Tag Archive for Spanish


Pintxos are slices of bread topped with some nice ingredients, skewered together by a pincho (hence the name). They are a speciality of the Basque region of Spain. Often they are eaten as an appetizer, together with a glass of wine or beer. But it is also completely normal to go from bar to bar, eating and drinking, with a group of friends. This makes the pinxtos the complete meal, eaten over the course of many small bites.

I first came across pintxos in Barcelona. Of course they were called pinchos in Barcelona, because pintxos is the Basque spelling, and Barcelona is in the Catalonian part of Spain. But I immediately fell in love with the concept, and I still am. It is the perfect way to sample all kinds of lovely ingredients in a simple and tasty way. A display of pintxos looks incredibly inviting. And I like the social way of nibbling and chatting away with your friends. So when we thought about what to serve on New Year’s Eve, I decided to make a selection of pintxos.

You need good bread for pintxos. If your bread isn’t right, it will muddle the flavours of the ingredients you top it with. I wouldn’t use toasted bread, this would make it quite hard to eat. That is also the reason why you have to slice the bread quite thinly. I used a good baguette, but maybe something like ciabatta would work too. Often the toppings are quite simple, but you can make them as elaborate and complicated as you like. Use good ingredients, they can’t hide behind something, the flavour has to be good.


On the photo (top to bottom, left to right):
– grilled sliced of goat’s cheese with a drizzle of honey
– slow cooked red paprika with boiled egg and anchovies
– aioli, slow cooked green paprika, spicy sausage
– jamon iberico, slow cooked green paprika, anchovies, boiled egg, mayonnaise
– tuna salad (canned tuna packed on oil, drained, with a drizzle of lemon juice, some mayonnaise and a bit of salt)
– aioli and sauteed mushrooms

Other possibilities:
– manchego, membrillo, walnut
– grilled goat’s cheese, jamon iberico
– manchego, jamon iberico, slow cooked paprika, boiled quail’s egg
– jamon iberico, fried quail’s egg
– aioli, shrimps
– tomato and sardines
– pimiento filled with tuna salad
– smoked salmon and egg mimosa
– egg salad
– mascarpone with berry sauce and chopped nuts
– …

Leche Frita

Leche frita, literally meaning fried milk, is a thick vanilla custard coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried, and sometimes coated with cinnamon sugar. The crispy outside contrasts lovely with the oozy soft inside, it is as much about the texture as about the flavour. It is rather indulgent, so I only make it as a special treat. It is a dessert, but you could also serve it as a snack with coffee, or something like that. As with all deep-fried things, serve them straight away after frying.


Leche Frita (serves 6)
Adapted from “Rick Stein’s Spain”

500 ml full fat milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla pod)
4 egg yolks
100 g sugar
30 g flour
40 g cornflour
oil for deep-frying
flour, egg and breadcrumbs for crumbing
Optional: cinnamon sugar to serve

Grease a shallow 19 cm square baking tin with a little oil (or use a silicon form instead).
Mix sugar, flour and cornflour in a large bowl. Add the egg yolks and a splash of milk, and mix it to a smooth paste. Bring the rest of the milk to the boil. Pour slowly onto the egg mixture, while whisking. Pour back into the pan, on medium heat, and cook for about 5 minutes while stirring continuous, until you have a very thick custard. Pour the mixture in the prepared tin, press a sheet of clingfilm on the surface, and cool for at least 2 hours in the fridge.
Turn the set custard out on a board and cut into small triangles (or another shape that you fancy). Put flour, egg and breadcrumbs in 3 separate shallow dishes. Dip a triangle in flour, then in the egg, and then in the breadcrumbs. Lower in the oil and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Leave to drain on some kitchen paper, then serve (dusted with cinnamon sugar if you like).

Croquetas de Jamon

A delicious appetizer (maybe for your new years eve party?); a crisp outside and light and creamy filling. They need to be served immediately after cooking.

You can substitute the jamon for anything you like to flavour the béchamel. Try cooked chicken breast and cooked egg, chopped prawns, flaked cooked bacalao, wild mushrooms or grated well-flavoured cheese. Or maybe add some herbs. Or don’t make them Spanish style and fill them with something completely else.

The croquetas on the photo are slightly odd shaped. I was a bit impatient, I did not cool the mixture long enough, so it was quite impossible to handle. Normally, they are cork-shaped.


