Since buying our own home, my kitchen is now my best friend.
Living in rented places previously I never felt like I could really be myself in the kitchen. When you share that space with another person (not your other half) you feel an obligation to just cook and be quick and tidy and move on. At least I did anyway!
This kitchen however, is mine. My boyfriend knows how to cook, and does like to be involved, but he claims “but it tastes so much better when you make it…”.
Luckily for him I love to cook.
Another perk of having our own place is being able to throw dinner parties. Something I dreamed of doing since I was old enough to be left alone in the kitchen. I can remember planning dinner parties for my mum and dad when I was just knee high to a grasshopper, locking them out of the kitchen while I made a mess, mainly, and a 3 course dinner for them.
The satisfaction of cooking a great meal and people enjoying it is something I just love.
So, on to the dinner party. Tapas. I love tapas. I love Spain. Last year I went 3 times, this year I’m going twice. I love everything about it. I love going to tapas restaurants here in Manchester. But strangely enough it’s not something I ever cook at home. I spent some time researching recipes and came up with the following menu:
- Chicken and Chorizo Stew
- Patatas Bravas
- Garlic Mushrooms
- and “something with aubergine”
I started with the chicken and chorizo stew in my slow cooker in the morning. I found the recipe on BBC Good Food. It’s quite often my first port of call for recipes, it’s really reliable. I fried off the chorizo and chicken thighs first to get a bit of colour and then just threw it all in! Recipe is here. The only thing I changed was that I used boneless chicken thighs (I hate taking meat off the bone on my plate!!) and I only put in 6 as the slow cooker was pretty full! 8 hours later, and it smelt absolutely delicious.
The Patatas Bravas was another BBC Good Food recipe. Amazingly I’ve never made this before, but it was so simple. Even greater that I could make the sauce the night before – a dinner party advantage!
The garlic mushrooms were my own creation. Simply a whole loads of mushrooms, a combination of white and chestnut mushrooms in a pan with some Frylight (not sure why I’ve only just discovered this!), garlic, and garlic salt, lid on and just simmered them down til they were soft, then chucked a load of chopped fresh parsley on top.
The “something with aubergines” turned into simply just roasted aubergine. I cut them into 2 inch strips, coated with some olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper and whacked them in the over for 30-40 mins. Perfection.
Finally, flatbreads. These are actually from a greek recipe I discovered a few months back. They are DELICIOUS. I’ve made them several times now for a few different people and the response has been unanimous. I added them to my tapas menu as I needed something for people to mop up the stew with. The recipe is on this page here. (Incidentally if you want a Greek feast over a Spanish feast I’ve previously made the Greek Chicken off the same page which was also delish.) You simply mix together flour, yeast, olive oil, warm water and warm milk until a smooth ball is formed. I obviously use my stand mixer so it’s done in minutes. You then leave to stand for an hour or so. Then divide the mixture, roll out into rough circles, and cook in a dry pan til coloured on each side. The only slightly tedious thing is that you can only do one at a time (unless of course you have multiple pans!!) and the recipe makes 8, so takes a little while, but if you do it whilst sipping Prosecco I find you barely notice the time…
A last minute addition to my menu was a butterbean mash. I needed some sort of starter, and found a recipe in my Nopi cookbook. The recipe is actually on his website here. A friend of mine kindly gave me some fresh rosemary from his garden and I served it on toasted slices of a Co-op Mediterranean Bloomer. (The Co-op have a surprisingly great selection of fresh breads!)
And there we go, a table filled and ready to go. What pleases me most about the photo below is the table. The table belonged to my Grandma, I inherited it when she passed away a couple of years ago. I love that the table is marked, and scratched, and faded, and uneven. Every blemish on this table is an enjoyed moment at my Grandma’s house. It’s a family Christmas dinner, or a birthday celebration, or just a cup of tea looking out of the window. Some people might see it as scruffy table that needs a good up cycling, but to me it’s beautiful memories.
My various tapas dishes I have accumulated from markets in Spain. There’s a gorgeous market in Frigiliana every week, and my traditional tapas dishes and my green salad bowl were all about 3 or 4 euros each! I try to sneak a few into my luggage each time I go.
So there we have it, my tapas feast was a success. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading, and hope I’ve inspired you in some way to recreate some of the recipes, or to just take a trip to Spain to try the food! Happy eating! xoxo