Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tapas out on the Patio

Last weekend I had a bunch of friends over for a Tapas dinner party.  We all toasted Carter at the beginning of the evening for the sign hanging above was something special to him and to my husband, Len.  Carter beat Len to the punch when he convinced the owner of El Gato Negro (a men's bar in San Miguel de Allende) to sell him the sign.  He had this hanging in his garage for many years.  Carter would be happy to know that we have it proudly on display on our patio.
Sometimes I think I am out of my mind when I decide to do a Tapas Dinner Party because it is a lot of work: planning the menu, deciding on the order in which I will serve each course and on what plate, grocery shopping (and believe me, it is not just one store), choosing the wines (Len's department but I do have a vote) and then all the cooking not to mention washing the patio, setting the tables and selecting the right music for the evening!  
With cocktails, we started with roasted blanched almonds that I had seasoned with rock salt, rosemary and pimiento.   And grilled artichokes with a remoulade sauce.
The next course was a Pea and Mint Vichyssoise which I made the day before to ensure that it was perfectly chilled.
The roasted eggplant custards had a smokey flavor to them. I first roast a whole eggplant over an open flame before I roasted it with red peppers and onions.  The Manchego cheese wafers that were seasoned with thyme and cayenne pepper is the ideal accompaniment to this vegetable pate.
 Karen and Dick about to dive into the chilled custards.
Over Suzy's shoulder, you can see the RAM pinata that I brought out for the occasion (from my Dad's birthday party in May).
A big hit was something new that I made.  Jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese, Gouda and shrimp.  I placed them on a sheet of tin foil and grilled them for about 25 minutes.  Next time I am going to eliminate the shrimp, it was lost in the pepper, and add chorizo or bacon instead.
One of my favorites, skewered watermelon and tomato with a sherry, olive oil and lemon zest vinaigrette sprinkled with rock salt.  A great, refreshing palette cleanser.
The grilled chicken and peach skewers are another great summer dish.  I had marinated the chicken in yogurt, peanut butter, olive oil, jalapenos, cilantro, garlic, salt and pepper.  Right before serving, I drizzled the skewers with some extra marinade that I had put aside along with a sprinkling of chopped roasted peanuts.
The last of the main courses was steak tartar.  I hand-chopped the sirloin and put all the ingredients together at the last moment.  I used a square form to shape the tartar and then topped it with chopped hard boiled eggs. This particular recipe is from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook.  (I added the eggs)
For the grand finale, Cold Zabaione with fresh blueberries and raspberries.  I adapted this recipe from Cooking Ideas from Villa d'Este, a cookbook I had bought at Villa d'Este, Italy back in August of 1985. 
The Zabaione consists of 8 egg yolks, 1 1/4 cup of sugar, lemon and orange zest, 2 cups of dry Marsala, 1 cup of dry white wine and 3 cups of heavy whipping cream. The whipped cream is folded into the egg and wine mixture after it has cooled down.   I poured the Zabaione into eight of my hand-etched blue margarita glasses that I had bought in San Miguel de Allende.  About an hour before serving, I took them out of the freezer and put them in the refrigerator.
It was a wonderful, relaxed evening of savory courses, magnificent wines, good music and great friends under the stars in my backyard.  And yes, all my planning and hard work was well worth it.  
Bon Appetit.


  1. Indeed it was magnificent. Lucky all of us!!

  2. Jealous of the Gato Negro sign. Sorry I didn't think of buying it first.

  3. My brother finally broke him down and he sold it to him.