Spanish Tapas~ Potato Aioli and Potato Bravas

When you want a fast and delicious appetizer or snack duo keep these Spanish tapas in mind. Budget friendly and they can be on the table in a matter of minutes. Everyone I've ever served them to cannot get enough of these ~ so make plenty.

Shallow-fried potato cubes, sprinkled with salt are sauteed in olive oil for about 10 minutes until crispy then served with one or both of these flavorful sauces.

I always serve with both of the sauces because they compliment each other so beautifully.

Bravas sauce (bravas meaning fierce in this case) is made by heating a little canned tomato sauce in olive oil, a bit of Dijon mustard, the very flavorful sweet or smoky Spanish paprika, Tabasco sauce (as much or as little as you like) and a bit of salt to taste.

The aioli is a quick version using good quality mayonnaise blended with freshly minced garlic and a little fresh lemon juice.

In keeping with the theme I serve them in small shallow earthenware dishes known as cazuelas.
Are you familiar with the traditional Spanish cooking/serving vessels known as
Cazuelas? (If not, you can click the link to learn more.)

They so are useful for both cooking and serving ~ and inexpensive enough to have an entire collection of all sizes. I use them frequently for cooking and serving all kinds of food.

I hope you'll remember this method the next time you want a mouthwatering little snack. I believe you'll like these as much as my family and friends do.
If you would like a printable copy of the recipe it is on the Once Upon a Plate Recipe Blog; click HERE.
Thank you for stopping by ~ I hope you have a lovely day.


Focaccia with Caramelized Onions, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Cracked Black Pepper and Thyme

Last week when I made the Grape, Walnut, Rosemary, and Pink Peppercorn Focaccia I doubled the dough recipe, then divided it to make two focaccias. This is what I did with the remainder of the dough.

Applewood-smoked bacon is my favorite; when it is paired with the sweetness of the caramelized onions a profound union is created. These flavors were meant to go together in my opinion. Don't worry if you don't have access to applewood smoked bacon though, as any good quality, deeply smoked bacon will work in this recipe.

A shower of fresh thyme leaves, coarsely ground or crushed black pepper and a sprinkling of sea salt, or kosher salt heightens the bacon and onion.

It's perfect with a glass of red wine, or your favorite beverage. But if you want a more substantial snack serve it with some cheese. It pairs very well with almost any cheese. And it goes particularly well with the creamy blue cheese Cambozola from Bavaria.
Cambozola is a soft blue/brie hybrid blend with cream added, much milder than straight blue cheese.

For bite-size appetizer servings the focaccia could be cut into 1-inch squares, split, and spread with a small portion of cheese in between and served with toothpicks. If you don't care for cheese, a small slice of sundried tomato, or roasted red pepper would also be delicious.
If the focaccia sounds like something you might like you can find the recipe at
Once Upon a Plate the Recipes.

Thanks for coming by today, and for any comments you would like to leave ~
I love hearing from you.


Pacific Coast Seafood Chowder

Pacific Coast Seafood Chowder ~ Why Pacific Coast?
Because that's where I am, and where my seafood for this chowder is from. :)
Growing up on the Peninsula of the San Francisco Bay Area, we were surrounded by water; the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
Naturally, since my dad was an avid boats man and fisherman, the fish he caught was on the table frequently (sometimes it seemed TOO often for us kids.)
From the bay we usually had Sea Bass. Other times he would take family and friends on overnight excursions out in the Pacific through the Golden Gate for Salmon, Rock Fish, Snapper and the like. Another treat was fresh, trap-caught Dungeness crab.
The bass was either baked or poached. Rock Fish and Snapper were usually pan-fried.
Years ago our summer vacations were spent on the boat in the Sacramento River Delta, then we would occasionally have big fish frys (usually catfish) with friends from other boats. While there we would catch bass, often crayfish/crawdads, once in a while carp, and less frequently, sturgeon. I don't remember eating the carp or sturgeon.
Salmon was fixed a number of ways; broiled, baked, poached, steamed or grilled. My French grandfather would sometimes gently poach the most lovely salmon cheeks and serve them with lemony-garlic butter, or his silky hollandaise. YUM! And, because the salmon was so plentiful, mom and dad brined and moist-smoked a good portion of it for our own enjoyment, and as gifts for family and friends.
That was always a great treat, and everyone always looked forward to receiving filets of freshly smoked succulent salmon.

