Spain's sun-drenched shores are famed for their revolutionary cuisine, from Ferran Adrià's groundbreaking molecular gastronomy techniques to the eye-popping chocolate creations of pattisier Oriol Balaguer. But as you'll see from the recipes below, getting a taste of the Mediterranean at home doesn't have to be complicated – just add friends, good times, a drop of sunshine and a cold Estrella Damm lager.
Bacalo En Salsa Verde
Serves 4 as a main dish
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
100ml olive oil
5 garlic cloves
1 tsp plain flour
50ml white wine
200ml fish stock (fresh or from a stock cube)
Small bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 x 142g tinned cooked peas drained OR 100g frozen peas, defrosted
1kg cod fillet, cut into 4 portions
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
1. Put the olive oil and garlic in a large frying pan and place over a medium heat (you want to start frying from cold so that the oil becomes infused with the garlic aroma). When the garlic starts to golden, add the flour and toast it for a minute or so before adding the white wine, stirring all the time. Add the fish stock, little by little, stirring constantly so you get a smooth sauce.
2. Add the chopped parsley and peas and bring to the boil. Season the cod fillets and then place in the pan, skin-side down, and reduce the heat to low.
3. Cook the fillets for 3 minutes, shaking the pan gently to release the juices from the fish – this will make the sauce even more delicate and flavoursome. Turn the fillets over and cook for a further 4 minutes.
If my fishmonger has them, I often buy a handful clams to add to this dish – simply throw them into the pan just after adding the cod. Ingredients
For the filling:
70g plain flour
45g olive oil
1 Asturian chorizo
5 gelatine sheets (rehydrated)
For the coating:
50g plain flour
1 egg, beaten
2 handfuls breadcrumbs
Hot olive oil for deep frying
1. Slowly warm up the oil in a medium saucepan. When it’s hot, add the flour and stir over the heat until slightly brown.
2. Add the warm milk slowly, whisking the flour and milk mixture constantly. Cook at a low heat for one hour, mixing constantly to thicken your sauce.
3. Meanwhile, put the chorizo and the morcillas in a sauce pan, cover with water and boil for 30 minutes.
4. Leave the meat to cool, take off the skin and chop the meat.
5. Add the meat to the white sauce, mix well. Add the rehydrated gelatine sheets one-by-one and stir until the texture is creamy.
6. Taste the mix and season as required.
7. Place the mix in a rectangular mold until you have a 3cm deep layer. Cover and chill in the fridge for 12 hours.
8. Prepare your olive oil for deep-frying, cut the paste into 5cm squares, dip them in plain flour dusting off the excess, then into the beaten egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Deep fry in the hot olive oil until golden.
For the torto:
100g of yellow corn (polenta) flour
25g of plain wheat flour
0.5 tsp of salt
0.5 tsp of sugar
125ml of warm water
For the scrambled egg:
500g of sliced onions
5 tbsp of double cream
30g of Cabrales cheese (blue cheese)
3 tbsp olive oil
Olive oil for frying
Salt for seasoning
4 free range eggs
For the torto:
1. Blend the plain flours and yellow corn flour in a mixing bowl.
2. Add half a teaspoon of salt to the warm water.
3. Slowly add the water to the flour, gently working it with your fingers until all the water has been absorbed and the torto dough is smooth. Depending on the flour used, you may need to add a little extra water.
4. To cook the perfect torto, Ibérica chef Nacho Manzano recommends leaving the mix to settle in the fridge for at least a couple of hours before shaping each fritter.
5. Split the dough into eight pieces, rolling them into small balls with your hands.
6. Using your hands, flatten the balls into small, thin discs.
7. With your fingers, make a small hole at the centre of each.
For the scramble:
1. Make an onion confit by sautéing the onions in some olive oil over a gentle heat until very tender and dark in colour. Set aside.
