|Tapas: Small plates of appetizers for your party|
|Written by Lynn Greene|
|Saturday, 18 April 2009 00:00|
Appetizers are perfect for those get-togethers that include guests coming and going at different times — like New Year’s Eve or Day.
Tapas are the Spanish equivalent of appetizers, and are a perfect way to keep everyone — vegetarians and meat-eaters alike — happy with their food choices. They can be cold, room temperature or hot. They can be simple, such as olives, or elaborate, such as snails prepared in a spicy sauce. Tapas are appetizers that usually accompany apertif or cocktails.
In Spanish, the word tapa means “cover.” Some say the word came to be associated with food because the tapa was originally used on top of a drink to protect it from pesky flies. Sooner or later, someone with a bit of an appetite started using the cover as a small platform for food.
Others say that serving tapas “covered” the appetite between the time when Spanish workers finished their jobs and when they would sit down for their traditional late-evening dinner.
In Spain, tapas use a lot of seafood — shark, clams, prawns, tuna, crab, octopus, mussels, fish, and snails — as a main ingredient. Meats might include lamb, rabbit, pork and ham, duck liver or — if the tapa is very fancy — foie gras. Other ingredients include pine nuts, goat cheese, mushrooms, broad beans, caperberries, melon, artichokes and aioli (garlic mayonnaise).
Serve tapas on small plates so your guests have an opportunity to taste all of the offerings. Be sure to include a vegetarian tapa for those who don’t eat meat.
The thing all tapas have in common? Good taste!
1 lb shrimp, 25 count to a
The shrimp can be peeled first, before cooking them if you prefer. In a saute pan warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for about one minute or until they begin to brown. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
Raise the heat to high and add the shrimp, lemon juice, sherry or cognac and paprika. Stir well, then saute, stirring briskly until the shrimp turn pink and curl —about 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and transfer shrimp with oil and sauce to warm plates Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with fresh bread.
2 lbs lean pork, cut into 1-inch
Place cubes of pork in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle chili powder, paprika, oregano and garlic over top. Mix together, then add the white wine and mix thoroughly. Cover tightly and let marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
When ready to cook the meat, place 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan and heat on medium heat. Remove meat from refrigerator and fry in pan. salt to taste. Serve with slices of French bread.
Use a soft or semi-soft cheese for this tapa. Queso fresco, or a Monterey Jack cheese works well. Look for a mild goat or sheep cheese for a more distinctive taste.
Caramelized onions: Finely slice the peeled onions and place in a pan with the sugar, vinegar, oil and salt. Simmer until any liquid has evaporated and the onions are beginning to caramelize.
Slice the bread into medium-sized slices, placing a slice of cheese on each slice of bread then top with a spoonful of caramelized onion. Place the canapes in a 375°F oven for 5 minutes to quickly melt the cheese.
4 or 5 ounces mushrooms,
Heat the olive oil in a pan that has a cover. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms, salt and sherry. Cover, and lower heat. Cook until liquid is released from the mushrooms, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Toast bread slightly, just to dry it out a bit. Spread with aioli and top with mushrooms. Broil for about 30 seconds or until aioli starts to bubble.
Tip: If you can’t find aioli, create a paste with fresh crushed garlic and add 1 Tablespoon to 1/4 cup regular mayonnaise.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 23 April 2009 22:02|