Smoky Garlic Prawns with Paprika & Chorizo
Chicken and Spinach Croquettes
Crispy Peppered Squid with Saffron and Garlic Mayonnaise
Whether it’s Tapas, Meze or Antipasti the concept of plates of small amounts of finger food brought to a table to be shared amongst family and friends is one of the best ways to eat and experience another culture’s cuisine.
I love food not only because it tastes great, but because it has a remarkable quality of bringing people together. It’s more than simply a sustenance; food is love, family, pride and a wonderfully unifying element – every family celebration revolves around food.
When I go to a restaurant I usually want almost everything on the menu – I like to taste everything. You should see me at a food market. I’m like a food-guzzling demon attacking free food samples: I’ve barely swallowed a mouthful of olives and I’m dunking a cracker into a jar of preserves. So, eating in the tapas style really suits me as I get to taste a lot of different dishes. Plus, I love the idea of sharing food. I adore eating, but it’s not only the food that makes my dining experience satisfying it’s also the company. Food just tastes better when you are sharing it with someone.
Enjoying a meal with friends and family is my favourite thing in the world as it encompasses three of my favourite things: eating, talking, and drinking (in that order). However it also encompasses or rather provokes three of my least favourite things: calories, hangovers and spending money (in that order).
Any who, eating in the style of tapas is the best way to share a lunch or dinner with family and friends. If you want to have a successful lunch/dinner with family and friends tapas is the way to go. Not only can a lot of the prep be done in advance and the rest cooked quickly on the spot, but tapas has the ability to get your guests talking and in the mood for a good time.
The passing around of food triggers a chain of reactions and comments. The table becomes alive: suddenly everyone is talking, eating , laughing and basically having a fabulous time. One person is raving about the prawns another asking if anyone has tried the grilled peppers — everyone becomes immersed in the food and dining experience. Combine that with plenty of good wine (well, start with a few good ones and by the end even papsak tastes good) and you have yourself a real winning, dinning experience that will make even the inevitable hangover seem worth it.
Smoky Garlic Prawns with Paprika & Chorizo:
6 cloves of garlic
2 tbls olive oil
1 chorizo sausage, cut in cubes
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 red chilli, finely chopped
420g fresh prawns ( I bought my at Woolworths)
1 tbls chopped flat-leaf parsley
crusty bread, to serve
Finely chop four of the garlic cloves and set aside. Finely slice the rest.
Heat the olive oil and melt the butter in a large saucepan over a low heat. Add the sliced garlic and cook, stirring, for a minute or two, or till the garlic turns golden. Remove from the heat with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towelling. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook the chorizo for about 3 minutes or until the chorizo is crispy.
Add the chopped garlic and chilli and fry for one minute. Coat the prawns in the paprika and add to the pan with the garlic and chillies. Cook for about 2 minutes or until the prawns turn pink and curl.
Toss the parsley, chorizo and the crispy garlic slices through the prawns. Taste and add seasoning if needed. Turn out into a small bowl and serve with crispy bread.
Chicken and Spinach Croquettes:
90 g butter
90 g flour
1 tsp dijon mustard
125ml of low-salt chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1/3 parmesan cheese
1tbls lemon juice
1 tbls olive oil
½ onion, chopped finely
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
3-4 slices of streaky bacon, chopped
200g minced chicken
2 tbls parsley, finely chopped
1 bag spinach leaves
3/4 cup of seasoned, dry breadcrumbs
½ cup of ground almonds
seasoned flour, for coating
2 eggs, lightly beaten
To make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, then add the flour and stir for a minute or two, or until the mixture is dry and crumbly in texture. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the chicken stock. Return to the heat and gradually add the milk, whisking all the time. Add the bay leaf, dijon mustard, cream and parmesan cheese. Cook, stirring all the time, for 5-7 minutes or until the sauce is thick and smooth and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.. Add the lemon juice, taste and add seasoning if needed. Remove from the heat , remove the bay leaf and set aside
To make the filling, heat the oil and butter in a frying pan. Add the onion, garlic and bacon and cook for about 5 minutes on a medium heat. Add the chicken, breaking up any chunks with a fork or back of a spoon, and fry until the chicken changes colour and just cooked through , season to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
Wash the spinach and cook in about 4 tablespoons of water for about 5 minutes or till the spinach has wilted completely. Set aside and once cool enough to touch, squeeze the spinach to release any excess water and roughly chop into small pieces.
Add the cooked chicken and chopped spinach to the béchamel sauce. Mix well, season to taste. Cover and place in the fridge for 2-3 hours or until the mixture is completely cooled and firm enough to mould.
Divide the filling into 24 portions and roll into small croquette shapes (about 4 -5 cm long). (I find it easier to roll them into croquettes when I coat them in the flour). Combine the breadcrumbs and ground almonds. Lightly coat the croquettes in the flour, then dip into the beaten egg and then coat in the breadcrumb mixture. Place the croquettes in the fridge till ready to be fried.
Deep-fry the croquettes in oil for about 2-3 minutes or until they turn golden. The oil should be heated to about 180 degrees Celsius (or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 15 seconds). You don’t want the oil too hot or else the outside will brown too quickly and the inside will still be cold.
Fry croquettes in batches and drain on paper towelling, serve immediately with wedges of lemon.
Crispy Peppered Squid with Saffron and Garlic Mayonnaise
Saffron and Garlic Mayonnaise:
1small pinch of saffron threads
the juice of ½ a lemon
1 clove of garlic, blanched in hot water for a minute
2 egg yolks
1 tsp dijon mustard
1stp white wine vinegar
300ml canola oil (vegetable is fine)
salt and pepper
Crispy Peppered Squid
250g cleaned squid heads and tubes (I got mine from Woolworths)
250g flours flour
2 tbls ground black pepper
1 tsp of salt
oil for frying the squid
To make the saffron and garlic mayonnaise, put the saffron and lemon juice in a small saucepan and allow to just come to the boil. Quickly remove and set aside and allow the saffron to steep.
Put the egg yolks, wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and mustard into a bowl. Stand the bowl on a damp cloth to hold it steady. Using a balloon whisk or an electric hand-mixer, beat well until smooth and creamy. Now trickle in a few drops of oil while constantly whisking.
Continue to whisk in the oil drop by drop at first, then slowly increase the amount you add to a slow stream. Making sure each addition is well incorporated before you add any more. This way you will achieve a thick mayonnaise.
Add the saffron and lemon juice to the mayonnaise, grate the garlic on a fine setting into the mayonnaise, stir and and season if needed.
To make the peppered squid, combine the flour, salt and pepper and place in a container that has a lid. Pop the squid into the flour mixture. Put the lid on the container and shake around until all the squid is completely covered in the flour.
Heat the oil to about 180 degrees Celsius. Working in batches of three, shake off any excess flour and pop the squid into the hot oil, and deep-fry for about 1-2 minutes, or until lightly golden. Drain on paper toweling, season well and serve immediately with the saffron and garlic mayonnaise.