Tapas party

My husband is the captain of an Interclub tennis team and we usually host an end of season party for the team and spouses.  We have done this for a number of years and I’ve done varying things (last year I did the Chinese Chicken salad and sesame noodles, one year I did Fajitas, etc.)  This year they won the title for their league so I wanted it to be special.  In a moment of insanity, I decided to go with a tapas theme.  Tapas are fun because they are lots of little dishes.  Tapas is a lot of work because it is LOTS of little dishes.  I usually pride myself on planning things pretty well but I got a little carried away.  I’m not going to give you the full grocery list.  I am going to share the individual dishes with their ingredients and recipes in the event that you want to make some.  Trust me that if you want to make all of them you should plan on devoting an entire weekend to the effort.

Here is the menu with recipes following:

  • Marcona almonds, olives, bread and Spanish cheese (the easy part because you buy these)
  • scallops with Serrano ham
  • mushroom and shrimp tartlets
  • gazpacho (which gave me an excuse to get the cute single serving glasses I’ve been craving from Pier One)
  • zucchini fritters with chipotle mayonnaise
  • sauteed mushrooms
  • cherry tomatoes stuffed with black olives anc apers
  • patatas bravas
  • steak with garlic and sherry
  • Moroccan chicken kabobs
  • deviled eggs
  • oven baked vegetable tortilla

And a dessert platter with:

  • brownies
  • lemon iced gingersnap sandwiches
  • orange poundcake
  • iced sugar cookies (decorated to look like tennis balls)

Here are a couple of pictures:

Tapas party

Tapas party

Don't you love the centerpiece - trophy and tennis balls

Don’t you love the centerpiece – trophy and tennis balls

The dessert platter

The dessert platter

So I made:

Mushroom and shrimp tarts

Make the filling ahead adn fill the they will get soggy if you let them sit.

  • 1/4 lb chopped mushrooms
  • 1 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 TB butter
  • 1/4 cup champagne
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 5 cooked jumbo shrimp, peeled and chopped
  • 2 oz. grated cheddar cheese
  • croustades crispy shells
Saute mushrooms and garlic in butter over low heat for 15 minutes.  Add wine and bring to a boil.  Cook until almost dry.  Add cream and shrimp and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.  Fill shells with mixture and top with grated cheese.  Cook in oven at 375 for 2 – 3 minutes or until cheese is melted and serve.
Scallops with Serrano ham
  • scallops (I bought 30)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 TB olive oil
  • 1 TB minced parsley
  • 1/3 lb Serrano ham sliced thin
Combine lemon, garlic, olive oil and parsley and marinate scallops for 20 minutes.  Drain and skewer each scallop on a small skewer (I used bamboo ones that I soaked in water first).  Then skewer a 1/2 slice of scrunched ham.  Broil for 4 – 5 minutes or until scallops are done.  If I had made 60 of them I don’t think there would have been any left.


  • 4 Cups Tomato Juice (If you want spicier soup, use V8)
  • 1/2 cup finely minced yellow onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 red pepper, minced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and minced
  • 2 scallions minced
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 TB sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp tarragon
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 3 TB olive oil
  • 2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients.  Puree some or all as desired.  Chill and serve.

Zucchini fritters
  • 2 zucchini grated with a coarse grater
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • olive oil
Combine zucchini with garlic, scallions, Parmesan, eggs, lemon zest and flour.  Heat a heavy saute pan over medium heat and add olive oil.  Plop zucchini mixture into hot oil by tablespoons and cook 2 -3 minutes per side until crisp.  Remove to a plate covered in paper towels and serve hot.    (I made them ahead and reheated for about 10 minutes in a hot oven.)

Patatas Bravas

  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 14 oz canned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp white wine finegar
  • 1 tsp crushed, dried chile pepper
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 lb fingerling potatoes

Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add about 2 TB of olive oil.  Cook the onion until soft.  Add garlic and stir in.  Add wine and bring mixture to a boil.  Add tomatoes, vinegar, pepper and paprika and simmer uncovered for 10 – 15 minutes or until sauce thickens.

Remove sauce and transfer to a blender.  Blend until smooth and return to pan.  Keep warm.

Cut potatoes into chunks (unpeeled).  Heat oil in a large skillet and cook poatotes over medium high heat until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.  Put potatoes in a dish and spoon sauce over potatoes.  Use toothpicks to spear the potatoes.

These are spicy and delicious.  This would make a good vegetable dish with chicken.

Chicken Kabobs

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into cubes
  • 3 TB olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp oregano

Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup.  Pour over chicken and marinate 8 hours or overnight.  When ready to cook, drain and reserve marinade and thread chicken cubes on metal or wooden skewers (if using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes first).  Grill or broil kabobs, turning regularly and brushing with reserved marinade (10 – 15 minutes or until chicken is done).  Serve hot.

Deviled eggs
Everyone loves these so plan on each person eating at least two.
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
Place eggs in a pot just big enough to hold them and add water to cover.  Bring to a rapid boil, reduce heat to just simmering and cover for 17 minutes.  Remove from heat and add cold water and ice cubes to stop cooking.  Chill eggs in refrigerator.  Peel eggs and cut in half.  Put yolks in a bowl and mash with a fork.  Add Worcestershire sauce, mustard, paprika and mayonnaise.  Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.  Fill egg whites with filling and top with additional paprika.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Stuffed cherry tomatoes

  • 2 – 3 pints cherry tomatoes, pulp cut out
  • 10 – 12 pitted black olives
  • 2 TB capers
  • 1 package softened cream cheese

Combine olives and capers in a food processor (I used my little one) and mince.  Add cream cheese and combine.  Stuff tomatoes with filling and refrigerate until ready to serve.  These would also be good stuffed with crab salad or tuna salad.

Steak with garlic and sherry

  • 1 pound sirloin cubes
  • 4 – 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1/3 cup good sherry

Combine steak and garlic and toss well with your hands.  Refrigerate for at least one hour or up to overnight.  When ready to cook, heat a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add oil and then steak.  Cook until desired doneness, then add sherry and cook 2-  3 minutes.  Serve with bread.

Oven baked veggie tortilla

  • 4 scallions, minced
  • 2 peppers (I used one red and one orange), diced
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 potato, boiled, peeled and diced
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 6 oz shredded cheese (I used half Parmesan and half cheddar)

Preheat oven to 375.

Saute garlic, scallions and pepper in olive oil over medium heat until soft but not browned.  Cool and add potato.

Beat eggs and beat with sour cream.  Stir in cheese and vegetables.  Line a 7 x 10 baking dish with aluminum foil and brush with olive oil.  Fill with egg mixture and bake 30 – 40 minutes or until set.  Remove from container and peel off foil.  Cut into squares and serve at room temperature with toothpicks.

The joys of staying in for New Year’s Eve!

I hate going out on New Year’s Eve.  It’s hard to get a reservation at a good restaurant, it’s hard to get a babysitter and even if you are careful not to drink and drive yourself, you don’t know what other people are doing.  For many years, my husband and I have stayed in and used the holiday as an occasion to cook a great dinner.  Many years the menu has been selected based on cookbooks received as Christmas presents.  Last year we got together with our friends and made a Spanish tapas feast and it was so delicious and so much fun that we decided to do it again.

Christie came over yesterday and we went through cookbooks to select our recipes.  We divvied up the grocery shopping.  Last year we went through all of the recipes and came up with 3 waves of 3 or 4 dishes each.  It sounds like an obscene amount of food but the point is to have a small amount of each thing.  Although we loved everything we made last year, we decided to go mostly with new things.  The only carryover from last year was the spareribs.

If this seems like way too much effort, take a look at your favorite cookbooks (or perhaps at your favorite blog!) and pick something you really like.  Choose a recipe that feels like a little bit of a stretch and make the cooking your New Year’s Eve entertainment.  Pull out your nicest china and make the evening special for you and your loved ones.  If you like to dress up, go for it – I’ll probably be in jeans.  It will be a last hurrah before we start eating lighter and healthier in 2012.  (You will be seeing a lot of lower calorie dishes on the menu plan after the first of the year.)

Here is the menu for our Tapas feast.  I’ve listed each recipe individually in case you want to incorporate a couple of items.  I went to the liquor store and got a nice Spanish red wine and a nice Spanish white to go with all of our dishes.  These recipes are to serve 4.  I’ll take pictures New Year’s Eve.

Mushrooms with garlic and parsley

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 12 oz mushrooms, cleaned and stemmed
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 1 TB finely chopped parsley

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and brown 1 – 2 minutes per side.  Add garlic and thyme and stir until garlic is just browned, about 30 seconds.  Pour in sherry and cook until it is mostly evaporated.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, top with parsley and serve.

Clams in green sauce

  • 16 clams, cleaned
  • 1 TB chopped parsley
  • 3 TB olive oil
  • 2 TB chopped Spanish onion
  • 1 clove finely chopped garlic
  • 1 TB white wine

Boil a quart of water in a large pot.  Add clams a few at a time and cook until just starting to open (about 10 seconds).  Remove from heat and continue with remaining clams.  Remove the clams from their shells over a bowl to preserve the clam juice.  Puree the clam juice with the parsley in a blender.

Heat olive oil over medium heat and saute onions until soft (about 3 minutes).  Add garlic and wine and cook for about 30 seconds.  Add 2 TB of the parsley sauce and cook for 1 minute.  Place clams on a plate and cover with the sauce.

