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I'm thinking of having a dinner party based around tapas.  The recipe books I've seen haven't been that inspiring and a search on the internet hasn't thrown much up.  One guest is vegetarian so any suggestions would be great....

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Take chicken breast (or what ever you like) or monkfish (any firm fish really) or scallops, cut into bite sized cubes, marinate for an hour in Olive oil/pepper/ salt. Pat dry place a sage leaf on meat, wrap with pancetta, thread onto a rosemary spike and then grill (broil?). Squeeze over lemon juice. Don't serve to the veggie. :biggrin:

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Grill chorizo sausage in a dry cast iron skillet and deglaze with a little red wine. Serve with good bread.

Cook small to medium peeled shrimp in A LOT of olive oil (at least to cover) with several cloves of sliced garlic and thinly sliced red chile. Add some good paprika and saffron for color & flavor, and a little salt.

For the veggie:

- grilled & roasted veggies, marinated in olive oil and maybe some sherry vinegar

- Saute quartered white button or cremini mushrooms in olive oil, with a lot of sliced garlic and some salt, deglaze with dry sherry

- Tortilla Española, here's a link to my description on another website. Serve slices on bread with a little mayonaise, at room temperature.

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Edemuth and I once did a Spanish-inspired dinner party which was mostly lacto-ovo vegetarian: chickpeas with romesco, potato tortilla, wilted spinach salad with currants and red onions, and so on. Marinated olives are good. A big platter of Spanish cheeses with dried fruit and nuts goes over well. Salads with orange and red onion.

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So I have very little experience with Spanish food, though I do enjoy eating tapas in restaurants every so often and I also enjoy messing around with tapas type foods at home. I don't pretend to be an expert in these foods, but they are fun to cook and even more fun to eat. In the last month, I've somehow ended up teaching two classes on tapas to other people...one was a private class for a group of people who work together (as a sort of team-building exercise/belated office holiday party), the other I did via a community college where I teach regularly. Snowangel asked me to do a recap of what I did in these classes, so I thought this looked like an appropriate thread to bump up with information on my tapas classes.

One thing I really like about tapas is that the ingredients and techniques tend to be fairly simple, yet the flavors are absolutely huge. I try to spend a little time at the beginning of all my classes talking about typical ingredients for the cuisine we're preparing, but I could spend hours talking about the Spanish ingredients for tapas if I didn't keep myself in check. Is there anybody who doesn't find saffron, sherry, peppers, serrano ham, almonds, lemons, blood oranges, olives and olive oil alluring? (If you dislike those items, maybe you're reading the wrong thread...or taking the wrong class, if you've attended one of my recent tapas classes...) I pass some of these things around and talk about their place in Spanish cuisine and how they are used in various tapas.

Then, it's on to the cooking. The two things my students have been astonished by in these classes:

1. Most tapas are really quick and easy to put together. so you can easily assemble a menu of 5 to 10 small plates for your friends and spend less time in the kitchen than you might for a more traditional three-course dinner party.

2. Tapas can use a helluva lot of olive oil. We went through 4 of the small bottles of Goya EVOO on Tuesday night (the market only had the smallest size for some reason).

I don't make anything outrageous or truly difficult for these classes, but some things take a while and so I am sure to start them first. Slicing potatoes and getting them into the olive oil to poach for the tortilla espanola is usually my first step. As I pour oil into the pot to cover, I like to look at my students and say, "Do not be afraid." (I also say this when salting pasta-cooking water in a class, or when completing a beurre blanc sauce...) Then it's on to braising white beans if I'm doing slow-cooked beans with chorizo as a tapa, and then roasting tomatoes for tomato bread with anchovies.

Here's the menu from the private class I taught in January:

Assorted marinated olives and pickles

Tomato bread with anchovies

Breadsticks and Serrano ham

Endives with soft cheese and clementines

Spanish chicken salad with olives and pistachios

Hot Tapas:

Asparagus with Romesco sauce

Bechamel fritters

Sausages with braised white beans

Spinach with pine nuts and currants

Tortilla Espanola (potato omelet)

Gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp)

Plus lime squares, Catalan rice pudding and sangria.

And the shorter menu from Tuesday's class:

Tomato Bread with Anchovies

Breadsticks with Serrano Ham

Asparagus with Romesco Sauce

Spinach with Pine Nuts and Currants

Tortilla Espanola (Potato Omelet)

Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp)

Manchego Cheese and Quince Paste

One nice thing about both of these menus is that there are foods that can be ready to eat quickly, like the breadsticks with ham or the cheese. People are more receptive to watching somebody cook, helping out and asking questions if they've had a small snack to sate their hunger.