Croquettas de Jamon (serves 8 as a tapas/makes about 24)
Adapted from “Rick Stein’s Spain”

85 g butter
115 g flour
500 ml full fat milk
100 g good quality thinly sliced Spanish air-dried ham (like jamon Iberico or jamon Serrano)
salt and pepper
flour, egg and breadcrumbs for crumbing
vegetable oil for deep-frying

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute, then gradually stir in the milk, little by little, so that you end up with a silky smooth béchamel sauce. Bring to the boil and cook gently for about 5 minutes while stirring to cook out the flour.
Stir through the jamon and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a bowl, then press some clingfilm on top. Place in the fridge for at least 6 hours (yes, really!) but ideally overnight, until really firm.
Take about 1.5 tbsp of the mixture and roll it into a cork-shaped barrel with lightly floured hands. Place on a large plate or something, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Take three shallow dishes, put some flour in the first, a whisked egg in the second and breadcrumbs in the third. Heat the oil for deep-frying to 190C. Take the croquetas from the fridge, cover with flour, coat in the egg and then dip into the breadcrumbs. Lower them in the hot oil and cook 2 minutes, or until lightly golden. Lift out and drain on kitchen paper, then serve immediately.

Buñuelos de Queso

Buñuelos de Queso, or deep-fried cheese puffs. A delicious appetizer (maybe for your new years eve party?), lovely cheesy and with a spicy, smoky kick from the pimentón. But you must eat them fresh from the fryer, otherwise they will be very sad and deflated, instead of lovely crisp and puffy. Because the recipe is basically choux pastry flavoured with cheese and pimentón, I imagine you could also bake them in the oven instead of deep-frying them, I haven’t tried this and it will give a different result, but it is a bit healthier and you don’t have to deep-fry that way. With all the beating involved, it is one of those recipes that does need a bit of elbow grease.


Buñuelos de Queso (serves 6 as a tapas)
Adapted from “Rick Stein’s Spain”

100 g butter, cubed
250 ml water
150 g flour
1 tsp pimentón dulce
pinch of pimentón picante (or more, if you like it spicy)
4 eggs, beaten
200 g finely grated Manchego
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
salt and pepper
vegetable oil for deep-frying

Put the butter and water in a pan on medium heat, until the butter is melted. Then bring to the boil and add the flour and pimentón. Beat (with a spatula) until the flour is incorporated and the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Then place back on low heat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly. Then add the egg bit by bit while whisking to make a smooth, glossy paste. Stir through the cheese and the parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat your fryer (or oil in a pan) to 180C. Drop heaped teaspoons of the batter in the hot oil. Make sure you don’t crowd them, they will puff up quite a bit. Fry for about 4-5 minutes, or until puffed up, crisp and golden. They should turn over themselves, but if not, give them a nudge. Drain on kitchen paper and serve immediately, piping hot.

Roasted paprika pesto

Normally I’m not really into the making pesto from other things than the normal basil, pine nuts and parmezan cheese trend, but this recipe caught my eye. Other than being a sauce type of thing, it isn’t related to pesto, it seems more like a romesco sauce (a Catalonian-Spanish red pepper and almond sauce). So why it is called pesto instead of romesco I’m not sure, but in the end a dish should be tasty, whatever its name is. And this sauce certainly is tasty! It has the sweetness from the paprika, the richness from the almonds and because of the smoky pimenton and roasted peppers it has a lovely depth of flavour. It can be served as a sauce for seafood, chicken, meats and vegetables, but it is also delicious as a dip with bread and crudité. Because of this versatility, and that you can keep it for a week in a clean jar in the fridge, it is worth it to make the whole recipe and use it for several different dishes.

Roasted Paprika Pesto

Roasted paprika pesto (makes a large jar)
Adapted from “Annabel Langbein – The Free Range Cook”

6 red paprika’s
4 tbsp extra vierge olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
1 tsp paprika powder
1 tsp pimenton de la vera
4 tbsp roasted almonds (use more for a thicker and richer sauce, and roast them for extra flavour)
salt and pepper

Place the paprika’s on a baking tray and roast them 15-20 minutes in a preheated oven of 240C, or until their skins become blistery and black. Take them from the oven and put them in a closed plastic bag, leave to cool for 20 minutes (they will be easier to peel this way).
Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a small skillet and fry the garlic and the paprika powders for a few seconds. This makes the taste more pronounced. Pour in a kitchen machine or blender.
Remove the skin and seeds from the paprika’s, but keep the juices. Add the paprika and juices to the garlic-paprika powder mixture, and add the almonds. Season with salt and pepper and blend to a smooth purée. Serve cold or gently heat it in a small pan to serve warm.

