Casa de Rubia
keyboard_arrow_right
Daniela
Uncategorized

Happy Birthday, Daniela!

Daniela’s birthday is just around the corner and I am at a loss about what her gift will be this year. In the past, in keeping with her cooking interest, I have purchased new cookware, Spanish recipe books, and assorted kitchen utensils. Now she has more than she needs to prepare any festive meal. She entertains a lot, so I have bought decorate dinner plates, special colored hand-blown wine glasses, and napkin and tablecloth sets. I can easily say that she has everything. There comes a time in a husband’s life when he turns to jewelry. While you can’t buy something expensive ever year, you can do it now and then. Maybe a new charm for her special gold bracelet, or a pair of dangling earrings she can wear while entertaining guests. A beautiful blouse made in Spain was a choice one year that went over particularly well.

I certainly will make the birthday dinner as I always do. Daniela expects it. Only this time, I will vary the menu and find some new, untried dishes. I have been contacting friends and relatives for ideas and now have a four-course meal in the planning stages. There remains the matter of the gift. I don’t want to wait until the last minute and find myself in a bind. I know she loves to exercise so I am considering a membership to a local gym that also functions as a nice women’s spa. She can have massages and facials and swim in the refreshing lap pool. There is a whirlpool and a sauna to add to her pleasures. I see her spending an entire Saturday at this marvelous location.

I thought long and hard and then decided that instead of a membership, I could give her a day at the spa. She already belongs to a gym and seems quite content with it for the most part. I don’t think she wants to change her routine. So, I quickly nixed that idea. Now what to do! I had recently seen a woman on a hybrid bike and she seemed quite at home on it due to the particularized design for females. The proportions are different for a man in terms of the seat and handlebars, so I wouldn’t consider anything else. I can see Daniela riding about town doing her errands and visiting friends. The idea of the finding a hybrid bike for women as a gift for Daniela was looking better and better. In that she rides the stationary bike at the gym, I imaged that riding outside in the city would be much more enjoyable and fun. She could stay fit and work off all that great Spanish food she eats. This wouldn’t be a bad idea for me either! Maybe another time. Meanwhile I was researching and came across On Road and Mountain Magazine which helped me with making the purchase and selecting the final features and color.

Let’s fast forward and get to the actual birthday. After the meal, I rolled the bike in the house—all brand, spanking new—and I was pleased at Daniela’s reaction. It was of surprise, but also of pleasure. I had hit the nail on the head.

Food

Creating a Delicious Queso Tasting Plate

 

One of the most tantalizing appetizers that you can serve is a Queso tasting plate. The reason why it has become one of the first go to appetizers or even meal components is because of the versatility that it brings. The Queso tasting plate gives you the opportunity to share your best quesos with guests and you can take a variety of different approaches to make it stand out as a masterpiece with food.

Variations to avoid boredom

Although some favorites will never become boring, it’s nice to change up what you’re doing every now and again for variety. The first idea is to feature your favoritequeso with carefully chosen chips that will not interfere with the flavor of the cheese. The second strategy is to add between two or three of your best queso recipes in smaller serving containers with a variety of chips, specialty snack breads and vegetables. This adds an exquisite twist to the standard tasting plate and gives guests a variety of dips to choose from. You may also want to consider varying the spiciness to include mild, medium and hot.

Favorite recipe to get you started

If you don’t have a favoriteQueso recipe, here is one to get you started.

EASY SKILLET GREEN CHILE QUESO

This recipe will take approximately 20 minutes to prepare and will serve 10.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups prepared green chile sauce
  • 1/2 cup queso fresco, divided
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 package Cacique USA oaxca cheese
  • 1 bunch each cilantro and green onions.

Directions:

Dice the large onion and set aside and repeat the steps with the tomato, green onions and cilantro, keeping them separate.

Add the virgin olive oil to a large cast iron skillet and heat the oil over medium heat.

Add the diced large onion and cook until tender and browned cooking for 8-10 minutes.

Sitr in the green chile sauce and blend well with the onions. Add half of the oaxca cheese, tearing it in chunks and add to the chile and onion mixture.

Continue stirring until all of the cheese is melted and it is mixed well with the other ingredients.

