Sunday, August 17, 2014


Cooking class: tapas and Sherry.


Come along on a cooking class and learn how to make tortilla and more great dishes from Spain!


“You can do it, Sarah,” I coach her. “Hold the plate tight on top of the tortilla, let some of the oil drain off into the bowl, then turn it right over.”

¡Olé! Sarah flips the tortilla and eases it back into the pan.

But, oh no!, some of the egg-potato mixture is sliding into the bowl too. We decide to put the tortilla back over a low flame and let it cook just a tad longer. The next try, Sarah turns the golden-brown tortilla onto the plate and slides it back into the skillet to cook on the reverse side. ¡Olé! Well done.

This is Day 1 of a three-day cooking course in My Kitchen in Spain with Sarah and Rosemary from Bristol, England. The tortilla is a variation on the classic one with just potatoes and onions. This one has diced chorizo (“everything can be improved with chorizo!” declares Sarah) and chopped chard as well.

We’ve already prepared three different gazpachos—traditional tomato, white-garlic with almonds and watermelon-yogurt—and put them to chill.

For the white gazpacho, we gather the almonds in the garden, crack them, blanch them to slip off the skins, then grind them in a food processor. That’s eating local!

The tomatoes, too, are from the garden. We do a taste-test—“long-life” supermarket tomatoes, all of them stamped out of the same mold, identically red and unblemished; big, misshapen beefsteak tomatoes from the market, and ones from my garden. The supermarket tomatoes, Sarah and Rosemary say, are considerably better than the ones they get in England. The market tomatoes are way sweeter and more flavorful. Lastly, the homegrown, organic ones—wow! What a difference!

That gazpacho, with no cucumbers or peppers in the blend, is one of the best ever to come out of my kitchen.

Day 2, we are off to the local market in the morning to get everything for a paella dinner today (the paella shopping list and recipe appear here) and a tapas spread tomorrow.

Disappointment at the fish stall—“No quedan boquerones,” we are told. The  boquerones, fresh anchovies, to prepare al natural, in a vinegar marinade, are all gone. We compensate with some tiny clams to cook with wine and garlic, a la marinera.

At the butcher’s shop, we get chicken for the paella, pork to make pinchos morunos, spicy mini-kebabs; and sliced serrano ham to go with sweet melon. Later, I discover I’ve forgotten the ground meat (mince, as the English call it) for the albóndigas, meatballs in almond sauce, one of my favorite tapas. I stop at the supermarket later in the afternoon when I pick up Sarah and Rosemary who have stayed in the village to shop for gifts.

Sarah mixes white sangría.
Back in the kitchen, we make a white wine sangría with orange slices, peaches and melon to sip while we prep the paella. “Not too sweet,” says Sarah. “Just right.”  They choose not to dilute it with fizzy water.

Rosemary enjoys a sangría.

Prepping for paella. Artichoke!

We’ve already prepared leche merengada, meringue ice milk, and put it in the freezer. A sweet and cold finale to our meal.

Day 3, Sarah and Rosemary enjoy leftover gazpacho for lunch by the pool and we start our cooking class in the late afternoon. Lots to do today!

The “lesson plan” for our tapas class is my cookbook, TAPAS—A BITE OF SPAIN (the book, with photos by Michelle Chaplow, is available from Santana Books). Rosemary is looking ahead for ideas for a party she is planning for her husband’s birthday. I show them how to adapt tapa-bar favorites to home entertaining.

Because tapas in their origin—Sevilla, Jerez de la Frontera—are so closely associated with Sherry wines, our tapas party will also be a Sherry tasting. So, to get us rolling, we make dessert (or, as the Brits say, “pudding,” even if it’s not pudding)—Tipsy Cakes, squares of sponge soaked in Sherry syrup.

Here’s our tapas menu.

Manzanilla fino from Sanlucar de Barrameda with gambas al ajillo (sizzling shrimp), toasted almonds, regañas (crackers), manzanilla olives.

Pinchos morunos- pork kebabs.

Fino Sherry from Puerto de Santa María with serrano ham, figs and melon; pork kebabs (pinchos morunos) and Málaga salad with oranges.

Ensalada malagueña with oranges.

Oloroso seco Sherry from Jerez with meatballs in almond-saffron sauce, potato salad with lemony dressing and fried eggplant (aubergine) drizzled with molasses.

With tipsy cakes, in theory, we should have had an accompanying PX Sherry, but we are happy to keep sipping the mellow oloroso seco with dessert. Sarah and Rosemary have a scoop of the remaining meringue ice milk too.

Meatballs in almond sauce.

Potatoes with lemon dressing.

All of the mentioned recipes, except for the tortilla with chorizo and chard, have previously appeared on this blog. To find them, go to the “Search” window at the upper-left corner and enter the recipe name.

Would you like to join me for cooking classes? Go to this blog post,, and follow the link there to send me an inquiry.

Tortilla de Patatas con Chorizo y Acelgas
Potato Tortilla with Chorizo and Chard

Tortilla with potatoes, bits of chorizo and chard.
Makes 20 tapas or 4 main dishes.

1 kg / 2 ¼ lb potatoes (about 4 large)
120 ml / 4 fl oz / ½ cup olive oil
150 g / 5 ¼ oz chard leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped onion
85 g / 3 oz chorizo, cut in ½ cm / 3/8 in dice
1 teaspoon salt
6 eggs

Peel the potatoes, cut them in half lengthwise and slice thinly crosswise. Heat the oil in a 28-cm / 11-in no-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the potatoes, turn them in the oil, then reduce heat and let them cook slowly, without browning, 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, blanch the chopped chard in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain well.

Add the onion, diced chorizo, chard and half of the salt to the potatoes in the pan. Continue cooking potatoes until they are completely tender, 15 minutes longer.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl with the remaining salt.

Place a large plate on top of the pan of potatoes. Tilt the pan so the oil runs to one side. Holding the plate tightly, carefully tip the pan and drain the oil into a small heatproof bowl. Stir the potatoes, chard and chorizo into the beaten eggs.

Return a spoonful of oil to the pan over medium heat. Pour in the egg-potato mixture. Spread it evenly. Reduce heat and cook, without stirring, until the tortilla is set on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Do not allow the bottom to brown too much. You can shake the pan occasionally to make sure the tortilla doesn’t stick on the bottom.

Again, place the plate on top of the pan. Working over a bowl to catch any drips, hold the plate tightly in place and turn the pan upside down, reversing the tortilla onto the plate. Slide the tortilla back into the frying pan. Let it cook on the bottom, 2 minutes.

Lift the front edge of the tortilla and carefully slide it out of the pan onto a serving dish or cutting board. Cut into 5-cm / 2-in squares to serve as a tapa or into wedges if serving as a lunch dish. Serve hot, warm or cold.


  1. Hey tapas and Sherry, you have shared great and unique dishes. My husband loves to eat tortilla. Every time we go on outings or for dinner he always order tortilla’s. I will try making these at my home, and can I make sangria too? It’s looking amazing. Do you give online cooking classes also? I would love to join those.

  2. ChrisMic: Good luck with the tortilla. You'll find the sangria recipe at this post

  3. Very good job, looks awesome =) We also recommend a healthy cooking class singapore for those who live busy lifestyles.