Tapas At The Beach

If you are searching for the perfect summer dish that is quick to prepare with minimal ingredients, then look no further than the national dish of Spain. This tapas bar favorite is pure simplicity and ideal for a quick and filling lunch or dinner and robust enough to qualify as a picnic staple. A slice of tortilla and a few tomatoes, eaten on a sunny beach, is my idea of pure heaven. 

Summer stone fruits and berries cry out for a lighter dessert that showcases their flavors and is quick to prepare. Luscious apricots deserve more love and really come into their own when lightly poached in a sugar syrup, paired with berries, and topped with a tangy yogurt and cream combination. 

Enjoy these simple home-made dishes and have a wonderful summer.


Spanish Tortilla

Top quality ingredients and careful preparation are essential for success. Do not shy away from using plenty of good olive oil. It prevents the dish from sticking and gives it a rich flavor. The potatoes and onions should be as fresh as possible and local free-range eggs are best. Some versions use pre-cooked potatoes, which I do not recommend. The long poaching in olive oil gives a superior flavor and texture. 

It is perfectly safe to use a heavy non-stick pan in an oven up to 325 degrees. I use one with a metal handle but wrapping with tin foil will protect it. If using a cast iron pan, add a little extra olive oil.

1 ¼ lb. new season Yukon Gold potatoes
2 medium yellow onions
10 fresh free-range local eggs
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Large handful parsley, finely chopped
Fine sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Peel, halve and thinly slice the onions into half-moons. Scrub and dry the potatoes and slice thinly using a mandolin or sharp knife. Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a 12-inch skillet and gently cook the onions, seasoning with a little salt, on gentle heat for about 6 to 8 minutes, until softened but not browned. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan and heat to medium. Add the potatoes in layers to cover the bottom of the pan and turn the heat to low. Cook gently for several minutes, adding a little salt. Gently move the potatoes around so that they are coated with oil, being careful not to break them up. As the potatoes are cooking, crack the eggs into a large bowl and add the chopped parsley, salt and pepper, whisking to combine. When the potatoes are a light golden brown and tender, but not soft, gently mix in the onions and then pour in the egg mixture. Cook for about five minutes until the bottom is set. The top inch or so will still be liquid. 

Place the pan on the middle shelf of a preheated 300-degree oven and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes until the top is just set, checking every few minutes. Remove pan from the oven (remember the handle is hot!) and place on a cooling tray for about 15 minutes. Loosen the sides of the tortilla with a spatula and turn out onto a large platter or tray. Serve slightly warm, or at room temperature, sprinkled with a little extra fresh parsley. Will keep well in the refrigerator for a couple of days.


Summer Fruit with Yogurt “Mousse”

This dessert came about as a happy accident when I was short of heavy cream for a recipe. I whipped a little cream with some plain Greek yogurt, and the result was a thick tangy mousse that was the perfect contrast to sweet fruit. It also keeps its texture in the fridge for a couple of days.

 Apricots are the perfect summer fruit and turn into something quite magical when poached in a sugar syrup. Briermere Farms stocks them for a limited time, and excellent California fruits are readily available at local supermarkets.

If not using apricots, when local peaches arrive, just slice and pair with seasonal berries and serve the dessert with your favorite cookie. 

Ingredients

Yogurt Mousse

1/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt

Place 1/3 cup of cream in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until thick. Add the Greek yogurt and continue beating until the mixture has a firm mousse-like consistency. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

The Fruit

1¼ lb. fresh apricots
2 cups water
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup berries — chopped strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries

Method

Halve the apricots and remove the pits. Place the sugar and water in a wide, heavy-based saucepan. Heat until the sugar is fully dissolved. Place the apricots in the sugar syrup, cut side down, and cook gently for about five minutes. Turn the apricots and simmer gently for a further five minutes. The apricots should be tender but still retain their shape. Cool in the syrup before refrigerating for up to five days. Make sure the fruit is immersed in the liquid or it may turn brown.

To Assemble & Serve

Remove the apricots from the syrup and slice each half into three pieces. Place a handful of berries in the bottom of a wide dessert or highball glass. Top with about six apricot slices and a couple of tablespoons of poaching liquid. Spoon on a generous amount of the yogurt mousse and serve with a crumbly shortbread or oatmeal cookie.

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