Tapas is great food for entertaining it's easy to wow guests with a colourful array of dishes, a lot of which can be prepared in advance, and people get to try a multitude of flavours. Here's how to put on a tapas spread the easy way.
When you have tapas in a Spanish restaurant you will invariably be treated to a procession of hot and cold dishes. That would be daunting to do at home meatballs in tomato sauce might sound easy but it takes time. You can keep it simple by limiting yourself to just a couple of hot dishes. The rest can be cold or things you have prepared earlier. This approach also makes it appropriate for laying it all out on a buffet.
What to buy
If you have a Spanish deli in your neighbourhood, make a beeline for it. Spain is famous for its hams, so try and get hold of some proper jamon or Bayonne-style ham as well as some Spanish salami. Buy some stuffed pimentos, if they have them. If you want to treat your guests to some really special imported olives, see if the deli has Priotrat Natur Arbequina olives olives infused with herbs.
While you’re out, buy some whole almonds, a small carton of buttermilk, some dried pimento, potatoes, cleaned squid tubes or baby calamari and some peeled uncooked prawns. Make sure you have sherry, sea salt, chilli flakes, Tabasco, garlic, olive oil and whole egg mayonnaise in the cupboard at home.
Preparing your food
Just before your guests arrive, lay out the cold meats, stuffed pimentos and olives. Then tackle the cooked items. First, spread the almonds on a baking tray and bake in a 350ºC oven for about 15 minutes.
While they’re in, beat an eggwhite and 1 tsp sea salt together for every cup of almonds you’ve used. Pull the nuts out and toss them in the eggwhite mix. Return almonds to the tray, shake them about and pop them back in the oven for 5 minutes to dry. Put them in a serving bowl with the rest of the spread.
Now peel and chop the potatoes into small fine cubes, slice the squid into rings (or chop the calamari up a bit if they are large) and de-vein the prawns, leaving the ends on.
When the guests arrive, give them a glass of sangria, put an Enrique Iglesias CD on and get started on the hot tapas.
Cooking the hot tapas
In a frying pan, fry the potato cubes in olive oil until crisp along with some crushed garlic and a few chilli flakes or a couple of drops of Tabasco. Mix some whole egg mayo with a dash of buttermilk, black pepper and a big squeeze of lemon juice (it needs to be a little runny). Drain the cooked potato on paper towel and put on a serving platter. Drizzle with the spicy mayo and let guests help themselves.
Now go back to the kitchen. Dust the squid, calamari and prawns in a little plain flour to which you’ve added salt and pepper, a few pinches of dried pimento and a pinch or two of chilli flakes. Heat a large frying pan with a little oil and stir-fry the squid/calamari in lots. Drain on a paper towel and put on a platter with lemon wedges.
Next, stir-fry the prawns the same way but add a few drops of Tabasco, plus a big dash of sherry at the end. Place on a platter and serve.
Help yourself to a glass of sangria.
Arriba! Viva España!
Here are some more delicious recipes to try:
• 14 of the best Spanish recipes
• Sangria recipes
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