Sunday, July 29, 2012

Tapas Night!

I love "small plates".  Appetizers, starters, Vorspeisen, amuse-bouche, dim sum, tapas...whatever you call it, I want it.  Little bits of lots of things.  One thing I had put on my "30 by 30" list (thirty things to do before my 30th birthday) is to host a tapas party at my apartment.

I actually don't have much direct experience with proper Spanish tapas--so I'm mentally adding that to my much longer term list of things to do whilst traveling abroad--and I did some research.  Well, first I invited my friends over, then I did my research.  I figured that sending out the call to gather would be my chief motivation.

Anyway, this Friday I had a couple of my gal pals over and we enjoyed the following...

Tortilla de Patatas
A classic Spanish tortilla de patatas.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this was a popular tapa because I've actually eaten it several times before. When my three brothers and I were quite young and both our parents were active duty military, they decided to participate in an au pair program so that we could have in home care when they needed to go on TDY.  (For you civilians out there, that means "temporary duty", or in more civilan equivalent terms, going on a business trip.  And I will confess--I just Googled that.  I grew up just using the acronym, as many military brats do, and didn't know the actual words.)  Anyway, we had two au pairs in succession, and they were both lovely young women from Spain.  Silvia and Maria both made tortillas all the time and we just gobbled them up.

This time around, I solicited Facebook for help, knowing that my cousin Carmel, who is an excellent cook and has spent some quality time in Spain, would answer my call.  Which she did.  About 30 seconds after I posted. (I loved that.)  My Tia Alicia, who happens to be Spanish, also shared this YouTube video with me.  

So between the recipe I got from Carmel and this video, and a chat with my Mom that bridged the two, I managed to turn out what I believe was a pretty damn tasty tortilla.  My friends Danielle and Stephanie agreed! Yay!

Then, I laid out the classic cold meats and cheeses.  Starting from the left: Iberico, Cabra al Vino, and Manchego cheeses, with champagne grapes nestled in between.  Middle: a big dollop of goat cheese, marinated bell peppers, and big fat Spanish olives stuffed with pimento.  Right: Jamon Serrano, Salchicon, and Chorizo Cantimpalo, garnished with some basil I had laying around.

And what tapas party is complete without something from the sea?  This is shrimp cooked in olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon, and cumin.  The sauce was kinda weak after the initial pass, so I actually removed the shrimp from the pan and let that sauce cook down some more with a dollop butter and it was fant√°stico!

And what's that behind the pan of shrimp, you ask?

Sangria Ria strikes again
Delicious sangria.  My recipe is an amalgamation of a few recipes that I found on  It involves rum, citrus fruits, sugar, and a bottle of dry red wine.  I've made it before, but it's been several years.

Steph also brought over some Campo Viejo Rioja that tasted like liquid velvet and paired well with pretty much everything.

And then there was dessert.  I've been experimenting with flourless baked goods lately and decided to try my hand at this recipe that I found on Pinterest.  This is were I perhaps departed the most from the Spanish theme.  I just wanted something dark and chocolatey.  You'll never guess the secret ingredient...unless you look closely at the top right of the photo.

It looked great coming out of the oven, however, it had, like, no rise, so I decided to double layer it up by cutting it in half, then filling it with a fruit mixture that I made with some cherry preserves, rum, half and half, and a drop of almond extract.  The result was this...

I wrote it down in case I had too much sangria to remember it later.
 A chocolate torte with cherry rum filling.  It was pretty darn sweet and would have paired well with cafe con leche.  Unfortunately all that beautiful powdered sugar reabsorbed into the cake and disappeared by the time I brought it out for consumption so it didn't look as pretty later. Haha.  My friend Danielle also brought over a bunch of gorgeous fresh strawberries and a whipped cream/cheesecake mixture that complimented the sweetness of the cake nicely.

All in all, I'd say it went well!  Good food, good conversation, and pretty easy to clean up.  I'd definitely do this again, and I'm thrilled that I had half a tortilla left over to eat for breakfast this weekend.

But before I go, I must make another huge confession...

I cheated.

Just a little...with the help of my friend, the one they call Trader Joe.


Worth every penny!