Ferran Adrià’s Guacamole with tortilla chips

Seriously, no need to buy special spices mix in expensive packages with a kilometer long list of ingredients. Making guacamole is as easy as this…

Guacamole with tortilla chips (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)

Ingredients (for 6)

  • 2 ripe tomatos, peeled and diced
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 3 avocados
  • 1 onion very finely diced
  • 4 tablespoons of  finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salta and pepper to taste
  • Tortilla chips

Method

Start by peeling the tomatoes. Put the tomatoes in boiling water and leave for about 10 min. Put them in iced water to quickly cool them down. Pull the skin out of the tomatoes with a small knife. Dice them into very small cubes.

Finely chop the onion.

Pick the leafs out of the coriander stalks and chop them very.

Cut the avocados in half and remove the stones. Remove the flesh with a spoon. Put them in a bowl in mash them with a fork until you have a coarse paste.

Add the tomato, onion and coriander to the avocado paste and mix everything with a spoon until incorporated into the mix.

Finally, add the lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with the tortilla chips.


Serrano ham with melon mousse

This is where the rest of the ham ended up… A delicious combination of flavors with a sophisticated touch, ideal for Summer.

Serrano ham with melon mousse (adapted from the Inés and Simone Ortega’s Book of Tapas)

Ingredients

  • 3 gelatin leaves
  • 3 halved small melons, seeds removed (it works best with cantaloupe)
  • 1 cup (=250 mL) of whipped cream
  • 12 thin slices of cured ham
  • Salt and pepper

Method

1. Follow the instructions of the box to prepare the gelatin leaves.

2. Scope out of the flesh of the melon with a spoon and put them skins in the fridge. Make sure you don’t break  brea skins as you will need them to plate this dish.

3. Puree the melon flesh in a blender, until you don’t see any chunks of fruit.

4.Put a small amount of the melon puree in a small pan. Warm it through over a low heat. Fish out the gelatin leaves from the water, and add to the warm melon. Stir well until it dissolves. Fold in the remaining puree and let it cool.

5.Fold the whipped cream in the gelatin-melon mix. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Poor the mixture into the melon shells and put it back into the refrigerator until it is solid.

7. When you are about to serve it, put the ham slices on top. Be careful not to let the melon go warm.


Iberian ham and tomato bread (pa amb tomàquet amb pernil, pan con tomate y jamón)

Fly-in-fly-out to Barcelona… A little less than 11 hours in town, which allowed to fit in enough time to do my thing, touch the Mediterranean and  buy proper ham at the airport free shop. And, by proper ham, I mean jamón ibérico de bellota [acorn Iberian ham], the dark red meat marbled with veins of fat which only the free range black Iberian pigs who feast on acorns can have. It is only the finest of cured hams and is considered one of the best delicacies in the world. Well, let’s make it clear –  it actually is. I have seen otherwise serious gown up almost shed a tear when they tasted. As M. eloquently put it “the kind of thing that makes worthwhile years of studying just to be able to afford it”. And, if I may add, instrumental to cope with endless hours of corporate drama.

In any case, once the precious ham was acquired, carefully transported into Switzerland and put to rest in the fridge, I still had to figure out how to serve it. It was not just a question of dropping it in a hot plate… This ham deserved the best ingredient to compliment its nutty rich flavor and bring the best out of  it. Since I had just been in Barcelona, it seemed totally logical to serve it with tomato bread, a combination of flavors made in heaven, known in Catalonia as pa amb tomàquet. It is said to be the most popular dish of their cuisine, and   you may find different versions and lines of thought. Toasted or fresh bread? Garlic, or no garlic? Rub the tomato or use a pre-made mixture? Grate the tomato or puree it? I just avoided all the metaphysical question by resorting to my ex-Spanish Mother-in-Law strong recommendations.

Iberian ham and tomato bread (pa amb tomàquet amb pernil, Pan con tomate y jamón)

Ingredients

  • Finely sliced cured ham
  • 1 garlic teeth, peeled and cut in half
  • Slices of toasted rustic bread
  • Tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes, as they taste of something. When in Spain, I would have probably used regular grape tomatoes.
  • Olive oil to taste

Method

1. Grate the tomatoes into a bowl.

1. Toast the bread for a few minutes, until is warm and slightly crusty

2. Rub with the half garlic.

4. Drizzle with olive oil

5.Spread the grated tomato paste to taste

6. Put the ham slices on top

7. Serve


Idiazábal cheese and caramelised onion tapa

Nowadays, you can get decent (and indecent, for that matter) Manchego cheese in almost every supermarket. But, Idiazábal cheese is only to be found in high end delicatessen shops, at the price of an arm, a leg, and your children corneas.  I only remember having it once in the 9 years I have been living in Switzerland, and truth to be said, it was a Spanish acquaintance who smuggled it in  gruyère -land.

In case you are wondering, Idiazábal  is a  Denominación de Origen [Protected designation of origin] hard sheep cheese  from the Basque and Navarre regions, which has a rich smoky flavor. Apparently, the Basque shepherds used to store the cheese in their huts over Winter. The smoke coming out of their fireplaces eventually permeated their dairies, giving it a new flavor that the shepherds preferred. All I can say is that the flavor (and aroma) is strong. Very strong…

In fact, so strong I thought my suffering testers dinner guests wouldn’t appreciate it to its full splendor. I resorted to Simone and Inés Ortega’s The Book of Tapas for help, and as it turned out, it was actually a very good idea to serve this tapa rather than the pure thing. The sweetness of the onion and honey complement to perfection the slightly less smokey and hot-ish flavor the cheese, for complete delight of guests and cook.

Idiazábal cheese and caramelised onion tapa (adapted from Simone and Inés Ortega’s The Book of Tapas)

Ingredients 

  • 200g Idiazábal cheese, rind removed and sliced
  • 1 cup (=250mL) milk
  •  2 teaspoons black peppercorns, slightly crushed
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 6 slices of French baguette
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Method

1. Put the cheese in a bowl, add the milk and the crushed peppercorns. Let it sit for about 30min (until it is a bit softer)

2.In the meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a non-adherent frying pan until it shimmers. Drop in the onion, and let it caramelise, stirring every now and gain.It should take about 15min.

3. Fish the cheese out of the bowl and pat dry with kitchen paper.

4.Place each slice of cheese on top of the bread and drop about 1 teaspoon of the caramelised onions over it. Finish the tapa by drizzling a little honey over it.