Spanish Cheese Recipes
Delicious Spanish cheeses, like Manchego, Cabrales or Mahon, are wonderful to eat just as they are, with a hunk of fresh bread for lunch. In Spain they are often served as a simple tapas alongside a few olives or some Spanish ham. But they can also be a wonderful ingredient in cooking and baking, adding flavour and intensity to all sorts of dishes. Firmer cured cheeses are best for grating and softer semi-cured cheese work well for melting in quesadillas and so on. Here are a few recipes to start you off on a Spanish cheese adventure:
Manchego Cheese Biscuits with Spanish Almonds
These little biscuits are so addictive, with their combination of cheese and very flavourful almonds (the best sort, if you can get them, are Marcona almonds). They make a great snack or tapas.
60g soft butter • 120g grated Manchego cheese • 160g plain flour • ½ teaspoon salt • 1 egg • 40 blanched Spanish almonds
Mix the butter, flour, salt and cheese together and keep working it with your fingers until it comes together in a dough. Form it into a log shape, wrap it in cling film and refrigerate until it is firm, for at least an hour but longer if you like.
Preheat the oven to 175C. Grease two baking trays or line them with baking paper. Slice ½ cm thick ‘coins’ from the log and put them onto the baking trays. Beat the egg with a pinch of salt and brush each biscuit with this glaze then press one almond onto each one. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden and firm. Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.
Manchego Cheese and Mushroom Baked Timbale
These little baked egg dishes are so much easier than soufflés and make a great accompaniment to roast and grilled meats, or can be eaten on their own as a starter.
25g butter • 2 medium carrots chopped fine • 2 large spring onions chopped fine • 125g mushrooms chopped fine • 280ml double cream • 3 eggs • 240g Manchego cheese grated • ¼ teaspoon Spanish style paprika • 1 teaspoon salt • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Melt half the butter in a pan and sauté the carrots and spring onions until they are tender. Raise the heat and add the remaining butter and the mushrooms. Beat together the cream and eggs with the spices and salt.
Stir the cheese and vegetables into the egg mixture. Pour into 6 individual ramekins and place in a bain-marie. Bake at 160C for 25 minutes until they are golden and a knife comes out clean. Serve warm.
Blue Cheese Grapes with Cabrales and Walnuts
Blue cheese goes beautifully with fruit and here the flavour of Cabrales is enhanced and softened in this great tapas combination.
150g Cabrales • 100g cream cheese • 1 cup walnuts chopped fine • about 250g seedless grapes
Toast the walnuts in a preheated oven at 160C for about 8 minutes until lightly golden.
Cream together the two cheeses to a smooth mixture. Use about one tablespoon of cheese mixture per grape, coating and rolling the grape in it. Chill the coated grapes for 15 minutes, then roll them in the chopped walnuts until completely covered. Chill once more for another 30 minutes until the coating is firm. Serve cut in half and still chilled.