Have you been stopping yourself from indulging in second helpings at dinner, or staying away from your favourite foods all in an effort to feel happy and healthy this summer? Why not allow yourself a break, and enjoy this delicious, summery tapas recipes. While the weather might not be too cheery, Joel Serra’s baked goats’ cheese with tomato and rosemary syrup will brighten up your day, and his clams in saffron butter are bound to bring a smile to your face.
The recipes below are extracted from Joel Serra’s Modern Spanish Kitchen. Serra’s first cookbook offers a vibrant, fresh take on Catalan and Spanish cooking by a charismatic young Antipodean chef with Catalan roots, featuring stunning photographs by Mexican fashion photographer Aldo Chacon.
Baked Goats’ Cheese with Tomato and Rosemary Syrup (45 mins)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 green apple (Granny Smith is ideal), peeled, cored and diced
3 tbsp brown sugar
120ml white wine
2 rosemary sprigs
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
A big round of soft goats’ cheese (rulo de cabra in Spain)
Heat the grill to medium. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Drop the tomatoes into the water for 1 minute, then drain them and refresh in a bowl of iced water. One by one remove the tomatoes from the water and squeeze them out of their skins. Discard the skins, cut into wedges, remove the seeds and transfer them to a large saucepan. Add the lemon juice, diced apples, sugar, white wine and 1 sprig of rosemary. Place the pan over a low heat for 20 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down and the apples are beginning to caramelize. Add the sherry vinegar and reduce for 10 minutes until it thickens. When it is like a thick sauce, remove from heat. Press the mixture through a sieve, discard the pulp and set the syrup aside.
Preheat the oven to 180°C /Gas Mark 4. Spread the walnuts on a baking tray and roast for 5 minutes until beginning to turn golden, then remove them and set aside to cool. Crush the walnuts in your hands and sprinkle on a baking tray. Set the cheese round on top of the walnuts and place under the grill for 10 minutes or until the cheese begins to turn golden and melt. Carefully transfer the cheese to a serving plate, drizzle some tomato syrup over the cheese and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the pool of magical melted pleasure.
Clams in Saffron Butter (15 mins)
I will only ever associate this dish with a magical tapas bar in Granada called Los Diomantes (The Diamonds). After a day of marvelling at the Alhambra and quenching my thirst with glasses of claras (the Spanish shandy) and iced tinto de verano (summer red wine), my father, sister and I sat outside a random tapas bar where we spent the remainder of our night. Being Granada, the tapas matched our steady stream of drinks and were on the house – garlic prawns, pimientos de padrón, fried aubergine, hunks of chorizo, chicken wings in sherry – and then a sizzling plate of clams basted in a sauce of garlic, parsley and thick golden olive oil. Whenever I see these baby molluscs at the fish market, I forget what I had on my list and can’t help but smile at what remains one of my most vivid food memories.
2 garlic cloves
A pinch of saffron
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Extra-virgin olive oil
500g clams, cleaned and rinsed
A knob of butter
Preheat the oven to 180°C /Gas Mark 4. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the garlic with the saffron, parsley and lemon zest. Season with salt and add olive oil a little at a time until you reach a pesto-like consistency.
Heat a good glug of oil in a large frying pan or saucepan over a low heat. Add the garlic mixture and slowly fry until the mixture begins to soften. Add the clams with another splash of olive oil and the butter, then toss them over the heat for a few minutes, until the clams have opened. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the briny juice. Best enjoyed in the late-night heat of Andalusia, at a certain bar that luckily remains a ‘diamond in the rough’ within Granada’s narrow, winding streets.
Joel Serra ran a supper club out of his Melbourne, before signing up for Masterchef Australia where he was a runner-up. In 2012 he moved to Barcelona to marry his Catalan roots with a love of food. Joel Serra’s Modern Spanish Kitchen is out now.