Tantalizing Tapas or Alto Cocina en Miniatura

What are tapas? Tapas foods are an institution that originates in Spain. They are small tidbits of food eaten at bars, while having a drink. Several tapas bars may be visited in one evening. Tapas can be divided into sections according to their different places of origin. For example, madrilene is a tapas specialty of Madrid that is made of tripe. Along the northern coast of Spain, there are many Galician tapas made with octopus and other shellfish.

Alicia Rios has described a tapeo as a term that: “is used to describe the tradition of going out before lunch or dinner to mingle with friends while drinking an aperitif, and sharpening the appetite for the main meal ahead by choosing from the myriad of tempting appetizers one offers in the bars throughout Spain.” You should also be prepared to eat tapas without any cutlery. Potentially, a small spear or fork is needed to attack your food and get it off a plate.

Frequently eaten tapas include: chorizo sausage, Serrano ham, potato omelet (tortilla espanola), Manchego cheese, ham croquettes, garlic shrimp, and clams in garlic. The casual style of tapas bars offers a great choice to save money. Eating on a limited budget, a hungry diner can salivate on garlicky mushrooms, spicy paprika sauce with snails and chorizo, and then move onto another tapas bar and enjoy green olives filled with piquillo peppers and anchovy.

Simple tapas can be delicious in seconds. Anchovies, olives, sausage, cubes of cheese, sardines, smoked oysters or clams, capers, garlic, Spanish jamon Serrano, pine nuts, and salt cod “bacalao” are just a few that can be used. Additional accessories to making tapas inlcude saffron, paprika, chili powder, wine vinegar, and olive oil.

Try making a garlic mayonnaise to accompany your tapas. Freshly made mayonnaise is the best. Here is how to make it. Combine 2 egg yolks with 1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper. Next you stir in a cup of olive oil. The last step is to add 1/2 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Make sure you do taste tests to adjust as you see fit. This recipe will make 1 1/2 cups of garlic mayonnaise. You should be able to mix these ingredients together in less than fifteen minutes.

Another little tapas dish I enjoy making is cumin-flavored carrot salad or ensalada de zanahoria bar bahai. This s a very yummy and healthy tapas. Start with 1/2 pound of scraped carrots, with their ends trimmed. Bring to a boil chicken broth and then add your carrots. Put a pinch of salt, then turn down to simmer for 10 minutes. You will want to cook them until they are slightly crisp. Cool them and cut them into 1/4 inch slices. In a separate bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons water, 1 large clove of garlic mashed to a paste, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon Spanish smoked sweet paprika. Place your sliced cooked carrots into this mixture and let marinade for several hours or overnight. Delicious!

Books to check out!

50 Classic Tapas

The Everything Tapas and Small Plates Cookbook

500 Tapas

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