Archive for the ‘tapas’ Category

Leftovers from the tapas (yes, still) as a quick breakfast/snackbox. Not much more to say…
Oh, right. There’s aioli and Ajvar in the little condiment cup (which I sneakily took from the local burger chain’s stash). Ss_biggie reminded me how much I loved Ajvar, so I grabbed a glass at the supermarket the other day. And since I like hot stuff (and can handle it), of course I took hot.
Big mistake. I so love the taste, but my mouth burns too much to eat a lot of it at once! *cries*

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Wah! Kao-chan, I hold you in a whole new respect as photography goddess after trying out taking photos with my BF’s digital SLR. So many options! And after all of this torture to my wrists from holding, aiming, and setting the (bloody heavy) thing I found out I had the wrong ISO setting and the pictures turned out grainy anyway. *cries*
Luckily ever-paranoid, I had taken some pictures with my regular camera too. But they don’t look nearly as good as the SLR ones as I’m already able to tell! Oh well, I guess I’ll be taking pictures in parallel for a while until I have it figured out.

On to the bento…

Main course: Spanish potato tortilla on a bed of salad. Black garlic olives.
Side dish: Cherry tomato salad with red onion and fresh basil; green garlic olive.
Dessert: Freshly-picked forest berries on yoghurt, all frozen to serve as ice pack (this goes back into the freezer until tomorrow).

I love summer! Not just because it’s warm and nice but it’s also the season of fruits, herbs and berrypicking. My grandmother used to go to the forest with me to pick berries and I plan to do the same with my children and grandchildren, if I ever have any. It’s so important to know where the food comes from when it’s not bought in the supermarket. How to live off the land and what delicacies there are hiding in our own forests and meadows is starting to become a sadly forgotten art, and even though I grew up mostly in a city myself it saddens me when I meet people my age who can barely tell a chestnut tree from a cherry tree and would never eat anything straight from the forest. (I say to hell with hygiene, forest berries taste the best when fresh from the branch.)
Today I went to the forest in search of mushrooms. I didn’t find any yet, although the weather was perfect – I guess there were too many mushroom pickers before me! – but I did find an abundance of wild raspberries, forest strawberries and blueberries. I’m especially happy about the forest strawberries (or smultron as they are called in Swedish) because they taste so much better than the giant strawberries you can buy in supermarkets. Talk about a taste explosion in every single, tiny berry you pick. I had a hard time picking any for later and not putting every berry in my mouth immediately!

It is no coincidence or photographic accessorizing though that amidst all the berries, there is also a flower. When I went out to the forest with my grandmother, we did not only pick berries and mushrooms!
The yellow flower giving such a pretty contrast to the red and blue berries is called St. John’s Wort or in German, Johanniskraut and can be used dried as a tea, or steeped in alcohol as an antibiotic tincture that speeds up wound healing. It is rumoured to be good against mild depressions even!
When I saw it growing wild and abundant in the forests close to here, I remembered how we used to collect it and decided to pick and dry some of my own. Herbal medicine, and knowledge of wild herbs is sadly a vanishing art here in Europe, and I am very interested in keeping the knowledge of living off the land alive, at least as little as I ever learned about it! I’m planning to write more articles on vanishing vegetable sorts and herbs on this blog as I stumble across them. Did you know, for example, that you can eat dandelion leaves as a salad in spring, if you pick them very young and before they grow flowers? (I plan to sneak that into a bento next spring, if I get the chance…)

I put the rest of the berries on top of yoghurt into muffin cups (I took two for each cup as I was worried one alone might be too soft) and froze them. I wonder if freezing yoghurt is such a good idea? But on the other hand, I do like frozen yoghurt, and I like the possibility of using it as an icepack as well, so I’ll keep you updated on whether the cups held up to the abuse when I manage to integrate them into another bento…

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Weekend cooking: Tapas!

I love Spanish tapas. While I can’t eat all of them, there’s always something lovely and savoury for me in it. And when I feel blue and don’t know what to eat/cook, tapas are the perfect food to nibble! Colourful, savoury and delicious. A little here, a little there, toss in a salad or a caprese or some cheese (I like parmesan/grana which is just parmesan by another name) and bread and you’re set!

