Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tapas Night

Tapas, originally uploaded by Kim De.

Last night we decided it was time for tapas! We dont do this very often, which means I got to research recipes!! There is almost nothing I like better then doing research for dinner.

I knew I wanted seafood, calamari or mussles, and I figured a couple of vegetables were important - but what ever I made had to have sauce for dipping bread!

Finally I settled on this menu: Manchego Cheese, Spicy Calamari, Cold Asparagus, Ajillo Mushrooms, and a Rioja red wine.

First the Asparagus. Simple to make ahead, I boiled the stalks for 3 minutes before plunging them into icy water for 30 minutes then moving them to the refrigerator. A quick dip made from dijon mustard, mayonnaise, finely minced garlic and a squeeze of lime juice was thrown together as well, giving it several hours to meld.

The mushrooms were in stiff competition with the calamari for the best dish. Baby portobellas were simmered with a mixture of olive oil, dry sherry, garlic and other aromatics until they were soft and their juices worked with the oil and sherry to make sauce for dipping. Absolutely amazing, full of flavor, mouth-watering - well you get the picture. A firm sourdough was perfect for sopping up the juices and the sherry added a dimension I wasnt used to with my mushrooms! This recipe, or a lower calorie variation, will become a regular side dish!

Finally the calamari. What can I say - I think calamari has become my new favorite food. I have been ordering it at restaurants with amazing frequency (just look at my NYC blog) and tasted many variations of it. Fried, seared, sauteed, grilled and chilled - I love it every way!!!

Since this meal needed a spicy component (because what meal doesnt), the calamari was our choice. I have become comfortable with cooking this particular squid recently, so I decided to use components of recipes I found online with tastes I have had at restaurants to come up with the recipe you see below. It also provided a sauce for sopping, with different textures and flavor variations, it was a wonderful contrast to the mushrooms.

It was a perfect meal to follow a long hike! Bo's verdict? The calamari was his favorite and although the mushrooms follow closely in my mind, I must concur!

Spicy Sauteed Calamari

1 pound squid (full-bodies or a mix of bodies and tentacles)
2 T of dried red pepper flakes (more if you like things spicy like we do!)
4 T tomato paste
4 cloves of garlic, large chopped
1 T Olive oil (1 additional T may be needed if the juices began to dry out)
2 T Dry Sherry (1 additional T may be needed if the juices began to dry out)
salt and ground black pepper

Slice the calamari bodies into 1/2 inch rings. Do not rinse them if you want a seafood flavor to the sauce. If you dont care for this flavor, rinse and dry well. (We did not rinse them)

Heat 1T olive oil in a pan on medium heat and cook the garlic 2 minutes or until they are translucent and beginning to brown. Add your calamari, sherry, tomato paste, red pepper, salt, and crushed black pepper to taste.

Saute on medium-low heat for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Taste at this point and add more seasoning (including red pepper) if needed. Be prepared to add an additional tablespoon of oil and/or sherry if the saute begins to dry up. Touch the calamari - they should yield slightly without be tough. Be careful not to overcook them as they will become rubbery. Remove from heat and top with parsley or chopped chives to serve.

Ajillo Mushrooms (Adapted from Spain Recipes)

1/4 cup (2 fl. oz) olive oil
4 cups (8 oz) mushrooms, wiped clean and quartered
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons dry sherry
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried red chile, seeded and crumbled
1/4 teaspoon Spanish paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped parsley or chives

Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the garlic over high heat for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Lower the heat to medium and add the mushrooms, garlic, sherry, lemon juice, dried chile, paprika, and salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the garlic and mushrooms have softened.

Remove from the heat, sprinkle with chopped parsley, and serve on small earthenware platters.

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