tapas, anyone?

krista123January 3, 2007

So I've decided to throw a tapas and wine gathering.

I'd love some ideas for decorating (particularly where I might find some of the items).

Also, if you have a good recipe that might fit this spanish theme, please share. I've found a lot online, but it's always better to hear from someone who has tried it.


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I've never thrown a party, but I've gone out for tapas in Spain. I think the clue is, you never let your guests sit down!! LOL!
Funny but true. You stand at the bar...and point at something ( unless you speak fluent Spanish) and they give you a little plate and you carry it to one or those stand up tables and eat it....and go back for something different.
Sorry, no help on decorations, but have a pile of little white china plates and lots of wine....and bowls of olives!
Linda C

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 1:03AM
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I live in tapas land and tapas bars are everywhere. Here are a few standard dishes:

Ensaladilla Rusa - the one thing that you'll find in any tapas bear is the famous salad made from small diced and cooked potatoes, carrots, peas and tuna. Here's a recipe with photos from one I made:

Four or more servings:

1 1/2 lbs (640 grams) potatoes
3/4 cup (100 grams) cooked peas - (I used frozen steamed)
1 tin tuna steak drained - 1/2 lb tin (225 grams)
1 small jar green pitted olives - I bought them stuffed with pimento
1 small roasted red pepper, cored, peeled and cut into strips (I used them from a jar)
2 boiled eggs
2 TBS mayonnaise (I used 3 heaping)
1 TBS mayonnaise thinned with a little milk
My option: a dusting of paprika over all

1) Boil the potatoes in their skins until tender. Drain and cool. When cool peel and dice into a large bowl.

2) Add the cooked peas, the olives cut in halves (save a few whole ones for the garnish), the tuna flaked and one of the chopped eggs. Add salt to taste and then combine with the 2 (or 3) TBS mayonnaise

3) Spread the mixture on a platter forming a mound. Cover it completely with the thinned mayonnaise. A large serving spoon helps to coax it into shape.

4) Decorate with the strips of pepper, olives and the rest of the eggs.

5) It will keep in the fridge for a few days, improving with taste.

6) Serve with crusty bread.

Again - - Seen from above.

My notes:
You may want to add some more tang to the mayonnaise. If you're a Miracle Whip fan, you may want to use that, or otherwise add a few drops of lemon. Taste first. I steamed the potatoes with salt, but you still need to add some with the mayonnaise.

I found the best way to add a slight dusting of paprika is to shake it into your hand and then blow it gently over the salad.

of a tapa of ensaladilla in a local Venezuelan arepas bar.
It's served in the typical boat-shaped tapas dish along with a bit of crusty baguette and glass of wine.

Another standard tapa which most everyone loves are the hot little shrimp bubbling in a spicy oil...Gambas al Ajillo..

In Spain, gambas al ajillo is a favorite tapa, served sizzling hot in shallow earthenware casseroles called cazuelas. Good crusty bread is a must for dunking in the sauce.

3/4 pound small shrimp in their shells
Paprika, preferably Spanish
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 small dried red chili pepper, seeds removed and cut in half, or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon dry white wine (vermouth is fine)
2 tablespoons minced parsley

Shell the shrimp. (It's not necessary to devein them.) Sprinkle with salt and paprika.

Heat the oil, garlic and chili peppers or pepper flakes in a medium skillet. When the garlic is just beginning to brown, add the shrimp and cook, stirring, about 1 minute, or until just done and firm to the touch. Stir in the lemon juice, wine and parsley. Serve immediately, preferably in a small casserole. Makes 4 appetizer or tapa servings.

-- "Tapas and More Great Dishes of Spain" by Janet Mendel

Mussels are also a favourite with many folks:


4 lb 8 oz live mussels
4 TBSP olive oil
4 - 6 large garlic cloves, halved
2 x 14 oz cans chopped tomatoes
1 1/4 cups dry white wine
2 TBSP finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley plus extra for garnishing
1 TBSP finely chopped fresh oregano
salt & pepper
French bread, to serve

1. Soak the mussels in a bowl of lightly salted water for 30 minutes. Rinse them under cold, running water and lightly scrub to remove any sand from the shells. Using a small sharp knife, remove the 'beards' from the shells.

2. Discard any broken or open mussels that do not shut when firmly tapped with the back of a knife. This indicates that they are dead and could cause food poisoning if eaten. Rinse the mussels again, then set aside in a colander.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and fry, stirring, for about 3 minutes to flavour the oil. Using a slotted spoon, remove the garlic from the pan.

4. Add the tomatoes and their juice, the wine, parsley, and organo and bring to a boil, stirring. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes to allow the flavours to blend.

5. Add the mussels, cover the pan, and simmer for 5 - 8 minutes, shaking the pan regularly, until the mussels open. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to serving bowls, discarding any that are not open.

6. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the sauce over the mussels, sprinkle with extra chopped parsley, and serve at once with plenty of French bread to mop up the delicious juices.