I have found Jose Andres new cookbook Tapas to be indispensable in planning these classes. I have also used some of the Penelope Casas books and some threads here on eGullet, along with restaurant menus, to help me figure out what I want to prepare.

What tapas do you like to cook?

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Thanks for the report, Rochelle. I have hardly done (or eaten) any tapas, and I'm excited to try them. I've already requested the Andres book from the library.

Much of what you fixed sound like things my family would enjoy and I've been thinking that tapas would make a fun Saturday or Sunday evening dinner eaten in stages.

But, I'm having a hell of a time finding sherry vinegar in my area. I've looked just about everywhere. Can I successfully sub another kind of vinegar in the Romesco?

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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Sherry vinegar can be hard to find, indeed. I'd probably use some red wine vinegar if I couldn't source the sherry sort. Sherry vinegar is so good, I'd probably order it online if I couldn't find it in stores...it makes the best vinaigrettes IMO.

Romesco sauce has been a passion of mine since I first made it for the dinner party I mentioned years ago in this thread. I can't get enough of it. It has so many flavors in it yet it transcends each of them and turns into something completely different. Actually, tonight's pre-class dinner was some bread fried in olive oil and dunked in leftover romesco from Tuesday. (I meant to cook some asparagus too, but ran out of time.)

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i teach tapas classes, too, and i'm preparing for one soon, so this thread is awfully timely! i am loving The New Spanish Table by Anya von Bremzen...can't decide what to recipe test (and riff from) first. Skirt Steak with Almond and Caper Salsa? Riojan Potatoes with Chorizo? How about a nice Blue Cheese and Pear Tart? (in fact, those three sound like a nice dinner party---maybe an orange, avocado and olive salad would round it all out?)

great tips on all manner of spanish stuff, and full of sidebars anecdotes. if i only knew how to make the egullet link to amazon...but i bet someone will help me out...?

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."


Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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if i only knew how to make the egullet link to amazon...but i bet someone will help me out...?

eG Amazon link he New Spanish Table by Anya von Bremzen http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/076...X/egulletcom-20 you can buy it now with Jose Andres Tapas http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/140...5/egulletcom-20

The Andres book is great I will have to check out the Bremzen one.

Edit:How to make an eG Amazon link

Edited by M.X.Hassett (log)

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I'd love the recipe for Bechamel fritters, if you feel like sharing.


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The fritters recipe comes from the Jose Andres book, so I can't really reprint it here (copyright issues and all). In sum, though, you make a super-thick bechamel--blonde roux with milk added...add some diced serrano ham (or leftover cooked chicken, or some sauteed mushrooms, or whatever) and let it cool to room temperature. Roll it into small balls or little tater-tot shapes. Three-way bread them: first seasoned flour, then egg wash, then seasoned bread crumbs (I like to use panko). Fry in 340 degree vegetable oil until browned, about 2-3 minutes. They are awesome, I wanted to do them last Tuesday but thought they might take too much time for the class period I have at hand for the community college classes.

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The Andres book has a recipe for spinach with apples, raisins, and pine nuts that is excellent. I had it at Jaleo a few months ago and then made it at home. What's nice is that a lot of times spinach dishes seem to get cold rather quickly. However, the heat of the apples, raisins, and pine nuts keeps the spinach at a good temperature for a while.

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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Christmas entertaining season is coming up (summer in these parts). Anyone have a favourite tapas recipe they'd like to share? Even a general description of a tapas dish you've enjoyed would serve as a springboard.

Website: http://cookingdownunder.com

Blog: http://cookingdownunder.com/blog

Twitter: @patinoz

The floggings will continue until morale improves

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I would suggest a smoked fish paste on some crusty bread...they have many similar dishes in spain with smoked white fish, but why not try something different like a smoked trout paste?

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You have probably seen this topic, but if not (and even if you have), Jose Andres' Tapas has some excellent recipes some of which are in RecipeGullet.. Another fine book for Tapas is the one by Penelope Casas.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Bollitas are nice hot tapas to serve. I use queen sized pimiento stuffed olives. I roll them in an easy dough I throw together in the processor- sharp cheddar cheese, flour, softened butter, and cayenne pepper. Bake at 400 and serve hot. Simple and wonderful!!!

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