Welcome to the Wood Fired Oven Podcast
Aug. 15, 2021

Live Cook - Tapa Time

Live Cook - Tapa Time

It’s tapa time! Join me at my wood fired oven, as I cook up three of my favourite Spanish tapas.  I’ll be cooking a gorgeous Chicken wings with wine and whisky tapa, a vegetarian Spanish stuffed peppers tapa and one of my absolute favourites - Chorizo in red wine tapa. These small dishes are easy to prepare and cook in a wood fired oven. Spread out over three or four hours, cooking them is stress free and fun. Tapas are a great way to get the kids involved in cooking too!

Check out these two fantastic books on making tapas:
The Book of Tapas: https://amzn.to/3xkUQSL
Tapas: and other Spanish plates to share: https://amzn.to/3lHn747

Basílica de la Sagrada Família: https://sagradafamilia.org/en/history-of-the-temple

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The Fire Brick Company specialises in producing world class Wood Fired Pizza Oven Kits.

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Recommended Wood Fired Oven books
Check out my favourite books. They have helped me a lot, both with cooking in my wood fired oven and learning to cook with fire. Some of these have also been recommended to me by friends of my podcast.


Mark (00:07):
Gday - Welcome to the Wood Fired Oven podcast where I take a deep dive into the techniques, recipes and history of wood fired oven cooking. My name is Mark an obsessed and somewhat curious fan of outdoor cooking - especially with my wood fired oven. Follow my podcast in your favourite app and listen in, as I go searching for the best recipes, tips and advice, to both supercharge our cooking skills and motivate you to light up your favourite outdoor cooking gear this weekend.

Mark (00:44):
It's tapa time here on the Wood Fired Oven podcast. Thanks for joining me today. I'm going to be cooking up three of my favorite is in the wood fired oven. I love tapas, they're easy to prepare, they're social with your family and friends. Kids love them too. It's a great way to get the kids involved in cooking with your wood fired oven. These three I'm going to choose today are quick and easy to prepare.

Mark (01:07):
Now, I don't want to get into a heated debate with my Spanish friends about tapas, they are super passionate about their food, super passionate about their wine and rightly so. Their cuisine is absolutely divine. Tapas is represent small, unique dishes that can be picked at any time of the day. But I think they're so well suited to mid to late afternoons leading into the early evening. Paired with gorgeous wines as the different tapas get presented.

Mark (01:32):
Tapas interestingly, if you didn't know - originated in the south of Spain. The Spaniards certainly knew what they were doing, but the're now found all over the country. In fact, they're found all over the world. It's a fantastic way of eating. I spent some time in Barcelona a year or two back and came home really excited about the flavors and the cooking styles of these small dishes. And I just wanted to get home and experiment with these in my wood fired oven.

Mark (01:58):
So tapas are perfect to eat while waiting for the main course or like we like to do in my backyard, eat on their own. I'm going to be cooking up three quick tapas today. They are going to be chicken wings with red wine and whiskey, Spanished, stuffed peppers, and finally Chorizo in red wine with crusty garlic bread. These compliment each other really well. They start off nice and light, suit lighter whiter wines, and they end on the last tapa with the chorizo and red wine, a little heavier. And it's a nice way to round out these three tapas.

Mark (02:30):
I'm planning to have these over about a three or four hour period this afternoon, early evening. And I'm really looking forward to it. They're all a little bit different.

Mark (02:38):
If you want the recipes, you can find them at my website, WoodFiredOven.Cooking, where I've got a few pictures to show you as well. So when I do do tapas, and I do top is a lot in my wood oven, I normally cook three or four if it's for my family, of four at a time. And we've all got slightly different palates. We're all slightly different ages. So I usually try to include some things that the kids are going to like as well. But I have to say, I know that my teenage kids really like these three tapas as well, and I suspect that you and your older kids will enjoy these as well.

