In the Basque country of Northern Spain, Tapas are called Pinxtos, which means a small snack usually served on a slice of bread and secured with a toothpick.We decided however to do a Tapas Menu.
gazpacho a la Andaluza
crab tart, salad
torta de cangrejo con ensalada
steamed salt cod, aïoli
bacalao con aïoli
duck breast, caponata
pechuga de pato
cheese, quince paste
queso con membrillo
torta de almendra
As part of the Taste of West Cork Food Festival, we did a Tapas Menu at the Restaurant.
At first we thought we would just do a evening as in Bilboa with people coming and going, trying tapas, having a drink. Then by the numbers of people booking we realized we wouldn’t have enough plates cutlery or glasses!!!! So we decided to keep it limited to 30 people and have them sit down and have a tapas tasting menu.
It was a great success in many ways. We are great lovers of cod, especially the cod from west cork. I salt it myself and use it in a couple of dishes;
All through the summer we have been trying to get people to try it steamed. Well that must have rung bells of boarding school days, it did not go!!
Steamed, it is delicate and refined. So when presented on a tasting menu, everyone loved it.
In Spain the salt cod used in cooking would be dried and very salty indeed.
I use fresh cod, a large fat fillet, salt it lightly for 2 hours. This removes the water. The fillet is then rinsed of salt,( taste a small bit to ensure its no longer salty) .Then I wrap it tightly in cling film (like a very tight sausage) overnight. This firms the flesh and keeps it intact when it is steamed.Aïoli is a garlicky mayonnaise that can be very rich, but goes very well with the delicate flavour of the steamed cod.
The menu we did was mostly Spanish with the exception of the “caponata” that was served with the duck. It is Sicilian in origin and is a sweet and sour relish, better eaten the day after it’s made to let flavours mingle.This dish, which has ties to Arab cooking would not be out of place in Spain, especially Andalusia, with its strong Moorish heritage of sweet and sour dishes.
Gazpacho has ancient origins, perhaps dating back to Roman times. One Theory is that it was an Arab soup of bread, olive oil, water and garlic that arrived in Spain with the Moors in the 8th century.
It became part of Andalusian cooking especially in Seville and Cordoba, using stale bread, garlic olive oil salt and vinegar.It was only with the arrival of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers from the new world that it evolved into it’s present red state.
The almond tart was made with a mixture of red wine poached pears and vanilla poached pears .The almond filling is a classic frangipane, made with almonds,butter, sugar and eggs.Many Spanish recipes of Arab origin contain ground almonds. They were used for centuries to thicken soups and stews.
So that’s a run down on the Menu, next post will have the recipes!!!