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Turn up the heat with tapas

Maureen Malloy | Thursday, October 7, 2004

Looking to spice up your life in the Midwest? Tapas parties are a great way to gather friends for a relaxed night of eating and drinking without having to put a lot of effort into preparation or cleaning up. Traditionally served as “little dishes” in Spanish bars and restaurants along with cocktails, tapas are becoming trendy in American entertaining. They can range from simpler fare suchas olives and a variety of cheeses to more elaborate hors d’oeuvres like garlic shrimp or Spanish omelets. Arrange a couple “bites” of each dish on small colorful plates or saucers with toothpicks. Along with your tapas, you can serve a variety of your favorite drinks. Different kinds of wine, flavored sparkling water and sangria are popular choices. Pop in some Spanish CDs and set out some candles if you can manage it, and you’ve got yourself an authentic tapas party.

Simple TapasBowl of olivesCubes of ham and cheeseSpiced nutsGrilled slices of bread drizzled with olive oil and topped with goat cheese

More ambitious tapas …

Garlic Shrimp1/3 cup olive oil4 garlic cloves, sliced1 teaspoon red pepper flakes1 pound unshelled shrimp (26 to 32 shrimp per pound)2 teaspoons sweet paprika1/4 cup medium-dry sherry1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leavesFresh lemon juice, to tasteSalt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large heavy skillet set over moderately high heat, heat the oil until it is hot, add the garlic and cook, stirring, until it is pale golden. Add the red pepper flakes and the shrimp and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute, or until the shrimp are pink and just firm to the touch. Sprinkle with shrimp with the paprika and cook the mixture, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the sherry, boil the mixture for 30 seconds, and sprinkle with parsley. Season the mixture with the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste, and transfer it to a serving bowl. The shrimp may be made up to 1 day in advance and kept covered tightly and chilled. Serve the shrimp at room temperature. Recipe courtesy of Gourmet Magazine. Copyright © 2003 Television Food Network,G.P., All Rights Reserved

Spanish Potato Omelet1/2 cup olive oil1/2 pound potatoes, thinly sliced salt and pepper to taste1 large onion, thinly sliced4 eggs salt and pepper to taste2 tomatoes – peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped2 green onions, chopped

In a large frying pan or skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle potatoes lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown and crisp. Once the potatoes are golden, stir in the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions soften and begin to brown. Meanwhile, beat eggs together with salt and pepper. Pour eggs into pan and stir gently to combine. Reduce heat to low and cook until eggs begin to brown on the bottom. Loosen bottom of omelet with a spatula, invert a large plate over the pan, and carefully turn the omelet out onto it. Slide the omelet back into the pan with the uncooked side down. Cook until eggs are set. Garnish omelet with tomato and green onion and serve warm.Recipe courtesy of Patty. All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2004 Allrecipes.com

White SangriaThis sangria takes 5 to 10 minutes to assemble in a large pitcher. Take the time to prepare it in the morning so the sangria has several hours to develop its fruity flavor. Pull it out when dinner is done is ready to serve that evening.3 tablespoons sugar3 shots Calvados or other apple liquor1 lime, sliced1 lemon, sliced2 ripe peaches, cut into wedges3 ripe green apples seeded and cut into wedges1 bottle white Rioja Spanish wine or other dry white wine1 pint raspberriesSparkling soda water, for topping off glasses of sangria at table

Combine sugar, Calvados, lime, lemon, peaches and apples in a large pitcher. Cover with 1 bottle of Rioja wine and chill sangria several hours. To serve, spoon fruits into glasses or goblets, adding a few fresh raspberries in each glass, pour wine over top of the fruit. Top glasses of sangria off with a splash of soda water and serve. Recipe courtesy of Rachel Ray. Copyright © 2003 Television Food Network, G.P.,All Rights Reserved