Saturday, January 23, 2010

Yummm! Tantalizing Tapas Party

One thing I cannot wait to do when Chris and I move into our own place is to have our peeps over for a Tapas Party! Serve copious amounts of Sangria and have plates and plates of hot, steamy, bite-sized goodies for them to nibble on.

While compiling the recipes I thought of a fantastic idea: I might do a "Dinner and a Movie" Night and pair the tapas with a Pedro Almodóvar flick (Oooh.... "Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios" or "Volver" would be great!).

But enough about the movies... Let's get going with the food & drinks!

Garlic Shrimp Tapa Recipe - Gambas al Ajillo
Recipe Courtesy of

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes


1 lb shrimp, 25 count to a pound
4 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 tsp sweet Spanish paprika
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2-3 oz of cognac (you may substitute dry sherry instead)
1/4 cup virgin olive oil
3 tsp chopped fresh parsley
1 lemon for juice
1 Baguette

This garlic shrimp recipe, gambas al ajillo makes 4 servings as an appetizer.

The shrimp can be peeled first, before cooking them if you prefer. In addition, if you like larger shrimp, you may purchase shrimp with fewer count to a pound. However, 25 to a pound are about the right size for this tapa.

In a sauté pan or heavy frying pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté 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 sauté, stirring briskly until the shrimp turn pink and curl – about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and transfer shrimp with oil and sauce to a warm plate or serve right from the pan. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle with parsley.

Crispy Potatoes with Tangy Tomato Sauce (Patatas Bravas)

Recipe Courtesy of

For the sauce:
1-1/2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup chopped onion (1/2 small)
1/3 cup chopped carrot (1 small)
2 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 Tbs. dry white wine
1/4 tsp. sweet pimentón (or paprika)
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1-1/2 cups canned tomatoes with juice, chopped coarsely
3 large sprigs thyme
1 tsp. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. Tabasco, more to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp. sherry vinegar
For the potatoes:
2-1/2 lb. (about 8 medium) Yukon Gold, white, or red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces (no need to peel)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
Make the sauce: In a small (1- or 2-quart) saucepan, heat the 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and let it reduce until almost evaporated, about 1 minute. Add the pimentón and cumin and stir for about 15 seconds. Add the tomatoes and juice, thyme sprigs, sugar, Tabasco, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and a few grinds of pepper.

Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, to reduce the sauce somewhat and intensify its flavor. This should take about 1 hour; depending on how much juice you started with, you may need to add up to 12 cup water during simmering to keep the consistency saucy rather than dry.

Fish out the spent thyme sprigs. Purée the sauce with an immersion blender or a regular blender until it’s smooth and creamy; you can thin with a little water if needed. Stir in the sherry vinegar. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed. The sauce should be slightly spicy, and you should have about 1-1/2 cups.

Roast the potatoes: Heat the oven to 425°F. Toss the potatoes with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and the rosemary (if using) on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast, turning the potatoes with a metal spatula every 15 minutes, until they’re browned and crisp outside and tender inside, about 45 minutes.

Put the potatoes in a serving dish and put the sauce in a small dish next to the potatoes, along with a spoon.

Crisp Shrimp Fritters - Tortillitas de Camarones
Recipe Courtesy of Spain Recipes

1/2 pound small shrimp, peeled
1 1/2 cups chickpea or regular flour
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 scallions, white part and a little of the tender green tops, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sweet pimenton
Olive oil for deep-frying


In a saucepan, combine the shrimp with water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water starts to boil, quickly lift out the shrimp with a slotted spoon and set aside. Scoop out 1 cup of the cooking water and let cool. Discard the remaining water. When the shrimp are cool, cover and refrigerate until needed.

To make the batter, combine the flour, parsley, scallions and pimentón in a bowl or a food processor. Add a pinch of salt and the cooled cooking water. Mix or process well until you obtain a texture slightly thicker than a pancake batter. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Remove the shrimp from the refrigerator and mince finely. The pieces should be the size of coffee grounds. Remove the batter from the refrigerator, add the shrimp, and mix well.
Pour the olive oil to a depth of about 1 inch into a heavy sauté pan and heat over high heat until it is almost smoking. Add 1 tablespoon of the batter to the oil for each fritter and, using the back of the spoon, immediately flatten the batter into a round 3 1/2 inches in diameter. Do not crowd the pan.

Fry, turning once, for about 1 minute on each side, or until the fritters are golden and very crisp with what Spanish cooks call puntillas, or lacelike formations, on the borders.
Using a slotted spoon, lift out the fritters, holding them briefly over the pan to allow the excess oil to drain, and transfer to an ovenproof platter lined with paper towels to drain further.

Keep the fritters warm in a low oven. Fry the rest of the batter in the same way, always making sure the oil is very hot before frying more fritters. When all the fritters are fried, arrange them on a platter and serve immediately.

Pa amb Oli - Bread with olive oil
Recipe Courtesy of Spain Recipes

6 (3/4-inch thick) slices dark rye bread
1 clove garlic, halved (optional)
3 tomatoes, halved crosswise
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling


Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and immediately rub 1 side of each slice with a cut side of the garlic, if desired. Then rub the same side of each slice with the cut side of a tomato half, pressing a little to squeeze some of the pulp and seeds onto the bread. Drizzle olive oil over the tomato and sprinkle with salt. Serve while the bread is still warm and crisp.

Ensaladilla rusa - Spanish Potato Salad
Recipe Courtesy of Spain Recipes

3 medium (16 oz) potatoes
1 large (3 oz) carrot, diced
5 tablespoons shelled green peas
2/3 cup (4 oz) green beans
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
4 cocktail gherkins, sliced
2 tablespoons baby capers
12 anchovy-stuffed olives
1 hard-cooked egg, sliced thin
2/3 cup (5 fl. oz) mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, to garnish


In a saucepan, cook the potatoes and carrot in lightly salted water. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer until almost tender. Fold in the peas and beans, and cook until all the vegetables are tender. Drain the vegetables and transfer them into a serving platter. Add the onion, pepper, gherkins, baby capers, anchovy-stuffed olives, and egg slices.

In a separate bowl, thoroughly combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice and mustard. Add this mixture to the serving platter, mixing well to ensure all the ingredients are coated. Sprinkle with pepper and toss. Garnish with chopped parsley and refrigerate. Allow to stand at room temperature for about 1 hour immediately before serving to enhance the salad's flavor. As any dish made with mayonnaise, ensaladilla should be refrigerated and will not keep for more than 1 to 2 days.

Meatballs in tomato sauce
Recipe Courtesy of Spain Recipes


2 tablespoons of olive oil
8 oz ground beef
1 cup (2 oz) fresh white breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons grated Manchego or Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 scallions, chopped fine
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups (16 oz) canned plum tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary


In a bowl, thoroughly mix together the beef, breadcrumbs, cheese, tomato paste, garlic, scallions, egg, thyme, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Using your hands, shape the mixture into 12 to 15 firm balls.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook for several minutes or until browned on all sides.

Add the tomatoes, wine, basil, and rosemary. Simmer gently for around 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked. Season generously with salt and pepper and serve hot.

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