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Nieves Barragán Mohacho's recipes for springtime tapas - MW

Four modern tapas from the Sabor maestro: roast aubergine, crab empanadillas, lamb cutlets and a jerusalem artichoke puree

Roast aubergine with almond sauce

Prep 10 min
Cook 1 hr 45 min
Serves 4

2 aubergines (about 300g each)
Olive oil

For the almond sauce
150g whole blanched almonds
50g chopped shallot
80ml sherry
250ml chicken stock
60ml double cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 pinch cayenne pepper, to finish

For the lovage oil (optional)
40g lovage or parsley leaves
125ml extra-virgin olive oil, or pomace oil, if you can get hold of it
1 garlic clove, peeled

For the fried shallots
1 shallot, peeled and cut into very thin rings
1 tbsp cornflour

125ml rapeseed oil

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/gas 4. Put the aubergines on a tray and bake for 40 minutes, until soft and cooked through.

Roast the almonds in a medium oven for two to three minutes, until slightly toasted and golden brown. In a small pan, sweat the chopped shallot in 40ml olive oil until soft.

Add the almonds and sherry, bring to a boil and reduce slightly. Add the stock, reduce by half, then add the cream. Season, then leave to cook gently on a low heat until everything comes together. Tip into a blender and blitz smooth.

Put all the ingredients for the lovage oil in a small saucepan on a very low heat and, once the pan is warm, turn off the heat – you don’t want the garlic to brown. Season to taste, then blitz to a smooth emulsion.

Dust the shallot rings in cornflour, then fry in rapeseed oil in a small pan until golden brown.

Cut each aubergine in half lengthways. Heat a drizzle of oil in a small frying pan, then lay in the aubergines flesh side down and caramelise for 90 seconds, until golden brown. Turn over, cook the skin for a minute, then arrange flesh side up on a plate. Pour over the sauce to cover.

Drizzle with the lovage oil, sprinkle with a pinch of cayenne pepper and top with the crisp shallots.

Spiced crab empanadillas

Prep 15 min
Cook 45 min
Serves 4

2 leeks, white parts only, finely chopped
4 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
2 bay leaves
25ml olive oil
150ml fino sherry
200ml brandy
500ml shellfish stock, homemade or bought in
500g tomato frito, or passata
250g fresh white crab meat
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pack puff pastry
Flour, for dusting
1 egg, beaten
400ml rapeseed oil

In a medium saucepan on a medium-low heat, sweat the leeks, shallots, garlic and bay in oil until soft but not coloured – six to eight minutes.

Add the sherry and brandy, cook until the liquids evaporate, then add the stock and reduce until it’s almost evaporated and you’re left with a paste-like sauce.

Stir in the tomato and reduce again to a paste, then stir in the crab and cook on a low-medium heat for six to eight minutes. Season, add a pinch of cayenne and leave to cool.

Dust a flat surface with flour and roll out the pastry into a 50cm x 25cm rectangle about 2mm thick. Use a 12cm round pastry cutter (or ramekin) to cut out pastry circles (ie, two rows of four from the rectangle).

Put a heaped tablespoon of the crab mix (about 40g) in the centre of each circle, then brush the edges with egg. Fold each circle in half to enclose the filling and form a semi-circle, then use the back of a fork to seal and crimp the edges about 3mm in from the sides. Save any excess crab mix to top toasts, or for pasta or rice.

Put enough rapeseed oil in a small-medium frying pan to come 2cm up the sides, and put on a medium heat. Fry the empanadillas in two batches for 90 seconds a side, until golden brown, then use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper.

Leave to cool for a few minutes before serving – they’ll be extremely hot.

Lamb cutlets with mojo rojo, ajo blanco and pomegranate salad

Prep 30 min, plus overnight soak
Cook 15 min
Serves 4
8 lamb cutlets (ie 2 per person)

For the ajo blanco
80g almonds
300ml milk
½ loaf bread
2 garlic cloves
3 granny smith apples
150ml extra-virgin olive oil – Arbequina, for preference
A drizzle of moscatel vinegar or apple cider vinegar
Salt and black pepper, to taste

For the mojo rojo
1 red pepper, roasted, peeled and deseeded
3 roasted tomatoes
2 roasted garlic heads
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp spicy pimentón
100ml extra-virgin olive oil – Arbequina, for preference
60ml moscatel vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp cayenne paste
Salt and black pepper, to taste

For the salad
Seeds of ½ pomegranate
1 handful parsley leaves
2 tbsp pistachios, roasted
½ red onion, cut into very thin rings
1 small handful coriander leaves
15ml moscatel vinegar or apple cider vinegar
25ml extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper, to taste

For the ajo blanco, put the almonds, milk, bread and garlic in a bowl, and leave in the fridge overnight.

The next day, put in a blender with all the remaining ajo blanco ingredients, blitz smooth and scrape into a bowl.

For the mojo rojo, put everything in a blender, blitz smooth and scrape into a second bowl. Put all the salad ingredients in a third bowl and toss to combine.

Coat the lamb cutlets in the mojo rojo, then fry or grill on a plancha for a minute on each side (or until done to your liking).

Spoon the ajo blanco on one side of a serving plate, and top with the salad. Arrange the cutlets on the other side of the plate and serve at once.

Peas, jerusalem artichoke, goat’s cheese and caramelised chilli cashew nuts

Prep 10 min
Cook 30 min
Serves 4

For the jerusalem artichoke purée
1kg jerusalem artichokes
200ml milk
1 bay leaf
75g chopped shallot
1 garlic clove, peeled and thinly sliced
Olive oil, for frying
50g serrano ham, chopped
750ml good chicken stock
Extra-virgin olive oil, to finish – Arbequina, for preference

For the peas
1kg shelled peas (or use frozen and defrosted instead)
Salt, to taste
200g soft Bauma goat’s cheese – get it from Brindisa, or use a mixture of another soft goat’s cheese and ricotta
1 small bunch mint, picked

For the nuts
150g cashew nuts
1 tbsp olive oil
1 pinch chilli flakes

Peel the artichokes, put them in a pan, add the milk and bay leaf, then pour in enough cold water just to cover. Bring to a boil on a medium heat, cook gently until soft – about 15 minutes – then drain.

In a medium pan, sweat the shallot and garlic in a drizzle of oil, until soft. Add the ham and cook, stirring, for two minutes, then add the artichokes and stock, and cook on a medium-low heat until the stock has nearly evaporated and the sauce is paste-like. Tip into a blender and blitz smooth.

Blanch the peas in salted boiling water until soft. For the nuts, fry the cashews in the oil in a small frying pan until light golden brown, then sprinkle with the chilli and set aside.

Gently warm up the artichoke puree in a small saucepan, then spoon on to a plate and top with the peas. Sprinkle over the nuts, crumble the cheese on top, drizzle with a generous amounts of good oil and scatter over the mint leaves.


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