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:
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
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
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.