Saturday, October 16, 2010

Spanish Tapas Night

A few times a year I get in the mood to make tapas intead of a full meal.  It is really fun and it is a great time to search for new recipes since I don't cook Spanish food very often.

Of course I have done this enough now that I now look only for inspiration, not for recipes.  I know I will be using quality olive oil, salt and pepper and lots of garlic.  The other part is to decide what to pair with these ingredients. 

This time I chose asparagus, calamari, and mushrooms with some manchengo cheese and crusty bread.

I set out to make the infused oil for the calamari and mushrooms

I crushed 6 cloves of garlic with some sea salt and lightly sauteed it in olive oil.  Olive oil has a low smoke point and garlic burns easily so it is important to cook this on low.  I brought it to a light simmer, added some crushed red pepper (optional) and turned it to low.  After 10-15 minutes I turned off the fire to let it cool.

When we were ready to eat I poured part of the oil in a different pan then added chopped portabello mushrooms to begin their cooking process.  Mushrooms are a subjective thing - some like them soft, some prefer them to be firm on the inside, so there is no one-size-fits-all sautee time. 

Just keep an eye on them and stir occaionnally.

The calimari will cook in an instant (almost) and taste best sizzling hot so you may want to have the table ready before you begin these.

Add them to the other pan of oil, turn to medium or medium low and toss for 2-3 minutes, being careful not to overcook (that will make them rubbery.)

As the mushrooms and calamari finish, move them to serving plates, add sliced lemon to the calimari and serve with the previously prepared asparagus (technique below), a nutty cheese and crusty bread to sop up the sauces!  Dont for get a great Spanish red!


Chilled Asparagus with Sauce

1 bunch of ripe asparagus
2 T yogurt
1 T spicy mustard
1-3 t lemon juice
1-2 t lemon zest
salt and papper
large bowl of ice water

Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil.  Quickly add the asparagus spears and cook for one minute or until bright green.  Remove it to the large bowl of icy water then drain and chill.

Mix together the rest of the ingredients, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  When ready to serve place the asparagus on a platter and either drizzle the sauce over or set on the side for dipping. 

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