Mark (03:13):
Okay. So I'm kicking off, preparing in the kitchen. All the ingredients for the tapas. The first one we're looking at is the chicken wings with wine and whiskey. So I've got about a dozen chicken wings, they are all combined. So, I'm chopping these up and trimming them up to make them look nice. I'm going to place them in a food safe container. I'm going to sprinkle over the top of these one and a half to two teaspoons of Spanish, paprika mixing all that through now and adding in two to three tablespoons of lemon juice. I've got beautiful, fresh plump lemons from the garden. I'm drizzling over the top, a little bit of olive oil. I'm now adding in 1- 200 mls of white wine of your choice. And I've got a beautiful whiskey that I was given for a recent birthday. And I've got about 40 mls on pouring into the container as well. Yeah, that smells wonderful. Mixing all that through. Hitting it with a, just a touch of salt. And then that can go into the fridge for two to three hours. If you can leave it longer, even better.

Mark (04:19):
Normally I do this just after I've lit up the oven for the night, which often do just before lunchtime. So it's really by mid-afternoon. Okay. The second topper I'm now preparing is the Spanish stuffed peppers, and I've got four peppers I'm doing today. I'm going to halve those up, cook them shortly in the wood fired oven, roast them up first. Peel off the burned skin and then stuff them with cooked cannellini beans that have been warmed up and mashed in the wood fired oven. So I'm just opening those cans. Now draining off most of the liquid, important to keep maybe three or four tablespoons of the liquid in the can and reserve that for later. And I'm just covering that up and preparing to take that to the wood fired oven as well. And finally, the last tapa to prepare is the chorizo in red wine. I'm just going to prepare some onions. I'll got one red onion, that I'm going to dice up and I've got two gorgeous to chorizo sausages that I'm now going to slice up and pop them into a bowl. These are really beautifully flavored, but not too strong. I like strong flavorful food, but I know with my kids, they prefer a slightly mellow chorizo. So today we've gone for a mellow version, nevertheless, that will still be paired with a little bit of red wine.

Mark (05:33):
Okay. Welcome to the front of my wood fired oven. You're now in my backyard. Joining me as I cooked these three tapa dishes, super simple, super easy to do. First one we're going to cook and get ready for the oven is the chicken wings with the wine and whiskey. Just pouring in a little olive oil into the two tapa dishes that I'm using to cook these. And I'm sliding those into the oven and just allowing that olive oil to come to temperature. It's a beautiful afternoon here in my backyard. It's going to be a beautiful night. It's moonless for the first part, looking forward to seeing the Milky way streaming over the top of that house. Just checking the oil. They're come up to temp nice. I'm just going to add a little bit of garlic now into the olive oil. And they're just starting to sizzle gently there - popping back in the wood fired oven for a minute or two before I add in the chicken. Okay. The chicken's been marinating for about four hours in the fridge and the smells coming off the marinade is lovely. The whiskey and the white wine have infused beautifully. So I'm taking the chicken out of the marinade and I'm now going to pop them into the cazuela dishes, give them a good stir. My goal here is to brown them off in the wood fired oven. Get them nice and caramelized, before we add the wine into the cazuela dishes to cook.

Mark (06:45):
So browing off the chicken. So if your have oil is nice and hot, I should only take maybe 3, 4, 5 minutes . They're sizzling, nicely that kick of a little bit of smell and satisfaction there, as that chicken hits that hot oil. Ooh, that's nice. I can smell the white wine and the whiskey puffing out of the brick oven. And it's just lovely. It's savory. It's sweet. And it's particularly nice on the cooling air in this late afternoon here. Oh, that's lovely.

Mark (07:14):
I often do tapas is in the wood fired oven with just a small flame, a small fire. I've got a couple of very dry pieces of ironbark in the fire now, and that's just licking gently up the side of the wood fired oven. I've got a small flame roll happening over the right hand side of the brick work and it looks lovely. Yeah that's just smelling lovely. So they're browing off nicely. I'm just going to add a little wood to the fire and some of this, wood I've been using today, it's been seasoned for about a year and it's just being, sitting happily underneath the wood fired oven where every time it gets lit up gets a little drier. So it doesn't take long to get lit when it's added to the oven. Quite enjoy having a little whiskey when I'm preparing tapas. This particular whiskey comes from Scotland. It's beautiful. So I'm just bringing the chicken out of the oven and I'm just tuning them over, making sure that they get brown evenly on all sides and I'll pop them back into the oven for two to three minutes, to finished browing before I add the wine.