Remove from heat and top the skillet Queso with the rest of the packaged queso fresco, crumbled, the diced tomato, cliantro and green onions. This queso may be served with chips or vegetables of your choice.

This is just one of the many tasty queso recipes which are out there. We really enjoy experimenting with new flavor combinations, but in the end, there is no replacement for the old favorites. The thing to remember when making queso dips is that if you are using real cheese versus some of the easier to melt processed versions, that you watch for separation and oiliness. It can take a little practice to get the hang of making your own queso dips, but once you’ve mastered the art the sky is the limit for producing wonderful flavor combinations.

Food

Tapas for Everyone!

My husband and I love to cook Spanish food and invite guests over to partake. I like to surprise people with unusual dishes, and most haven’t tried this kind of cuisine. I know they appreciate it. Recently, a friend and frequent guest at the dining table reciprocated by asking us to come over for a pool party and pot luck dinner. They have a large above ground pool so they asked us to bring our swimsuits. As it had been rather warm for the past week, we thought it was a great idea. We could cool off before or after we ate. I just had to decide what type of food to bring. No doubt there would be a barbecue with either chicken or hot dogs. Maybe hamburgers and grilled corn. If I brought my specialty, tapas, it would be a unique addition to the menu. So I whipped up a big batch.

Tapas can be filled with pureed vegetables, cheese, ground meat of some type, or anything that suits your fancy. They are large enough to be either an appetizer or an entrée (especially if you eat two or more). I decided to make a variety to suit every taste. When I got to the party and revealed what I brought, I heard cries of joy. Everyone wanted to try them and rushed over to the waiting platter. You can bet that I was pretty pleased. It is a lot of work and it paid off. I am glad that I made so many. While tapas are getting popular and restaurants are starting to serve the, for most they are a new taste. I could see that we had many converts. In fact, a few people asked me if they could order a batch and what would be my price.

It was an interesting proposition. I could sell tapas by the dozen and make a little extra money. I decided on $20 and everyone who wanted to order thought this amount was fair. I rushed home to make a list of ingredients to buy at the store to cover the number requested. The next day I got busy preparing a couple dozen. I wrapped them carefully in plastic wrap and put them in a box to keep them fresh. I delivered them promptly by car. I had a new business. This was going to be fun. Tapas for everyone!

Over the years, I had thought of catering and I do a fair amount but small tapas orders were something new. I usually did buffet dinners with several dishes including a chicken vegetable casserole or paella. I sometimes threw in sangria or Spanish sherry. Tapas go with everything so people can just buy them on their own for snacks or light lunches. I would experiment with a new variety but so far people were pleased with what I was offering. They freeze well and I always had a couple dozen on hand for myself. If someone drops in, they get tapas and a glass of wine.

 

Food

A Little Splurge Can’t Hurt

My husband and I enjoy cooking and most often it is Spanish cuisine. While we have made most of the popular dishes, we are always in search of something new. Sometimes we spend hours and houses whipping up delicious food. You get pretty tired standing on your feet for so long. Your arms get tired of stirring and slicing. I always wanted a hot tub so I could relax after a session in the kitchen. The warm water is so soothing, and as for the jet sprays, what can I tell you? It is heaven. I didn’t have one for a long time and had to go to a neighbor’s house. I prefer more privacy. So Hugo and I decided one day to buy our own unit and a few accessories.

It was a bit of a splurge for us, but we both wanted it and felt it was worth the money. We therefore selected a large luxury model that would easily accommodate four adults and maybe a few small kids. I see a pool party in our future! You can bet that when the neighborhood children found out about it, they came over to ask to swim. I require that an adult be present and I didn’t mind doing the job. The small hot tub we’d found online served Hugo and I well at night after dinner, while during the day it was occupied by laughing and splashing kids.

The hot tub was almost a daily ritual for some. I am glad that it gets good use. I didn’t want to regret the purchase and stop using it after a few months. When the weather turns cold, most people abandon their hot tub until spring and summer. Not us. We plan to use it year round. It has a small heater that warms the water up to the desired temperature on frosty days. If it gets icy cold, we cover the tub for a while—but not for long.