Of all the fish we had though, the ONLY way I remember my folks making seafood chowder was the brothy tomato based style (similar to Manhattan clam chowder.) I still like that style very much, but I also like seafood chowder prepared this way, too. No long simmering either, so it can be on the table in well under an hour, but it's great when reheated as well.
Recipes for this kind of creamy chowder are made using generally the same method ~ however I devised this one because I wanted a recipe that was not too gloppy and thick as some tend to be so the seafood flavors are prominent. Milk replaces the cream (or half and half), though it does contain butter so it is not low fat.
One thing is for certain... it is very flavorful and it is my all-time favorite Seafood Chowder. The perfect thing to chase the chill on a damp, gray day.
If it sounds like something you might like I would love to share my recipe with you. If you try it, I hope you'll find it as enticing as we do.
You can find it HERE on my recipe blog.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!


Happy Thanksgiving!


Tamale Pie ~ Beef, Chicken, Turkey or Veggie

Maybe your mom or grandma made this for you when you were growing up?

Mine did.
And my mom added a secret ingredient which made her Tamale Pie stand out from the rest. I'll tell you about it below.
Usually using ground beef as the filling ~ but there is no reason you cannot use chicken, turkey (either ground, or cooked and shredded) or vegetables if you prefer.

This time I made it with lean ground beef and lean ground pork. But you might keep this in mind because it's a great way to utilize some of that leftover cooked turkey from Thanksgiving.

The other ingredients are diced yellow/brown onions, corn (I use frozen), tomatoes - canned diced or stewed (older versions of the recipe just call for tomato sauce but I like the chunks), fresh minced garlic, chili powder, oregano and cumin. Bell pepper (or diced, canned Ortega chilis), and Salt & Pepper.
Add chili flakes if you like, but I like this recipe mildly flavored.
My mom's secret ingredient?
A teaspoon or just a little more of cider or white vinegar stirred into the filling during the last few moments of simmering. It piques the flavors beautifully.
Some incorporate beans into the filling; kidney, black beans or even chili beans work well.

Oh, and I forgot to mention black olives. Nothing fancy, just good old California black olives from the can; they are mild and don't compete with the other ingredients.

Some versions sandwich the filling between the cooked cornmeal, but my mom always placed the prepared filling in a deep casserole then topped with the cooked cornmeal with no bottom layer of cornmeal, and that's the way I prefer it. I used finely ground Italian polenta this time and made individual size servings.

Then baked until hot and bubbling, you can sprinkle with grated cheese during the last few minutes if you like. Serve additional grated cheese, and sour cream at the table if you like.

Can be made a few hours ahead and refrigerated until time to bake.
My favorite tips for Tamale Pie~
  • Make it as mild or as spicy as you like.
  • Don't be locked into the ground beef version; you can use ground chicken or turkey.
  • You can also use leftovers ~ shredded beef, pork, chicken or turkey, or make it all vegetable.
  • Add beans if you like
  • And most importantly; you'll probably want to ramp up the seasonings for todays tastes.
  • Don't forget the cumin! :)
  • Mom's Secret Ingredient?
  • Stir in about a teaspoon (or a smidge more) of white or apple cider vinegar to the filling ingredients at the end of simmer time.

It is one of those casseroles that once you make it, you truly don't need a recipe ~ but here are a couple of links to recipes just in case you've never made this before. I always increase the seasonings because we prefer this casserole to be very flavorful.

Tamale Pie recipes:


Red Grape, Walnut, Rosemary and Pink Peppercorn Focaccia

Who doesn't like focaccia? Raise your hand. :)

We love it, and if you've made it, you know it one of the easiest yeast breads you can make.

The dough can be made by hand, in a bread machine, food processor, or the bowl of a stand mixer. It is a soft, pliable dough and easy to shape because of the addition of olive oil.

Originally from Tuscany, this version is known as "schiacciata coll’uva". Different from the usual savory focaccia because of the interesting play on flavors ~ sweetness from the roasted red grapes, toasted walnuts, then a shower of fresh rosemary.

This time I added a scattering of crushed pink peppercorns just because I thought they complimented the other flavors well. Then a sweet-salty surprise provided by a sparse sprinkle of sugar and salt finish just before the bread goes into the oven.

It is a fine snack or appetizer with a nice fruity Chianti, or most any wine, ice tea, etc. It is also delicious for breakfast with a cup of tea or coffee ~ fabulous. (Ask me how I know!)
It would make a beautiful little gift with a bottle of wine as well.
If you would like a printable copy of the recipe, you can find it on my recipe blog by clicking HERE.

I think you might like this version of focaccia, I hope you do!

A Sampling of my food . . .


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