Mark (08:21):
Okay it's time for the fun part. I'm just going to pour in the white wine now. It's a good idea, once you've got the white wine in to bring out a flaming log from the oven towards the opening and tilt your cazuela dish over the flame, and the hope that your alcohol will burn off. And I'm doing that now. And, uh, Nope, it didn't burn off, it's no problem after cooking. And I was expecting this massive flame to flare up out of the cazuela dish. It didn't happen for me! That's all right. I just wasted a bit of wine. Nevermind. It's going back at the wood fired oven. Last time I did this, I got a beautiful flare up, not today. I'm now putting a little square piece of foil over the top of these two cazuela dishes now, and I'm going to pop them back into the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or so, that's going to be dependent on how hot you've got your oven. Mine is definitely a moderate oven this afternoon.

Mark (09:21):
Make sure you check your chicken wings, perhaps every eight or nine minutes. And the smell coming out of the oven is just wonderful. This tapa actually is similar to a tapa I tried in Barcelona a year or two back. If you ever find your way to Spain, make sure you check out Barcelona. It is a dynamic, exciting, vibrant place, lots of food to try. And they're super crazy about their food. Lots of tapas to fill your belly all over the city. Actually, Barcelona is also famous for its unique architecture, Gaudi their beloved architect, designed some of the most unique and pretty crazy architecture I have ever seen. Some of it's pretty out there. Neo-gothic one of his crowning achievements. So is the The Basílica de la Sagrada Família - or the Basilica of the Holy Family. I've left a link in the show notes to some of the pictures. It's incredible. We spent an afternoon walking through this most amazing piece of architecture, incredible stained windows, incredible stonework. It really was quite something. Construction, nterestingly began in 1882. Gaudi died in 1926. And at that stage, it was only about 20% complete. He is actually buried down in the crypts. I visited it in early 2020, and it still had six years to go before it was completed. It's an extraordinarily long construction. If you take a look at the pics, you will start to understand why. One of the channels has done an amazing documentary on this beautiful piece of architecture.

Mark (10:47):
Okay. The tapa is coming out of the oven. Damn! That's smelling fine. I'm cracking some black pepper over the top, adding a bit of salt. I've got a little bit of chopped coriander for the top. Tapa number one, done!

Mark (11:00):
Okay. It's now time to start preparing these Spanish stuffed peppers. So I'm putting the peppers, which I have now cut lengthwise - cut in half. I'm putting them on the tray skin side up and I'm going roast these peppers and get the skin super black, super burned. And that's going to probably take 15 to 20 minutes or so I'm putting up pretty close to the fire. I can already start to see it blister up on a couple of the peppers there. Yeah, it's going to work out well.

Mark (11:36):
Peppers are coming out of the oven. Now it's been about 20 minutes and they are beautifully black and crunchy over the tops. What I'm going to do now is take them off the tray, put them into a bag, which is one of these snap-lock plastic sealable bags. And it's going to allow the papers to steam for a little longer in these bags. And it's a great way to get these skins off. It's a good little technique. Get them in this bag while the hot, the bags are starting to fog up, going to get them all in, seal it up and leave it for about 15 minutes or so. And then I'll take one out at a time. Peel off those skins, prepare them to be stuffed.

Mark (12:13):
Okay. I'm putting a little olive oil into a cazuela dish. I'm going to warm that up in the oven now with a little bit of garlic. And when that's done, I'm going to add in two cans of white cannellini beans, just preparing some of the garlic now. And the fires raging away there. Licking up the sidewall - looks great. Starting to get a little dark here now. I'm going to add in the two cans of drained white cannellini beans now into the dish.

