There’s so much to share from Saturday’s dinner that it felt appropriate to divide and conquer: I took on the bread-based tapas, while Michael handled the shellfish. One of my birthday gifts was a copy of The Book of Tapas and I knew that I’d want to dive in and start making dishes from it straightaway. Five recipes, one loaf of bread and some pretty interesting ingredients later, it’s clear that this book will make many appearances on our dining room table and here on this blog.
The only one I chose for this selection that was even remotely familiar was pan con tomate, though even that was a little new to me because I’ve seen it in other Spanish cookbooks as just tomato rubbed onto toast. I’ve seen some Food Network hosts also add on ham (though not always serrano), but naturally none of them told you to add on the anchovies–too exotic, I guess, for the average Food Network viewer (at least the one that the powers that be have in their heads).
We began the meal, though, with a bite of the unknown (though the components to make it are no strangers to our kitchen): a tapa of figs, anchovies and goat cheese. The goat cheese, 3 anchovy fillets and a clove of garlic are pounded together in a mortar to make a spread, then smeared onto a toast that’s been brushed with a little olive oil and topped with one or two figs (depending how large your bread slices are). That’s it–and it works. Every ingredient brings something separate to the party, working in harmony to deliver a savory, vaguely sweet bite that’s unusual, but so good. The fact that it’s also a cinch to make…well, it’s one of those dishes that you’d serve to dinner guests who fancy themselves “gourmands” or foodies (shudder) and you want to impress.
As for the second round: it’s hard not to like tomato and garlic-rubbed toast topped with serrano ham and anchovies. The anchovies, by the by, are essential in making this tapa work; again, there’s no salt thanks to the cured ham and the anchovies, and really, the ham by itself is not enough.
The best was saved for last, at least with regards to the bread-centric tapas, with the Majorcan toast. This came from the end of the book, where celebrated Spanish chefs contributed two or three of their favorite, inventive tapas to the book (much like the crazy menus you find in The Silver Spoon from acclaimed Italian chefs) and this in particular came from AlbertAdrià, also known as Ferran Adrià’s brother and former partner in El Bulli. To put it simply, it’s a combination of sobrassada (a mushy, paprika-infused cured sausage that is AWESOME and a tomato dressing that calls for sugar, if all things. I subbed thyme in for the prescribed fresh oregano because I got to pick some up at Fairway…but otherwise everything was very authentic. Michael deemed it the best of the bunch, and I’m inclined to agree.
So here’s the recipe!
Torrada Mallonquina (Majorcan Toast)
Serves 2, adjust as necessary
Adapted from The Book of Tapas
- 6 slices of narrow bread like a baguette
- 1/2 a fresh tomato, seeded and diced
- 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
- Generous pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 springs of fresh thyme or oregano leaves
- 3 oz of sobrassada, at room temperature
Put broiler on and toast the breads on one side for about 2 minutes (especially if your top rack is right up against the broiler) or until they are golden brown. In the meantime, combine in a bowl the tomatoes, salt, thyme/oregano and sugar and let sit. When the toasts are ready, spread the sobrassada across the warm toasts, arrange on the plate and then dress them with the tomato mixture. Serve immediately.