Viva España

I adore Spain!

Since I was a child I have spent long lazy summers with my family at our home on the Valencian coast. So much of what I love about being there is to do with the region’s incredible food.

There were daily deliveries of crème patisserie filled buns from the local panadaria van, disappearing to the beach armed with sobrasada filled bocadillos (sandwiches), enormous paella’s cooked on our neighbours drive, watermelons the size of my head on the market. My list could go on and on.

Back home in London I try to bring a touch of Spain to my kitchen and often cook the dishes I have learnt from my family, two of which I would lie to share with you…

The first dish, Tortilla de Patata, is perfect for picnics and makes a great evening supper. The second, braised octopus, is a fantastic dish for dinner with friends, served with a hunk of fresh bread and Gordal olives stuffed with orange.

Tortilla de Patata
The classic potato omelette, a staple of all Spanish homes.
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Ingredients (Serves 4)
• 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 2 medium white Spanish onions, thinly sliced
• fine salt
• 5 medium sized floury potatoes such as Maris Piper
• 6 large free-range eggs, beaten

Method
Heat 6 tablespoons olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and add the onions and season with salt. Gently fry the onions for 20 minutes or so until soft and brown, but not burnt.
Peel and halve the potatoes, and then finely slice the pieces. Add the potatoes to the onions and fry for 30 minutes until they completely cooked. Remove any excess oil with a spoon. Season and set aside.
While the mixture is still warm, add the beaten eggs and stir everything well.
Heat a non-stick frying pan with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and add the potato mix. Stir it for 1 minute then smooth it down, and let it fry gently for at least 10 minutes until there’s a beautiful brown crust underneath.

Once it’s cooked on the frying pan side, take a flat lid or plate and place it over the tortilla. Clamp pan and lid together and twist both over together so that the tortilla is now on the lid.
Return the pan to the heat, and slide the tortilla back into the pan. It’s a bit scary to begin with, but practise makes perfect and it’s very easy to get the hang of the technique.
To serve, let the tortilla cool to room temperature.
Perfect with Tomato & Basil salad drizzled with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Braised octopus with smoky paprika
Perfect for a dinner party or Summer Sunday lunch.
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Ingredients (Serves 4)
• Small octopus (approx. 1kg in total; ask your Fishmonger to clean and prepare it for you)
• 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
• 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
• 150ml Dry Fino Sherry
• 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
• 1 tablespoon clear honey
• 300g chickpeas, drained
• ¼ lemon, juice only
• 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
• Handful fresh parsley, chopped, to serve

Method
Chop the octopus into 3cm pieces and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pan with a fitted lid. Add the onion and garlic, season and sauté for 10 minutes, adding the paprika after 5 minutes.

Add the sherry and cook until the liquid has reduced by half. Add the tomatoes and honey.

In a separate pan, fry the octopus for 1-2 minutes until it starts to colour, then add it to the stew along with the chickpeas. Cook for a further hour on a low heat.

Season to taste with the lemon juice & vinegar then sprinkle with parsley to serve.

Perfect with a hunk of bread and Spanish olives stuffed with orange segments.

Enjoy your Summer Spanish eating!
Until next time…

Gemma Banks – Creative Director