Some of my staple ingredients for tapas:

Olives – whenever I manage to get to an ethnic foodstore, I buy a big pint of fresh olives to bring home. The supermarkets here only have either canned olives or very oily ones – I prefer them marinated in brine with herbs. Shown here are green and black olives marinated with garlic and lemon.

Garlic grilled prawns – I don’t need to put a recipe here, right?

Peperonata – fried bell peppers with balsamico vinegar
* Cut bell peppers into about 1cm wide strips. If you take three different-coloured bell peppers it will look even better – I only had yellow bell pepper at home, sadly. Peel a garlic clove and slice or quarter it.
* Heat a few spoons of olive oil in a deep pan. Fry the bell peppers with the garlic until they start to become soft, but still have a crunch.
* Take the pan off the heat, then pour in balsamico vinegar – enough to quench the heat. Cook a little, remove the garlic and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or cold.

Tortilla Espagnola (Spanish Potato Omelette)
This is a very good way of using up leftover cooked potatoes, but delicious on its own as well! I don’t add anything to the omelette other than potatoes, eggs and salt/pepper, but you can vary the recipe by adding vegetables or spice it up with onions and garlic.
* Take some leftover cooked potatoes, or cook some new ones. Peel them if they’re not this year’s potatoes (mine are and I like the thin, edible bark, so they’re not peeled but just washed and scrubbed thoroughly.)
* Slice the potatoes into 0.5cm wide discs.
* In a bowl, scramble eggs (I used 4 for my pie, take more or less depending on the size of your pan and grade of hungriness) with salt, pepper, and whatever other spices you like.
* Take an ovenfast pan or pie form and spray it with olive oil. Put down a layer of potato slices on the bottom, not overlapping.
* Pour some of the egg mixture over the potatoes to cover them, spread it out with a spoon so the potatoes are covered by a thin layer of egg.
* Repeat until you run out of either potatoes, egg or pan.
* Put in the oven at 200 degrees and bake until the egg is no longer runny and nicely brown on top. Cut into wedges and serve warm or cold. Voilà! Or maybe, Olé!

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Jumbled and mixed together Spanish-ish food, in no particular order:

  • Mini Spanish potato omelette wedges
  • Grilled prawns on spits
  • Feta-stuffed olives
  • Balsamico glazed roasted mushrooms
  • Grilled green asparagus
  • Raw yellow bell paper and grape tomato quarters
  • Aioli and salsa (both storebought, sadly! Homemade tastes so much better :( )
  • Grilled potato wedges (hidden under the aioli)
  • Salad leaf and spring onions as deco

*gasps for air* I think that was all now.

And a gratuituous second picture because I thought it looked spiffy:


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Originally posted to :

This bento is kind of Sweden-themed, but mostly showing how I love to have lots of mixed foods :)
Top layer (Breakfast): Soyghurt, some carrot-apple salad, 1/4 egg, 1/4 wild tomato, chocolate wheats, rye bread, one red dalahorse made of bell pepper and one chocolatey one :)

Middle layer (Lunch): Ovenbaked potato slices, fried red and green bellpeppers and mushrooms in balsamico, Grana (hard cheese rather like parmesan) sprinkles and a basil leaf on top
Lowest layer: 3/4 egg with crab paste, more Grana, some green-red wild tomato, more carrot and apple salad and a bell pepper heart.

The lunch is leftovers from a tapas dinner: I love to make a bunch of mixed foods if I don't feel like anything in specific. The recipes are not particularly Spanish, but generally mediterranean-themed as small mixed foods can be found everywhere around the mediterranean coast.
One of the staples in this type of food are fried, vinegared bell peppers. The recipe is from an Italian chef and has been a long-time favourite in my family.

Fried vinegared bell peppers recipe:
Slice 2-3 bell peppers, preferably each of a different color, into thin strips.
In a deep pan, heat extra virgin olive oil. Add 1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and quartered. When the oil is hot, add the bell pepper strips and cook them in the oil until they start to become soft, but still have some bite. Take the pan off the heat and pour a generous amount of Balsamic vinegar over them. The dictionary tells me the term for this is to “deglaze” but in fact what we are doing is to cool down the peppers and finishing the cooking by broiling them in the residual heat in the vinegar. The “sauce” itself is not actually used after cooking.
Pick out the garlic bits and serve the peppers hot or cold with fresh Basil and preferably a crunchy Baguette.

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