MAXINE GORDON savours some sensational snacking, Spanish style

ON holiday in the Basque region of Spain recently, we practically lived of "pintxos", small ovals of bread topped with an array of sensational sweet and savoury goodies.

Walk into any bar in the area and you can't fail to spot these local delicacies featuring wonderful combinations such as crab and king prawn; cured ham, Manchego cheese and quince jelly; black pudding and sweet peppers; fresh tuna with pickled veg as well as giant triangles of Spanish omelette, or homemade croquettes, skewered to the bed of bread.

Pintxos (or pinchos) get their name from the cocktail stick that holds the generous toppings on to the bread (from the Spanish verb "pinchar", to pierce).

They make for perfect summer eating, so back in York, I had a go at making some for myself. I made it super easy by heading to M&S and picking several items from their "3 for £6" tapas range, but you could easily pick up items from your local deli counter and experiment with them at home.

Fresh crusty bread is an absolute essential.

Maxine's pintxos

Crab and prawn:

Mix your fresh shards of crab with mayo and a squeeze of lemon juice and top with a large, cooked, king prawn. For my pintxo, I used a spicy crab mix from M&S, crowned by a spicy giant prawn.

Smoked salmon:

Spread the bread with cream cheese, add a thickish slice of cucumber (you want a bit of crunch), fold a generous slice of smoked salmon on top and finish with a cooked, king prawn. Add a squeeze of lemon juice over it all and pierce with a cocktail stick to hold it all together.

Ham and cheese

Slice a baby tomato thinly and layer on to the bread. Put a triangle of Manchego cheese on top and finish with a heap of Spanish ham and/or thinly sliced chorizo. Keep together with a cocktail stick.

Twitter: @MaxineYGordon