Of Spain and Tapas

I often think of the weekend trip I took to Spain with a good friend. It was fantastic. The architecture, the people,the cuisine..ooh the cuisine. It was divine to say the least.

Good food, socializing and conversation are an inherent part of the Spanish experience and we thoroughly enjoyed our visits to various bars in Spain where we
never encountered a dull moment. One classic dish served in bars all over Spain and which I absolutely love is the TAPAS.

Tapas have their origin ingrained into the history of Spain where the story goes that people put pieces of bread over their glass of sherry to keep the dust and flies out. This bread was often topped with ham, sausage or cheese and eventually these pieces of bread-snacks gained popularity and the rest, as they say, is history. According to another legend the credit for the origin of this popular snack goes to Castile’s king the wise Alfonso X. Apparently he owed his recovery from an illness to eating small snacks alongside his drink.But whatever the story the fact remains that tapas are delicious , economical and wholesome food. Any food is susceptible of becoming a tapa and there are innumerable varieties of this simple flexible dish- Boquerones en Escabeche, Patatas bravas, boquerones en vinagre, gallinejas, entresijos, mollejas and callos amongst other limitless varieties and combinations.

These mini-meals may be cold (such as mixed olives and cheese) or warm (such as puntillitas( fried baby squid).Today I have prepared the common, yet deliciously spicy “Patatas Bravas” or Fierce Potatoes as they are so often and rightly known as. This tomato sauce based recipe is simple ,quick and flexible. You can easily adjust the quantity of chilli according to your taste and even convert these lip-smaking miniature morsels into a whole meal.

Ingredients

FOR THE SAUCE

3 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion , chopped
3 garlic cloves , chopped
240 g can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato purée
¼ tsp chilli powder
Sugar a pinch
chopped fresh parsley , to garnish
FOR THE POTATOEScut into even cubes evenly
2 tbsp olive oil

Preparation and cooking times
Prep 30 35 mins

In a saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is soft.. Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, chilli powder, sugar and salt and bring to a boil, stirring. Simmer for 15 minutes until soft and pulpy.
Keep this aside.

The Potatoes

Toss the potatoes with the seasoning. Roll the potatoes in the oil until well coated, Place in a roasting tin and roast in a preheated oven at 180 C for 1 hour or until crisp and golden. Alternatively you may also fry the potatoes in olive oil until crisp. I chose the baking method for obvious reasons.

Assemble

Mix the potatoes with the sauce immediately before serving to ensure that the potatoes retain their crispness. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve warm.

Enjoy with white wine.
Blazing Hot Wok

I am submitting this recipe in my maiden entry to the Regional Recipes Event hosted by blazinghotwok.

I Knead Bread

Bread- Homemade
Ah! the aroma of home baked bread! I have always shied away from baking bread the old-fashioned way, preferring to buy it from the bakery in our area. But a few days back I decided to take the plunge…and I am so very proud and glad that I did. That doesn’t mean that im gonna knead my way to all my bread requirements. All I’m saying is that it was very fulfilling in a i-didn’t-expect-it-to-turn-out-like-bread-at-all way. In fact I didn’t expect anything edible at all!
.

Although this 6,000-year-old process hasn’t changed much since Pasteur made the commercial variety of standardized yeast possible in 1859, all our modern electrical gadgets have undoubtedly helped simplify and quicken the whole process. Still the process remains rather time-consuming and a bit tiring (all that kneading and punching is really good exercise) but it is definitely something I want to try again. The version of bread I have baked is called Twirled Herb Bread. I got the recipe from a book called ‘Breads to Go’ that I found lying in my cupboard. So here goes…

2 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
13 grams fresh yeast
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
3 spring onions with greens, chopped
2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
4 peppercorns, crushed
15 grams butter

In a small bowl mix ¼ cup of warm ( not boiling) water with the yeast and the sugar. Stir and keep in a warm place for 15 minutes to froth. If it does not froth then discard and try again.

Sift the flours and the salt into a large mixing bowl. Pour in the frothy yeast and approximately 2 cups of water (add water gradually, you do not want a gooey paste).

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic. Cover with a damp cloth and leave covered for about two hours until it doubles in size.Add the chopped ingredients

Punch back the swollen dough and add the minced garlic, spring onions, coriander leaves and the peppercorns. Knead well for a few minutes.

Next, divide the dough into two equal portions and roll each using your hands into cylindrical shape. Twist both the rolls to get a spiral shape. Now cover both these rolled dough’s with a damp cloth and wait until they double in size, 30 minutes or so.

Place the rolls on a greased tray and bake in a preheated oven
at 200 C for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately brush with melted butter. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Voila!!! Your very own home baked bread is ready!

Since this months theme for the Sunday Snacks Event is Bread(what a coincidence) I am submitting this recipe. The event started by Hima of snackorama is being hosted this month by priya. Her fantastic blog has more details of the event. You can click here to read more.

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