We want to throw a tapas party. Flan and fruits will be dessert, and we have the sherries and wine. We need help with the tapas. Recipes are all over the place, but we would like your ideas. Frankie in NYC
Tapas are about sparking appetites, so think primal flavors like sweet, tart, salt, meaty, hot, smoked and occasionally creamy. Rather than recipes, use these basic concepts as springboards for improvisation.
A SHORT TAPAS IMPROV
Keep everything bite-sized, or easily spooned onto bread and crackers, or picked up with toothpicks.
- Serrano Ham with Tart Honey Onions: Thin-cut ham on small crackers is delicious just as is. Offer the honey onion option on the side. Marinate chopped red onion in honey, vinegar, salt and pepper for an hour or more. Drain and set out in a bowl.
- Pimenton Roasted Almonds: Whole almonds roasted at 325º with a little olive oil, coarse salt, cumin and hot Spanish paprika (pimenton), or other good tasting chile powder.â€¨ (This same seasoning sautéed with whole shrimp becomes another tapa)
- Manchego Cheese with Green Grape and Almonds: Set out Manchego with sliced baguette. In a bowl have Green Grape-Almond Condiment. Blend halved green grapes with rough crushed roasted almonds and a hint of garlic.
- Lemon Scented Olives : Toss good-tasting green olives with grated lemon zest, lemon juice, fresh thyme, black pepper, ground coriander, and olive oil. Refrigerate up to a week.
- Cream Cheese with Fresh Coriander: This is my own improvisation of cream cheese cubes with olive oil, a little vinegar, lots of chopped fresh coriander, and chopped onion. (Grilled portobello mushrooms are good marinated in this sauce)
- Garlic Pork Bits in Tomato-Wine Sauce Sauté in olive oil until golden, 2 chopped medium onions with 4 big cloves of minced garlic, and a teaspoon of fennel seeds. Add 3/4 cup white wine and boil down to nothing. Stir in a 28-ounce can tomatoes and 10 fresh basil leaves. Simmer 10 minutes to thicken. Then add bite-size pieces of pork shoulder. Simmer, partially covered, until pork is tender. Stir in a 1/4 cup raisins. Serve warm with toothpicks.
- Simplest of all are the beloved home foods, like sauteed seafood dressed with good olive oil and lemon, a plate of Spanish cheeses -- Cabrales, Idiazabal, Roncal, Mahon, and Garrotxa for example, and pickled Spanish peppers and onions.