Tapas some of my favorites things when visiting Spain. Tapas are appetizers or snacks that are generally eaten in the evenings before dinner. We usually enjoy them with a pitcher of Sangria.
Tapas are usually smaller servings of Spanish favorites and are a great way to sample a variety of dishes. They can be hot or cold and range from olives to small bowls of scampi style shrimp. One of our favorites are Blistered Peppers, they go great with Blistered Olives which can be green or black olives.
In Spain this particular tapa is made with Padron or Shishito peppers. Those peppers are about 10 times milder than a jalapeno pepper; blistered peppers are generally on the sweet peppery side not the spicy side like jalapeno or habanero peppers.
But Padron and Shishito peppers are not easy to find in the US. So I had to look for an alternative. After experimenting with different types of green peppers I can honestly say that you probably won’t be able to find anything equivalent, however you may be able to come close. I’ve found that the closest substitute are Anaheim Peppers although they will have more heat and are bigger than either Padron or Shishito Peppers. Another option I’ve used are Serrano Peppers which are easier to find in Hawaii. Serrano Peppers are about the same size as Padron or Shishito Peppers but have more heat than either pepper and a bit more heat than the Anaheim pepper.
Whichever you ultimately use the process of making Blistered Peppers are the same. So here’s my recipe.
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10-12 Fresh Peppers (Padron, Shishito, Anaheim, or Serrano Peppers which ever one you can find or prefer)
1 Tbs. Olive Oil
Coarse Sea Salt
Wash Peppers leaving the stems on.
Dry peppers on a paper towel.
Heat Olive Oil in small frying pan.
Add peppers and gently cook in hot oil until skin starts to blister and turn sort of white.
Remove from heat and toss in coarse sea salt to taste.
Serve hot or cold. I like to serve them in small ramekins or mini cast iron skillets
Serving Tapas always remind me of my many trips to Barcelona. One of my favorite tapas are Gambas al Ajillo or Shrimp in Garlic Sauce. I love them with lots of crusty bread for dipping in that butter garlic sauce.
Tapas are small servings of Spanish foods. They’re usually eaten with wine or cocktails in the evenings before dinner. We enjoy them with a nice pitcher of Sangria. They’re a great way to sample a variety of Spanish dishes. I like to order a variety of Tapas and make a whole meal out of them.
Gambas al Ajillo are exactly like Shrimp Scampi. They are delicious and best of all very easy to make! I serve them hot off the stove on a mini cast iron skillet or a ceramic ramekin with lots of crusty baguette slices. Here’s my recipe!
Gambas al Ajillo
20 Medium shrimp (41/50 count) – peeled and de-veined with tail on
1 Tbs. Olive Oil
1/4 Stick Butter
1 Tbs. Finely Minced Garlic
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
Heat Olive Oil in small skillet.
Melt butter in hot oil.
Add garlic and cook until garlic starts to turn brown. Stir constantly to keep garlic from burning.
Add shrimp and cook until shrimp turns pink.
Squeeze lemon juice over all.
Serve hot with crusty slices of bread.
Gambas al Ajillo Tapas - Shrimp in Garlic Sauce
Patatas Bravas is a favorite Spanish Tapa. Tapas of course are small portions of Spanish food that’s usually served with cocktails at bars or as appetizers. Or several types of Tapas can be cobbled together to make a meal. I love Tapas! It’s a great way to sample different types of Spanish food in one sitting.
Patatas Bravas is one of my favorites. It’s a simple dish of fried or baked potato wedges or cubes in a spicy sauce. I always order it when we’re in Barcelona or any other Spanish town or city. But traveling may prove to be difficult this year and we won’t be going on our usual Med Cruise or other European vacations. That’s why I’ve been making some of our favorite foods at home. After all eating local foods is a big part of traveling!
Lately I’ve been on a Spanish food kick and Patatas Bravas has been on top of my to make list. Everyone in my house loves it that it’s now become a family favorite. I serve it as an appetizer and as a side dish, either way it’s delicious!
Most places serve it with a mayonnaise based Garlic Aioli, but I like it without. You can make a simple Aioli by mixing together mayo, garlic powder, and lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste and garnish with fresh chopped chives.
6-8 Yukon Gold Potatoes – peeled and cut into wedges
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 Tsp. Minced Garlic
2 Tbs. Smoked Paprika
2 Tsp. Chili Powder
2 Tsp. Ground Cumin
1/2 Tsp. Salt
1/4 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1/2 Tsp. Crushed Red Pepper flakes
Place potato wedges in a large pot and cover with water.
Bring water to boil and reduce heat.
Cook uncovered for about 8-10 minutes or until just tender. (you don’t want them too soft, they will fall apart)
Drain and pat potatoes dry with paper towel.
Place in bowl.
Toss potatoes in Olive Oil and Garlic until evenly coated.
In a small bowl combine the rest of the spices and sprinkle over potatoes.
Toss potatoes in spice mix until evenly coated.
Place potatoes on a baking sheet, spread out in a single layer.
