Tapas and Appetisers

I found a great little book last weekend, while hunting the discount bookshops. It certainly is the definitive book on tapas and contains all the recipes you need to put on a magnificent spread of 'finger food' and beyond. In fact, my family feasted on some of its secrets last night with a tapas spread to beat!

'The One and Only Tapas and Appetisers Cookbook' features 100 recipes, tips and techniques to create tempting appetisers from scratch in next to no time. From favourites such as bruschetta and bilinis to new ideas for entertaining, every page is bursting with ideas you'll want to try. In 220 pages there is an introduction by noted food writer Jenny Linford, giving essential tips about how to create the very best tapas, and easy-to-follow recipes with step-by-step instructions and full colour photography for every dish. There are illustrated sections that teach core techniques every budding foodie needs to know.

''Appetisers are the little things you keep eating until you lose your appetite'' - this is a good way of desribing the content of this book. There is a definite charm to being served an assorted medley of small platefuls of tasty food to graze on. My family certainly felt this last night as we tucked into little mouthfuls of tasty delights. It is not surprising, that so many cuisines feature versions of 'tapas', from Lebanese mezze to the Scandinavian smorgasbord. In Spain, tapas are traditionally served in bars as an accompaniment to alcoholic drinks such as sherry, Cava or wine. In Italy, cicchetti or spuntino, little plates of food, are served with Prosecco or other sparking wines. (I recall my daughter, on a visit to Milan, boasting about never buying a meal, but just feasting on the free cicchetti served in the bars in the early evening with a drink.) The word 'tapas' means 'lid' or 'cover' and its gastronomic use is thought to have originated in the custom of covering a glass of wine with a complimentary little plate of something to nibble on. Small plates are gloriously versatile, since they can be served as canapes at parties, as a first course or used in combination to make up an entire 'grazing' meal, which is how we used them last night.

This book provides all the recipes you will need, whether for canapes, appetisers or just for grazing. And don't think it's all about savoury. The dishes range from Gazpacho to Carrot Cakes (above). There is plenty of meat and fish recipes like Carpaccio with Horseradish and Parmesan, to Canapes with Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese and Capers. We had the Spanish Vegetable Tortilla (below) last night, alongside a host of other dishes from this book, including deep fried Rice Balls or 'Arancini', in Italian, and Tomato Salad with Prawns and Basil.

There is something for everyone in 'The One and Only Tapas and Appetisers Cookbook'. It was published back in 2015 by Weldon Owen Ltd, London and was £12.99, but I picked it up far cheaper in a discount book shop. Its ISBN -13: 978 1 78342 224 1 and it is available on Amazon Books in hardcover at £9.99 or $11.50.


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