With the patio lights on, I can read recipe books if I am in the tub. If Hugo is with me, we like to sip a glass of wine. This makes you sleepy and quite ready for bed. I have never slept so well. For those with insomnia, I recommend lounging in warm water. A bathtub is uncomfortable and too small. Get a hot tub and instant relief. If you have a bad back or aching shoulders, you have the perfect remedy. A hot tub is the relaxation method of choice; I kid you not. In many rehab centers they use them and call it water therapy. It helps people with injuries like muscle strain or a pulled tendon.

I am cooking up a storm these days as I no longer have aching feet. I can be more productive and entertain more frequently because of the hot tub. I love the attachable tray that holds my beverage and maybe a snack. I listen to music and linger for hours.

Life

Finally, a Solution

I came home one evening from visiting a friend and the house virtually reeked of cigar smoke. My husband enjoys this personal pleasure, but I always insisted that he do it outside. He usually sits on the patio either in the late afternoon or after dark. But this time was different. It had been raining and the patio chairs were soaking wet. I don’t find that a sufficient excuse but I guess the need to smoke a cigar was that strong. He violated my wishes knowing full well the consequences. I hate to get mad, especially if he is having a good time, so I had to find a solution.

Many households have a smoking problem, usually cigarettes. The smoke gets stale and hangs in the air and permeates fabrics. If I enter such a home, I know the cause. It is unpleasant and I just hate the smell. Some housewives go so far as to spray the heck out of their home with nauseatingly sweet scents. It barely covers the culprit that is repelling people. The household gets used to it, but when you open the front door, you know immediately what is up.

The second time Hugo smoked a cigar in the house was the last straw. I thought about it and went online in search of an answer and it came in the form of an air purifier for cigarette smoke. I didn’t need a giant appliance but something that would thoroughly clean the air in the living room first and foremost. In the product descriptions on most sites that sell them they give you the footage that can be covered. If you want an entire house purifier, it has to be rather large and is much more expensive.

A few months later, Hugo got out his box of cigars and lit one up to relax. He had had a particularly bad day at work. I felt sorry for him and acquiesced. But no problem. I rushed to turn on the air purifier. I usually use it only when I cook and there are a lot of lingering smells in the kitchen that flow through the house. I placed it in the middle of the living room and it did its job. By bedtime, there was no detectable odor and I was pleased and happy. I have a sensitive nose while Hugo does not. Now everybody wins.

I told a friend about it and she, too, rushed to get her own air purifier. She was coping poorly with her oldest son who likes to smoke in his room. It just stank up the place she said. He didn’t mind having the appliance on while he indulged and it solved the problem. She didn’t want to get into a real hassle with him and an air purifier was the perfect answer. She said, “I give you credit for saving the family from second hand smoke.” I am glad that I was of help. For a few dollars, you can live with a smoker or just attend to any other annoying smells.

Food

Serve Sherry at Your Next Party!

Spanish sherry is glorious. I serve it to guests all the time. It is new to most people and they rave at the tasty discovery. It is a close second to port, but lighter and more appealing. I keep cases of it in the basement, which is a de facto wine cellar. I love to entertain and try to do things differently from most people, which includes a few culinary surprises. The sherry goes with so many dishes and you can also serve it as an aperitif or digestif after coffee. If you have goblets, the rich red color looks wonderful. The drinker will, according to the usual protocol, swirl it around and see if it has “legs.” This is the way the wine runs down the inside of the glass.

There are other Spanish wines, but sherry is my favorite. They make all kinds and perhaps you could say they are in competition with France and the US. Many wineries have sterling reputations and wine tastings are popular with tourists. Wine is all the rage these days and many countries produce it. But for me, those from the Iberian Peninsula are quality labels. A good wine shop in your neighborhood will certainly have some choices for you to try out. If you are a guest in my house, you automatically get a different wine each time. Sherry is served quite often and ends a meal with grace.

So, I never need ponder what wine to serve. I just go to the basement and into my wine refrigerator and pull a few bottles out. I uncork them and try a sip to be sure they have not gone bad. Whenever you serve wine, this is important. No one wants to be embarrassed. It can happen at any time, although it rarely does in my house. I buy carefully and choose what I know to be good years.