Aioli and patatas bravas

I love garlic. I put it in most of my dishes, even when it shouldn’t be in there, and I always add more than prescribed in a recipe. I just love the flavour of it. I also like aioli, but the problem with making it yourself is the garlic. When you use raw garlic, the flavour tends to be a bit too pungent, also it makes your breath smell bad and you taste it for hours after eating it. But when you use roasted garlic, it tends to be too mellow, and roasting the garlic properly takes ages, a hot oven and loads of olive oil, which are three things you don’t want when you are making a light dip for some crudité on a hot summer day.
So when I got a tip from someone to dry-roast unpeeled cloves of garlic for a few minutes in a hot skillet, peel them after frying and smashing them with a bit of salt before adding it to a sauce, I was happy to give it a try. And I was happy that I did so, because I will not make my garlic sauces in any other way than this any more. It takes away the very harsh and pungent taste, but keeps the garlic flavour very well. And because the garlic becomes softer, it is easier to purée as well. I used it mixed with mayonnaise for an aioli, to serve with patatas bravas (Spanish spicy potatoes, although the way I make them is not very authentic), but there are loads of other possibilities. Mix it with yoghurt for a dip for crudité, with crème fraîche to accompany baked potato, with cream cheese for a sandwich/cracker spread, with butter and herbs for herb butter, etc.

Patatas bravas with aioli (serves 2)

500 g small potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp mayonnaise
2 fat cloves of garlic, unpeeled
pimentón de la vera (smoky Spanish paprika powder, dulce and/or piccante)

Preheat the oven to 210C.
Place the potatoes in a pan, and pour water on top until just covered. Season with salt. Bring to the boil and cook until the potatoes are just soft/barely cooked. Drain and leave to steam for a few minutes in the pan without the lid, to get rid of the water. Pour in an oven tray, drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt. Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 45 minutes, or until golden and crisp.
Meanwhile make the aioli. Place a skillet on high heat. Put the unpeeled garlic cloves in and roast for a few minutes (it is fine when the peel gets burned, this gives extra flavour). Leave to cool for a bit, then peel and mash with some salt. Add to the mayonnaise. Season with the pimentón to taste.
Serve the aioli either mixed with the potatoes, or as a dip.
Note: for “normal” aioli, omit the pimentón.

Paella Valenciana

Paella Valenciana is a classic Spanish dish. In Valencia they have lots of rice dishes, but this is the most famous one. Most people think of seafood when they think about paella, but this is a so called land-paella, which contains chicken and rabbit as a protein source. In the Netherlands rabbit, especially tasty rabbit, is quite difficult to get hold of, therefore I used only chicken. Real paella rice is also difficult to get hold of in the Netherlands, so I used risotto rice (arborio), which works fine. Officially, the artichokes don’t belong in there, but the paella I ate in Spain had them, and I liked that a lot, so I added them in this recipe too. I used canned marinated artichoke hearts for ease (they are cooked already, so you drain them and add them to the dish), but you can also use frozen (not available around here) or not-marinated canned (the ones over here are very acidic and not properly cooked, that is why I use the marinated ones).
Paella is a dry dish made in a shallow, wide pan over wood fire. Ideally, after the rice is added, it shouldn’t be stirred any more. This results in quite a dry dish (not wet like risotto!), with a golden crust on the bottom. I don’t own a special paella pan, but using a large skillet instead works fine. Unfortunately, mastering the art of making paella without stirring is quite difficult, and tends to end up in having a black crust on the bottom, effectively ruining your paella. That is why I advice to stir regularly, especially at the end of cooking time, when the dish starts to be quite dry, making it prone to sticking. To make the dish real authentic, cook the rice al punto (like the Italian al dente). Enjoy!

Paella Valenciana (serves 6)
Adapted from Koken met nrc.next

500 g chicken (preferably with bone, in 6 pieces)
500 g rabbit (preferably with bone, in 6 pieces)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 fat cloves of garlic, sliced
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp pimentón de la Vera dulce
200 g broad beans
400 g runner beans, in bits of 4 cm
200 g artichoke hearts
1,4 l hot chicken stock
1 pinch saffron (about 20 threads), soaked in 2 tbsp hot water
400 g paella rice
salt and pepper

Sprinkle chicken and rabbit with salt. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Fry the meat in about 7 minutes brown on all sides.
Turn the heat down and add the garlic, tomatoes and pimenton. Fry while stirring for about 2 minutes. Add the broad beans, runner beans and artichoke hearts. Pour the stock into the pan, bring to the boil and leave to bubble for 10 minutes (without lid).
Add the saffron water. Sprinkle the rice into the pan and stir so that it is distributed evenly around the meat and vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil again and leave to cook for another 10 minutes (without lid). Turn the heat down and let cook for another 8 minutes. When it really gets too dry, add a splash of water. Take from the heat and cover with a clean tea towel, leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Spanish lentil stew

This is the perfect recipe for a hearty, earthy lentil stew. Originally, it called for pardina lentils and serrano ham, but I adapted it to ingredients that are similar and better available: Puy lentils and bacon. This dish is not as heavy as some winter dishes, so can be served perfectly in summer as well. It tastes good on its own, or as a side-dish to all kinds of game (rabbit, quail, partridge, etc). It may seem that there is a lot of garlic in this dish, but the slow cooking gives it a lovely mellow, warm taste. The smoked paprika is available in specialist spice shops or at the spice stand on markets, I haven’t seen it yet in supermarkets. Make sure you store it air-tight, it does have a pungent smell.

