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Cold Tapas

Black Olives with Paprika, Onion and Olive Oil [TOP]

A simple combination, but with great flavors and colors.

For 10-12 tapa servings

  • 300 grams whole or pitted black olives
  • 4 tbsp. fruity olive oil
  • 1 tsp wine vinegar
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • 1 level tsp. smoked or sweet paprika (pimentos).
  • Toss the olives in the oil; scatter over the chopped onion and paprika.
  • Lettuce Hearts with Anchovies

This portable salad shows off prime-quality anchovies in olive oil at their best. Spanish anchovies come from Catalonia -those from La Escala, with their own denomination of quality, are salt-cured for a year- but most are fished off the Cantabrian coast. Each lettuce makes 4 tapas Choose a dense-hearted lettuce such as Little Gem. You also need a 50-gr can of anchovies in olive oil 1-tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 1-tsp. sherry vinegar or lemon juice. Strip tough outer leaves off the lettuce and cut the heart into quarters.

Drape 2 anchovies over the cut edge of each lettuce quarter and chill. Just before serving, make up the vinaigrette (unsalted) and trickle it inside the lettuce leaves. Leave out the vinaigrette for finger food.

Cockles and Cucumber in Sherry Vinegar and Lemon [TOP]

A new twist to the old taberna favorite of canned cockles with vinegar. Most canned Spanish cockles are gathered in Galicia. This is also good made with canned clams from the same region.

For 10-12 tapa servings

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 2 chilled 300-gr cans of cockles few sprigs of fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • Juice of 2 lemons a little white pepper and salt to taste.

Peel the cucumber, remove the seeds, dice the flesh and salt it for10 minutes. Drain the cockles and chop the parsley. Rinse and dry the cucumber, toss with the cockles and chill again. Serve with cocktail sticks.

Roasted Red Peppers and Anchovies [TOP]

Roasted red peppers preserved in their own juices keep the flavors of wood roasting and make great fast food. Many top-quality peppers, such aspiquillo from Navarre or those from El Bierzo, have a slight peppery edge.

For 12 tapas servings:

  • Two 340-gr jars or tins of roasted red peppers (either whole or in strips)
  • 4 fat cloves of garlic
  • 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar Small pinch of salt
  • 1 small 50-gr can of anchovies in olive oil Little finely chopped parsley

Drain the peppers well and slice them into narrow strips. Lay them parallel in a shallow dish. Chop the garlic finely, sprinkle it over the peppers, then lay the anchovies on the top. Mix the vinaigrette and pour it over (there should be plenty) then finish off with the parsley. You can make this simply with toasted cumin, sliced onion rings and olives for a vegetarian version or with canned tuna chunks for a filling dish.

Cheese and Membrillo [TOP]

Membrillo, a dense quince paste, is served with cheese after a meal, but makes a good combination to round off a tapas menu too. Cut squares or triangles of Manchego or another cheese (such as goat's-milk Los Balanchares and Cabra del Tietar, or cow's-milk Tetilla and Mahon) and lay on top same-size but thinner triangles of membrillo.

For 12, you need 125-gr membrillo and 200-gr cheese.

Banderillas [TOP]

In Spain, many bars serve banderillas, or cocktail-stick snacks, ready-made from jars. But you can also make them up at home. -

Mixed Pickles: for each banderilla, spear a slice of dill pickle or a whole small gherkin a pearl (silver skin) onion and a pitted green or black olive. Pieces of spicy green pepper (pimiento) add heat cauliflower gives crunch, pimento adds color. Gildas: for each banderilla, spear a pitted olive rolled anchovy and spicy green pickled pepper.

Anchovy Smoked Cheese and Cherry Tomato: for each banderilla, speara small chunk of Idiaz Abal cheese wrapped around with an anchovy fillet and a cherry tomato. To make a dozen, you need 150 gr. cheese and 125 gr. cherry tomatoes. Asparagus

Tuna Fish and Caper: for each banderilla, you need three capers, a matchstick length of white asparagus and a small chunk of tuna fillet in olive oil. Spear the asparagus and tuna, punctuating them with a caper in between and at either end.

Cured Ham, Melon and Fig: for each banderilla, you need a small cube of fresh Galia or Honeydew melon, a 5-cm (2-inch) slice of serrano cured ham and 1/4 fig. Trim the ham to size to wrap neatly around the melon, spear it and then the fig. To make a dozen, you need approx. 100-gr. melon,2 slices of Serrano ham and 3 figs.

