by Rebecca Lee
Today we are exploring one of my favourite countries, When I think about this country, I can actually feel the sun shining on my face. That’s right friends. Say Hola to España!
My guide today is Melisa Prieto. Her family had a Spanish restaurant in the Sydney CBD for decades and as soon as we meet, the food conversations flowed quickly. Ok, I thought… this is great! Meanwhile, we are in Top Ryde City – I wonder where we are going? In actual fact, Spanish food calls for ingredients you most likely have in the pantry at home, however prepared in a way that are decidedly “Spanish”.
Me, 6 years ago, enjoying the sights and tastes of Barcelona:
Key Ingredients- Available at Golden Banana, Top Ryde City
Chorizo- authentic Spanish cooking calls for fresh Chorizo, not the dried one. Rodriguez Bros has been supplying Sydney with Spanish smallgoods since the 1970s. However if a trip to Yagoona isn’t on the cards, you can find both mild and spicy chorizo vacuum sealed in the refriderator section
Jamon Serrano- Say it with me… “haaamon” Serrano is (in my opinion) smoother and less fatty than prosciutto, and available by the slice from the Golden Banana deli. 6 slices set us back $1.75, enough for the entrée we will talk about later.
Manchego cheese- a hard, sheep’s milk cheese, creamy and sharp. Served with a delicious quince paste called Membrillo
Membrillo- a a sweet, thick, jelly made of the pulp of the quince fruit.
Piel de Sapo- the ugliest melon you ever did see but tastes similar to Honeydew. Wrap with Jamon and serve as a super easy entrée.
Other key ingredients- all available at Aldi- Spanish olives, Moro brand Olive Oil, short crust pastry sheets, tuna, mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic, crusty bread similar to pane di casa
Wine – Ooooo yes! Now we’re talking! All this time I had thought Sangria was the beverage of choice, however in Spain, its something only tourists drink.
Melisa explained that Alberino and Rioja are great regions for Spanish wines. She also let me in on a little secret… for $6.99 pick up a bottle of El Toro Macho Reserva 2011. It’s a Spanish red blend as good as any you will find in a bottle shop.
Dishes To Try
Melissa introduced me to some quick and easy dishes to try at home. We enjoyed a lovely lunch that took no time at all to prepare.
Pan Con Tomate- Toast slices of Pane di casa bread. Rub the toast with a garlic clove, and top with bruised tomatos, olive oil and a pinch of salt
Piel de Sapo- wrapped with jamon are sweet and salty and juicy and taste of a summers day.
- 2x sheets of frozen shortcrust pastry
- small tin sandwich tuna
- 4 slices tasty cheese
- half a tomato
- tablespoon of Spanish olives
- 4 mushrooms
- salt and pepper
Pre heat oven to 180degrees
- Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. It’s a good idea to give it a light spray of olive oil if you can to make the bottom crusty.
- Take 1 sheet of shortcrust pastry and line with cheese and thinly sliced tomato.
- Combine sandwich tuna, chopped up olives, chopped up mushrooms, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place the mixture on top of the cheese.
- Cover the first layer of pastry with the second, and pinch the corners to seal the two together.
- Cut a small slit in the top of your parcel to allow steam to escape whilst cooking.
- Lightly beat an egg, and brush the top of your parcel.
- Bake for 20minutes, until the top is golden and crunchy. Serve hot
Pimp Yo Empanada
The empanada fillings are endless…add chopped up boiled eggs to the above or try:
- Ham, cheese tomato
- Beef mince, chorizo and onions
- Mushrooms, cheese, tomato, olives
Dessert- slice chunks of manchego cheese and top with membrillo for a salty sweet finish to the meal.
Spanish Tapas Glebe– Awesome for groups- check out the flamenco shows- ole! http://www.spanishtapas.com.au
Lola Cocina- all you can eat tapas Mon-Thurs (limited time) www.lolacocina.com.au
Encasa- Sydney CBD- been around for a long long time, great value www. encasa.com.au
Tapavino- Sydney CBD- date night venue! over 300 Spanish wines and 80 Sherries in a bar like setting, http://www.tapavino.com.au