Lentil Stew

Spanish lentil stew (serves 6)
Adapted from Spain – Rick Stein

225 g Puy lentils
6 tbsp olive oil
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
200 g carrot, finely chopped
100 g bacon in small lardons
1 tbsp pimenton dulce (smoked sweet Spanish paprika)
2 large, ripe tomatoes, skinned and chopped
120 ml dry white wine
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
salt and pepper
Optional: bay leaves

Rinse the lentils in cold water, put them in a pan, cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes or until just tender (check regularly, my lentils cooked a lot quicker and you don’t want to end up with lentil soup!). Drain but reserve the cooking liquid.
Put the olive oil, garlic, onion and carrot in a wide, shallow pan over medium heat and cook gently for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and just beginning to colour. Add the bacon and fry for another 5 minutes (if you like crisp bacon, fry it in a separate pan and add back into the vegetables).
Stir in the pimenton, tomatoes and wine and simmer for 5 minutes or until they have reduced and thickened into a sauce. Stir the lentils into the sauce with 150 ml of the reserved cooking liquid, the chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer together for 5 minutes, then serve.

Paella with chorizo and chicken

Paella is a versatile dish, easy to prepare in many different variations. Especially on colder nights I love this warming and filling dish, it is real comfort food! I served it with some cucumber sticks for extra vegetables and to counterbalance the spice in the rice.

Because of the chorizo, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and cumin this dish has a warm, deep and spicy flavour. The smoked paprika gives it a hint of smokiness, it is really worth looking for because it can enhance the flavour of not only this paella, but of many dishes. In Groningen you can get it at the herb stand on the market, but if you cannot find it anywhere use ordinary paprika instead… take care to use a nice one from a toko or something, because the stuff you get at the supermarket just tastes like bitter dust.

Paella with Chicken and Chorizo

Paella with chorizo and chicken (2 servings)

150 gram paella or risotto rice (I used arborio)
100 gram chorizo, diced (I used the already cooked variety, because cooking chorizo is not available around here)
2 chicken thighs
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red paprika (or yellow or orange), diced
olive oil
1 tin tomatoes
1 stock cube
2 bay leaves
2-3 tsp smoky paprika powder (depending on the strength/your preferences)
1/2 tsp cumin
cayenne pepper to taste
salt and pepper

Heat some olive oil in a heavy, big pan. Sauté the onion until soft and translucent, then add the chorizo, garlic and paprika. After frying a bit, add the rice, paprika powder, cumin and cayenne. This should be fried until the rice is coated with oil/chorizo fat and the spices are fragrant. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, stock cube and chicken, and cook in a lidded pan on low heat until the rice and chicken are cooked. Stir regularly and add some extra water when the mixture is looking too dry. When cooked, set the rice aside and take out the chicken. Heat some oil in a frying pan until quite hot, put the chicken in here skin side down (this will splatter!). Cook until it has a nice, crispy skin. Season the rice with salt, pepper and cayenne if necessary.
This dish can be made in advance, then leave the chicken in the rice and fry it only when serving, reheat the rice on low heat with a bit of extra water.


Paella is my comfort food. I expect that the paella how I make it is not like real paella, but then there are many varieties of paella, depending on the location. But I do know that my version is very jummy! It is also a very easy dish to scale up and make for many people.

Paella (2 persons)
Inspired on the Conran Cookbook

chicken pieces*
Olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
150 gram risotto rice
1 red paprika, diced
1 can of tomatoes (diced or whole, 400 g)
1 glass of white wine (you can omit this)
1 stock cube
2 bay leaves
some saffron soaked in hot water (you can omit this)
sea fruit*

Brown the sausages and chicken pieces. Set aside on a plate.
Fry the onion and garlic gently in some olive oil. When translucent, add the rice. Fry for a bit longer, until the rice is translucent as well. Then add the paprika, fry again for a while. Then add everything else, also the sausages and chicken pieces that were set aside (except the sea fruit), stir well, put a lid on the pan and cook until the rice is tender. Stir often to prevent sticking. If the rice gets dry but it is not cooked yet, add some water. Add the sea fruit (cooked) a few minutes before finishing, so that it can warm trough

*Note: you can use any mixture of sausages, chicken pieces and sea fruit you want. Usually I use a package of “Catalaanse braadworst” from AH, and some sea fruit from the freezer. When I want to be decadent, I also add in some chicken pieces (drumsticks, thighs) and prepare all my sea fruit myself. Again, you can use anything you want. I like squid, prawns and clams, so I use them. I cook the clams separately and add them together with the cooking liquid to the paella.