If you have every visited a bar in Spain then you must have come across the delightful tradition of serving tapas with your drinks. Find out how they originated and learn how to make some of them for yourself and friends at home.History has it that tapas were born as a result of an illness sufferedby Alfonso XX, king of Spain. His physician's recommended that he take small bites of food and some wine in between meals. Having recovered from the illness the wise king then decreed that wine was not to be served in the inns of the land of Castille without being accompanied by something to eat.Another theory for the popularity of tapas is more prosaic and relates to the needs of workers. Due to the heavy nature of the main meal a 2 hour siesta had to be taken to aid it's digestion before work in the fields could be resumed. Therefore taps were developed to allow the workers to eat small amounts of food during the morning and thus delay lunch until 2.00 p.m. These longer working hours in the morning meant an easier workload after the main meal.It also became popular amongst people who could not afford more nourishing meals as it helped to avoid the unpleasant effects of drinking on an empty stomach. The name tapas itself stems from the practise of covering the glass or jar of wine with a slice of ham or cheese firstly to prevent insects falling into it and secondly to give the guests something to soak up the alcohol.The popularity of tapas continues to this day with many newrecipes being developed and this is one of the pleasures of visiting Spanish bars.In some they will serve simple plates of olives or nuts but there are many and varied types of tapas and below I offer a variety of tapas recipes which you can make simply at home and offer to your guests on any formal or informal ocassion.
Tapas Recipes.Patatas Bravas.

INGREDIENTS

1,2 or 3 potatoes.2,Oil to fry.3,3 medium full-grown tomatoes.4,1 tsp. of spicy ground red pepper.5,Vinegar.6,1 tsp. of flour.7,Salt. Peel the potatoes and cut them into small pieces, then fry, on a low heat.Once cooked, drain the potatoes.Make the tomato sauce: Add a spoon of oil to the pan and then fry the deseeded and peeled tomatoes, smashing it. When cooked, add a few drops of vinegar, a teaspoon of flour and another teaspoon of spicy ground pepper and stir well to mix everything. Season and pour over the potatoes.

Pan con ajo,tomate and Jamon.(Bread with tomato, garlic and ham.)

INGREDIENTS

1,Slices of bread (kind of household bread)2,1 clove of garlic3,1 ripe tomato4,Slices of smoked ham5, Olive oil Toast the slices of bread (best are pan-fried slices). While they are still hot, rub them with the clove of garlic until they absorb the flavour. Also rub the bread with half of the tomato. Add a pinch of salt, olive oil and finally top with the slice of ham.Try replacing the ham with anchovies.

Rollitos de Requesón y Jamón.(Cottage Cheese and Smoked Ham Rolls)

INGREDIENTS

1,2 Tbs of oil2,5 o 6 Tbs of flour3,3/4 L. of milk4,Salt5,40 grs of butter6,200 grs. Of smoked ham (cut in small pieces)7,2 cups of fine breadcrumbs7,2 whipped eggs8,150 grs cottage cheeseMelt the tbsp of butter in a pan and then over a low flame, add the flour, mixing well with a wooden spoon to form a roux. When the roux turns yellows slowly add the cold milk (always stirring), and a little salt. Let everything thicken over a low heat (about 20 minutes), stirring constantly with the wooden spoon to avoid lumps. Continue stirring until the roux leaves the sides of the pot Mix well together the cottage cheese and the pieces of smoked ham.Once the roux cools take small portions and fill them with the ham and cheese mixture. Give the form of a small ball, either round or oval.Place the 2 well beaten eggs in a bowl and in another bowl place the finely grated bread.Coat each roll with the bread crumbs, then dip into the eggs and again into the grated bread and fry them in very hot and deep oil (6 pieces at a time). Let them rest on paper serviettes to drain off the oil.

Aubergines from Almagro (Berenjenas de Almagro)

INGREDIENTS

1,8 small aubergines2,1 tsp Salt3,1 Tbsp vinegar4,1 little wild marjoram5,1 leaf Laurel 6,1 Tbsp. Olive Oil7,3 or 4 whole garlic cloves8,½ tsp. fresh ground pepper9,½ tsp. sweet red pepper First, in a pan and with the olive oil, slightly fry the whole garlic cloves until brown, then add the fresh ground pepper and the sweet red pepper so they are mixed with the olive oil.Then, cook the aubergines in boiling water, adding the contents of the pan, one laurel leaf, a tbsp. of vinegar and a little wild marjoram. Let them boil gently, taking care that the aubergines do not break. They can be kept in this sauce indefinitely. Serve cold.