Bake in pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until crispy. Stir potatoes about half way thru baking time.
Serve warm with or with out Aioli.
Torta can be different things depending on the type of cuisine and if the dish is sweet or savory. It can refer to a cake or tart in several countries including Italy, Spain, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. In Mexico it’s a sandwich. In both Spain and the Philippines it can be an omelette. Confusing, I know.
Well since today I want to make Tapas the word Torta will refer to a Spanish Omelette. Tapas play a big part in Spanish social life. Tapas refer to appetizers or small sized dishes that are served as snacks with beer, wine, or cocktails. Sort of what in Hawaii we call pupus. I love having Tapas, it gives you a chance to sample many different things at a time. When we’re in Spain we usually start the evening at a cafe where I can order a refreshing pitcher of Sangria and an array of Tapas. Many times we make a whole meal out of all the Tapas we order.
At home I sometimes make an assortment of Tapas and call it dinner or I can put together a “Tapas Board” for casual entertaining. Tapas can be just about anything, as long as it’s a small portion.
One of my favorite Tapas is Torta, that Spanish Omelette. It’s probably one of the easiest omelettes to make, but unlike most breakfast omelettes where the filling is folded into scrambled eggs Torta fillings are actually cooked into the egg and it comes out looking like a pie which is then cut into wedges for serving. Served with fresh bread it’s delicious.
Here’s how to make Torta at home. It’s really easy and you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen. Remember you can serve it as an appetizer or make a larger version and serve it for breakfast or lunch. You can even make it into a sandwich, placed in a baguette it’s delicious and filling!
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1 Potato – peeled and sliced very thin (I use a mandolin to slice it)
1/2 Onion thinly sliced
2 Eggs beaten
Heat about 1 tsp. Olive Oil in a frying pan.
Add onions and potatoes. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn.
Cook until onions start to caramelize or turn brown and the potatoes are soft.
Beat Eggs in a small bowl and add potato and onion mixture. Stir well.
Add more Olive Oil to frying pan. I use a 7″ pan to make this omelette if I’m making it for Tapas.
Pour egg mixture into pan.
Cook over medium low heat – you must cook this slowly to avoid burning the omelette. Do not touch the omelette while it’s still liquidy. The omelette will take on the shape of the pan.
Cook until the center is just about dry, it will still a bit soft in the center.
Gently separate the sides of the omelette from the pan.
Using 2 spatulas gently flip the omelette over.
Cook for about a minute then slip on to a serving dish.
Slice into wedges and serve.
I’m a big fan of those hot soft pretzels that they sell at malls. I have trouble walking by these kiosks that sell those deliciously salty twisted pieces of baked dough without stopping for a pretzel or two. I’m sure you know how expensive they can get, specially after you add the dipping sauce and drink! Then it gets really costly if you have to buy pretzels for the family.
Well I’ve started making them at home! I know you think it hard, messy, and time consuming. What with letting the rising, blanching, rolling, and shaping of the dough it does sound pretty daunting. But what if you can whip up a batch in about an hour?
Yup this recipe makes a batch of 8 pretzels (more or less depending on the size you make) in about an hour from start to finish. The best part it they cost pennies to make and taste just like the ones at the mall! (At least that’s what my grandkids say, and they love mall pretzels!)
These pretzels are a variation of my Basic Pretzel Recipe. I just added the cheese and garlic!
By the way these pretzels do not require blanching in a baking soda bath. You use an egg wash and it’ll have the same look and texture as store bought!
Fit your standing mixer with the dough hook.
Combine first 3 ingredients in mixer bowl and mix for about a minute. It’s ok with there are clusters of yeast. Let rest for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl stir together 3 cups flour and salt.
Add flour mixture to the water yeast mix.
Knead for 2 minutes. If dough is too sticky add remaining 1/2 cup flour 1/4 cup at a time until dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.
Add cheese, parsley, and garlic powder. Combine well.
Preheat oven to 425degrees
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead for about a minute.
Using a sharp knife cut ball in half.
Take first half and cut in half again so you have 2 smaller sections
Cut each section in half to make 4 sections
Repeat with second half. You should end up with 8 sections of dough.
Roll each section into a 25” rope. Make rope thickness as even as possible.
Take end of rope and hold away from you, twist together about 3” from each end. You should have a circle on the bottom part of rope that is closer to you. Separate the ends and bring towards you, gently pinch either end into the circle part close to you.
Form all sections into pretzel shapes.
Whisk egg and water together in a shallow bowl.
Dip both sides of each pretzel into egg wash.
Arrange pretzels onto a baking sheets covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Bake 10 minutes, rotating baking sheets half way thru cooking time.
Melt butter and brush onto each pretzel then sprinkle with sea salt.
Remove from oven and cool on racks.
Serve immediately or store in ziplock bags at room temp for 3 days. Pretzels can be frozen up to 3 months.
If you like to dip your pretzels, these Cheesy Garlic Pretzel are yummy dipped in my Basic Marinara Sauce. They’re an awesome combination!