add the wine, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, sugar, lots of black pepper and a little salt. Simmer for 2 minutes.

Stir the mussels into the chorizo sauce, cover with a lid and steam for 3-4 minutes, shaking now and then, until the mussels have opened. Serve in bowls with the spicy fries on the side.

(Original recipe from BBC Olive Magazine, July 2014.)

Mussels with chorizo & spiced fries 2

 

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Mussels with chorizo and cider

We had a hankering for mussels, as we often do, and thought this sounded a bit different. There’s no finishing of the sauce required once the mussels are cooked unlike other classic mussel dishes. Last minute finishing can be fiddly, especially with guests, so this worked well for us. Easily scalable, provided you have a big pot, and a good party dish.

Wine Suggestion: we used Stonewell Dry Cider from Kinsale in County Cork for this dish which has a really good depth of flavour and it would equally work well as the accompaniment. Some ciders are lighter but the robust nature of the chorizo and mussels needed a more robust flavour like the Stonewell.

Alternately if you would prefer to drink some wine we’d suggest a good South African Chenin Blanc, like Adi Badenhorst’s Secateurs. The ripe yellow apple flavours are a good compliment and the freshness, texture and zing provide a good balance. The Secateurs is a great go-to wine in our house and we highly recommend it!

Spanish mussels with cider & chorizo – serves 4

  • 2kg mussels
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g chorizo, skinned and cut into chunks
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 500ml dry cider
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped parsley

Wash the mussels really well and scrape off any barnacles and beardy bits. Tap any opened mussels on the sink and throw them away if they don’t close.

Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a large pan and sauté the chorizo with the onions until slightly coloured and softened. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the mussels, cider and some black pepper, then cover. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and steam until the mussels have opened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the parsley and serve.

(Original recipe from Food From Plenty by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2010.)

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Pea soup with ham and mint

This is not your average pea and mint soup and has the most amazing sweet & salty flavour. A delicious starter to impress a few friends and very little work to prepare.

Wine Suggestion: a lighter weight red with spicy, peppery tannins was our choice, making sure it had a wonderful freshness of acidity too. We opted for a regular favourite, the unoaked Jesus Romero Rubus from Teruel in Spain. The absence of oak seemed to accentuate the “Spring” freshness of the peas and helped lift the grey, windy and damp January day.

Pea Soup with Jamón & Mint – serves 4

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 150g jamón serrano (Spanish cured ham), finely chopped
  • a small bunch of mint, roughly chopped
  • 500g podded peas (frozen are fine)
  • 1 litre chicken stock (it’s worth using home-made for this recipe)

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and golden, then add the carrot and bay leaves.  Fry for another 5 minutes, then add the garlic, two-thirds of the jamón and half the mint. Fry for another minute or so before adding the peas. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the stock and simmer gently until the peas or tender, 2-3 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and liquidise until smooth. Return the soup to the pot, season with salt and pepper and add the reserved mint. Serve with the rest of the jamón on top and drizzle with olive oil.

(Original recipe from The Moro Cookbook by Sam & Sam Clark, Ebury Press, 2001.)

 

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Setas al jerez

One of our local grocers had a pile of mushrooms of all sorts (it is the season) so we took the inspiration and had a delicious version of mushrooms on toast flavoured with sherry. Good quality sourdough, toasted, rubbed with a clove of garlic & drizzled with good olive oil to serve.

Wine suggestion: As we started with this for a much larger dinner with friends we opened a bottle of dry Oloroso sherry to accompany. We were lucky to have a bottle of the Hidalgo Oloroso VORS (average age 30yo) which was a complex, rich, nutty style of sherry with a wonderfully complex citrus peel, nutty and spicy nose. The palate is funky with profound, fresh, nutty, lemony complexity. The surprising citrus notes in the sherry lifted the mushrooms even further. Sherry of this quality is simply the best value fine wine in the world as we we kept on running out of descriptions of the taste, smell and finish of this.

Setas al jerez – Mushrooms with Sherry – serves 4

  • 400g wild mushrooms
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 150ml fino or dry, old amontillado sherry
  • a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp cloth but don’t be tempted to soak or wash them in water.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, cook the onion gently for about 10 minutes or until soft and golden, then add the garlic and cook for another minute. Turn up the heat, add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes until soft. Next add the sherry and nutmeg and cook for another minute, followed by the parsley, salt and black pepper.

Serve with toast that you have rubbed lightly with garlic and drizzled with your best olive oil.

