A "first course" in Spanish - tapas

You maybe short of time, and maybe a little short on cooking skills. But as summer yawns into August, there's no need to shy away from the kitchen. Instead, simplify.The desire to not turn on your oven combined with the plethora of summer produce means that cooking becomes less of a worry. In fact, it's a fun and inspirational challenge to see just how long you can go without turning your kitchen into a sauna in the middle of August.
The main goal of summer cooking is simple: Buy all the fresh produce and try to not turn on the oven. At all. If you must, boil some pasta or sauté some prawns with garlic on the hob, but that hot box called "THE OVEN" should remain off as much as possible. How do you cope? I hear you say.There are outdoor grills, barbecues,but the bulk of your efforts should concentrate on assembly, which is basically cooking without the heat.

"making cold soup is not cooking,it is responding appropriately to seasonal circumstances

For example, last night's dinner involved the following: A platter of sliced tomatoes, mozzarella , avocado, drizzled with home made Asian style pesto and then strewn with herbs and salt,Try a simple crisp green salad with shaved radishes, raw carrots and beetroot;Stir fried prawns and garlic; Iberican ham,boquerones; figs, soft fresh goats cheese and pistachios  and a loaf of crusty bread, a nice cheese, and a decent bottle of rosé. There you have it — some pretty delicious dinners with just the tiniest bit of applied heat.
Dont chastise yourself this is not "lazy cooking," it is responding appropriately to seasonal circumstances. In other words, this is smart cooking, this is inspired cooking, this is living-in-the-moment cooking. No apologies necessary. If the cultural identity of a country is wrapped up in its food, it's fair to say tapas is more than just a pre-dinner snack.Take a lesson from the Spanish and make a delicious spread of simple appetisers Tapas is fast, easy, tasty as hell and made for sharing. Plus, it's gastronomy's most social food, made for those slow lunches that roll into the night, and into the third bottle of wine.What better when demanding friends need to be fed, you wont have to be a slave to the oven night after night.
In principle tapas is a slice of bread topped with any ingredients, served hot or cold, and eaten with fingers or a fork. It's something to be done before a meal, but then tapas can often replace a meal. The point of tapas is that you're not locked into a formal meal. There's very little commitment in sampling tapa. The only thing universally agreed on is how it's eaten:invariably with a drink.Here are 6 of my favourites.......

Gazpacho shots,why not have 3 shots at it?
Three super cool soups for a hot sultry summer meal.Traditional recipes for making samorejo and ajo blanco came from Elizabeth Luards book "The food of Spain and Portugal. "The beetroot gazpacho is a casa rosada signature dish.

Honey glazed Chouriço pinchos with garlic  ( pictured above)
250 g semi-cured whole iberico chorizo
2 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon runny honey

Slice the chorizo into 2cm rounds. Put into asmall frying pan with a splash of olive oil and toss occasionally until golden and crisp.Lightly bash 2 unpeeled cloves of garlic with the heel of your hand or the bottom of a saucepan and add to the pan.Carefully drain away most of the fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon of it behind. Add the sherry vinegar and runny honey and leave to reduce down to a really sticky glaze. Keep an eye on it, giving the pan a shake every so often so it doesn’t catch.

Pimientos Piquillos Rellenos 
piquillo peppers stuffed with just about anything
A "tapa" that is light and easy - and no cooking involved! A great dish for the summer or any time you want to prepare an appetizer quickly. Mix tuna with a bit of green onions, black olives and parsley, then stuff into roasted red peppers and serve.Any of your favourite dips would suffice as alternatives.Pea mousse LPA shown below.

Pan con tomate (Spanish toast)
All you need for this simple Spanish snack is good-quality olive oil, bread, garlic, a ripe tomato, and a sprinkle of sea salt.Only 5 ingredients, only 5 minutes to prepare
1 (6") piece of baguette, halved lengthwise

1 clove garlic

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 very ripe large tomato

Coarse sea salt, to taste
Toast bread on a griddle until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Rub garlic over cut surface of bread and drizzle with oil.Put a box grater into a large bowl and grate tomato over largest holes, discarding skin. Spoon grated tomato onto toast and sprinkle with sea salt.

Gambas al ajillo (garlic prawns)
One of the most common "tapas" of Spain, this dish is quick, easy and full of garlic flavour.No recipe needed 

Figs in a blanket
Prosciutto wrapped around fresh figs? Mascarpone cheese and Dijon mustard stuffed  figs,wrapped  in an extremely thin slice of presunto serrano and then finished with a topping of coarsely chopped pistachio
Pairing the fresh, savoury flavour of prosciutto with sweet rich figs and then stuffing them with this Dijon mustard-based cream creates a contrast to the lightly vinegared mustard and naturally sweet mascarpone.Topping the figs with coarsely chopped pistachios gives the dish a nutty salty finish.YUM!!!!!


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