Winter Tapas | WYPR

Winter Tapas

Feb 13, 2018

Credit Jessica Spengler/flickr

Having been in Spain last Spring, Al came back with all sorts of ideas about serving tapas to his friends when they came over.  One might think tapas are warm weather concepts to, but it ain't necessarily so. There are cold winters in Spain, but that doesn't mean the tapas hibernate. 

The Recipes

Marinated Olives


2 cups Castelvetrano Olives

2 cups Kalamata Olives

2 cups Picholine Olives

2 cups Olive oil or blended oil

½ cup Orange Juice

3 large garlic cloves, crushed

2 rosemary sticks

The zest of two oranges, separated

One orange cut into ¼ inch slices

1 small red onion cut into ¼ inch half moons

Mix the olives, olive oil, orange juice, garlic, rosemary and the zest of one orange together in a large bowl. Place the mixture in a glass baking dish and heat the olives in a 350°F oven for 5 minutes. Pour the hot olives into a mixing bowl and add the orange slices and red onion. Mix well to combine. Serve warm with some fresh orange zest on top.

Croquetas de Jamón


¾ cup cooked ham, trimmed & cut into cubes

1 ½ cups whole milk

1 cup plus 4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

½ medium onion, diced

Pinch finely ground nutmeg

Salt and cayenne to taste

Pinch cayenne pepper

2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

5 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups bread crumbs

Canola oil for frying

Pulse the ham in a food processor until minced. Melt the butter in a sauce pan until foaming. Add the onion and cook until soft. Add 4 Tablespoons of flour and cook for 2 minutes constantly stirring. Add the milk and cook until thick. Stir in the nutmeg, salt, cayenne, ham and parsley. Place in the fridge to set for at least 1 hour or overnight. Place the remaining flour, beaten eggs and bread crumbs in separate shallow trays. Using a teaspoon, spoon small amounts of the chilled mixture into light greased hands and form into the desired shape. Roll in the egg and then dredge in the flour. Tap off any excess flour then roll again in the egg and then in the bread crumbs coating completely. Fry until golden brown and serve warm.

Confit of Mushrooms


10 pearl onions, peeled

1 cup tomato purée

2 cups extra virgin olive oil

1 lb. mixed mushrooms

3 cloves garlic

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 tablespoons sherry vinaigrette

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a sauce pan set over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, with occasional stirring, until golden brown on all sides, approximately 5 minutes. Add the tomato purée and reduce the heat. Simmer the sauce until thick. In a large mixing bowl, season the mushrooms with salt and pepper. Add the remaining oil to the tomato sauce. Gently stir in the remaining ingredients except for the vinegar, raise the heat to medium high and, using a candy thermometer, heat the oil to 160°F. Once the oil has reached 160°F, turn off the heat and allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Pour the mixture into a serving bowl and allow to come to room temperature. Stir in the vinegar and serve.

Albondigas – Meatballs in Catalan Sauce

(An elaborate recipe that is sure to win praise)


Catalan Sauce (recipe to follow)

1 lb. ground beef

2 eggs

¾ cup breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon fresh parsley

4 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup grated Manchego cheese

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl by hand. Roll meatballs to about the size of a golf ball. Bake in a 350°F oven for 15 minutes or until brown on the outside. Add the meatballs to the sauce and cook and additional 30 minutes at a low simmer with occasional stirring.

Catalan Sauce

For the sofregit:

3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 large garlic cloves, minced

2 lbs. ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

¼ cup pine nuts

¼ cup raisins

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup fish or chicken stock

For the picada:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large slice (½ inch thick) white bread

3 tablespoons blanched almonds

3 large garlic cloves

1 red pepper, roasted, peeled and seeded

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Prepare the sofregit - pronounced soo-frah-GEET, is one of the five fundamental sauces of Catalan cuisine. The secret of this fresh tomato sauce recipe is a perfectly caramelized onion, generally followed by a patiently caramelizing of the tomato.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook slowly until they begin to brown around the edges, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the tomato and parsley and cook for another ten minutes. Add the white wine and cook until dry. Add the stock and reduce by half. In another skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cook the nuts and raisins with constant stirring until the nuts are golden brown. Remove then with a slotted spoon and set aside. Save the skillet and the oil in it for the picada.

Prepare the picada – is one of the characteristic sauces and culinary techniques essential to Catalan cuisine. It is not an autonomous sauce like aioli or romesco, but it is added as a seasoning during the cooking of a recipe.

Add the additional tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet in which the nuts and raisins were cooked and set over medium heat. Sauté the bread until golden brown on each side, adding more oil if necessary. Place the almonds, garlic, parsley and red pepper in a food processor set with the shopping blade. Tear the bread into pieces and add to the food processor and purée the ingredients until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring the sofregit to a boil and stir in the picada. Add the meatballs and cook in the tomato sauce, occasionally spooning some of the sauce over the meatballs until cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, gently remove the meatballs and place it in the center of a warm plate. Stir the pine nuts and raisins into the sauce and cook for one minute. Spoon the sauce over the meatballs and serve.