Mini meatballs served in those tiny boat-shaped dishes are also a favourite tapa...you may try a Spanish recipe I have been making for years....but make them much smaller for tapas:

- 4 servings
700 grams ground veal (I use 1/2 pork & 1/2 veal)
3 eggs - beaten
1 medium onion - minced
2 cloves garlic - minced
flat-leaf parsley - lots
2 teasp oregano
2 teasp thyme
2 teasp sweet paprika powder
2 teasp salt
fresh ground black pepper
cooking oil
3 medium very ripe tomatoes - (skinning is optional) chopped
1/2 cup milk & 1/4 cup water
4 - 6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chips (french fries)
Utensils needed:
- small frying pan about 6 inches diameter
- medium or large frying pan or chip fryer
- earthenware or ceramic stovetop casserole with lid
1) Mix meat with beaten egg, minced garlic, 2/3 of the chopped onion, salt & pepper, herbs and paprika. Add a few stalks of parsley chopped fine. Mix all together.
2) Pour about 1 cm oil into small frying pan and put on medium heat. Put some seasoned flour (s&p) on a dinner plate and using a small spoon, scoop out meat mixture and begin forming meatballs with help of floured hands, rolling them in flour as needed. Put them on floured plate and when you have six and oil is hot, put them carefully using spoon into the small frying pan to brown.
3) After two or three minutes turn meatballs over using a small spoon. Continue forming more meatballs.
4) As meatballs brown, remove and put them into casserole dish, adding the fresh ones to the pan, six at a time.
5) When done, strain out any burned bits in the frying pan oil and put in the rest of the onion with the tomato, as well as a handful of minced parsley. Cook on medium heat.
6) After a few minutes add the milk and water. Taste and if tomato flavour is too sharp add a pinch of sugar, also some salt.
7) Pour sauce over meatballs in casserole, (optional is pour it through a sieve for finer sauce) put on low heat with lid and simmer very gently 20 minutes, checking and turning them over once.
8) Prepare potatoes and in oil in large frying pan or chip fryer begin making the french fries a few at a time, salting them and keeping them hot in oven.
9) Put a few chips on top of the meatballs, add a bit of chopped parsley and serve at table with extra chips on each plate. .
Source: Adapted from 'Cocina selecta Mallorquin'

A Spanish tapas meal wouldn't be complete without the tortilla Española - the Spanish potato and onion omelette, served in wedges or in tiny cubes with a toothpick:

Ingredients for 4 servings:

3 medium potatoes
3 large eggs
1 onion
salt 1/2 teasp & pepper to taste
olive oil
Italian parsley, chopped (optional)

I use a 7-inch non-stick pan as it's easy to fill, making a nice high and rounded tortilla which is easy to flip over.

1. Slice potatoes lengthwise once, then slice both pieces thinly into half moons. Chop onions into 1/4 rings.

2. Coat the bottom of the pan with oil and when hot add potatoes. Keep turning so they do not burn or go brown.
When golden, remove from pan and set aside in large bowl.

NOTE: Some folks prefer to gently boil or steam the potatoes for 5 - 10 minutes rather than fry them. I've seen it done both ways and I also like to do this.

3. Put chopped onion in pan, if necessary add a little more oil and sauté until soft, without being dark brown. Remove from pan and add to potatoes in bowl.

4. Beat the eggs in a small bowl, add salt & pepper and chopped parsley, and pour over potato & onion mixture in bowl. Turn gently to coat all.

5. Add 2 TBS oil to pan and when hot, pour in the egg, potato and onion mixture. Run the edge of a sharp knife or spatula around the rim of the pan while the egg is
setting to loosen the edges. I also poke it several times in the middle to let some of the runny egg seep down to the pan. Don't let it get too dark or burn.

6. When the edges are set and the middle is still half runny hold a plate over the top and flip pan and all over on to the plate and gently slide it back into the pan.
Don't overcook as the centre should still be juicy.

7. Let cook a minute or two more on that side, then slide it out onto a plate.

8. Cut into wedges as a luncheon dish, or into small squares with toothpicks to be served on a buffet or as a tapa. Or keep it whole to take on a picnic.

The edges should be fat and firmly rounded. If you've never tried making one before, start with a small non-stick pan and when you're an expert move up to a larger pan. A small 7 inch pan will make a nice luncheon omelette for two.

I tried my first Tortilla Española in 1968 while on a picnic in Mallorca, sitting with friends under a carob tree. The tortilla had been made by their Spanish cook, Catalina.
Since then I've seen and tasted many and been shown by many Spanish people their way to prepare them.

A little dish of stewed chickpeas is also often served:

1 lb dried chickpeas
1/4 lb diced smoked pork or 1/2 lb meaty pork ribs
1 onion - chopped
1/2 head garlic - peeled and chopped
tomato sauce or puré - about 4 oz or 1/4 cup
1 teasp paprika
2 TBS olive oil
1 bay leaf

1) Soak chickpeas overnight. Next day drain and cook in salted water together with pork.

2) Add onion, garlic, tomato puré, paprika, bay leaf and oil to pot. Simmer until tender.

3) Remove any bones and season with salt.

Here's a link to some photos I took on two evenings when out with friends on "Tapas Nights" here in Spain where I live. You may get some more ideas from that. Good Luck!

Pulpo - octopus
Morcilla - blood sausage
Lentejas - lentils
Calamar - squid
Puntos de Solomillo - steak tips
Pimientos de Padros - a tiny green pepper very popular as a tapa, quickly fried and served hot with seasalt.


    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 8:57AM
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Hi Canarybird. Love your post. We are having an 80th birthday party for my dad and are having a Spanish theme. His parents are from Spain. My mom makes the best paella. I'm thinking of lamb since my dad can't eat pork or a shrimp dish. We are also having proscuitto, monchego, olives and crusty bread and fruit to munch on before dinner. I would appreciate any decor suggestions from you. Thanks.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 1:19PM
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