Gluten-Free Chorizo Puffs

 Patatas Bravas

Pork Pinchitos

Gluten-free grilled bread with garlic & tomato

 

“Eat when you drink, drink when you eat” is the saying for tapas.

The idea of tapas came from Andalusia, where one complimentary tapa per drink was served, with a different one for each additional drink. For those with a big appetite, I’m sure they nursed a guaranteed hangover the next day!

Nowadays, classic tapas dishes are purchased and shared over less rigorous drinking terms and revolve around fried or pickled shellfish, cured meats, fritters, locally made strong cheeses and grilled bread. As tapas is “real” food using good local ingredients, each one is presented with flair, making tapas so exciting. One tapas dish is never the same in the next restaurant!

The word tapa means “cover” and got its name when bread slices topped with cheese or ham were balanced over a glass to keep the flies out.

After reminiscing all the tapa dishes that I have sampled, I have selected my favourite ones that are naturally or converted as gluten-free. If you plan to make all these recipes for a get-together, the menu should be enough for 4 persons. Obviously, double the recipe for 8 persons, etc. Add in some additional cured Spanish ham, cheese, pickled vegetables and seafood like anchovies or baby octopus to add contrast and variety to the main tapas dishes.

To extend your tapas menu with a refreshing starter and dessert, I would recommend serving Spanish gazpacho in shot glasses and as a light Spanish dessert, Flan with Dulce de Leche in small ramekin pots.

 

Gluten-Free Chorizo Puffs

What better way to use smoked Spanish chorizo as these deep-fried fritters puff up beautifully with specks of crisp chorizo and red peppers visible. As you bite into these puffs, melted Manchego cheese and garlic greet you. This is a family favourite in my household and I’m sure you’ll love these too!

Ingredients:
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, for frying the chorizo
  • 100g smoked cured Spanish chorizo sausage, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 red pepper/capsicum, chopped finely
  • 150g store-bought or homemade gluten-free self-raising flour
  • 50g yellow cornmeal
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 55ml olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 300ml gluten-free beer
  • 100g Manchego, Pecorino or Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • Sunflower oil, for deep-frying

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Heat a wide frying pan to medium heat and add 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Cook the chorizo and red pepper pieces for 3 minutes, or until chorizo is crisp and golden. Drain on paper towels to remove any excess oil.

2. In a medium glass or ceramic bowl, mix the flours together.

3. Separate the eggs. Place the egg yolks in the flour mixture and the egg whites in a clean glass bowl.

4. Add the olive oil, garlic and beer to the flour mixture, combining well. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.

 5. Add the chorizo mixture, cheese and parsley to the flour mixture.

6. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold this into the flour mixture in several batches.

7. Using a melon baller for small chorizo puffs or a small ice cream scoop for larger puffs, scoop the batter and gently drop the puffs into the hot oil.

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8. Deep-fry until golden and puffed. Drain on paper towels and serve while hot.

  • Makes 30 small puffs or 10 large puffs
  • Keeps for 2 days
  • Reheat in a moderate oven for 10 minutes covered in foil
  • Unsuitable to freeze

Patatas Bravas

Probably the most popular and well-known tapas is Patatas Bravas. It is unheard of not to have this potato number on a tapas menu. The secret behind this amazing tapas dish is the sauce.

The Brava sauce (which means “brave” in Spanish, but in this context, “bold and spicy”) is in fact a roux* sauce made from stock rather than milk with a generous amount of sweet and smoked paprika added. The paprika is what makes this sauce “bold” and red. No tomatoes or tomato paste are ever added to an authentic Brava sauce. In fact, adding the tomatoes tones down the flavour of the sauce and makes it less “bold”. So, my tip is to leave out the tomatoes and cook like a true Spaniard!

Par-boiling the potatoes before roasting them is crucial for that fluffy interior and crisp coating. I have two roasting methods for you to choose from, either the oven or the air fryer method. Personally, I prefer the air fryer results. Despite using less oil, the potatoes crisp up better. Traditionally, the potatoes are deep-fried, but as so many tapas dishes seem to be deep-fried, I chose a healthier way to cook them.