2. In a pan, blend the confit and the blue cheese over a low heat.
3. When the cheese becomes creamy, add the double cream followed by the eggs, stirring constantly until you have a runny scrambled egg mixture. Set aside and keep it warm.
1. Add olive oil around three fingers deep to a frying pan and heat.
2. When the oil is very hot, add the tortos to the frying pan and cook until they puff up and turn golden.
3. Remove from the pan and set on absorbent paper to drain off any excess oil.
4. Top each torto with one spoon of the scrambled egg mixture and serve. The Catalan version of the classic French crème brũlée; in fact, many northern Spanish regions lay claim to the origins of this ever-popular dessert.
1l whole milk
1 cinnamon stick
Zest of 1 orange
1 star anise
1 vanilla pod
7 free-range egg yolks
120g caster sugar
55g corn flour
1. Mix the milk with the cinnamon, vanilla pod, orange zest and star anise in a large pan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer for ten minutes. In a separate bowl mix the egg yolks, sugar and corn flour until the mixture is smooth.
2. Pass the milk through a colander, then pour it into the egg mix while stirring. Return the mixture to the pan and bring it back to boil, stirring until a smooth, thick consistency is achieved.
3. Pour the mixture into four small terracotta pots, sprinkle a thin layer of demerara sugar on top and blowtorch lightly to caramelise the sugar. Alternatively, place under a medium grill until the sugar browns and bubbles. Ingredients
4-6 pieces Iberian Pig Cheeks
3 glasses Pedro Ximenez sherry
4 carrots, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to season
Warm corn tortillas to serve
1. Season the pig cheeks with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan until hot, seal the pig cheeks on all sides. Set aside.
3. Place the carrots, onions and leeks in a pan with a generous spoonful of olive oil. Add the three glasses of Pedro Ximenez, stir and cook for 10 minutes on a low heat. Blend the mixture until the consistency is that of a thick cream. Return to the pan.
4. Add the pig cheeks making sure they are completely covered with sauce (add water if necessary). Add more salt if necessary, cover the pan and let the cheeks cook on a low heat for at least one hour. The pig cheeks will be ready when the meat is tender enough to cut with a fork.
5. Remove the meat from the sauce and shred it into a bowl. Stir in some of the sauce then place the mix on warm corn tortillas and serve. The best kind of red mullet comes from the Mediterranean, and there are in fact two varieties: Mullus surmuletus, which likes to hang out near rocks, living off smaller fish and crustaceans; and Mullus barbatus, which lives in sandy waters eating all kinds of things.
In Britain, fishmongers tend not to distinguish between the two, selling simply ‘red mullet’, but it is well worth asking for the rock-loving version as it has a much sweeter, clearer flavour. You can identify the fish by the stripes on the first dorsal fin and, when fresh, three or four yellow streaks along its sides. Its profile is slightly more elongated and less snub-nosed than its cousin.
Red mullet has such a beautiful sweet flavour that it doesn't need anything complicated doing to it, just a simple pan-fry. This combination of potatoes and olives showcases the fish to perfection.
The mullet should have been caught on the day you buy them – buy the biggest specimens you can find. Each fish should weigh around 400g prior to filleting. Get your fishmonger to fillet them for you – each fish will give you two fillets of around 100g each.
3 medium potatoes, peeled
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 thyme sprig, leaves stripped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
30 Aragón or Kalamata black olives, pitted
10 chive stalks, chopped
4 x 400g red mullet, filleted
olive oil, for frying
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.
2. Slice the potatoes as thinly as possible (use a mandolin if you have one), then mix with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the chopped garlic and thyme leaves. Season, then spread the mixture over a greased baking tray. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked.
3. Meanwhile, blitz the olives and half the chives with the remaining olive oil in a food processor to make a thick purée.
4. Season the fillets. Heat some oil in a frying pan until it is medium hot – the oil should be shimmering but not smoking – and fry the mullet for 2 minutes skin-side down, then turn over and fry for another minute. You want a crispy skin.
