Thursday, July 12, 2018


A week at the beach! But not the Costa del Sol, where I live. We're at Orange Beach, Alabama, for a grand family reunion. With 12 people in two condos overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, we are keeping two kitchens in near-constant operation. Lots of gazpacho for steamy-hot days. Corn-on-the-cob with olive oil. Grilled steaks. And, of course, paella for the whole gang.

The Gulf Coast is big shrimp country. The paella has unshelled jumbo Royal Red shrimp on top and smaller, peeled white shrimp cooked with the saffron rice. Calamares (squid) were frozen and mussels came from far away. I brought the La Mancha saffron with me. Perfect with Spanish pink cava.

Surf 'n turf--boneless ribeye steaks, medium rare, with Gulf shrimp and corn cooked with Louisiana shrimp-boil spices. 
Family reunion on the beach.

Eli on white sands.

In the surf! 

With Elaine on the beach.

Lucas at sundown, doing the dance.

Sundown. What's for dinner tonight? Maybe Gulf red snapper, locally caught.

Paella recipe from a previous trip to the U.S. is here


Sunday, July 1, 2018


In my book, TAPAS—A BITE OF SPAIN (Santana Books, 2008), I have a whole chapter devoted to fritos, tapas from the frying pan. I've very nearly worked my way through the 24 recipes for fried foods in this blog—with three just in the past few weeks.

Fried foods are the irresistible stars of many tapa bars. They appeal to all the senses, go with every drink. Genuine crowd pleasers, fried foods are worth adding to your tapas repertory. So, here’s one more before I turn my attention to gazpacho and salads.

These are rolls of thinly sliced eggplant wrapped around jumbo shrimp. Fasten the rolls with toothpicks, dip them in egg and breadcrumbs and pan fry them until golden. Crisp on the outside, the eggplant makes a creamy layer encasing the shrimp. These savory tidbits are good with a sauce such as piquillo pepper sauce or garlic mayonnaise with saffron. Serve them as finger foods at a drinks party or as a starter.

Crispy rolls of eggplant wrapped around jumbo .shrimp, with piquillo pepper sauce for dipping.

Serve the rolls as finger food or, plated, as a starter.

In the pink--bubbly vino rosado, either cava or vino de aguja, is perfect with summer tapas.

Rollitos de Berenjena y Langostinos
Eggplant and Shrimp Rollups

Salting and draining the eggplant slices softens them so it's easy to roll them around the shrimp.

Don't let the oil get too hot when frying the rolls. You want to let the shrimp and eggplant cook through in the time it takes to brown the outside of the rolls.

Makes 12 tapas or 4 starters.

1 large eggplant, about 16 ounces
12 jumbo shrimp, peeled
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
1 cup fine, dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of oregano
Olive oil for frying
Dipping sauce, to serve (optional)

Place shrimp on eggplant slice and roll it up.

Cut off and discard the eggplant stem. Slice the eggplant lengthwise very thinly (1/8 inch), discarding 2 outer slices with skin. You should have 12 slices. Place the slices in a colander and sprinkle liberally with salt. Allow to stand for 45 minutes.

Pat the eggplant dry with paper towels. Place a shrimp across the wide end of a slice and roll up the eggplant around the prawn. Fasten the roll with a toothpick.

Rolls fastened with picks are ready to be breaded and fried.

Ready for frying in hot olive oil.

Fry the rolls slowly so the shrimp cook in the time it takes for the exterior to brown.

When all the slices are rolled, dip them, one by one, into beaten egg, then roll them in bread crumbs combined with salt and oregano. Place on a tray in a single layer. (The rolls can be prepared up to 4 hours in advance and kept, refrigerated.)

Add oil to a frying pan to a depth of at least ¼ inch. Heat the oil on medium heat until it is shimmering, but not smoking. Fry the rolls, a few at a time, until they are browned on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes total. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

Salsa de Pimientos Piquillos
Piquillo Red Pepper Sauce

Piquillo pepper sauce goes with fried and grilled foods.

This is a sensational dipping sauce or a dressing for vegetables or prawns. And it’s ever so simple. The flavor comes from those special peppers, tiny red piquillos from Navarra, that are sweet and piquant at the same time. They are roasted, peeled and packed in tins. All you have to do is open the tin or jar, put the piquillos in a blender with some olive oil. How hard is that? You can add a pinch of thyme or cumin or chopped chile, if you like it “hot. If you want a warm sauce to serve with hot foods, just heat the sauce gently in a small saucepan.

1 can piquillo peppers, drained (about 10 peppers)
1 clove garlic
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt

Combine the peppers, garlic, oil, vinegar and salt in a blender or food processor. Blend to make a smooth purée. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, up to one week.

To order TAPAS--A BITE OF SPAIN from Amazon España.

