A couple of weeks ago we went to the launch of Omar Allibhoy’s second book – Spanish Made Simple. It was held in one of Omar’s restaurants, Tapas Revolution Shoreditch, and it was a great evening of wonderful food using recipes in the book, Spanish wine, beer & sangria and music and it was a great pleasure to meet Omar himself, a charming man who made time to chat to all the guests.
We loved all the food, but especially the Empanadillas De Queso y Espinach (pastry parcels filled with spinach, raisins and goat cheese), the Mejillones Tigre (mussel croquettes on the shell), the Vieiras Gratinadas (scallop and Serrano ham gratin served on the shell). Not to mention the award winning Croquetas de Jamon (Ham Croquettes).
‘Spanish Made Simple’ is all about Spanish home cooking and in it you find a collection of recipes Omar enjoyed when he was growing up and still cooks at home. His philosophy is ‘cook without fuss and eat like a king’ – and you certainly can, as this book contains 100 recipes for all occasions from every region of Spain: quick midweek suppers, weekend lunches, food for evening gatherings and of course some tapas with ingredients you can find easily in your supermarket. His instructions are simple and straight forward and include shortcuts, hints and tips to make the cooking experience as enjoyable as possible.
Just looking at the pictures in the book and reading the recipes made my mouth water and I was planning the next weekend’s dinner on the bus home. I wanted to put the sub-title of the book (foolproof Spanish recipes for every day) to the test and picked a couple of dishes I liked the look of and I also decided to bake the cookies we had at the restaurant. In the end I added another dish, as I had a spare aubergine lying around and the book had the perfect recipe for it.
Here are some photos of the end results:
Alitas de Pollo a la Miel y Lemon – Lemon & Honey Chicken Wings
I loved the many flavours of this dish working together. The lemon juice and zest, honey, garlic, thyme and sweet smoked paprika make a lovely sticky coating for the chicken and give it a wonderfully mediterranian aroma . Omar says it can also be used for a whole chicken and I will try that sometimes soon.
Huevos a la Flamenco – Baked Eggs with Ham in Tomato Sauce
I adore Huevos Rancheros and this recipe is a Spanish take on this, so no wonder I picked this as another recipe to try. It’s a dish that, in my opinion, can be eaten morning, noon or night and it is easy to make and the perfect recipe to keep in mind when you have surprise guests. Apart from tasting and smelling delicious, it is so colourful (Omar says, that Spanish food is difficult to photograph because it is often brown in colour, but there isn’t even a hint of brown here), quick to make (less than half an hour) and you just put it on the table with a hunk of fresh, crusty bread and let everybody help themselves. Omar mentions in the recipe that there are many variations you can go for, I used both chorizo and Serrano ham (which I found in my goodie bag!), fresh asparagus and frozen peas. This will definitely become a staple in my kitchen!
Berenjenas Fritas con Miel – Aubergines with Honey
As I mentioned before, I ended up making another dish from the book using an aubergine I had bought a few days earlier. This is a recipe from Southern Spain and is a great side dish, nibble or part of a vegetarian meal. Aubergine pieces are coated in a beer batter, deep fried and drizzled with a warm muscovado sugar & honey sauce. Very moreish!
Galletas de Aceite – Olive Oil, Raisin and Lemon Cookies
These cookies were served at the book launch and I thought they were delicious – I loved the unusual flavour, the crisp outside, the chewy core – but I was so stuffed after eating all the other delicacies that I only managed to eat one. So I decided to bake them myself and they turned out great. Omar created these cookies to encapsulate the taste of Spain using ingredients from the county’s vineyards, olive groves and citrus trees.
Omar Allibhoy, who hails from Madrid, worked in some of the best restaurants in Spain (including El Bulli where he was trained by Ferran Adria) before coming to London over 10 years ago, taking over the reigns at El Pirata Detapas and eventually fulfilling his dream of bring real Spanish food to Great Britain by opening the first of his own restaurants, ‘Tapas Revolution’, of which there are now six across the UK.
Visit Tapas Revolution’s website for more info and recipes: http://www.tapasrevolution.com
Spanish Made Simple: Foolproof Spanish Recipes for Every Day by Omar Allibhoy of Tapas Revolution is published by Quadrille (£20).
Photographs in the book are by Martin Poole