5. Divide the potatoes between four plates, pop two fillets on top of each mound and, using a teaspoon, drizzle the plate with the olive purée. Scatter the remaining chives over everything and eat immediately. Ingredients
5 medium free range eggs
½ large onion
1. Peel, wash and cut the potatoes in 3mm slices, wash them with lots of water to remove the starch and drain them. Leave to one side.
2. Peel and thinly slice the onion. Heat olive oil in a deep saucepan and sauté the onions gently for 20 minutes.
3. In a frying pan, fry the potatoes on a medium heat with plenty of olive oil. When they are soft and lightly browned, take the potatoes out of the pan and drain the remaining oil.
4. In a bowl beat the eggs until they are well mixed. Add the potatoes and onions to the beaten eggs and stir well to combine, and season with salt.
5. Heat a deep non-stick pan and add two tablespoons of olive oil. When hot, move the pan so that the bottom is well oiled. Add the mixture of eggs, potatoes and onions and spread well. Lower the heat and move the pan with a circular motion so that the tortilla does not stick. Cook until you see that the mixture begins to bubble and the bottom and sides have begun to set.
6. Turn the tortilla by placing a flat plate over the pan, and turn the pan upside down over the plate. Return the tortilla by sliding it slip carefully from plate to the pan.
7. Move the pan in a circular motion, cook for a further 2 - 3 minutes depending on how set you'd like your tortilla to be. Serve hot or at room temperature. Great food doesn’t always require complex preparation or ingredients. Sometimes you just want something that looks great, tastes fantastic, and takes minutes to throw together.
Makes 12 portions
500g semi-soft goat’s cheese
1 tbsp sherry
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Parsley to garnish
1. Spoon the sherry vinegar, sherry and balsamic vinegar into a small bowl and stir together.
2. Slice the fig into thin slices, lay out on a plate and marinate in the sherry dressing for 20 minutes.
3. Cut the baguette - the slices should be around 1.5-2cm thick.
4. Drizzle bread with olive oil, then top each piece with a generous slice of Goats Cheese.
5. Place a slice of fig on top of the cheese, sprinkle with parsley, then season with salt and pepper to taste . Spike with skewer for the authentic pintxo look. Ingredients
200g Pimientos de Padron/Padron Peppers
200ml olive oil
Maldon sea salt
1. In a pan heat the olive oil to a medium heat.
2. Add the peppers and stir occasionally until the skins start to brown and blister.
3. With a slotted spoon, transfer the peppers to a bowl and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Serve hot.
Tip: The infused oil used for frying is great for frying eggs or stir frying vegetables.
The 2011 reopening of architect George Gilbert Scott’s former Midland Grand Hotel has resurrected one of the most visually arresting edifices in London; its former ‘Coffee Room’ is now home to this relatively casual venture from chef Marcus Wareing. His mark is evident in the well-drilled, personable service and flawless cooking. As with the rest of the hotel, the space is nothing short of spectacular – this is Victorian embellishment at its most exuberant, with pillars, gilt, cornicing and huge windows. But, thankfully, it’s no temple to fine dining: the please-all, best-of-British menu shows off the dedication and imagination of the kitchen with dishes such as crispy pig’s head with pickled cockles and sea herbs, or curried parsnip soup with onion bhajis. More traditional diners will be impressed by the sterling renditions of battered cod and chips, or beefburger with braised oxtail.Desserts continue the homeland theme: eccles cake with cheddar ice-cream, ‘Mrs Beeton’s snow egg’, Irish cheese with honeycomb. The weekend brings roasts and a popular brunch, complete with pianist. The equally handsome bar at the entrance is good to know about in an area short of quality drinking options. Situated next to the Eurostar terminus, where Continental Europeans enter England, this is a restaurant of which we can all be proud. Don’t wait for a train journey to book a table.
Venue says: “Join us in the historic, grand dining room of the Gilbert Scott for three stunning seasonal courses and a Pimm's Champagne cocktail for £30.”