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The menu:

  • Melon & prosciutto
  • Tortilla EspaƱola
  • Spanish-style tuna salad on flatbread
  • Smoked salmon with cream cheese
  • Goat cheese with paprika, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and capers
  • Marinated olives
  • Marinated manchego

The preceding menu (and following recipes) were just the right amount for a party of around 25 folks. We served Spanish white and rose wines and Granny’s peach gin freezes to drink. Two days before, we did most of the shopping. The day before, we made bread dough and prepared the marinated olives and cheese, tuna salad, and made the garlic-goat cheese mixture. The afternoon of the party, we made the Tortilla, baked the bread, and assembled the appetizers.

The recipes:

Melon and Prosciutto

  • Honeydew or canteloupe
  • 1/4 lb proscuitto, thinly sliced (use Serrano ham if it’s available)

Seed and peel the melon and cut onto bite size pieces. Wrap with a piece of ham and secure with a toothpick.

Tortilla EspaƱola

  • 6 medium sized red potatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic (or to taste)
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup freshly grated manchego cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Dice the potatoes, then heat oilover medium heat in a nonstick, heat resistant 10″ skillet. When oil is hot, add garlic and sautee briefly. Add potatoes and cook until browned. Meanwhile, beat eggs and add 3/4 cup of cheese and salt and pepper. When the potatoes are done, pour the egg-cheese mixture into the skillet. As the egg starts to set, use a rubber spatula to lift the edges and allow egg to run under the omelet. When the center starts to set, place pan under broiler and broil until the top is browned. Let cool and cut into bite sized pieces.

Spanish-style Tuna Salad

  • 2 red bell peppers, peeled and diced
  • 4 6-oz cans tuna in olive oil, drained
  • 30 pitted kalamata olives, chopped
  • 4-5 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 TBS olive oil

Mix ingredients and serve on flatbread or sliced and toasted baguette. (Note: leftovers make a great sandwich on toasted whole wheat with goat cheese/garlic/paprika mix from goat cheese tapas and a slice of tomato.)

Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese

  • 4 oz smoked salmon
  • 8 oz cream cheese (or other soft cheese; next time I’ll use goat cheese)
  • Toasted baguette slices or flatbread
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced

Assemble bread slices with a bit of cheese and an appropriately sized piece of smoked salmon. Garnish with thin slices of lemon.

Goat Cheese with Paprika, Garlic, Sun-Dried tomatoes, and Capers

  • 8-10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 TBS olive oil
  • 8-10 oz goat cheese
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 2-3 TBS capers, drained
  • Baguette slices

Heat oven to 350F. toss garlic with olive oil, and roast uncovered for 15 minutes or until soft. Let cool.

Add paprika to goat cheese and mix. Squeeze the garlic into the cheese and add olive oil. Mix thoroughly.

On each baguette slice, smear some cheese mixture and then add a piece of sun dried tomato and a couple of capers.

Marinated Olives

  • 2 jars pitted Kalamata olives
  • 4 green onions
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Sweet paprika
  • 2 TBS sherry vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • Pinch of dried oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Rinse olives in cold water, then combine in a bowl with remaining ingredients, stir well, and marinate at least one hour, preferable overnight.

Marinated Manchego

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 4-inch sprigs rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 8 oz manchego, cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch cubes

In a small saucepan, heat olive oil and thyme, rosemary, and red pepper until the oil is hot (about 160F). Set aside and cool to room temperature. Place manchego in a bowl, cover with the oil mixture and marinate at least 4 hours and preferable overnight.

Dough for flatbread and baguettes

  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp yeast

Mix water and yeast, then add flour and salt. Stir to mix, then refrigerate overnight. The next day, knead and divide in half. Roll out half to fit a 13 x 18 baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Divide the other half and form into two baguette loaves. Preheat oven to 550F (use a baking stone or tiles if you have them). Brush the flatbread with olive oil and bake until golden brown. Bake the baguettes until well-browned.


French Fry Aftermath

Originally uploaded by ted_major

I’m in trouble–big trouble. I don’t usually make french fries because they’re a pain–cut & soak potatoes, fry at 325F, drain, turn up the heat, re-fry at 375F. Drain and salt.

All that has changed. Thanks to Cooks Illustrated, french fries are now ridiculously easy, and better than ever.

Take some Yukon gold or red potatoes (not starchy russets!) and slice into fries.

Toss them into the pot and cover with oil. Crank the heat up to high. Let them come to a boil and fry for another 10 minutes. Stir and scrape them off the bottom. Keep cooking on high and stir occasionally until they’re golden brown (about 25 mins. total), then remove with a slotted spoon and add salt. Best fries ever–crispy on the outside, creamy smooth on the inside, salty and hot.

You’ll notice that there aren’t any actual fries in the photo. That’s all that was left by the time we slowed down eating enough to go get the camera. Doomed, I’m doomed.