When we are sitting around the dining table drinking our sherry, I tell stories of Spain. People listen attentively and add their own if they have visited the country. I talk about the sights in Madrid such as the Prado museum of art and Toledo, an old city with many historic monuments. I talk about the restaurants and cafes that abound. I often make lists for travelers to this magic land. They send me postcards when they return and I get personal photos on Instagram and Facebook. It is all about sharing experiences.

Occasionally, I get tips on special values on Spanish wines. I rushed to the specified store and stock up to replenish my always dwindling inventory. You can’t entertain too often as far as I am concerned. The wines are reasonably priced and you can get a case at a discount. A rare wine is a real find and I wait in anticipation of such opportunities. A couple times a year I get lucky. So take advice from me and start looking for a wonderful wine experience.

Food

Special Night Out

If you’re contemplating a special night out we have some great recommendations. Our love of Spanish cooking is inspired by the amazing meals, ambiance and traditions involved with Spanish foods. If you’re fortunate enough to be in Spain, there are a few restaurants that offer the ultimate experience in dining and entertainment. You can also find similar accommodations in the better restaurants at home, offering authentic Spanish cuisine and atmosphere within driving distance. Here are the possibilities that you should look for when crafting your special night out.

Traditional evening meal

The mealtime in Spain begins around 8:30pm at the earliest and runs late. Typically, you’ll have your choice of a variety of offerings including tapas, for those who prefer a variety of small portions or the full menu offerings.

Pre-meal offerings

An assortment of tasty appetizers including queso tasting plates, dainty seafood delights on crustini or an assortment of cheese, seafood and vegetable delicacies. These are served in just the right portions to whet your appetite.

Appetizer salad choices start your journey. Choose from warm goat cheese salad with a sweet wine sauce or Coca with a roasted pepper salad, Idiazabal cheese, with anchovies and pickled vinaigrette. These are just a few examples and you’ll find many other choices.

Main dishes including salmon, Pork, lamb, Chicken, Beef or other entrees with a choice of luscious desserts including sorbets, flans and specialty cakes. Enjoy a glass of fine Spanish wine or champagne with your dinner or top it off with a specialty coffee.

Consider trying something new

You may already have a favorite dish, but you may be pleasantly surprised by trying something new. There are so many options when it comes to fine authentic Spanish cuisine. The foods are not easily comparable to any other because of the preparatory techniques and combinations of ingredients. These are the factors that set it apart.

Full immersion experience

The final touches for topping off your special night off include entertainment. In addition to atmosphere, nothing beats a professional and talented flamenco group. Even better, you could choose to visit a restaurant that features dancing after dinner. Dance off the amazing food while sipping a few well mixed drinks before you find your way home and later reminisce about the evening of a lifetime.

Food

Creating a Recipe Book

I have a wonderful collection of Spanish recipes. I have been cooking Spanish food for some time and have certain favorites. I love to share what I know and entertain often to tantalize guests. It is a rich culture that offers culinary favorites like paella and tapas. If you haven’t tried it, be my guest. Some people want to try their hand at making these dishes and one friend out and out asked for my top recipes. She knew exactly what they were. At first I balked at revealing family secrets but soon I became more generous and planned to make her a book as a gift.

She had been helpful to me in the past, sometimes working alongside me in the kitchen when I had catering to do and needed another pair of hands. Her efforts certainly merit a recipe book as a thank you. I started to gather recipes and most were stored in my computer so it was simply a matter of printing them out. I would make the book letter size so I wouldn’t have to trim the printer paper. I sat in the kitchen with a stack of recipes in hand. In the other was a cup of rich Spanish dark hot chocolate. Muy delicioso. You can’t get this in the US so you have to order the powder from abroad. I had to sort and make some key decisions as the book shouldn’t be more than 25 pages. However, I found that I couldn’t eliminate some recipes and therefore I would have to use heavy staples with a staple gun to bind them into one tome.