Tuna Fish and Red Pepper Toasts  [TOP]

The smooth firm meat of the tuna's underbelly, called ventresca, holds together in large fillets and is ideal for this dish. If you cannot find it, good quality tuna in olive oil will do.

For 12 tapas

  • 200-gr can of tuna
  • 3 toasted slices of whole meal or white bread
  • 1-2 peeled and halved garlic cloves
  • 12 strips roasted red pepper
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped onion

A little fruity olive oil and chopped parsley.

Drain the tuna and divide it along the grain into fillets or chunks to fit the toast. Cut the crusts off the toast, rub over with garlic and cut each slice into 4 fingers. On each lay a piece of tuna and finish off with a roasted red pepper strip, a little onion, a dribble of olive oil and a pinch of chopped parsley.

Creamed Cabrales and Cider Spread [TOP]

In the northwesterly region of Asturias, pungent blue veined Cabrales cheese is mixed with dry (or hard) local cider to make a punchy spread for vegetables, bread or toast. For spreading on 24 bread slices cut from a French stick 150 grams Cabrales cheese 1-2 tbsp dry or hard cider.

Cut any hard edges or rind from the cheese, crush with a fork till smooth (if the cheese is hard, you can mix in a little butter) and mix in enough cider to give a creamy spread. Slice the bread thinly on the bias and spread with the cheese. (If you want, finish this off with capers, or apple dipped in lemon juice and fresh parsley.)

Paamb Oli [TOP]

Rough bread with garlic and olive oil, simple food from the Mediterranean coast and islands, makes excellent rustic eating. For 12 solid tapas 6thick slices of rough white or whole-meal country bread 1-2 fat cloves of garlic 6 tsp olive oil little vinegar (optional) 12 thin slices of Serrano ham (approx 150 grams) 1 200-gr can of pitted or whole black olives a 60-gr jar of capers. Lightly toast the bread slices.

Rub them with the cut garlic cloves, moisten well with the oil and, if you like, a few drops of vinegar. Cut each slice in half. Fold the ham over the top and finish off with 1-2 olives and 2-3 capers. Catalan paamb tomaquet is made in the same way, but is also rubbed over with a juicily ripe tomato cut in half. Finish off, if you like, with cured ham or anchovies.

Marinated Sardines [TOP]

Sardines for canning are fished in summer when they are rich in the oils (20-22% content) which give them depth of flavor, aroma and high nutritional value. This dish, taught to me by a Basque friend, is an excellent way of flattening the oiliness and bringing out the flavor. For 12 tapas A155-gr tin of sardines (or small sardinillas) in olive oil 1 fresh red and 1 green peppers 1 small skinned sweet onion 4-6 tbsp sherry vinegar or dry white wine 3 toasted bread slices (optional) Salt and pepper Chopped fresh parsley.

Drain the sardines and divide each into two fillets. Chop the peppers and onion finely. Marinate the sardines and, separately, the peppers and onion in vinegar or wine. Spoon the diced pepper and onions over the sardines, season and sprinkle with parsley. For finger food, lay on toasted bread.

Cherry Tomatoes Stuffed with Tuna and Green Olive Pate This is a quick recipe for a light pat6 that I have adapted from one of ln6s Ortega's recipes in her book Sandwicbes, Canap6s y Tapas. It's also good simply spread on bread or toast.

To fill 3 dozen cherry tomatoes or spread on 12-16 toasts. 75 gr. pitted green olives 50-gr. good quality canned tuna 1/2 skinned clove of garlic75 gr. pine kernels 2 shelled hard-boiled eggs 50 ml fruity olive oil Juice of 1 lemon Salt and pepper to taste. Cut the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds (a teaspoon handle works well). Leave upside down to drain while you make a smooth pate with all other ingredients in a food processor or blender. Fill the tomatoes with the pat6 and chill them.

Stuffed Eggs with Sea Urchin Caviar and Pimiento Mayonnaise [TOP]

Sea-urchin caviar, with its intense flavor of the sea rather like lobster coral, makes unusual stuffing for cold eggs. Tuna is a good alternative and contrast to the mayonnaise.

For 12 half-eggs 6 shelled hard-boiled eggs 1 75-gr jar of sea-urchin caviar 2 tbsp. finely chopped onion 50 gr. canned roasted red peppers75-ml thick mayonnaise and parsley leaves.

Halve the eggs lengthways, remove the yolks and mix them with the caviar, onion and seasoning. Drain the peppers and squeeze to remove all the juices, puree them and stir into the mayonnaise. Stuff the egg-halves with the yolk mixture, top with a blob of mayonnaise and finish with a parsley leaf.

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