*A roux is a basic white sauce made with butter/oil, flour and a warm liquid like milk or stock.

Ingredients:
  • 500g baby potatoes
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Generous sprinkle of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Brava sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons store-bought or homemade gluten-free plain flour
  • 250ml store-bought or homemade chicken or vegetable stock
  • ½ tablespoon sweet paprika/ pimentón
  • ½ tablespoon smoked paprika/pimentón
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Aioli or plain mayonnaise, to garnish
  • Fresh parsley leaves, to garnish

Step-by-Step Instructions for the OVEN method

1. Peel the potatoes (or leave them with their skins on, if preferred – more vitamins!) and cut them into small pieces about 1 ½ cm thick.

2. Add the potato pieces to a medium pan and add water to cover. Bring to the boil over medium heat. Cook for 10 minutes or until a skewer can pierce the potato easily but still have some resistance.

3. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F and place a large baking tray inside to heat up.

4. Drain the potatoes and add them to a bowl. Sprinkle the olive oil and seasonings over the potatoes and give it a good mix.

5. Transfer the potatoes onto a preheated baking tray and roast them for 15 minutes, turning them over halfway.

6. While the potatoes are roasting, prepare the Brava sauce by frying the onions gently in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for 2 minutes in a small saucepan.

7. Add the garlic and fry for a further 1 minute.

8. Add the flour and both paprikas and mix continuously for 2 minutes, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

9. Heat the stock up in a separate pot or in the microwave. Add this to the flour gradually, stirring vigorously, until it reaches a consistency, perfect for drizzling over the potatoes.

10. Leave to simmer gently for several more minutes.

11. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper to your taste.

12. Plate the potatoes into a tapas bowl and dress with the warm Bravas sauce. Top with aioli or plain mayonnaise, if desired. Sprinkle fresh parsley over the potatoes.

13. Serve immediately with an extra portion of Brava sauce on the side in a small bowl.

Step-by-Step Instructions for the AIR FRYER method

  1. Peel the potatoes (or leave them with their skins on, if preferred) and cut them into small pieces about 1 ½ cm thick.

2. Add the potato pieces to a medium pan and add water to cover. Bring to the boil over medium heat. Cook for 10 minutes or until a skewer can pierce the potato easily but still have some resistance.

3. Preheat the air fryer to 200°C/400°F and set the timer to 20 minutes. Allow the air fryer to heat up for 5 minutes.

4. Drain the potatoes and add them to a bowl. Sprinkle the olive oil and seasonings over the potatoes and give it a good mix.

5. Add the potatoes to the air fryer basket and leave them to cook for 15 minutes, shaking the pan every 5 minutes.

6. Add extra time to the air fryer settings if you would like the potatoes more golden and crisper.

7. Continue with steps 6 to 15 under the oven method instructions.

  • Serves 4-6 persons
  • Keeps for 3 days
  • The Brava sauce is suitable to freeze
  • Reheat the potatoes in a moderate oven for 10 minutes covered in foil

PORK PINCHITOS

These pork skewers are marinated in roasted spices influenced by the Moors who introduced skewers and spices to Spain. Another favourite tapas for Spaniards, especially in Andalusia where the butchers have ready-assembled and marinated pinchitos for sale, waiting to be grilled.

These pinchitos are delicious eaten on their own or dipped in the Brava sauce as well as aioli mayonnaise.

Aioli mayonnaise can be easily store-bought, but making your own is easy by simply mincing a clove of garlic with 5 tablespoons of good quality mayonnaise and 1 teaspoon of lemon.

Ingredients:
  • 500g pork* fillet, cut into 3 cm pieces

* Good substitutes for pork are chicken thigh fillets, chicken breasts, raw prawns or beef fillet

For the marinade:

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika/ pimentón
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons Spanish sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • ½ a lemon, to squeeze over the cooked pinchitos
  • Fresh parsley leaves, to garnish

 

  • 8 wooden skewers snapped in half using a sharp knife

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. In a small pan, dry roast the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds for a minute, or until they release their aroma.