Luckily I had the right tools for the job and the book took shape instantly. It was a successful do-it-yourself project. I made a fancy cover on green card stock with the word “Spanish Recipes” in big letters. It is a bit large in size over all, but that makes it easier to read. I know she will be pleased with my choices. Each recipe is accompanied by a photo of the finished product on a nice serving plate. It will give her ideas about what to expect. A nice presentation is everything with food. She has eaten many of the dishes and these photos will tickle her memory and hopefully taste buds. When you cook, you sample your creation before deeming it ready for consumption. Sometimes I make many dishes at once and freeze them for the future.

After receiving the recipe book, my friend called. She was ecstatic. She couldn’t wait to try the recipes out, starting from page one. She intended to go through to the end. I said to her, “ask me over so I can try them out.” She was worried that I would be a harsh critic, but I assured her that it would not be the case. I was sure she would make each dish exactly as prescribed. After tasting a few, I found that to be the case.

Life

A Special Night

A wedding anniversary is a special event—year after year. There are some that are extra special because they are milestones like the 15th, 30th, 50th, and so on. You celebrate love and togetherness, usually with a nice dinner at your favorite restaurant. I have years of memories that lead up to this year’s anniversary: our fifteenth. Hugo has been an exemplary companion in my life and he deserved a special gift. I presented it to him after our meal at our preferred spot, a Spanish restaurant. Little did I know what was in store for me.

The evening was glorious. It was a balmy night and you could see a few stars. We were in a dreamy mood as a result and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to eat outside on the patio. We savored course after course of dishes like assorted tapas and paella. We love this restaurant and practically know the menu by heart. We took our time and it was time for tres leches cake for dessert. We ordered coffee and sat quietly as we surreptitiously slipped our gifts onto the table. I told Hugo to go first. He carefully opened his small wrapped package and let go an “oh” of delight upon seeing a men’s Swiss watch for under $500. I had found a beautiful gold-toned model since all he had at the moment was a casual black sport watch. I wanted something dressy and elegant without spending too much. Apparently, I made the right choice. He put it on immediately and lifted his wrist in the air to admire it. He was beaming a broad smile.

Then it was my turn. My package was a bit larger. It was wrapped in silver paper with a pink bow. Pink is my favorite color. I opened it without tearing any of the paper and the package revealed the most amazing cream silk blouse. I couldn’t put it on in public, of course, but I wanted to parade around the restaurant and show off my husband’s superior taste. I would have to wait until I got home. It was a very special and thoughtful gift and I got up and went over to my husband and gave him a huge kiss and hug.

It was a wonderful anniversary, as they always are; but somehow this one will stand out in the greater scheme of things in my life. I think it was because of our love and affection for one another that I know will endure over the years. Sure, we will have other anniversaries and maybe even a party or two instead of an intimate dinner; but each and every time will be precious to me. Now I wear my anniversary blouse on special occasions like holidays and the theater or opera. I am always reminded of Hugo when I put it on as I hope he is reminded of me when he wears his dress watch. May this be a lesson to you and a reminder of the good things in life.

Food

Favorite Seafood for Paella

Paella is a Spanish dish that can easily be overdone. Traditionally, it can contain excessive amounts of garnishes and flavors if not done properly. While some may enjoy this type of intensity, our preferences are for the more moderate version. Having said this, prior to adding any seafood it’s vital to ensure that the Paella is done correctly or it will not achieve its maximum potential.

Appeal of Paella

A well-done paella dish can steal the attention for the entire meal. The basics of preparing an excellent paella is to get the right amounts of liquid and rice with the right amount of base flavors. Onion, garlic and saffron are the key flavorings used and it’s always a good idea to stick with what works. Spanish paella is amazing with the addition of the right types of seafood. Our preference is to use mussels and jumbo shrimp along with the squid in combination with chicken stock because of the way that these ingredients compliment one another so nicely.

Basics for perfect paella

Bomba rice is the best choice because this variety holds its integrity well. It is always best to use ingredients which are fresh whenever possible. Avoid going for canned or frozen if you can. You’ll notice the difference in taste and texture when you compare them.

Spanish Paella with Mussels and Prawns

Serves four.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sized tomatoes
  • 2 cloves fresh carlis
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/c teaspoon sugar
  • 5 tbsp virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Sweet paprika
  • Saffron threads
  • 2 cups Bomba rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 10 fresh mussels, de-bearded and scrubbed
  • 12 jumbo shrimp in the shells
  • 4 small quid, cleaned and sliced into rings about 1/4 inch in width with the tentacles uncut.

