Going overboard

A friend put the idea of tapas into my head. What a great idea, I thought, for an upcoming dinner with friends. I grabbed my copy of “Tapas” by the great Spanish food authority, Penelope Casas, and flipped through it. I couldn’t settle on just a few of the delicious sounding recipes, so I decided to make a lot. They’re tapas, after all, and variety is kind of the point.

I started cooking on Thursday for our Friday night dinner (the great thing about tapas is that many can be made in advance). I marinated pork to grill the following day and prepared lamb meatballs in brandy sauce, which I would reheat.

Lamb meatballs in brandy sauce.

On Friday, the day of the dinner, I folded up aluminum packets of small portions of monkfish with julienned vegetables and cream sauce. I’d pop them in the oven 10 minutes before we were ready for them.

Monkfish and veggies, ready for sauce.

I had to try making the squid in beer sauce and, of course, I’d serve my favorite of tapas, shrimp in spicy, garlicky, smoked-paprika-y oil.

Squid in beer sauce.

A tortilla a la Española was a must.

Tortilla a la Española.

(I cooked it in my trusty cast-iron skillet. The recipe requires the potato cake to be cooked for a while then flipped onto a plate then slipped back into the pan. You’ll notice one side of the tortilla got a little burnt while I tried to figure out how to flip the super-heavy pan.)

To begin the dinner, I served a couple of Spanish cheeses, Marcona almonds and chorizo baked in pizza dough wrapped in leaves of Swiss chard. It’s a very simple recipe–if you use my favorite Trader Joe’s pizza dough.

Chorizo, wrapped in dough, is hiding under the leaves.

There was very little last-minute cooking. I did the prepping while the kids were in school and I had the kitchen all to myself. I turned on music–M. Ward and Lucinda Williams–and had a ball. But had I gone too far?

Why do I ask? Well, as I brought out one of the courses, a guest, a dear friend, said to the others, “She likes to show off.” I’m pretty sure he was joking–I know he was–but I wondered if my parade of dishes made the other guests think that I was showing off. That I was flaunting my culinary talents (which aren’t all that special. Any food I cook is really pretty easy to make!) I had just been having fun in the kitchen and didn’t know when to stop. I didn’t want to stop!

Had I gone overboard? I realized, as I fell asleep that night, that I’d forgotten to serve the arugula with piquillo peppers stuffed with soft Spanish goat cheese. I laughed at myself. My question was answered!

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About cdhla

I'm a former editor at several lifestyle magazines who's been freelancing since moving from NYC to LA. I call my blog The Chipped Platter to remind us that chips are better than perfection. The platter in question, a round one made by Gien, has traveled the world with me, visited with friends and family, celebrated milestones, and offered sustenance. My cherished Chipped Platter is part of the family. (I love my chipped plates, too!) On this blog, I'll be sharing my adventures of cooking for my family and friends, venturing out into restaurants and learning tips from people I meet. Come along!
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4 Responses to Going overboard

  1. Cathy Krinsky says:

    Sounds toooo yummy. When do I get to come for dinner?

  2. Juan says:

    What Spanish cheeses you have served? What do you recommend? I’ve tried Cabrales and Manchego

    • cdhla says:

      Hi Juan,

      Excellent questions! (I was being lazy in my writing.) I wasn’t sure how a blue cheese would go over that night so I skipped the Cabrales and, though I love Manchego, I wanted to try something new. (And I really would have been going overboard if I got them all!)
      Both cheeses I ended up with were made from raw sheep’s milk. One, called Romao, was covered and cured in rosemary, which gave it a nice herby flavor. It’s from Cuenca in central Spain. The other, a sharp, smoked cheese, was called Idiazabal and is from the Basque region.
      Oh, and the delicious soft goat cheese (that I stuffed into the unserved piquillo peppers!) are formed into little balls and jarred with oil, garlic and herbs. They’re from Catalonia, are called “de cal Bardines” and I love them every which way–on crackers, in an omelet, in salad, on their own.
      Thanks for reading!
      I’d recommend them both!

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