Gambas al ajillo

Well it’s the final day of the tapas tour and it’s another tapas favourite and another simple dish. Gambas al ajillo are garlic shrimps and no spanish feast is complete without some sort of seafood. The spanish eat all types of seafood with shrimps or gambas being one of the most common.

Gambas al ajillo

This should ideally be prepared on the hob in earthenware dishes but I have yet to add those to my kitchen equipment (I need a bigger kitchen!!) so i used a frying pan and transferred to these ramekins to serve.

300g shrimps (I used raw tiger prawns which are found in most supermarkets)
125ml olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced.
1 red chilli pepper, cored and finely sliced

Heat the olive oil in the pan, add the garlic and chilli. Add the prawns as soon as the garlic has coloured slightly, sprinkle with salt and fry. Serve immediately in the garlic and oil, with hunks of bread to mop up all those fab juices after the prawns have been devoured. The chilli should be just enough to leave a tingle but not overpower the dish.

That brings us to the end of the tapas spread and I hope you’ve enjoyed it and it has inspired you to bring a bit of the spanish tapas flavour into your kitchen.

June’s Spanish recipes will be something sweet for you to try, but pop back tomorrow for a blog giveaway!

Jamie’s America– Jambalaya

The need for yummy one pot dishes goes quite high with an eight week old baby in the household. One pot cooking offers the ability to delay serving time should your little one suddenly demand some attention (Grace seems to have an aptitude for getting hungry just as our dinner is ready!!!). It allows ease of serving when you’re tired and worn out from sleepless nights. It generates hearty portions so there’s always some for leftovers the next day – a welcome benefit when you’re home alone with the baby. Last but not least one pot cooking leads to minimal washing up duties – which can never be a bad thing!

My repertoire of recipes includes a few good one pot dishes but eager to expand the collection I scoured my recipe book collection for something new. I happened across Jamie’s America, a book that was purchased as a bargain addition from an order with The Book People, but not one I was desperate to own.

I have to admit I didn’t watch the TV series (an unusual occurrence in itself) and wasn’t sure how much I would actually like the recipes, but will gladly admit I was pleasantly surprised.

The book is laid out like a scrapbook of his travels, filled with stories and photos of the people he met and how he came across the recipes. This has it’s benefits in that you get a true taste of America and the food that real American’s eat/ The downside to this is that not all ingredients are readily available as I don’t think Tesco’s has started stocking alligator yet?! Therefore it’s not the most practical of cookbooks, but it does give you a good understanding of the culture and food of various areas of America. It’s recipe collection is very meat orientated so I wouldn’t recommend it to any vegetarians.

One of the recipes I highlighted in my first flick through the book was the Chicken, Sausage and Prawn Jambalaya. I think this appealed due to the similar ingredients it has to my Spanish paella and what’s more it’s all prepared in one pot.

Chicken, Sausage & Prawn Jambalaya 

8 Chicken Thighs and Drumsticks
Sea Salt and Black Pepper
Cayenne Pepper
Olive Oil
300g Chorizo, skin removed, cut in 1cm slices
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 green & 1 red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
4 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
4 bay leaves
2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1.5 ltrs of chicken stock
700g long grain rice
16-20 raw king prawns, peeled and deveined

Season the chicken with salt, pepper and cayenne. Brown the chicken in a large casserole pan with a couple of glugs of olive oil and the sliced sausage over a medium hear. Add your onion, peppers and celery, bay and thyme as well as some more seasoning. Stir, then fry on medium hear for 10-12 minutes stirring occasionally.

Once the vegetables have softened, add your garlic and chillies, stir for a minute, then add stock and tinned tomatoes. Bring to the boil and then turn the heat down, pop on a lid and leave to simmer for half an hour. When the meat is can be pulled off the bone, it is ready. You can remove the bones at this point if you so like – we kept our meat on the bone. Now add the rice, stir and replace the lid. Stir every few minutes, scraping the goodness of the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until the rice is done. Stir in the prawns and water if it needs it, the consistency should be porridge like. Pop back on for 4-5 minutes then stir through some chopped parsley and serve.

As this dish resembles a paella, I couldn’t help but enjoy it. Full of flavour and with a chilli kick you don’t get from it’s Spanish cousin, I thought it was perfect for either a mid week dinner or a leisurely evening in with friends. It’s definitely a dish that will be a firm favourite in this household.

Enjoy / Disfrutas!

A visit to my second homeland

May has been a hectic month, with a very busy social and work life. Part of that was caused by a 5 day business trip to my Head office, which is located in Ourense, NW Spain. Whilst I love any excuse to go back to Spain, please don’t think this was just a jolly, it’s actually quite hard work! We take a group of customers out to the quarries to see how our roofing slates are produced, so it’s a lot of hosting and translating for me, but I do love it! The worst thing is the travelling as it’s quite a drive to this remote part of Spain.

O'Barco, Ourense, Galicia                                             

Glamourous? … maybe not!

