Spanish -style cocktail meatballs in tomato -saffron sauce

This was a true find in cooks illustrated. Instead of the red meat traditionally used in these tapas, little appetizers , there are tapas bars found all over Spain , this recipe uses ground chicken . I use ground dark meat chicken , the end result is more juicy and flavorful than with all white meat.

serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer


2 slices high quality white sandwich bread , torn into small pieces

1/3 cup whole milk

1 lb ground chicken

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tbs minced fresh parsley leaves ( I use flat leaf , it has most flavor)

1 large egg yolk

1 medium garlic clove ,minced

3/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

2-3 tbs olive oil


1 small onion minced

1 small tomato, cored , seeded and chopped medium

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 bay leaves

1 tbs minced fresh parsley

1 tbs finely chopped blanched almonds

2 medium garlic cloves ,minced

1/4 tsp saffron threads

1/4 tsp paprika

salt and ground pepper , to taste


In a large bowl , mash the bread and milk together to form a smooth paste. Add the ground chicken , parmesan , parsley ,egg yolk, garlic ,salt and pepper to the mashed bread and mix until uniform. Shape the mixture into 1 inch round meatballs (1 tsp per balls , giving you 35 to 40 balls)

Heat 2 tbs of the oil in a 12 inch non stick skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Add half the meatballs and brown on all sides 5 to 7 minutes ,reducing heat if oil begins to smoke. Transfer balls to a paper towels. Discard all but 1 tbs of oil and repeat with the remaining balls. Add additional oil if needed.


Add onion to the skillet and cook over medium heat, scraping up any browned bits, until softened and lightly browned , 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the tomato and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the broth , wine and bay leaves, then carefully return the meatballs to the skillet. Simmer just until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes.

While the meatballs cook , mash together the parsley , garlic , saffron , paprika , 1/8 tsp salt and black pepper. When the meatballs are cooked through stir in the parsley mixture , season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaves and serve.


Spanish -style garlic shrimp

Gambas al ajillo are a tapas staple. Little shrimp sizziling in a pool of olive oil and garlic.One bite into the dish confirms that the garlic deserves equal billing with the shrimp. Generally the shrimp is served right in the cooking ramekin, but be careful ,it is very hot.serve along with crusty bread to mop up the richly flavored olive oil.

Serves 6 ,as an appetizer

14 medium garlic cloves,peeled

1 lb (31-40)shrimp,peeled,deveined, and tails removed

8 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 bay leaf

1 (2 inch) piece mild dried chile,such as new Mexico,roughly broken, seeds included

1  1/2  teaspoons sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves

Mince 2 garlic cloves . Toss minced garlic with shrimp, 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt ,in a medium bowl. Let shrimp marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile,smash 4 garlic cloves. Heat smashed garlic with remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil in12 inch skillet over medium low heat,stirring occasionaly until garlic is light golden brown,4 to 7 minutes. remove pan from heat and allow to cool to room temperature,remove garlic with slotted spoon.Discard.

Thinly slice 8 remaining garlic cloves. Return skillet to low heat and add sliced garlic,bay leaf, and chili. Cook, turning occasionally,until garlic is tender,but not brown.Increase heat to medium low,add shrimp with marinade to pan in a single layer. Cook shrimp,undisturbed ,until oil starts to bubble, about 2 minutes. Using tongs flip shrimp and continue to cook until almost cooked through ,about 2 minutes longer. Increase heat to high and add shrerry vinegar and parsley. Cook ,stirring constantly until shrimp are cooked through and oil is bubbling vigorously ,15 to 20 seconds. SERVE IMMEDIATELY.

Source Cook’s Illustrated

Scallops with Cava and Saffron Sauce.

Next time you want to impress your guests try this dish of Veneras con Cava y Azafran ,from the famous restaurant Horcher,one of Madrid’s legendary restaurants.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter

20 sea scallops

11/2 cups dry Cava or other sparkling wine

Pinch of saffron threads,crushed

1 cup whipping cream

Fresh Lemon juice

Minced fresh parsley

Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallops and saute just until cooked through,turning occasionally,about 2 minutes. Transfer to plate. Add Cava and saffron to same skillet and boil until reduced by half,about 7 minutes. Add cream and boil until reduced to sauce consistency,about 10 minutes. Season sauce to taste with lemon juice,salt and pepper. Return scallops to sauce and stir just until heated through. Divide scallops and saffron sauce among plates. Sprinkle with minced fresh parsley.

Patatas Bravas

Potatoes with Paprika sauce is a popular Tapas dish in spain. This particular dish is from a Tapas bar in Madrid called La Ardosa,well noted for their Patas Bravas. I have amended the recipe to be suitable for vegetarians,but the body of the recipe remains true to the original.

Serves 4

3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion,chopped

1 large tomato ,chopped

2 large garlic cloves,chopped

2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 cup vegetable stock

11/2 lbs Russet potatoes ,peeled cut into 3/4 -1 inch cubes.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in heavy medium skillet over medium low heat. Add onion,tomato,garlic and paprika and cook for 10 minutes,stirring occasionaly. Add flour and cook 3 minutes,stirring constantly. Gradually add stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer till mixture is reduced to 2 cups ,about 8 minutes. Transfer mixture to blender and puree till smooth. Season with salt and pepper. ( can be prepared 1 day ahead,cover and chill,before serving  BRING SAUCE TO SIMMER THINNING WITH ADDITIONAL STOCK IF NECESSARY)

Heat remaining oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add potatatoes and cook till golden brown and cooked through,stirring constantly, about 20 minutes. Transfer potatoes to paper towels to drain. Divide amongst 4 plates,top with sauce and serve.


Churros Madrilenos

Churros are like a crispy ,cinnamon sugar doughnut that is sold by street vendors in Spain and Mexico. They are addictive and one is just not enough. They should be served warm. One note about the thick dough,do not try to force the paste through a pastry bag,the mixture is too stiff. Use a star shaped cookie press.

makes 12-15

2 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

Vegetable oil for deep frying

1/2 cup sugar +1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, mixed in a brown paper bag

In a heavy2-3 quart sauce pan,bring the water and salt to a boil over high heat. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour in the flour all at once. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a thick coarse paste that pulls away from the sides of the pan in a mass. Cool to room temperature.

Heat 2-3 inches of oil in a deep fat fryer. Spoon about half of the dough in a large cookie press fitted with a star disc,and press 3 or 4  6 inch long ribbons of dough directly into the hot oil,cutting the ribbons off with the tip of a knife as you proceed. Turning thr churros occassionally,fry them for 5-8 minutes,or until they are a rich golden brown on all sides. Drain on absorbant paper towels.

Place in brown paper bag with the cinnamon sugar. close the bag and shake to coat the Churros. Remove and place on a serving plate.

Best served warm.

Recipe adapted from Time Life Books

Spanish grilled herbed baby lamb chops

This is a recipe from the renounded chef Mario Batali, printed in Food and Wine magazine. This is great grilled on an barbeque or in the winter on an indoor grill. Please note that in Spain the lamb chops are about the size of lolipops, you may need additional grilling time for chops available in the U.S.

12 4 oz baby lamb rib chops

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

2 teaspoons chopped dried lavendar buds

coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Light a grill. Rub lamb all over with the olive oil and drizzle on the vinegar. In a small bowl combine the sugar, rosemary and lavendar and season with salt and pepper. Rub the herb mixture over the lamb and grill over high heat, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes for medium rare -meat. Transfer to a platter, season with salt and pepper and serve.