2. Add the seeds to a mortar and pestle or food processor. Add the remaining marinade ingredients and blend until semi-smooth​.

3. Add the pork pieces to a glass or ceramic bowls. Spread the marinade over the pork, mix well and cover to chill for several hours.

4. Soak 16 halved wooden skewers in water and set aside. It is not crucial to have short skewers. You can use longer skewers if it is easier. 

5. Just before cooking the pinchitos, remove them from the fridge at least 30 minutes beforehand to come to room temperature.

6. Remove the soaking wooden sticks from the water and skewer 3 pieces of pork onto each stick.

7. Heat a griddle pan to medium-high heat and start grilling the pinchitos, allowing 3 to 4 minutes on each side. As pork fillet is lean, they will cook quickly. Be careful not to over-cook them, or they will end up tough.

8. Season with salt and pepper, a squeeze of lemon and fresh parsley leaves. Serve immediately.

  • Makes 16 skewers
  • Keeps for 2 days
  • Suitable to freeze raw or cooked
  • Reheat the pinchitos in a moderate oven for 10 minutes covered in foil

GLUTEN-FREE GRILLED BREAD with garlic & tomato

Using my gluten-free focaccia bread recipe, this flatbread is fuss-free to make – no kneading, no rolling out on a kitchen counter and no mess! The difference here is that the bread is thinner, like a pizza base.

Garlic topping: Once baked, they are sliced and grilled quickly to give it that crisp texture and grilled appearance. Garlic oil or butter is added before for extra flavour, although adding it after the bread is grilled is fine too.

Tomato topping: A classic topping is to rub fresh tomato halves on the warm bread. The juices are released and soak into the bread adding a subtle tomatoey flavour. In Spanish this dish is called “Pan con tomate” or “Pan a la Catalana” or in Catalan “pa amb tomaquet” as it originates from Cataluña, being one of their favourite tapas from this region. This is like the Italian bruschetta topping, except there is no flesh, just the juices and aroma of the tomato.

Ingredients:

For the gluten-free focaccia bread, please click on the link for the ingredients and recipe: Easy Gluten-Free Foccacia Bread

Garlic butter or oil topping:

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 50g butter, softened or 50ml olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped finely

Tomato topping:

  • 2 semi-ripe tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced in half
  • Olive oil or garlic olive oil used in garlic topping recipe, to taste

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Once the focaccia bread dough has been made, ease the dough into a large baking tray measuring 25 x 35 cm approx. Using your fingers and a small rolling pin (or the side of a glass), press the dough towards the sides of the pan.

2. Using your fingers, press down the dough to create small indentations and add small slivers of garlic.

3. Drizzle with olive oil and salt.

4. Bake for 20 minutes at 190°C/375°F.  Allow to cool down completely before slicing them into small portions. Sprinkle some fresh parsley over the top.

5. Just before serving, grill them on a dry griddle or panini maker until crisp and slightly golden and charred. Use one or both of the following toppings.

For the GARLIC topping:

1. Mix the garlic, butter and salt together. Add the parsley and set it aside in a small bowl. If using oil, mince the garlic and add this and the salt to the oil to marinate several hours before drizzling over the bread.

2. Just before serving, spread or drizzle some garlic butter or oil on both sides of the bread and grill them on a dry griddle or panini maker until crisp and slightly golden and charred.

For the TOMATO topping:

1. Rub a cut garlic piece and a cut tomato on one side of the warm grilled bread to release the flavours into it.

2. Drizzle some olive or garlic olive oil over, if desired and eat immediately as the bread will soften over time

  • Makes 10 slices
  • Keeps for 2 days
  • Suitable to freeze once baked (not grilled)
  • Reheat the bread slices in a moderate oven for 10 minutes covered in foil