31 December 2009

Tapas Tonight!

New Year's Eve has always been a crapshoot. Some years, you go to a boatload of trouble to plan the place, the friends, the food and drink... and it fizzles. Other years, you go with the flow and it still fizzles. Can you guess? I'm not a particularly big fan of  'The New Years Event'. Yup, Silent Bob and I will be staying in again this year. We were discussing going out to a local place that's hosting a party, but that would involve way too much schmoozing for these backwoods folk. Instead, we're thinking warm fire, some candlelight, a cribbage game, some good music on the CD changer and a bottle of Cava cooling in the wine cellar (read back porch).

"But, wait ! It's News Year's Eve! ", you say. I know. Something special has to happen, so I'm thinking...
 that a nice little late tapas dinner would be a perfect way to celebrate. When we visited Kate and Maria in Spain, we discovered that we loved several of the common tapas offerings in the small cafes. So tomorrow night it's going to be patatas bravas, albondigas de carne, pimientos rellenos de bacalao, and ensalada de pollo con pasitas y pinones. Yup, I know. Sounds foreign... straight from the tapas cookbooks that I came home with after the Spain junket! Patatas bravas are a wonderfully crispy and spicy hot Spanish 'read' on homefries. Albondigas de carne are beef and pork meatballs that have raisins and pinenuts in them and a simple tomato sauce that accents them. Pimientos relennos de bacalao are wonderful roasted sweet red peppers that have been stuffed with a saucy bit of cod/green pepper/onion/bechamel goo and topped with the same bit of simple tomato sauce that is on the albondigas de carne. Ensalada de pollo con pasitas y pinones is a cold chicken salad that has parsley, raisins, pinenuts, and a light little red wine vinaigrette to finish it. 

So... I refuse to share all those recipes at once. When I had Silent Bob randomly choose two blue slips in the cookbook, he chose albondigas de carne and ensalada de pollo. A note on the albondigas recipe: I've played with the original enough that I feel this one is mine. So, accept these recipes as our gift to you along with warm wishes for a Happy New Year and no hangover on New Years Day ... Salut! Oh! And don't forget to eat your twelve green grapes at midnight for good luck in 2010!

Albondigas de Carne con Pasitas y Pinones - printer friendly

Recipe 1 -
Albondigas de Carne con Pasitas y Piñones (Meatballs with Raisins and Pinenuts)

In a large mixing bowl, mash together with your hands or a fork:

1 lb. lean ground beef
½ lb. ground pork
2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
½ c. pinenuts, toasted and chopped
½ c. golden raisins, chopped
2 thick slices white bread soaked in milk
2 eggs

Roll into meatballs of the desired size and chill on a plate for about a half hour.
In a large skillet, sauté until golden:

1/4 c. olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, minced


4 large tomatoes, quartered, seeded, and crushed in your hands
1 Tbsp. brandy
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar

Simmer the sauce until the tomatoes begin to break down.
Optional: Place finished sauce in a hand blender and puree – the Spanish version has a smooth sauce. My version is mashed with a fork in the pan to break up the onion, garlic and tomatoes further.

Keep sauce warm while you finish the meatballs. Heat a separate non-stick fry pan until it’s hot.
Add and swirl to coat the pan:

¼ c. canola oil

Coat the chilled meatballs with a light dusting of flour and fry on all sides until browned and crispy.
Drain on paper towels and place in a shallow casserole dish. Top with the sauce, cover, and warm thoroughly in a hot oven (350 degrees) – about 15 minutes.

Serve with toasted crusty bread as a tapas offering or with noodles and a side dish as a dinner offering.

Ensalada de Pollo con Pasitas y Pinones - printer friendly

Recipe 2 -
Ensalada de Pollo con Pasitas y Piñones (Chicken, Raisin, and Pinenut Salad)

               - courtesy of tapas –a culinary journey of discovery

To make the dressing, mix in a small saucepan and bring to a boil:

¼ c. red wine vinegar
1/8 c. superfine sugar
1 bayleaf
the pared rind of one lemon

Remove the dressing from the heat and add:

¾ c. raisins (Malaga muscatel raisins are authentic)

Set the dressing aside to soften the raisins.

Meanwhile, heat a large non-stick skillet and add:

5 Tbsp. olive oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, sliced into thin bite-sized slices

Cook over medium heat, turning to brown all sides. Then add:

1 garlic clove, minced
1 c. pinenuts

Continue turning to brown the pinenuts and toast the garlic.
Season with salt and pepper and set aside off the heat.
In a large bowl, combine and whisk until smooth:

the cooled dressing (use a slotted spoon to set the raisins aside with the chicken mix)
1/3 c. olive oil

Turn the chicken mix into the dressing and toss with:

1 small bunch fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, cleaned and coarsely chopped

Adjust the salt and pepper.
Chill the salad for 2-3 hours before serving.
Serve with warm crusty bread toasts for mopping up juices.

1 comment:

  1. Your Spanish dishes look delicious! I just discovered your blog - I'd love to see more of it!


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