Posts Tagged ‘tapas’

figs with goat cheeseMy friend Becky is near and dear to my heart.  She is smart, compassionate, soulful, thoughtful – I’m thankful to know her.  She was born on Cinco de Mayo; we celebrated Cinco de Becky last week with “tapas” at her house.  It is so wonderful to know people who LOVE food.  It’s even better when these same people all bring food to a party. 

We ate so good.  SO GOOD.  We had so much food at this party that we didn’t end up cooking it all!  Lots of little crostinis, crispy with a creamy and delicious red pepper spread (I ate four pieces myself – FOUR), asparagus wrapped in serrano ham, tangy pork riblets, sweet and smoky Japanese style chicken and beef on skewers (who doesn’t love meat on a stick?), and tamarind margaritas (one of the best margaritas I’ve ever had). 

Being the quasi-purist that I am, I had to make things that seemed at least a little shroomsSpanish, so I made some mushrooms sizzled in a smoked chipotle and smoked paprika butter, little crostinis of serrano ham, manchego cheese and fig jam, and little crostinis of caramelized figs with goat cheese and basil. 

The shrooms will be soft and browned – the butter will give them this smoky richness that is outstanding.  The serrano ham marries so well with the assertive flavors of manchego and the sweetness of the fig jam.  The figs with goat cheese were kind of a last minute addition in an effort to use up some dried figs that were sitting in my pantry.  I reduced them down with some dry sherry, sherry vinegar and brown sugar.  W-O-W.  Those figs in combination with tangy goat cheese and the freshness of the basil will make you sing. 
ham and manchegoIt makes me happy to share these tasty little bites with you.  You should make them immediately and eat them.  Invite some friends over and ask them to make something extremely delicious and call it a party!





mushrooms sizzled in smoky spicy butter

  • a couple of tbsp of butter, softened
  • 1 heaping tsp of dried chipotle powder
  • 1 heaping tsp of smoked paprika
  • salt to taste
  • 12 oz or a few packages of whole mushrooms, either shitake or cremini (don’t use button mushrooms – they have too much water)
  • little wooden skewers if you’d like (be sure and soak them in water first)
  1. mix the spices with the softened butter to form a delicious, spiced compound butter
  2. gently sautee your mushrooms in a skillet or sautee pan over medium high heat until they have released their juices and are softened
  3. removed them from the pan and place into a bowl or on a plate and cover so that they can steam a little
  4. skewer them, if you want
  5. heat some of the butter over medium high heat and sizzle the mushrooms for two to three minutes, watching butter so that it doesn’t burn (if you are using skewers put the butter and shrooms in the pan in batches)

little serrano ham and manchego crostini with fig jam

  • one baguette
  • a few tbsp of fig jam
  • a small wedge of manchego cheese
  • 6 or 7 thin slices of serrano ham or prosciutto de parma
  1. cut the baguette on a bias and toast the slices under the broiler (spread with a little butter before going into the over if you’re feeling naughty)
  2. smear a thin layer of the fig jam on the toasted bread, top with a thin shaving of the manchego and a piece of the ham – could this be any easier? 

little crostinis with sherry glazed figs, goat cheese and basil

  • one baguette
  • a handful of dried figs
  • fresh goat cheese (I prefer a “log” for this)
  • a few leaves of basil, cut “chiffonade” style
  • about 1/2 cup of sherry, depending on how many figs you have
  • about 1/2 cup of good quality sherry vinegar, depending on how many figs you have
  • about 1/4 cup of brown sugar, packed
  1. bring figs, sherry, sherry vinegar, sugar and a pinch of salt to boil over medium high heat in a medium sized saucepan
  2. reduce and simmer over low heat until liquid is very syrupy and almost gone, careful to prevent burning (taste as you go and adjust the amount of sherry/vinegar/sugar to taste) – this will take about 25 to 30 minutes
  3. meanwhile, cut the baguette on the bias and toast the slices in the broiler
  4. top each piece of bread with a little medallion of goat cheese, a fig or two and a generous sprinkle of the basil

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One of my plans for 2009 is to be more adventurous with my choices of meat.  I will try almost anything; any flavor, any spice, any sort of preparation of food.  But step outside of the conventional with cut and type of meat, and I become boring and rigid.   A few of my issues:  cute animals (how can you eat bunny?), meat that resembles its living form.  This is unusual, as I am typically the person harassing someone else to try something new; expand the pallete!  experience something new!  relish something different! 

I’m aware that it may seem bizarre for someone to include expansive meat selection in their New Year’s plans, but there are so many fabulous recipes and dishes that incorporate something I am not comfortable eating.  Hence, my little meat resolution.  My initial thoughts were to just start with a rustic braised rabbit, but it made sense that one of my FAVORITE restaurants led to my adventure beginning with goat, better known as cabrito.

Pura Vida is one of the most fabulous restaurants in Atlanta, specializing in Latin American tapas.  Chef Hector Santiago is a graduate of the famed Culinary Institute of America and frequently travels to Latin American countries to ensure that his kitchen produces authentic and creative cuisine.  It is a sassy yet cozy little spot, comfortably nestled betweet Soul Vegetarian (owned and operated by some very legit African vegetarians) and San Francisco Coffee (purveyors of the finest breve latte known to mankind).  This little corner of the Virginia Highlands neighborhood houses some of the most unique and unreplicated food in the city. 

The dishes at Pura Vida are absolutely phenomenal; expertly prepared, inventive but deliciously approachable.  Succulent little morsels of juicy steak slathered in chimichurri, truffled mushrooms with crema or hongos sizzling in chipotle butter, perfectly fried yuca with a spicy honey dip, heart of palm stacked with sweet dates and salty serrano ham, fresh and lively tuna ceviche, and most recently, tender goat stewed in a coconut broth with green banana mash and caramelized, smoked trout belly with a lemon verbena sauce.  The latter two dishes constituted my step off of the proverbial ledge, out of the “safe” meat zone…  The goat and the trout (with tiny little fin attached – agh!) may be standard fare for many, but for me this was an experience in gastronomic growth.

Both dishes were so, SO good.  The little fin on my trout became less of an issue with flavors this seductive, the thought of baby goat fading with each rich and tender bite.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that this tasty little goat was not gamey or tough at all, but delightfully flavorful and very akin to a well cooked brisket.  The trout was all at once tender, smokey, sweet, salty, tangy – perhaps one of the most brilliant little tapas that I have ever had. 

Our meal was completed with three of the house made ice creams, which change frequently.  I dream of this ice cream.  I tell everyone about this ice cream.  I have spent hours trying to ascertain the secret to this ice cream.  The ice cream at Pura Vida is the most heavenly and wonderful mystery, light and creamy and amazing.  Stone fruit with candied kumquats or coconut with cocoa nibs, vanilla bean with housemade cornflakes and chocolate chipotle with a creamy drizzle, OR the red wine ice cream, which I hear is the BEST but remains elusive at every visit.  Our lovely server informed us that the secret of this frozen delicacy is that it isn’t actually ice cream, but frozen espuma.  Forget ice cream.  Give me espuma.  And while we’re at it, I’ll have another order of the cabrito please.


one of my favorite spots - please go immediately

one of my favorite spots - please go immediately

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