Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Football food

The pope that stepped down at the end of last month had a special concern for Spain. Which seems fair - considering the rest of the world has a special concern for the Catholic church. His predecessor, John Paul II managed five visits to Spain in his 27-year-long career whereas in the span of this one's significantly shorter stint in the Holy Office he clocked in 3.

According to Pope Benedict XVI "Spain needed evangelizing to reconnect with the faith she has running in her blood". There's plenty of faith in here though. Especially in football. Which has a very special place in the Spanish hearts, bordering on religion. Though that was probably not what he had in mind.

But yes, football is something they take very seriously here. I can still hear the cheering echoing around the neighbourhood during the last World Cup as men everywhere gathered in their garage/man caves.

Today the eyes will be fixed on Champions' League, where Manchester United takes on Real Madrid. The beer will be accompanied by some slightly more masculine tapas: stuffed dates wrapped in serrano ham, chorizo rolls and patatas bravas- a tapas classic that, due to it's not-too-exotic nature, has even won the hearts of the English tourists.

But don't be fooled: though the catering might echo Spanish tastes, my heart is with the boys in red - now and always.

For the sausage rolls I wrapped the chorizo in a sheet of roasted green peppers left in the fridge, but it's strictly optional. It was just another one of my half-hearted attempts to smuggle more vegetables into my diet... And the puff pastry was sooooo store-bought.

Serves 2:


2 chorizos
(mine were 12 cm x 4 cm individuals)
1 puff pastry sheets (depends on the size of your sausages)
1 large green pepper, roasted and peeled and halved lengthways)
powdered garlic
1 egg, for brushing

Place the green pepper in a sheet on top of the puff pastry, sprinkle some garlic on top and top with chorizo. Roll the pastry around the sausage, pinch the seam so it will stay closed, brush with beaten egg and bake in 220 °until golden brown - about 7 - 10 minutes. Let cool for a while and then cut into slices.

Patatas Bravas

6 small potatos
(boiled and cooled)

the sauce:

1/2 onion
1 large garlic clove,  finely chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped
(mine was small. But fiery.)
1 tsp pimiento or any other paprika
a little bit of sugar
1 tsp tomato concentrate
1/2 tin crushed tomatos
a small dash of sherry vinegar
salt, pepper

Peel and cut the potatos in chunks. Boil in salted water until  almost done. Steam until dry and cool (best option is to use boiled potatos, left over from another day). In the meanwhile make the sauce. Heat some oil in a pan and throw in the garlic, chilli, paprika and onion. Let the concoction cook until the onion is soft. Then add the tomato concentrate, sugar and after a while the pureed or crushed tomatos. I used the leftovers from a tin of pureed tomatos and 2 tomatos that I chopped and added into the sauce - skin and all. They can be removed from the sauce as they start to come off.Let the sauce cook until it starts reducing (about 20 minutes) and then add the sherry vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and serve with the potatos. 

Fry the potatos until crisp and golden brown on the outside, either in the oven or in a pan. Drain on kitchen towel and serve with the spicy sauce. Some add aioli. I don't.

Stuffed dates:

14 dried dates
4 slices serrano ham
(or Parma ham. Or BACON)
1 heaped tbsp cream cheese
the paste from 1 big or 2 small cloves of roasted garlic)
1 tsp barbecue sauce
1 tbsp spring onions/ chives
salt, pepper

Cut the dates in half (not all the way through though) and pit them. Mix the rest of the ingredients (apart from the ham) and stuff the dates. Piping bag is the most convenient way. Cut the ham in 4 and wrap each date in the ham so that the seam is covered. Secure with a tooth pick and bake in the oven until the ham is crisp - 200 ° for 5-7 minutes.

Serve with beer. The exact amount depends on which team you support and how much they're losing.

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