Mark (12:45):
Now they're going to go in the oven probably for about 10 to 12 minutes or so until they start to really soften up. Okay, these beans have softened up nicely. I'm going to get a fork now. And I'm just meshing these beans with the back of this fork and making it look a little bit like mashed potato. Yeah. Smashing up pretty easy. I'm going to put in about a tablespoon or so of red wine vinegar now to the bean mash. I'm going to add a couple of tablespoons - depends how soft you want the bean mixture, couple of tablespoons of the reserved bean liquid that we spoke about earlier. Yeah. So that's definitely loosening it up. Oh, that's nice. A little bit of pepper, a little bit of salt and that's almost done. So I like to serve these stuffed peppers on a bed of spinach. So I've cheated. I've got a bag of spinach leaves here that we've got from the supermarket. I'm going to open those up and I'm putting them into another dry cazuela dish They're going to go in the oven for about two minutes. It doesn't take long for these to wilt in the high heat of the oven. There we go. They're in now this wall, this bean mixture is finishing off. Okay, bringing these spinach leaves out of the oven. It's been a couple of minutes. They're looking just nice. They're wilted they're warm. Now I'm preparing a separate cazuela dish now. I'm putting the spinach leaves down first and now I'm going to peel these roasted peppers. I'm going to peel off all the black skin and it's going to take a minute or two to get done. The peppers, yeah, they're still pretty hot. So watch out for your fingers. Going to taste a little piece here. Hmmm - super sweet. Peppers seem to get really sweet when they get roasted don't they. Ah - that's really nice.

Mark (14:33):
So now I'm getting the halved pepper and I'm setting that in the cazuela dish. I've got the mashed cannellini beans in the cazuela dish next to it, and I've got a spoon and I'm just slowly going to fill now each of these peppers with this bean mixture. Okay. And I'm just topping the peppers off now. They're all stuffed, topping them all off with some cracked pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and some thyme from the garden. Cannellini beans with a kick of that vinegar. It's quite a unique taste. It's very mellow. It's not too strong. I think your kids will like it. Give it to them and get their feedback. I know our kids really enjoy this dish. All done. Tapa two done! Spanish stuffed peppers. I'm going to be back in about an hour and we're going to do the last tapa for the day - Chorizo in red wine with garlic bread.

Mark (15:24):
Okay. Welcome to Wood Fired Oven Q and A. This is a new segment for the show and it comes on the back of having received a few questions lately on my wood fired oven. So I've recently had a question come through from Dustin. He has seen of my pictures of my wood fired oven. This particular picture had a small fire, but very little ash and charcoal underneath the couple of logs.

Mark (15:46):
So Dustin's question was "How do you have such a small pile of ash? By the time my oven gets hot enough to clear the dome. I've got a massive pile of ash. Well, that's a great question, Dustin, and thanks so much for reaching out. Firstly, before I light up my oven for most of my cooks, I completely clean out any old ash from my previous cook. And the picture that you're probably referring to in my Instagram profile, I had zero preexisting ash or charcoal before I lit up the oven. And that really allows efficient flow of air along the brick floor, getting sucked in from the outside. If you've got lots of debris there, I've found that it actually inhibits that airflow drawing into the oven to promote a good combustion in the oven. So that's that's step one. Just make sure there's nothing left from your previous cook. The wood I use is an Australian hardwood and that's iron bark. Now you mentioned to me in a subsequent followup that you use white oak and I have no knowledge of white oak, but I do understand it is a pretty popular wood for wood fired ovens. The wood I use is very dry. It's seasoned for over a year underneath my oven before I use it. And it is extremely clean burning from about 40 kilos of wood. I get about three or four, maybe tops, handfuls of ash. Not very much. If I let all the wood completely burn away, that's all I get left over with. I keep plenty of air flow moving through the oven as well. And I think my use of an andiron in my oven also helps promote good airflow circulation, which while for me in my style of cooking has certainly assists in full incomplete burning of my wood.

Mark (17:18):
I would suggest to you that perhaps you consider a small andiron to see if that helps. It's also good to know that there is a difference between true actual ash left behind and any unburned carbon based material. Now unburnt charcoals may be a result of inadequate airflow, try moving and mixing them around during the cook. I flipped my charcoals over with a pizza peel and that's to help separate any ash and charcoals. The ash has a tendency to smother some of those charcoals prematurely. And that might be one of the reasons you are having this issue. Try an andiron it improves the oxygen around the wood.

Mark (17:53):
True ash left over actually is a function of the species of wood to a degree as well. It's really the leftovers from any material that can't combust. The major elements in any wood ash, irrespective of species of wood is calcium, which is about 30% of the ash, potassium and magnesium. They're the three main elements in wood ash. And the percentage of those varies a little bit with the different species of wood. White oak, interestingly has about 36% calcium in the ash produced. Not sure what my iron bark has, but I suspect its probably less than that. So try other wood types and see if that helps Dustin as well. Thanks very much for sending your question through.

