When a Friend Gives You a Jeroboam of Rioja, Have a Spanish Food Party!!


My awesome friend Phillip gave me a jeroboam of Rioja, the best excuse to invite friends over (Theresa & Ian) to help drink it (they did a very good job I must say ) & cook up a storm of Spanish food! I love Spanish food and even though it is generally though of as a warmer climate, they have food that is just awesome comfort food! The thing I like about these dishes are that they can all be prepared ahead, so you have time to sit with your guests and chat and enjoy a cocktail glass of wine, then voila- supper is served! The oxtails are prepared in the morning, then cook all day in the crock pot, with just a little finishing at the end with herbs. Its a stunning dish that is so lovely with the Rioja. the dessert- flan de naranja- is easy to prepare and can stay inf the refrigerator  until required and are light and refreshing after the rich oxtail dish.

WINE NOTE: not sure which was the star of the show, the Rioja or the food. But the Baron De Barbon is joyfully fruity, full of red berries & vanilla with a touch of spice. the red berries meld well with the orange and cut through the richness of the oxtails. A normal bottle (75cl) would come in under £10 so a reasonable price for this lovely enjoyable wine that brightened up a winter’s night!!

Roasted red peppers & anchovy on garlic toasts.

Garlic butter; 1 large garlic clove crushed ¼ small pack parsley 2 tbsp lemon juice 100g/4oz unsalted butter at room temp Beat the garlic, parsley & lemon juice into the butter with seasoning. Wrap the butter in a log in food wrap/cling film.

1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 large thyme sprigs
1 ½ tbsp EVOO
4 large red peppers
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
8 slices of rustic white bread
16 good quality anchovy fillets in olive oil drained
sea salt fresh ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 200C. Place the peppers in a baking pan and roast for 20-30 mins, turning the peppers a couple of times until slightly blackened. Drop them in a plastic bag and leave until cool enough to handle. Slit open the peppers, catching the juices in a bowl and remove the stalks, seeds and skin. Tear the flesh into 1cm strips and add to the bowl of juices with the chopped garlic, vinegar, the leaves of the sprigs of thyme and the olive oil. Mix together.
Toast the bread on a grill plate. Spread garlic butter on each slice. Sprinkle with a little sea salt & black pepper. Season the pepper strips with a little sea salt to taste and place on the garlic toast. Place a slice of anchovy on each one then drizzle the pepper juices & serve.

Spanish Braised Oxtails

6 lb (2- to 3-inch-pieces) meaty oxtails

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 lb mild Spanish chorizo (spicy cured pork sausage)

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

4 medium carrots, coarsely chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon sweet or hot Spanish smoked paprika

1 cup dry white wine

1 (28- to 32-oz) can whole tomatoes in purée, coarsely chopped (including purée) in a food processor

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar



    1. Preheat crock pot on low setting.
    2. Pat oxtails dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat oil in pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown oxtails in batches without crowding, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer as browned to a crock pot. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot.
    3. Remove and discard casing from chorizo, then finely chop sausage in food processor.
    4. Cook chorizo, onion, carrots, garlic, and bay leaf in fat in pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 6 to 7 minutes. Add paprika and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up any brown bits. Pour into crock pot and add the chopped tomatoes (liquid should come about halfway up sides of meat).
    5. Cover pot and cook 6-8 hours until falling off the bone. Skim fat from sauce, then stir in parsley, cilantro, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.

Flan De Naranja (Orange custard)img_2392

2-3 oranges
3 egg yolks, 3 egg white
1/4 cup (70g) sugar
1 heaped tbsp cornstarch /cornflour
Grated orange zest for garnish

Squeeze the oranges and heat up the juice, then remove from the heat.

Whisk the egg yolks, sugar & cornstarch, then gradually stir the mixture into the warm orange juice. Put back onto low heat and stir until thickened into custard.  Remove from heat.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff then fold into the custard and alow to cool.

Divide into ramekins then garnish with the zest. Chill until ready to serve.