For me the best thing about going on these business trips, is not only to see my colleagues and practice my spanish, but the food! If you weren’t aware already (not sure how it might have escaped you if have read any of my random tweets or earlier posts) but I love Spanish food. I love how each dish is simple but tasty, langostines in garlic, jamon iberico, grilled seabass, tortilla espanola, …. must stop or else will be drooling over the keyboard!

The only downside for the purpose of this blog is that because the eating was all business dinners I didn’t think it right to photo the food. So whilst I have no pics of the food I ate during my trip, I did get an hour to myself in Oviedo on the Saturday, I headed straight to the supermarket.


Fancy some octopus or prawns? There was so much choice and it was all so fresh, and this was in a standard spanish supermarket. It reminded me of how poor the selection of fresh fish is in our supermarkets in the UK, and whilst I do admit things have improved over recent years I think we still lag behind.

Whilst fish is not suitable for packing into the suitcase (it did cross my mind for a millisecond!) I did bring home some cured meats including Jamon serrano, Chorizo and Morcilla (spanish black pudding). Mainly because I have converted my other half into a spanophile. Is that the right word for the spanish equivalent to a francophile? In fact is there a word for a lover of all things Spanish? Anyway as he wasn’t able to join me on the trip I thought it best to bring a little something home and during the lovely weather we had in the last couple of weeks we enjoyed a tapas meal on the patio.

Tapas, Chorizo, Jamon

Chorizo in Wine

There is nothing better than some jam, chorizo, smoked salmon served with some crusty bread and a green salad. The other pot had some garlic mushrooms which are also perfect on slices of crusty bread too.

The trip was good but it has made me yearn for a holiday to Spain, so I can sample some more spanish gastronomic delights and share it with the hubby too of course!! Not a possibility this year sadly but for now we still have some chorizo to keep us happy!There is nothing better than some jam, chorizo, smoked salmon served with some crusty bread and a green salad. The other pot had some garlic mushrooms which are also perfect on slices of crusty bread too.

Since getting home from the trip I’ve been fairy busy with work but also with some more foodie experiences which I can’t wait to fill you in on including dinner at Weston Park and a cupcake decorating class with Sarah at BlueDoorBakery.

Will be back soon with more tales from this staffordshire senorita!

Easy Peasy Paella

I generally like this part of the year, when it’s all about spring and new growth and we say goodbye to winter. March on the whole has given us such fantastic weather (oops, best try to forget last week where winter has seemed to make another appearance as we woke up one morning to a fluttering of snow), that you could almost start to taste Summer.

I’m sure we all have varied memories of good summer eating, but for me it can be summed up by sitting on the patio sipping a chilled glass of wine and eating a dish of grilled sardines, with a simple tomato salad to accompany. This all takes me back to my summers spent in Spain, where sunshine just seems to radiate out of the food. I so miss how the tomatoes taste of tomato instead of the watery imitations we get here!! Anyone else?

One dish that I cook through out the year to brighten my day with memories of summer and good times is Paella. Paella is often regarded by many non-spaniards as the national dish, to the Spanish it is a regional dish from Valencia, though its popularity means it is served on menu’s around Spain. The word Paella actually comes from the type of dish it is cooked in, a specialised shallow pan with two handles. Now nothing beats a paella that is cooked in a traditional pan over an open flame, but with limits to both my cupboard space, time and availability of flame (my cooker is electric! ugh!) I was keen to find an alternative.

I have found a version of this traditional Spanish dish that gives you a little taste of the Costa with minimal effort, based on this recipe from the BBC Archive (a great source for recipes when you some ingredients and little inspiration!) with a few tweaks.

Baked Paella

250g/9oz cherry tomatoes
1 mild spanish onion or red onion, finely chopped,
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
300g/10oz risotto/ paella rice – if you can get paella rice it does work better.
6 chicken pieces – I use mixture of thigh and leg.
200g/7oz chorizo, thickly sliced
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 litre/1¾ pints hot chicken stock
pinch of saffron strands
8 large raw prawns
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Place the cherry tomatoes in a roasting tin and sprinkle over the onion and olive oil. Roast for 15 minutes until the tomatoes are softened, then add the garlic and roast for a further 5 minutes.

Stir in the rice, chicken, chorizo, rosemary, chicken stock, saffron and some salt and pepper, mixing well together. Return to the oven for 20 minutes.

Stir in the prawns and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes until the rice is tender and the chicken is cooked through.

Chicken Prawn Paella

 Chicken Prawn Paella





This is so simple to prepare, it is perfect for a mid-week tea. Sometimes I omit the prawns if I struggle to get hold of them, but I would suggest always using chorizo as this oozes its paprika oils it gives it the paella the unmistakable Spanish flavour.

Chicken & Prawn Paella

To some this may be a classed as a tragic imitation of the authentic national dish, but to me it gives me a taste of many happy memories, and it’s one of my hubby’s favourite dishes too!

Disfrutas (enjoy!) x