More recipes for fried tapas:
Mushroom, Cheese, Ham Croquettes.
Cheese Puffs (Buñuelos).
Marinated Fried Fish (Adobo).
Málaga Mixed Fish Fry.
Batter-Fried Shrimp (en Gabardinas).
Spinach Fritters.
Cod Fritters with Molasses.
Crispy Fried Chicken Wings.
Flouncy Fried Pork Rolls (Flamenquines).
Fried Ham and Cheese Sandwiches (Emparedados)
Fried Potatoes with Spicy Sauce (Bravas).
"Land Fish" (Fried Eggplant, Asparagus, Beans)
Stuffed and Fried Chard Stems.

Saturday, June 23, 2018


Did you miss World Tapas Day? That was Thursday, but you can still celebrate. Are you inviting folks over to watch the next Spain match in World Cup soccer? Maybe you’re planning a picnic for the Fourth of July?  Whatever the occasion—tapas party, picnic at the beach, buffet supper or potluck, the answer is wings! Bring ‘em.

Crispy chicken wings with a green chile/cilantro dipping sauce.

Wing drumettes are breaded and fried in olive oil.

Wings and potatoes with spicy mojo--terrific tapas, with Sherry--

or with beer.

My world-class wings are Spanish-inflected—there is smoked pimentón in the marinade and they are fried in olive oil. The wings can be served as finger food (paper napkins on the side and a bowl for bone discards), with or without a dipping sauce. I’ve made a green chile sauce, called mojo verde, to go with the wings and with new potatoes. (More sauce suggestions are at the end of this post.)

Cheering for España!

Spain’s last match in first-round play is Monday, June 25, against Morocco. (At 8 pm in Kalingrad, Russia, 8 pm in Spain, and 2 pm ET in the US.) Will the team make it to the final July 15? That will mean a lot more wings!

Crispy Fried Chicken Wings
Alitas de Pollo Empanadas

The thick wing joint, also called drumette, is best for breading and frying. If you have to use whole wings, save the flat joints and wing tips for making stock.

The wings are seasoned in a quick marinade before being empanadas, breaded, by dipping in flour, beaten egg and bread crumbs. Allow the breaded wings to dry in the fridge for an hour before frying. More about frying with olive oil here.

Makes about 16 pieces.

2 pounds wing joints, preferably drumettes
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sweet smoked pimentón (paprika)
½ teaspoon picante (hot) smoked pimentón or pinch of cayenne
½ teaspoon crumbled thyme
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
1-2 cups flour
2 cups fine dry bread crumbs
Olive oil for frying
Dipping sauce, to serve

A quick marinade with pimentón and lemon juice gives the wings flavor.
Place the wings in a single layer on a sheet pan. In a small bowl combine 2 teaspoons salt, pepper, two kinds of pimentón, thyme and lemon zest. Sprinkle the salt mixture evenly over both sides of the wings. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Let the wings marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Assembly line for breading the wings: dredge them in flour, dip in beaten egg, then roll them in fine dry bread crumbs. Let them dry for an hour before frying.
Beat the egg with the water in a medium bowl. Combine the flour with ½ teaspoon salt and place it in a shallow bowl or pan. Place the bread crumbs in another bowl or pan. Dredge the chicken wings in flour then dip them in beaten egg. Roll them in bread crumbs. Place on a sheet pan and refrigerate, uncovered, for 1 hour.

Frying wings in olive oil. Don't let them brown too quickly. They need to cook thoroughly in the 6-8 minutes it takes to brown them on all sides.

Place oil in a frying pan to a depth of 1 inch. Heat the oil until it is shimmering, but not smoking (360ºF, if you have a frying thermometer). Add wings in one layer. Fry until golden on one side, about 2 minutes. Turn once or twice more until wings are golden-brown on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes total. Moderate the heat so wings don't brown too fast. (Remove and cut into one wing to make sure meat is cooked.) Skim the wings out and drain them on paper towels. Continue frying remaining wings.

Serve hot, warm or room temperature, accompanied by dipping sauce, if desired.
Wings can be reheated in a medium-hot oven for 5 minutes.

Once cooled, wings can be packed in plastic containers for carrying to a picnic.

Green Chile Sauce
Mojo Verde

Spicy chile sauce with fresh cilantro goes well with fried foods.

Instant potato salad: spoon the mojo chile sauce over boiled new potatoes.

This sauce is typical of the Canary Islands where it is served with potatoes and grilled fish. My version this week uses green garlic scapes, the flowering stems of the garlic plant, instead of cloves of garlic. 
Garlic scapes.

4 cloves garlic or 3 tablespoons chopped garlic scapes
1 green chile, such as jalapeño (or to taste)
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
½ cup chopped parsley
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
¼ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons water

Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. The sauce keeps, covered and refrigerated, one week.

More recipes for chicken wings:

More sauces to serve with fried chicken wings: