Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tapas - Now with Extra Mojo!

Last weekend was the first fireworks of the season in Heidelberg. Every year, they "light" the castle 3 times symbolizing the 3 times the French tried to burn it down. I've been out in the crowds to watch the fireworks a few times - a highly social event for people who live here; an excuse to meet friends, go outside & enjoy the weather.

This year, I thought it would be great to have people over, feed them, watch the fireworks & drink wine. Good idea, but what do I feed them? My failsafe crowd-pleaser - Tapas! Everyone loves fingerfood, it's not more work that a sit-down meal, it goes on for hours & can be interrupted to go outside.

It just so happens that there is a tapas contest going on this month. It is hosted by Tony Tahhan at Olive Juice. Every month, he picks a Mediterranean country to focus on & has a contest based on a dish from that nation. This month happens to be Tapas month. I took my cue from Núria at Spanish Recipes & made a few treats. Here's what I could prepare before guests came:
Clockwise from the top left: Tortilla Espanola, Aioli, Oeufs de Caille avec Tapenade & Câpre, Mojo Verde.

Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Omelet)
Sautee 1 chopped onion, slice 4 small potatoes & parboil them. Mix 4 eggs (use an extra white, if you have one), add onion, potatoes, salt & cook in frying pan, flipping it over when it looks solid-ish.

Aioli (Garlicy-lemony-Mayonaise)
In a boil, beat 1 egg yolk with 1 tsp dijon mustard. Slowly add 1 c olive oil. Add 2 minced garlic cloves & 2 Tbsp lemon juice.

Oeufs de Caille avec Tapenade & Câpre (Quail eggs with olive paste & capers)
Boil quail eggs (this takes 5 minutes in boiling water). Allow to cool. Shell eggs (easiest if you crack them & then peel them under water). Slice, top with a bit of tapenade (olive paste), and 1 little caper on top. Note: I don't actually speak Spanish, so I have no idea what this would be called in Spanish :-(

Mojo Verde
Take 2 green peppers (seeded & chopped), 1/2 bunch parsley, 2 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp lemon juice, dash of cumin, salt & pepper & mix in a blender. Squeeze out excess water. Also good on grilled meats. Also good for entertaining people who have also seen Austin Powers. We all giggled at the name of this sauce from the Canary Islands.

People started to show up & I had to get out the warm tapas. I already had all of the cold stuff on the table, plus the following:
  • olives
  • Jamon Iberico (my leg)
  • cured pork sausage
  • 3 different kinds of cheese (Manchego, a Spanish ewe milk cheese with rosemary & P'tit Basque)
  • bread
  • cherry tomatoes
  • Plantain fritters a friend had brought over
I made the following warm tapas, (clockwise from top left): Gambas a la Plancha, Patatas Bravas & Albóndiga con Tomate. The whole time, we were all in my kitchen talking, eating & drinking wine.

Gambas a la Plancha (Beach Shrimp)
Do not shell shrimp. Sautee in olive oil. Add garlic near the end. Add parsley. Grind sea salt over top & serve.

Patatas Bravas (Spicy Potatoes)
Parboil 500g of potatoes, cut into cubes. Fry them in olive oil (sautee, if you are afraid of oil excess, like me).
In a saucepan, sautee 1 chopped onion & 1 clove of garlic. Add 1 can of diced tomatoes. Add 1/4 tsp paprika, dash ground chilies, dash cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil, turn heat down & allow to simmer until it looks kinda solid-ish (25 minutes). Add 1 Tbsp aoili & serve over fried potatoes

Albóndigas con Tomate (Meatballs with Tomato)
Take 250g of ground beef, add 1/4 c breadcrumbs, 1 Tbsp tomato paste, 1/2 chopped onion (very fine!), 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1 egg, 2 Tbsp grated cheese (Manchego, or I used pecorino). Form into balls, brown in a frying pan. Add 1 can diced tomatoes, salt, sprig of rosemary & 2 bay leaves (both chopped), 1/4 c red wine & allow to simmer until sauce is thick enough to your liking.

We heard the first fireworks as I was getting the Gambas ready, so we went outside. This is what we saw:
A spectacular view - I was so happy that the weather was nice (it rained all morning). We could see (from left) the castle, the people on the bridge watching, the fireworks in the valley, and, well, I could see my friends! :-)

We went inside & another friend brought a desert: Strawberry flan! A simple biscuit topped with a bit of custard, fresh strawberries, sliced bananas & then a glaze. As the night progressed, one friend got creative. I told him about the blog contest & as he made himself little canapes, he wrote them down, judged them himself & took photos. At the bottom of the picture is Creation #2.

Creation #2 is: bread, manchego, jamon iberico, 1 tomato, salt & pepper, aioli & 1/2 an olive. At 3am, it was pretty good, I have to say. I thought I was making all the good food that night, but I got a lot of help from my friends, keeping me company, helping to inspire me & being just generally fantastic. I guess that's why I keep them around!


Cathy said...

Wow this all looks great. I love tapas, and oddly enough fireworks. Now throw in the sangria and I'm a happy camper!!! Maybe I'll have to come out there next year for that ;)

taste traveller said...

It's funny, I only made the Gambas because 1 friend says she really likes them. I'd make a sangria for you, if you came! :-)

Antonio Tahhan said...

what a fun evening!! You definitely know how to throw a party :D
the patatas bravas look wonderful - those are one of my favorite tapas!
thanks for participating!

Murasaki Shikibu said...

Your tapas look very appetizing. Would like to have them with a shot of ice cold Alfonso Oloroso Seco Palomino. :)

taste traveller said...

Tony: thanks for hosting - this is a wonderful idea! :-)

Murasaki: I'll take a look & see if I can find that brand here. Otherwise, I'll have to plan a trip to Spain! :-)

Amanda said...

Wow, what a fantastic post! Those are some lucky friends you have there. That's such a great selection of tapas, and it sounds like it was a lovely evening.

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