Home work



Back in lockdown, we’re all feeling a bit grim, a bit hard-done-by.

M: “The gardens at Picton are totally amazing, the tree’s with all the colour. But no one is here. Totally quiet. I miss everybody.”


H: “Miss you too. It’s not long though, this time. Will give me chance to perfect my empanadillas.”

M: “You are making them?”

H: “I’m about to have ago…”

M: “Send me a picture. It will be easy, I tell you!”

I don’t believe her! I start with the ‘magic pastry’. Maria made it look so easy: chuck in hot water and olive oil, no precise measurement, just use a tumbler she said. Ok, in it goes with about six table spoons of flour she said. Then the stirring starts. Oh dear. I’ve seen more appetising concrete. I take to the phone…

H: “It looks awful Maria. It’s all sticky. Are you sure…”

M: “Hahaha! Keep stirring…have faith. You see. It’ll be totally amazing.”


Promising to send a photo of my finished wallpaper paste, I keep stirring, adding four more tablespoons of flour. When Maria cooks, she answers the phone, chats to customers, laughs with Emma and Vanessa, in fact her mind seems to be on everything but what she’s making! She’ll remember some story from her childhood…

My mother used to make these. My brothers and uncles would come home from working at lunch time and there would be a big salad and bread -freshly made every day, and then a stew…How my mother made this amazing food, a feast, everyday with no oven, no mixer, no washing machine and, sometimes no money!

… And, every time, without fail, whatever she’s made is ‘totally amazing’. How? Spanish magic if you ask me. I spoon in four more tablespoons of flour and stir. Unbelievably my wallpaper paste starts to pull itself together! It actually resembles dough! It’s easy to handle, easy to flatten into circles. It’s…easy!



I message Maria, including a photo.


H “It worked!”

M: “Good well done! Send me a photo of finished empanadillas.”

Now for the filling. I’m going vegetarian – I can’t do tuna (sorry Maria). Into the frying pan go: a tin of tomatoes, a chopped onion, crushed clove of garlic, two chopped hard boiled eggs and a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach. It bubbles away for a few minutes. Taking the pan off the heat I add chopped feta cheese and pinenuts, no idea of quantities, just enough to look right!



Following Maria’s instructions I ended up with a pretty good supper, even though I say it myself! (Although I forgot the roasted peppers and the parsley).

Didn’t need a mixer, couldn’t have done it without an oven and definitely needed a little bit of Spanish magic.

Thanks Maria!

Here is the new set menu for Tapas Takeaway for

Friday 13th and Saturday 14th of November.


As always please phone your order through to the restaurant (01437 751346).


All food is fully cooked, you will need to finish at home.


Please order by 4pm, Thursday 12th November on 01437751346.


Orders to be collected in person from the restaurant.

Gluten free menu options available.






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Words/photographs/illustrations© 2019 Helen  Lewis