Tapas for Three

by Cate on May 30, 2006

We all survived the kids’ first sleepover. They finally crashed around 12:25 am (!) after umpteen requests and woke up at 6 this morning, crawling into our bed and sleeping until around 7:30. Needless to say, I, for one, am tired. The only problem with sleepovers is that there never is too much sleeping! ;)

I had a craving for Banana Pancakes this morning, and took advantage of a lazy morning and found a new recipe for them on AllRecipes. Only thing I did differently was to add a bit of cinnamon and brown sugar to the recipe, and nixed the whole keep-dry-and-wet-ingredients separate (too many dirty bowls!). The pancakes were a nice treat to start the day … warm and fluffy with creamy bananas in every bite. Yum!

I was catching up on some of my Tivo’d shows yesterday and caught an episode of Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals where she did a whole Tapas feast. Tapas are lots of little dishes with big flavor. One of the reasons I love Tapas so much is because you can whip up 4-5 different plates in no time flat. Perfect for nibbling during an evening, or a light meal when you’re not especially hungry. Tapas are basically snacks, and a lot are usually combined to make up a full meal, as we did tonight. In some areas of Spain, Tapas is often included in the price of drinks when you visit a bar. Sometimes Tapas can be a few olives or pieces of cheese, but it can also be more heavier fare, like a stew. It’s likened to Middle Eastern mezze or the Chinese dim sum. Since Spaniards usually have dinner very late, usually between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., indulging in Tapas is a perfect filler after work, to hold them over.

Rachael Ray detractors always bemoan the fact that they can’t do one of her 30-minute meals in thirty minutes. One of the keys to getting it done is to make sure you’ve prepped like she does … she washes and readies all her produce right when she comes home from the grocery store, utilizes a garbage bowl during cooking which saves lots of back-and-forthing to the garbage can, and cooks near the stove so she can chop and drop. Like most home cooks, she does not do mise en place, but rather gathers all her ingredients in one trip to the refrigerator and pantry. I think if you truly employ all her little tricks, it definitely can be done. To that end, I set the timer for 30 minutes and got to work. Exactly 28 minutes and fourteen seconds later, I had Sherry-Garlic Meatballs, Sherry-Garlic Mushrooms, Grilled Chorizio and a platter with Charred Bread, chunks of Manchego cheese, a pile of assorted olives and ribbons of Spanish Pimiento.

Not only did I manage to get it done within the 30 minutes, I actually did better. First, her recipe for the meat called for beef tenderloin or sirloin. Since I had ground beef leftover from the other night when we made Mexican Burgers, I ended up using that and making little meatballs instead … it definitely took longer to roll thirty-some little meatballs into shape rather than cutting up a beef tenderloin, as the recipe called for. Secondly, I had Nicholas and The Husband in the kitchen, stealing pieces of chorizio and manchego, and generally underfoot, so I was at a definite handicap. Those two points notwithstanding, I still got the meal completed and tabled in the allotted time.

The meal was delicious and perfect for this type of weather … after a long day outside, the last thing you want to do is stand in front of a hot stove more than you have to. It was perfect little nibbles that are filling enough to qualify as a meal, but ideal if you’re not especially hungry.

OK folks, all for tonight. Tune in tomorrow for the ARF/5-A-Day roundup. Until then…

A year ago todayice and avocados.

3 Tasty Tapas: Sherry-Garlic Beef, Sherry-Garlic Mushrooms, Grilled Chorizo
1/2 cup parsley leaves, a couple of handfuls
8 cloves garlic, cracked away from skins
1 pound chorizo sausage, casings removed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds tenderloin or sirloin of beef, well trimmed, cut into bite sized pieces
Coarse salt and pepper
24 medium to large mushroom caps
1 cup dry sherry (in keeping with the Spanish theme, I used Marques de Caceres 2002 Rioja, which our liquor store deems the “most popular Spanish wine sold in the US”)

Preheat a grill pan over medium high heat. Place parsley and garlic in food processor and chop. Heat a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Cut chorizo on an angle in 1/2-inch slices. Grill 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a serving dish.

To the hot skillet, add about 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan. Add meat and sear the pieces on all sides to caramelize it evenly. Add half of the garlic and parsley mixture to the pan. Turn to coat the meat. Season meat with salt and pepper. Add 1/2 cup sherry and turn the meat in the wine as it deglazes the pan. Transfer to a serving dish and cover with loose foil to keep warm. Return pan to heat.

Repeat the same process with the mushrooms: add extra-virgin olive oil to the pan, 2 tablespoons or 2 turns of the pan. Add mushrooms, cook 3 or 4 minutes to char edges and soften, add parsley and garlic, then salt and pepper, then sherry. Reduce sherry while scraping up pan drippings and remove to serving dish.

Crusty Bread, Sliced Tomatoes with Lemon, Sliced Pimentos, Spanish Cheese and Olives
1 loaf, 24 inches or longer, crusty bread
2 or 3 large cloves garlic, crushed
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
4 small to medium vine ripe tomatoes
1 lemon, juiced
Coarse salt
4 whole pimento peppers, drained, found in glass jars with Spanish and Mexican foods in market
1 1/4 pounds manchego cheese
2 cups assorted large olives, green and black stuffed or pitted, mixed — take your pick
3-inch party picks

Preheat broiler to high. Cut bread in half then slit loaf lengthwise. Char the bread under broiler, then rub with crushed garlic and drizzle with oil. Cut bread into large, bite size cubes and transfer to a basket. Slice tomatoes and arrange on a platter. Dress with lemon juice and salt.

Slice pimentos and place in a small serving dish. Slice or cube half of the manchego, leave the remainder whole with a utensil to cut with alongside. Serve on a cutting board. Place olives in a dish near cheese.

Use party picks to stack tomatoes and or cheese and olives with bread cubes to pop into your mouth. Bread cubes are tasty with meat and mushroom bites as well.

Banana Pancakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 ripe bananas, mashed

Combine flour, white sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together egg, milk, vegetable oil and bananas. Stir flour mixture into banana mixture; batter will be slightly lumpy. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Cook until pancakes are golden brown on both sides; serve hot.

Sweetnicks’ Notes: I added about 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar to the batter. I also mixed everything in one bowl.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ramya May 30, 2006 at 12:56 pm

Looks delicious.

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Madeline June 1, 2006 at 11:11 pm

She also does an amazing Greek, yes Greek, tapas menu. And thanks for reminding me of it – maybe I will make it this weekend. It includes greek salad, greek meatballs, baked gigantes beans, and grilled shrimp.

Can you still have sangria if the tapas are greek instead of spanish?

Here is a link to the Greek Tapas menu:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/show_tm/episode/0,1976,FOOD_9997_20734,00.html

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