THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO TAPAS: Over 100 Delicious Little Dishes to Savor and Share
Marty Martindale

By Jeanette Hurt

Jeanette Hurt has lived in Spain. During this time some  great cooks there shared some secrets of tapas with her, and it’s our  good fortune to have access to her book.

Tapas have a curious history in Spain. It seems Spain’s King Alfonso X, known as Alfonso the Wise, in the thirteenth century, needed to eat small meals as he recovered from a surgery. This caused his subjects to adopt his eating habits, and the custom caught on. A more practical story about the origins of tapas began as bartenders covered glasses of wine with pieces of bread to serve as a lid and keep the unwanted objects out. Gradually, bits of tasty foods appeared on the bread. This was the advent of free appetizers, no doubt. It also fostered more sociability in bars, and each region of Spain established its favorites. Hurt shows you in the center of her book some colored pictures to give you ideas as to tapas presentation.

Before she launches into recipes, Hurt presents a chapter, “Stocking your Spanish Pantry,” which lines out the best ingredients delicious tapas. She goes into details as to hams, saffron, paprika, garlic, olive oils, cheeses and sausages.

Then Jeanette offered some personal comments on her Honey Chorizo Spread. In Toledo, Spain she learned to value this spread. “Simple, but also sublime,” she states. She prefers it on French Bread or crackers and feels it demonstrates how a very simple tapas can be packed with flavor. Basically it is blending cooked chorizo with honey, chilling it for at least an hour, then serving it.

She further commented on the book’s Ensalada Rusa made with Marinated Tomatoes, from Emilio’s Restaurant, Hillside, Illinois. The recipe calls for you to combine tomatoes, sherry wine vinegar, olive oil, potatoes, carrot, Spanish tuna, green peas, bell appper, hard-boiled egg and mayonnaise. Hurts hastens to add, “The secret isn’t in the potato salad, itself, it’s in the tomatoes that are marinated in sherry wine vinegar and olive oil. It’s an absolutely divine dish.”

Let’s look at summaries of some more of her tapas:

OLIVE TAPENADE
Includes kalamata or black olives, olive oil, wine vinegar and capers

CURRIED CARROT DIP
Calls for a recipe of marinated carrots in the book, plus olive oil, lemon juice, curry powder and paprika

CHICKEN LIVER PATE
Uses only white onions, butter, Madeira port, capers and anchovies

TORTILLA ESPANOL
Olive oil, onion, boiled potato, eggs and seasoning. Hurt learned to make it in Madrid. She has eaten it in many areas of Spain, but she likes her recipe in the book best.

SPANISH SCRAMBLED EGGS OR REVUELTAS WITH CHORIZO AND BACON
Eggs, cream, bacon, onion, garlic, chorizo, tomato sauce, paprika and Manchego cheese

BAKED TUNA EMPANADAS
Olives, raisins, egg, tomato sauce, sherry wine, oregano, paprika and puff pastry

FINGERLING POTATOES WRAPPED IN SERRANO HAM
All you need is toothpicks and olive oil.

SAFFRON ALIOLI OR SAFFRON MAYONNAISE
Hot water, egg yolks, lemon juice, soybean oil and pepper

SPANISH MEATBALLS
Ground beef, pork, eggs, onions, breadcrumbs, paprika, cinnamon and olive oil

At a time when we are trying to eat less, tapas are extremely taste appealing and worthy of finding their way often to your table and one you share with others.

Marty Martindale

About Marty Martindale

Foodsite Magazine and Marty aim to help the cooking-challenged avoid dependence on others due to lack of cooking knowhow. We concentrate on quick breakfasts, portable lunches and “good-4-u” night meals. With readily available web translation, the magazine explains separate foods, a little of their history, their nutrition, suggested “go-withs,” serving ideas and links to foodsites with recipes.

Comments are closed.