Stuffed Mushrooms.

INGREDIENTS

1,1 lb 12 oz open mushrooms 2,3 tablespoons butter 3,1 small onion, finely chopped 4,3 oz lean ground pork 5,2 oz chorizo sausage, finely chopped 6,1 tablespoon tomato paste 7,2 tablespoon tomato paste 8,2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs 9,1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 1 Remove the stems from the mushrooms, then finely chop the stems. Set aside. 2 Melt the butter in a skillet over low heat, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until soft. Increase the heat to high, add the pork, and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly and breaking up any lumps. Add the mushrooms stems and chorizo and continue cooking for 1 minute, or until the mixture is dry and browned. Add the tomato paste and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, or until thick. Stir in the bread crumbs, then cool for about 1 hour. 3 Preheat the oven to 425 F. Lightly grease a baking sheet, then spoon about 1-1/2 teaspoons of the cooled meat mixture into each mushroom cap, smoothing the top with a flexible metal spatula so that the filling is slightly domed. Place on the baking sheet and bake in the top half of the oven for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve hot.

Borek of Asparagus

INGREDIENTS

1,16 fresh asparagus spears2,1/2 teaspoon salt3,1/2 teaspoon black pepper 4,2 tablespoons grated lemon rind 5,2 sheets ready-rolled puff pastry, thawed 6,1 egg yolk 7,1 tablespoon sesame seeds Preheat the oven to 400 F. Add the asparagus to a large skillet of lightly salted boiling water and simmer for about 3 minutes, then drain and refresh under cold running water. Trim to 4-inch lengths. Combine the salt, black pepper and lemon rind in a shallow dish and roll each asparagus spear lightly in this mixture. Cut the puff pastry sheets into 5x2-1/2 inch rectangles and place one asparagus spear. In a bowl, combine the egg yolk with 2 teaspoons water and brush on the sides and ends of the pastry. Roll the pastry up like a package, folding in the sides so that the asparagus is completely sealed in. Press the seams of the pastry using a fork. Place the pastries on lightly greased baking sheets. Brush with the remaining egg and sprinkle lightly with the sesame seeds. Bake the asparagus pastries for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. These pastries are delicious served warm or cold.

Chickpeas and Chorizo

INGREDIENTS

1,3/4 cup dried chickpeas 2,1 bay leaf 3,4 cloves 4,1 cinnamon stick 5,4 cups chicken stock 6,2 tablespoons olive oil 7,1 onion, finely chopped 8,1 clove garlic, 9,crushed pinch dried thyme 10,12 oz chorizo sausage, chopped 11,1 tablepsoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley Soak the chickpeas in plenty of water overnight. Drain well, then combine with the bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon stick, stock and 5 cups water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil over high heat for 1 hour, or until the chickpeas are tender. If they need more time, add a little more water. There should be just a little liquid left in the pan. Remove the bay leaf, cloves and cinnamon stick. Heat the oil in a large skillet, add the onion and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and thyme and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the chorizo and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chickpeas and their liquid to the pan, stir well, then stir over medium heat until heated through. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley. Taste before seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Delicious served hot or at room temperature.

Stuffed Tomtoes.

INGREDIENTS

1,8 small ripe tomatoes, about 2 inches wide 2,1 large ripe avocado 3,1 tablespoon lemon juice 4,1 small clove garlic, 5,crushed 6 canned anchovy fillets, 6,finely chopped 8 Spanish black olive, pitted and chopped 7,1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives Cut a 1/2-inch slice from the base of each tomato and scoop out the seeds and membrane. Place the tomatoes, cut-side-down, on a double layer of paper towels and drain. Peel and lightly mash the avocado in a small bowl. Add the lemon juice, garlic, anchovies and olives. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spoon the avocado mixture into the tomatoes and sprinkle with the chives.

Scrambled Eggs with Asparagus.

INGREDIENTS

1,8 oz fresh asparagus 2,6 eggs 3,1/3 cup whipping cream 4,1 tablespoon olive oil 5,4 green onions, finely chopped Trim the woody ends from the asparagus and cut into 1-3/4 inch lengths. Add the asparagus to a saucepan of lightly salted boiling water. Cook for 3 minutes, then drain. Beat the eggs, cream and some salt and freshly ground black pepper in a bowl. Heat the oil over medium heat in a skillet, add the green onion and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, or until soft. Reduce the heat to low, add the asparagus and pour in the egg and cream mixture.Cook, gently stirring, until creamy and just set. Serve hot.