Teaching Tapas

For those of you who know me personally, by now you know that I’m a major Hispanophile (read: I have an obsession with Spain). I lived and studied in Spain and, if I’m being honest, I would move back in a heartbeat (well, maybe I’ll wait for the economy to turn back around). However, until I’m able to make my way back to the madre patria, I’m always on the lookout for new Spanish restaurants and experiences and recently found one: Personal Tapas Cooking Classes!

I’ve become something of a stalker regular at Bocaito Spanish Cuisine on Coral Way (I seriously eat there at least once a month) and have gotten to know the staff pretty well, specifically Chef Antonio Puertas (aka Spain Personal Chef). Since moving to Miami from Almería, Spain (after 20+ years of working in Spain and France), he took the helm at Bocaito just over a year ago and has begun to make a name for himself by serving up traditional, authentic and delicious Spanish tapas. To Chef Puertas, and most Spaniards, tapas are not just a style of food, but a culture, a way of life. They’re low key, relaxed and meant to be enjoyed among friends. Most importantly, the trend has really taken off in the US over the past few years, nowhere more so than in Miami.


Chef Puertas is taking full advantage of this movement by offering private and customized cooking classes to the Miami masses. The idea came about very simply: guests would ask him for his recipes so he decided to offer classes at home. Ideal in smaller groups (6-8 max), Chef Puertas will come to your home and teach you the basics of Spanish cooking. Sounds like a great way to have some fun and impress your friends, right?

Chef 2

Mitch’s recommendation: I may not be the most unbiased person here since I’m already a huge fan of Chef Puertas and Bocaito, but I really think this is a cool and unique experience. Perfect for a small birthday party, office outing, ladies’ night gathering or just a random activity for the weekend. If you want to book a class, feel free to email Chef Puertas directly. Or, if you prefer a test drive before you commit, check him out at Bocaito.

Chef & Me


Standout Dishes
I had the lucky experience of taking a class with Chef Puertas in the Bocaito kitchen. It was an honor and just a really cool experience overall. Here are some photos along with Chef Puertas’ own recipes:

Ensaladilla Rusa

Ensaladilla Rusa
2 lbs potatoes
1.8 oz cornichons
8.8 oz canned tuna (in olive oil, not water)
3.5 oz green peas
2 whole eggs
10.6 oz mayonnaise
1.8 oz carrots
Splash of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Dice the potatoes and boil them along with the carrots and eggs for 10 minutes. Remove the cooked carrots and eggs and let them cool, allowing the potatoes to continue to cook for another 10 minutes or so. Once cooled, chop the carrots and eggs and dice the cornichons. Once the potatoes are cooked remove them from the water and let them cool.

Mix the potatoes, carrots, eggs and cornichons in a mixing bowl. Then add the tuna and peas and mix. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add a drizzle of olive oil. Finally mix in the mayonnaise. It is very important to add the ingredients in the exact order to allow for maximum flavor.

Once mixed, cool in the refrigerator for several hours before serving.

Empanada Gallega

Empanada Gallega
Ingredients (for the dough):
18 oz flour
1 cup olive oil
1 cup white wine
1 egg
Dash Kosher salt

Ingredients (for the filling):
5 hard boiled eggs
2 lb onions
18 oz canned tuna (in oil, not water)
10.5 oz tomato sauce
3.5 oz olive oil
1 raw egg (for glazing the top)

Prep the dough by mixing the flour, one whole egg, wine, olive oil and Kosher salt. Mix well until the dough has a nice elasticity to it. Once mixed, let the dough stand for about 25 minutes before rolling it out.

While the dough is resting, start prepping the filling by cutting the onion into thin strips and poaching them in olive oil until they’re nice and golden. Boil the eggs for 10 minutes and chop them once cooled. Mix the poached onion strips with the tomato sauce and canned tuna.

Once the dough has rested, divide it into two pieces – one for the base and one for the top. Roll the dough out enough to cover the bottom of a small, square pie pan. On top of the base dough, add the chopped eggs, followed by the tuna, onion and tomato sauce mixture. Roll out the second piece of dough and cover the mixture. Beat the raw egg and brush over the top of the completed empanada.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes until the empanada is browned.

Tartare de Salmon

Tartar Español de Salmon Fresco
10.5 oz fresh salmon
3.5 oz leeks
3-4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 oz capers
Juice of one lemon
1.5 oz olive oil
Tabasco sauce (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
10 mini toasts

Chop the salmon into small cubes and add them to a mixing bowl with the lemon juice to marinate for a few minutes. Chop the white part of the leeks and add to the marinated salmon. Mix well. Add the capers and dashes of Worcestershire sauce and mix well. Add salt and pepper and Tabasco (if desired) and mix well. Finally, add the olive oil and mix one last time.

Let stand in the fridge for 45 minutes. Once cooled, serve atop mini toasts.

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