I was making dinner for my mom the other day, and we had some pan-roasted fish and sauteed fingerling potatoes. To make the potatoes, I par-boiled them, and then sauteed them with butter, sherry vinegar, and smoked paprika. After tasting the potatoes, the sauce was what we kept coming back for, basically to the point of licking the pan.
More than anything else, I think this demonstrates the power of combining classic flavor combinations that we can apply to any number of things. Yeah, I know that butter isn't necessarily Spanish, just go with it. For example, you've got a great Spanish wine, and you want to do something in that vein. These flavors are a great combination to put together with soup, sauce for meat, pasta, rice, eggs, veggies, salad dressing, etc. Of course, there is basic technique, but what really makes it sing is great flavor combination.
Quiche lorraine is a classic example. Egg custard with onion, bacon, thyme in a pastry shell. You can take those same flavors and make a veggie sautee, flatbread, pizza, topping for bruschetta, add to a salad (fried shallots, bacon, thyme). Filet mignon with black pepper, cognac and cream, dry red wine. Roasted red pepper, balsamic vinegar, goat cheese, caramelized onions. Tomato, onion, cilantro, and lime. Chocolate and raspberry. Strawberries and cream. Tarragon and chicken. PB and J. Carrot and ginger. Caviar and champagne.
Case in point: remembering that sauce combination, and scrounging for dinner the other night, I had some lamb chops that I had just thawed and I thought it would be good to add risotto to it. Aside from standards of onion and garlic, I put smoked paprika and sherry vinegar in with the risotto as well, and it turned out really great.
Push the edges of these boundaries, combine them with some basic technique, and liberate yourself.