Fried zucchini with shrimp and bacon

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 4 jumbo shrimp (cooked and peeled)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • flour
  • olive oil
Cut zucchini lengthwise into 4 1/2 inch slices.  Spread a piece of bacon on each strip and top with a shrimp.  Roll up and secure with a toothpick.  Dip in egg and flour and fry in olive oil until golden brown.  Drain on a paper towel and serve.  (NOTE: This will probably be the most complicated one to execute.)
Watercress and avocado salad with goat cheese
  • 1 avocado, pit removed and halved
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 4 anchovies
  • fresh chives
  • 1 TB white wine vinegar
  • 4 TB olive oil
The day before serving, place avocado in a small saucepan.  Cover with oil and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.  Remove from heat and leave in oil until ready to serve.  When ready, remove from oil and top each half with a thin layer of goat cheese.  Combine vinegar and olive oil in a small jar and shake to combine to make vinaigrette.  Place some watercress on each serving plate and dress with vinaigrette.  Put an anchovy fillet on top and then top with 1/2 of a 1/2 of avocado.  Garnish with chives and drizzle with remaining vinaigrette.
Mushroom and shrimp tartlet
For 8 tartlet shells (I am going to halve)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 TB butter (softened)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • cold water
Combine flour and butter in a food processor with a pinch of salt.  Process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Add egg yolk mixed with a small amount of water and continue to blend.  You want pastry to combine together without being wet.  Wrap pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Roll pastry out on a lightly floured surface and cut to fit small tart pans.  Prick bottoms and chill for 20 minutes.  Fill shells with pie weights or beans and bake on a baking sheet at 400 for about 15 minutes.  Cool in the pans and remove beans or weights.
  • 1/4 lb chopped mushrooms
  • 1 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 TB butter
  • 1/4 cup champagne (perfect since we’ll want to have some left for the toast at midnight)
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 5 cooked jumbo shrimp, peeled and chopped
  • 2 oz. grated cheddar cheese
Saute mushrooms and garlic in butter over low heat for 15 minutes.  Add wine and bring to a boil.  Cook until almost dry.  Add cream and shrimp and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.  Fill tart shells with mixture and top with grated cheese.  Cook in oven for 2 – 3 minutes or until cheese is melted and serve.


  •  1 rack of spareribs
  • 1/3 cup sherry or wine
  • 5 tsp paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 TB oregano

Preheat oven to 425.  Lightly oil a large roasting pan.  Cut ribs into individual ribs and spread in a single layer in pan.  Roast for 20 minutes.

Combine sherry, paprika, garlic, oregano with 2/3 cup water in a measuring cup and whisk together.  Remove from oven and pour off fat.  Reduce oven temperature to 350.  Coat ribs with sauce and roast for another 45 minutes.  Serve hot.

Potatoes with shallots and rosemary

  • 24 oz fingerling potatoes
  • 4 TB olive oil
  • 1 TB finely chopped rosemary
  • 6 shallots, sliced in thirds
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
Quarter potatoes and boil in salted water for about 5 minutes.  Drain well.  Toss potatoes in a ceramic baking dish with oil and rosemary.  Roast at 400 for about 20 minutes.  Add shallots and garlic and roast for an additional 25 minutes until golden brown. Serve hot.
Porterhouse steak with garlic and sherry
  • 1 porterhouse steak cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • chopped parsley
Finely chop one of the garlic cloves and sprinkle over steak cubes.  Season with pepper and mix together.  Marinate in refrigerator for 1 – 2 hours.  Heat oil in a large skillet.  Slice remaining garlic cloves and cook over low heat for 1 minute.  Increase heat and add steak.  Cook for 2 – 3 minutes.  Add sherry and cook until slightly evaporated.  Top with parsley and serve.  (I think this will be good in the same wave as the potatoes.)
Chicken with garlic
  • 4 boneless chicken thighs
  • paprika
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 5 sliced garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • chopped parsley
Cut chicken into bite-size pieces.  Season with paprika.  In a large skillet, heat oil and add garlic slices.  Cook for about 1 minute, stirring and then remove with a slotted spoon.  Drain on paper towels.  Add chicken to pan and cook for about 10 minutes, turning until browned on all sides.  Add wine and bay leaf and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated (about 10 minutes.)  Serve chicken sprinkled with reserved garlic slices and chopped parsley.

Bread with dark chocolate and olive oil

Last year I think we just ate leftover Christmas cookies for dessert but when I saw this, I had to add it to the list.

  • 4 thick slices of crusty bread
  • 4 oz good quality dark chocolate broken into pieces
  • 4 TB olive oil
  • sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 200.  Toast bread (in a toaster) until lightly browned.  Brush bread with olive oil and top with chocolate pieces.  Heat in the oven until the chocolate melts (about 5 minutes).  Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.