The generosity of the Spanish spirit is translated so completely into their cooking that I find it is the perfect food for feeding a crowd. Informal, full of life and ﬂavour, it has an energy that gets conversation flowing from the moment the first tapas hit the table and arms start reaching over each other to reach for different morsels of deliciousness.
This menu is my version of Spanish. I've chosen tapas (see below) that are substantial, but light enough that they won't ruin your appetite for the ﬁdeua, the centrepiece of the meal. The dessert isn't exactly traditional, but pays homage to fragrant Spanish oranges and is so delicious that I'm sure my Aussie audacity can be indulged.
Bill's restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 175 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111, and 50 Sekforde Street, London EC1, tel: 020 7251 9032, grangerandco.com. Follow Bill on Instagram at bill.granger
If you like paella, you'll love this Catalan dish. In place of rice, it uses short, spaghetti-like pasta that absorbs all the flavour from the fish stock as it cooks and takes on a texture that is mostly soft, yet crisp and toasted in places. Traditionally, fideua is served with alioli, but I also find that a dollop each of the romesco and whipped ricotta (see recipes below) work really well.
For the fish stock
2 tbsp olive oil
8 king prawns, head and shell on
2 onions, quartered
2 celery sticks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
6 tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp saffron strands
1 tbsp smoked sweet paprika
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 bay leaf
For the fideua
3 tbsp olive oil
4 large squid, cleaned and sliced into rings
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
500g ﬁdeus pasta
Lemon wedges, to serve
Start with the stock. Heat the oil in a large, high-sided pan over a high heat. Add the prawns and fry for 5 minutes, or until pink and cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the prawns to a plate. Tip the onions, celery and carrot into the pan and brown for a few minutes before adding the garlic, tomatoes, saffron, smoked paprika, tomato paste, bay leaf and 2 litres of cold water.
Once the prawns are cool enough to handle, peel off the heads, tails and skins and add to the stock pot. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, skimming off any scum. Remove from heat, and allow to cool for a few minutes before carefully straining the stock through a sieve into a clean pan. Make sure to squeeze all the juice from the shells and veg.
For the ﬁdeua, heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large paella pan or large, high-sided frying pan, over a high heat. Add the squid and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, until lightly coloured. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add the remaining oil to the pan and fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes over a medium heat. Tip in the ﬁdeus pasta, stirring often, and cook for 5 minutes to toast the pasta. Return the squid to the pan, pour in enough hot stock to cover the pasta. Cook for 5 minutes.
Place the mussels and clams over the top, with the prawns cooked earlier, add 150ml more stock, then cover the whole thing with foil or a lid and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until all the mussels and clams have opened. Leave to stand for 5 minutes and serve with lemon wedges.
The big risk with tapas is that they are so delicious that it's easy to get carried away and eat way too many, so I've kept these light. The whipped ricotta, although not Spanish, adds a welcome freshness to the intense nutty flavours of the romesco and saltiness of the ham and olives.
For the marinated olives
1 tsp toasted fennel seeds
2 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, sliced
Grated zest 1 orange
350g large green olives
For the whipped ricotta
100ml natural yoghurt
½ clove garlic, crushed
For the romesco
4 roasted red peppers, from a jar, drained and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
50g almonds, roasted and roughly chopped
2 tsp smoked sweet paprika
1 tsp sherry vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
For the padron peppers
2 tbsp olive oil
130g padron peppers
Pata negra or serrano ham
Toasted pitta bread
For the marinated olives, combine the fennel seeds, olive oil, garlic and orange zest in a bowl. Stir through the olives and leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
For the whipped ricotta, put the ricotta in a bowl with the yoghurt and crushed garlic. Season with salt and whisk until well combined. Set aside.
To make the romesco, put all of the ingredients except the oil into a food processor, pulse until finely chopped. Gradually add the oil with some salt and pepper and mix until combined. Set aside.
Just before you are ready to serve, cook the padron peppers. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat. When the oil is almost smoking, throw in the peppers and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, shaking the pan regularly. Cook until the skin blisters and chars. Remove from the pan and sprinkle generously with sea salt.
To serve, put the whipped ricotta and romesco into serving bowls alongside the padron peppers and olives. Serve with toasted pitta and some pata negra or serrano ham.
I've taken inspiration from Claudia Roden's famous orange and almond cake, and boiled whole oranges for this pudding. These are chopped and added to the pudding batter with an orange syrup. Delicious.
3 small oranges
350g self-raising flour
160g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
300ml natural yoghurt
125g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp orange blossom water (optional)
250g light soft brown sugar
450ml freshly squeezed orange juice
Pouring cream, to serve
Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F/Gas4 and grease a 2½ litre baking dish.
Put the oranges into a small pan, cover with cold water, and bring to the boil. Simmer until the oranges are tender and a knife easily pierces the skin. Remove from the water and allow to cool. Once cool enough to handle, finely chop the oranges and scrape the flesh, skin and any juice into a bowl.
Sift the flour with a pinch of salt into a bowl with the sugar and baking powder. Add the yoghurt, butter, egg and orange blossom water to the chopped orange. Add this to the dry ingredients and stir together until well combined. Pour into the baking dish.
Place the brown sugar, honey and orange juice into a small pan and bring to the boil. Pour the boiling mixture carefully over the pudding (this will seem odd, but it really does work). Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden, well risen and starting to shrink from the sides. Serve immediately with cream.
Food preparation: Marina Filippelli; Props merchandising: Rachel Jukes
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