Philippa Vine adds some Spanish flavour

Now I know this column should be supporting England (even assuming we’re still in the World Cup by the time you read this) but this month’s recipes seem to have unintentionally shifted their allegiances to the Spanish – one of the competition favourites according to Mr V from his residency on the sofa.

Before I officially became Mrs V, it was my future mother-in-law Sue who introduced me to this chicken paprika dish. While paprika is usually associated with Hungary and goulash, the version I use here is the sweet and smoked Spanish one called Pimenton.

I always keep some in stock in the summer as I use it in paella and you can find it in supermarkets under the “Delia Cheats” brand.

Gazpacho is the Spanish term for a cold soup usually made with various vegetable ingredients – notably garlic, cucumber and tomato along with bread to provide some thickening.

As it’s using uncooked vegetables, it’s all very wholesome and so terribly good for you and is very refreshing on a hot summer’s day.

As an extra special twist I’ve added stir-fried tiger prawns to add an element of contrast between the hot prawns and the cold soup.

Also involving very little cooking is Summer Pudding, a favourite English desert which combines a mixture of summer fruits and bread, although I’ve undermined this patriotic pudding by replacing the bread with the sweet and rich French bread Brioche as it’s more absorbent and so better at soaking up the juices from the fruits.

It’s a delicious yet healthy pudding, which according to Alan Davidson’s awe-inspiring Oxford Companion to Food, was known in the 19th century as “hydropathic pudding” because it was served at health resorts where pastry was forbidden.

Gazpacho with Stir Fried Tiger Prawns


Serves 2

350g (12oz) ripe tomatoes

½ red pepper
½ cucumber
150ml (1/4 pint) tomato juice
2 teaspoon wine vinegar
1 clove of garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoon fresh white breadcrumbs
2 slices of white bread
4 large, raw tiger prawns
Basil to garnish

Peel, quarter and de-seed the tomatoes. Sieve the seed pulp and reserve the juice. Discard the seeds. Peel, quarter and de-seed the pepper. Peel the cucumber. Peel and crush the garlic. Reserve 4 quarters of the tomato and place the rest in a food processor with the red pepper, cucumber, salt, pepper, vinegar, tomato juice and garlic. Whiz to a puree, add the oil and breadcrumbs. Whiz again briefly and then correct the consistency with either a little more water or breadcrumbs if necessary. Taste for seasoning. Refrigerate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Chop the remaining tomato into small dice. Cut the bread into cubes and fry in a little oil to make croutons, drain on kitchen paper. To prepare the tiger prawns, pull off the head and tail and peel off the shell. Cut the prawns in half lengthways and remove the intestine. To serve, fry the prawns in hot oil and season them. Stir the gazpacho and transfer to bowls. Arrange the prawns on top and scatter with the croutons and chopped tomato. Garnish with sprigs of basil.

Paprika Chicken

Paprika Chicken

Serves 4

8 chicken thighs
2 teaspoons of Cajun spice (optional)
1 glass of white wine
3 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons of smoked, sweet paprika (the mild not the hot)
2 ripe tomatoes
1 tablespoons oil
1 small can of tomatoes (200g)
50g (2oz) chorizo sausage, cut into small dice
2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
2 sprigs of thyme

Preheat the oven to 170C (325F, Gas mark 3 or 150C for fan assisted ovens). Place the canned and fresh tomatoes into a food processor with the garlic and whiz to a puree. Dust the chicken thighs with Cajun spices if using. Fry the chicken in a pan with the oil so the skin is nice and golden. Remove and set aside. Pour the wine into the pan with the tomato mixture, paprika, sweet chilli sauce and chorizo. Bring to the boil stirring and add salt to suit your taste. Add the thyme. Spoon the sauce into a shallow dish and place the chicken thighs, skin side up on top of the sauce. Place in the oven and cook for about 25-35 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. If the sauce has reduced too much add a little more white wine to the dish.

Summer Pudding

Summer Pudding

Serves 4. Equipment: 1 x 1½ pint pudding basin or 4 individual ramekins.

250g (9oz) raspberries
150g (5oz) redcurrants
150g (5oz) blackcurrants
Half a brioche loaf
150g (5oz) caster sugar

Remove all stalks from the fruit and pick out any unsound ones. Place all the fruit in a saucepan with the sugar. Place over a medium heat and cook until the sugar dissolves and the fruit begins to collapse, (do not overcook). Cut the brioche into slices about 1 cm thick and line the bottom sides of your pudding basin. If using individual ramekins just line the sides and not the bottom or top. Spoon the mixture into the basin or ramekins and if using a basin make a brioche lid. Place a plate on the top and weight it. (Remember to stand the basin on a tray or plate to catch any juice that runs out). Chill overnight. Serve cold with clotted or whipped cream.

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