Following on from my last post where I talked about the gastronomic delights and wonderful sights of San Sebastian, I was inspired enough to endeavour to make my own versions of Pintxos, the Basque form of Tapas.
I am completely in love with Pintxos. Now that I have started making them, it seems as though I cannot stop myself from creating endless new ideas for toppings in my head! They are so easy to make and can be as simple or complicated as you wish to make them. I find the philosophy of individually portioned dainty eats irresistible as the variety and diversity is so appealing. If you are in Northern Spain, you can literally graze on Pintxos all day long, in and out of bars, never needing to sit down to a full meal. I truly believe that if I lived there, I would be the size of a small house!
I like to offer nibbles or canapés to guests before a dinner and Pintxos work perfectly for just that. You only need to make a couple of types, and only allow one Pintxos per person of each type as they can be quite filling. Or you could go the whole hog and make an array of them and make them the main event of your meal, perhaps with some nice Patatas Bravas or Spanish Omelette.
So over the last week or so, I have experimented with a few different sorts of Pintxos but I still have copious ideas for more so I may well over flow into another post in the future.
But for now I am going to kick off with Iberico Ham, Fried Quails Egg & Parmesan Pintxos, literally a match made in heaven. Simple, gorgeous and delicious. The almost buttery melt in the mouth ham topped with a soft yolk quails egg, grated fresh Parmesan and a grind of black pepper is simply divine! I recommend you use the best ham you can find, if not Iberico. Something this simple demands the best ingredients and will deliver on taste as well as beauty, guaranteed.
Next, Smoked Salmon, Dill & Cream Cheese Pintxos. Slivers of smoked salmon are mixed with spring onions, dill, cream cheese and a little lemon juice and generously piled onto bread. In the Spanish bars, the Pintxos are topped so generously that sometimes it can be a challenge to get your lips round them so dont be mean with yours! This combination is fresh, fishy and fragrant with dill. I used a slice of thick cut smoked salmon to top it all off which finished it off nicely.
I was inspired to make a Pintxos using some of the abundant radishes growing in my vegetable garden so I made Merguez Sausage with Radish Tatziki Pintxos. The spicy beef sausage works really well with the crunch and pepperyness of the radishes whilst the yoghurt adds a cooling element. You could use a different spicy sausage if you cant find Merguez; I guess Chorizo or Kabanos would also work well.
Moving on to Sundried Tomato, Goats Cheese, Pistachio & Balsamic Pintxos. I noticed many Pintxos used sundried tomatoes when in Spain, paired with lots of different things: eggs, anchovies, tuna etc. I also saw plenty of Goats Cheese, most strikingly; warm Goats cheese and foie frais! Here the fruity tomato partners the creamy twang of the Goats cheese perfectly whilst the little shards of pistachio and the balsamic add sweetness. This Pintxos is fantastic!
And finally, Salmon Croquette with Spicy Avocado Mayonnaise. Croquettes are prevalent in Spain using salt cod, cheese or ham for example. My croquette is not traditional as it uses just salmon fillet so I guess it is more of a fish nugget. Either way, it is rich and juicy and crunchy and yummy! The avocado mayonnaise I made could have done with more of a punch and more acidity so next time I would go heavier on the Tabasco and lemon juice. Even so, it was still a joy to eat and a first rate combination of flavours.
As I said, I have lots more ideas for Pintxos, after all, you can put pretty much anything on a piece of bread so the possibilities are endless. I am lucky enough to be returning to Northern Spain on holiday in a few days time where I will continue my study of Pintxos happily! I look forward to sharing even more discoveries and inventions with you all when I return.