Mark (18:28):
If you've got a question that you'd like me to tackle here on the podcast, head over to WoodFiredOven.Cooking, head to the questions tab and drop me a line. Okay. Back to the cook.

Mark (18:39):
It's been about an hour, and we're going to put a cazuela dish back into the oven with a little bit of olive oil. This last tapa is the Chorizo and red wine. I've got some garlic bread and this is a really nice way to finish off a light meal on a Saturday evening.

Mark (18:55):
So I've got my garlic bread. I'm wrapping that in foil. I'm going to put that in the oven for a while, and then I'm going to finish it off once it's all sliced up each individual slices faced up and we'll be dressed eventually with the chorizo, onion and red wine mixture. So the oil's been heating up and I'm just adding the onions, adding a little bit of Spanish paprika and that alone that aroma is just really, really enticing. And it's been kind of worth the day of cooking just to get to this point, definitely getting a little hungry now smelling that combination. And I'm adding in the chorizo now to that mix. So I've got sliced chorizo, red onions, Spanish paprika and olive oil and that's just sizzling away nicely. Okay. It's been a couple of minutes. It's now time, to add the red wine. So I maybe half a cup of, so yeah, well that was about three quarters of a cup, but I just took the top off it for my own benefit.

Mark (19:49):
And so I'm adding that into the mixture, giving it a good stir through. And one of my favorite smells on planet earth is the smell of red wine warming up in a dish with onions. It's just lovely. Right. Pretty well done. And that's not going to get back into the wood fired oven and I'd like to get it that sizzling away. The red wine to reduce just a little bit before I plate that one up. It's going back in the oven now for about oh, probably about seven or eight minutes. Okay. That's now coming out of the oven and that is looking rich and red and just lovely. Some of the chorizo actually that was poking above the wine as it was simmering next to the flame has got ever so slightly charred and that's just going to taste beautiful. Very nice. Lots of umami flavours in those yummy crunchy bits. So it's time to plate this up, I've got a rectangular terracotta dish. I'm placing the sliced pieces of garlic bread face up. I'm going to plate up a couple of pieces of chorizo on top of each one of these, get some of the red purple-ish onion mixture now. And I'm just putting those on top of the chorizo through the center of this dish. And it's still a little bit of red wine mixture liquid in the bottom of the cazuela dish. I'm just drizzling that over the top. Now over the crunchy bread, I can already smell the garlic coming off that garlic bread as that warm wine hits that and the rest of the onion mixture now just being placed down either side of the garlic bread and that's tapa number three complete. I'm going to enjoy this one with a lovely glass of Shiraz from South Australia, love south Australian reds - if you hadn't noticed already from my other podcast, thank you so much for joining me.

Mark (21:36):
So if you're looking for some inspiration on making some tapas yourself, want to try something different then I highly recommend the very well-known book, probably the tapa bible, The Book of Tapas - it's called and I've left the link in the show notes on this week's episode.

Mark (21:51):
So I'm just coming back to you now, after eating all these tapas with the family, it's a, it's been a lovely evening in front of the wood fired oven. Thanks to the Spaniards for coming up with these beautiful small size dishes to pick away at over the course of an evening. They love to eat the Spaniards. They love to drink, and they love to do that late in the day and perhaps eating small tapa dishes like these helps push away the hunger pains throughout the evening. Coupled with warm and dry afternoons, I can see why they love them so much. Sitting out here with a glass of red wine and enjoying the tapas with my family is a lot of fun and a relaxing way to spend a warm light afternoon.

Mark (22:30):
Thanks for joining me this afternoon in my backyard with me in front of my wood fired oven. It's great to have you listening to the podcast. I really, really appreciate you listening to these and supporting the show. Stay safe, have fun and go cook with fire.

Mark (22:48):
If you’ve enjoyed this episode, please make sure you follow the Wood Fired Oven podcast in apple podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcasting app. Please consider posting a review on apple podcasts…as that really helps the show. Don’t forget to check out WOODFIREDOVEN. COOKING for more tips, tricks and advice on cooking with fire. You can also see full episode notes and links. You can also post a question which I may feature on the show. I’m also on Instagram, twitter and facebook so head over to your favourite social platform and and get in touch. Thanks again for listening. Catch you next time.