spanish

… and some easy stuffed peppers (tapas or pintxo?)

Is it tapas or pintxo?  It is secured with a toothpick … And you can eat them off the toothpick.  Does the name matter?

I am still aiming to build my spanish starter (tapas) repertoire.  And this is an authentic every day recipe straight from the horses mouth (in saying this Santi, I am not in any way suggesting you are a horse!).

Our friend Santi(ago) is from Spain.  And he likes cooking. I have been asking him for some tips.  He suggested the Pintxo last week.  It was in a loose way mind you … something like, ‘you just put things like olives, spanish cheese and chillies on toothpicks’.  Well, that is really what you need to know, isn’t it?

And also this recipe.  Which he makes for his kids quite often.

All you need out of the ordinary is a jar of whole red peppers.  I always see these jars in mediterranean supermarkets.  But I have never really known what I should do with them.

And now I do!

So, this recipe is equally vague. It goes … you make a bechemel sauce (white sauce).  You put chopped up boiled egg in it and stuff the peppers with this mixture.   You put a toothpick through the the top of the peppers to stop the mixture falling out.  Then you warm them in the oven.  That’s it.  Done.

I can actually be more specific now I have made some.

Red Peppers Stuffed with Egg in a Bechemel Sauce

To make the sauce I put 1 rounded tablespoon flour and 1 rounded tablespoon of butter in a saucepan and cooked it, adding milk along the way to make a thick bechemel.  Oh, and I added some salt and pepper as well.

I let it cool.  I peeled and roughly chopped up 4 boiled eggs and mixed them in.

This was enough for the whole medium sized jar of peppers.  About 25 I guess.

And I had a bit left over (which Clive had in a sandwich with some leftover poached chicken – best sandwich EVER apparently).  So maybe 3 eggs would be enough?

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Some technical tips …

When you are stuffing the peppers make sure the stuffing mixture is cool, or you will get in a bit of a mess.  And the peppers are quite delicate when you get them out of the jar.  So be careful not to put holes in them if you can.

But when you heat them the peppers firm up quite a lot. So even if you think it is a disaster, it’s probably not.  The peppers will become firm enough that  you can actually just pick up the toothpick and eat off it (which is hard to imagine when you are making them).

I warmed them in a medium oven (180 degrees) for about 10 minutes.  The peppers went a deeper red when they were heated.

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They really are yummy.  And my kids liked them too.  From now on I am going to keep a jar of red peppers in the pantry.  Thanks Santi.

Do you know any other easy ways to use these peppers for tapas?  Or any other simple tapas I should try?

a little spanish bite (pintxo)

I am still a little obsessed with Spanish cooking.  It is my current ‘go to’ for visitors.  And I have been investigating tapas.  I need some entrees to my paella.

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Pintxo or pincho are basically tapas on skewers/toothpicks. I think they originated in the Basque region.  When I went to Naked in the Sky I had them. And they were a great start to the night.  So, I thought I would make some at home.

These simple tasty pintxo are so easy to make.

All you do is just put green chilli peppers, manchego cheese and olives on a toothpick.  Delicious.

You can buy these ingredients at delis and supermarkets with a Mediterranean bent all over Melbourne. The chillies come in a jar.

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This time I bought big green olives marinated with fennel and preserved lemon.  And I cut them up before I put them on the toothpick. Or you could buy smaller pitted olives and put them straight on the toothpick.  This might be a bit more straightforward (I did have a few techinical issues with pitting giant olives …)

You can eat these pintxo by themselves.  They are perfect accompanied by a dry sherry (yes, I know, sorta Nanna … but sorta cool).

Yum!

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garlic mussels and food miles

I think I have raved on in the past about the garlic mussels at The Robert Burns hotel in Collingwood.

Anyway, recently I had a crack at making them using a make-it-up recipe (I did look on the Internet for a recipe that resembled what I remember from the Robert Burns Hotel – but didn’t find exactly what I was after) …. and they were spectacularly easy.

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We are down at Airey’s Inlet for the week and the weather hasn’t bee great, so we drove down to Wye River and had lunch at the pub and then a play on the beach when the weather cleared.  On the way back to Airey’s we called in to the fish shop at the Lorne pier.  I picked up a kilo of Port Arlington mussels. Then we called in to the Airey’s Inlet General Store and bought some Irrewarra bread. I was going super with the food miles! All key ingredients within a stone’s throw.

But then I bought Tatura butter. Shepparton isn’t that close to the Great Ocean Road is it? Oh well, maybe Victorian is still okay….

The other ingredients in this less than precise dish are garlic, chilli and parsley. And a dash of white wine.

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The Recipe (or how I make great garlic mussels)

The first step is to clean  the mussels and get the seaweed off.   Then add about a half cup of white wine and a pinch of salt to a saucepan with a lid and steam the mussels open. Just a minute or two. Take some out of the shells and leave some in the half shell (just do as many as you need to so they fit nicely in your baking dish). Add about half a cup of the juice from the saucepan that the mussels were steamed in (I strain it first), 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic, a good bunch of chopped parsley, abou 125 grams of butter and chilli to taste. Cook for about 30 minutes in the oven at about 220 degrees or until the butter is bubbling and it all looks fab.

Serve in the baking dish and with nice bread and salad to accompany and try to share nicely ….

If you want it low fat, use low fat butter – just joking … as you soak up the last of the garlic butter at the end with your bread you’ll know there’s NOTHING low fat about this.

But it tastes GREAT.

Note, how lovely is the dish I cooked them in? It belongs to Hilary and the house and is cast iron with an enamel coating inside and out and has a lid and is the best colour.  And did you notice the view out the window?  It’s so beautiful …

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