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Tapas are appetizers from Spain

Anne Wiles
For the Nevada Appeal

These recipes are a result of Molly’s and my celebratory acknowledgement of my upcoming trip to Spain. Life experiences seem to share an inevitable connection, either directly or indirectly, to food. A trip to Spain is easily an anticipated culinary and cultural adventure. I could not resist researching the food of Spain, and of course tapas is at the forefront of Spanish cuisine. So I decided to precede my trip with some tapas recipes that I found, cooked, and enjoyed. I look forward to returning home with a plethora of ideas and inspiration for a fabulous cooking class a la Spain.

Make sure to check our Web site at mollysgourmetcatering.com for the dates of our next cooking class.

• Anne Wiles is chef at Molly’s Gourmet Catering, Takeout and cooking school

Shrimp Fritters

1⁄2 pound medium shrimp, shelled, deveined, and finely chopped

2 slices firm white sandwich bread, crusts removed and cut into small cubes

1⁄4 cup minced sweet onion

1⁄4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 – 2 jalapenos, seeded and minced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 egg, beaten

1⁄2 teaspoon Spanish paprika

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1⁄2 cup fine dry breadcrumbs

Vegetable oil for frying

Combine all ingredients except the fine dry breadcrumbs and vegetable oil. Roll the mixture into tablespoon-sized balls and place them on a baking sheet. Refrigerate the shrimp balls for 30 minutes, or until firm.

Preheat the oven to 325.

Roll the chilled shrimp balls through the fine dry breadcrumbs to coat lightly.

Pour enough vegetable oil into a large, deep skillet to measure about 1 inch. Heat the over medium high heat until the oil shimmers. Carefully put the fritters into the hot oil, making sure not to overcrowd the skillet, and fry about 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Transfer the fried fritters onto a wire rack over a baking sheet to drain. When all of the fritters are fried, place them (still on the rack over the baking sheet) into the preheated oven to cook through, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Spanish Omelette (Tortilla Espanola)

4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1⁄4-inch thick rounds

1⁄2 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced

1⁄2 teaspoon chopped garlic

6 large eggs, lightly beaten

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Good quality extra virgin olive oil

Spanish paprika, if desired

Use a non-stick 8- to 10-inch skillet for this recipe. Put about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into your skillet and heat over medium high until the oil is hot. Add the sliced potatoes and season lightly with salt and pepper. Move the potatoes around occasionally as they fry to ensure even browning. After 5 minutes, add the sliced onion and continue to fry the potatoes and onion, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are nicely browned and the both the onions and potatoes are soft. Add the chopped garlic at the end, fry, stirring, for 1 minute,. Drain the potatoes in a fine mesh sieve over a bowl to remove excess oil. Wipe the skillet clean.

Put the drained potatoes into the bowl with the beaten eggs and season lightly with salt and pepper. Put enough olive oil into the bottom of your clean skillet and heat over medium heat until hot. Pour the egg potato mixture into the skillet and use a rubber scraper to move the mixture around gently, making sure the bottom stays intact and does not stick to the pan. Once the omelet is set enough (the egg is cooked about half way through) carefully flip the omelet (you can invert a plate over the top of the skillet and turn the omelet onto the plate then slide it back into the skillet). Cook the second side until the eggs are cooked. Immediately slide the cooked omelet onto a serving plate to stop the cooking. You can sprinkle the omelet with Spanish paprika for presentation and flavor.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Figs

4 ripe fresh figs

2 sheets of good quality Spanish prosciutto

Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 375.

Cut each piece of prosciutto in half and place a fig in the center of each piece. Pull the prosciutto up and around the fig and twist the top closed. Place the prosciutto-wrapped figs on a small baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Bake the figs for 10 minutes, or until the prosciutto is nicely browned the there is an oozy quality to the figs.

These are lovely served with a nice piece of cheese and bread or crackers.

Sangria

1 bottle of red wine (a Spanish red is best)

The juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange

1 orange, cut into wedges

1 lemon, cut into wedges

3 tablespoons sugar

1 shot brandy

2 cups ginger ale

Combine all but the ginger ale in a large glass jar or pitcher. Cover the mixture and refrigerate overnight. Add ginger ale just before serving.