(Original recipe from The Moro Cookbook, Ebury Press, 2001.)

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Garlic sauce

This is a great sauce for a beef or lamb steak. Don’t be put off by the amount of garlic; the poaching process takes away any harshness from the garlic and results in a sweet and delicious sauce.

Wine Suggestion: While your choice of wine might be determined somewhat by the type of meat you have, with the garlic sauce the key is to choose something robust, not delicate. For this steak we had an old vine Carignan (with a touch of Grenache and Syrah in the blend) from Domaine Roc des Anges in Roussillon. Their “Reliefs” cuvée is one of the best we’ve tasted of this grape variety. It is smooth and sophisticated and yet down deep it seems informed by a rustic prehistoric core.  Supple, deep and fleshy with sheets of shimmering tannin, great driving depth, cherry and dark chocolate flavours and a full, juicy and balanced finish.

Poached Garlic Sauce – serves 4

  • 3 garlic bulbs
  • milk
  • 3 tsps extra virgin olive oil
  • ½-¾ tablespoon sherry vinegar

Break up the garlic bulbs and throw away the woody roots. Put the garlic cloves, skins on, into a small saucepan and cover with milk by at least 3cm. Bring the milk and garlic to a simmer and cook gently for about 20 minutes or until the garlic is soft. Reserve 6 tablespoons of the poaching milk and discard the rest. Either put the garlic through a mouli or squeeze the soft garlic out of each skin and mash to a puree. Add the reserved milk to thin it slightly , then stir in the olive oil and sherry vinegar. Season well with salt and black pepper.

(Original recipe from Moro: The Cookbook by Sam & Sam Clark, Ebury Press, 2001.)

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Paella de rape con azafran

This is a great weekend dish that is relatively easy to make and looks amazing when brought to the table with all its fabulous colours. The key to a good paella is not to stir it. Shake the pan occasionally to prevent sticking.

Wine Suggestion: We started with a glass of dry Hidalgo Napoleon Amontillado sherry followed by an old, but wonderfully youthful and fresh, Dehesa la Granja 14 1998 a Tempranillo from close to the Portuguese border in Castilla. The 14 refers to the minimum amount of time it is held by Alejandro Fernandez in his underground caverns on this property before release. At 18 years old it was delicious proof of the ageworthiness of this unique estate and its elegance and refined fruit didn’t overwhelm the monkfish.

Monkfish rice with saffron (Paella de rape con azafrán) – serves 4 as a main or 6 as a starter

  • 7 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g monkfish fillets, trimmed and cut into bit-size pieces
  • 2 large Spanish onions, finely chopped
  • 2 green peppers, halved, seeded and finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 800ml hot fish stock (buy it fresh at your fishmongers)
  • 1 tsp saffron threads
  • 250g calasparra (paella) rice
  • 80ml white wine or fino sherry
  • 1 small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • ½ tsp sweet smoked Spanish paprika
  • 225g piquillo peppers, torn into strips (we buy the brand Navarrico)
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a 30-40cm paella pan or frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the monkfish and toss gently to fry until slightly undercooked in the centre. Remove the monkfish and any juices to a bowl and set aside.

Wipe the pan clean with kitchen paper and put back onto the heat. Add the rest of the olives oil and heat until hot, then add the onions and peppers, and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Turn the heat to medium, add the garlic and the fennel seeds, and cook for 10 minutes or until coloured and sweet. Meanwhile, bring the stock to the boil in a separate saucepan. Add the saffron, then take off the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.

Add the rice to the paella pan and stir for a minute to coat with the oil and vegetables. (You can prepare the dish up to this point before your guests arrive. The recipe will take about 20 minutes to finish.)

Put the heat to medium-high and add the wine/sherry to the pan, followed by the hot stock. Add half the parsley and the paprika and season generously with salt and pepper. Do not stir the rice after this point. Simmer for 10 minutes or until there is just a little liquid above the rice. Spread the monkfish and its juices out across the top of the rice and gently push each piece of fish into the liquid. Gently shake the pan to prevent sticking and turn the heat to medium-low. Cook for 5 minutes or until there is just a little liquid left at the bottom of the rice. Turn the heat off and cover the dish tightly with foil. Leave to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

Decorate with strips of piquillo peppers, the rest of the parsley and the lemon. Serve with a salad if you like.

(Original recipe from Moro: The Cookbook by Sam and Sam Clark, Ebury Press, 2001.)

Paella de rape con azafran

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