Instructions

Dice the onion finely, chop the tomatoes and crush the garlic, setting each aside in separate containers.

Heat the oil in a large paella pan and add the onion, stirring constantly. Add the garlic and sauté for a few moments, then add the chopped tomatoes. Add paprika, a good pinch of saffron threads, sugar and salt to your taste preference. Thoroughly mix all ingredients and continue cooking until they resemble a thick sauce. Add the squid and continue cooking, stirring constantly for about two minutes. Next, add the rice and stir to mix thoroughly.

In a separate saucepan, combine the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour over the rice and bring to boiling. Add more salt if required. Using a large spoon, spread rice evenly in the paella pan. Reduce heat and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, occasionally rotating the pan for even cooking. Do not stir the rice at this point. Add the shrimp partway through the cooking process, about 10 minutes in. When they become pink it is time to turn them. When 20 minutes is up, remove the rice mixture from the heat and cover with foil.

In a separate pan, steam the mussels until the shells open. When they are open, place on top of the paella to complete the dish.

Other options

This is our favorite seafood for Spanish paella. You can add other ingredients if you wish. Spanish paella also works well with clams or lobster, dried peppers or vegetable additions including artichokes, peas, green beans and roasted peppers. One of the great things about paella is that you can make it your own.

Food

Tapas Party!

Tapas originated in the country of Spain and have since become popular throughout the world. When attempting to define exactly was tapas are, the best way to describe them are as snacks, canapes or as small plates of sample sized foods that can vary greatly in their content. They are offered in quite a few different forms throughout the regions of Spain. The best way to truly understand what tapas are is to have a party, serve them and give a total explanation of your experience. Your guests will give you a hearty thank you.

The greatest appeal of tapas

Consider tapas as tiny meals in themselves. The portions are made small in order for guests to have a sampling of a variety of different foods in one setting. This is the tremendous appeal of having a tapas party. Make sure that you prepare several different tapas that are sure to become favorites so your guests will have lots to choose from.

Components of a tapas party

The time of year will help to determine the types of tapas which will be the most appropriate to serve. For example, lighter and cooler tapas will work the best for hot summertime parties while heartier preparations may be best for colder weather. Try to get an accurate head count before preparing the tapas so you won’t make too much or too little. You may want to consider an RSVP a few weeks prior to the event.

The first consideration is to choose your appetizers. You can find a wide variety of amazing Spanish appetizers online to match the theme of your tapas party if you have one. It’s good to have a few different appetizers to get your guests started. Here are a couple of ideas.

Marinated olives

Purchase extra large olives and plan to marinate them for overnight. The recipe is simple. It calls for an 8 ounce can of Greek Kalamata olives, 2 cloves of garlic smashed, 1/2 small red onion sliced very thinly, 12 small orange peel with the inner white rind removed; a sprig of fresh rosemary, 1 bay leaf, 2 tbsp of virgin olive oil and 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar. Simply combine all ingredients in a large sealable bowl (olives included) and marinate them overnight. Set out about a half hour before you plan to serve in small serving bowls, preferrably terracotta style.

Smoked paprika almonds

These are favoriteappetiers which are tasty treats to stimulate the tastebuds. Serve the with a glass of chilled sherry or other beverage of your choice. Allow about 15 minutes total for preparation and cooking.

Begin with 3 cups or raw whole almonds, 1 tbsp coarse sea salt, t tbsp virgin olive oil and 1/2 tsp hot paprika to taste. You can substitute the last ingredient for smoked sweet spanish paprika or another type of your choice.

Place almonds on a cookie sheet and toast in a 400 degree over which has been preheated for approximately 7 minutes. Check after 7 minutes to ensure that they do not burn. You’ll know that they’re ready after this time when you smell the aroma of the toasted nuts. Remove from oven when fully toasted. Add the sea salt and paprika together and mix well. They should be ground using a pestle and mortar or other device that will result in a fine grind. Add virgin olive oil to almonds and coat each nut generously. Sprinkle the paprika and salt mixture and mix well until evenly coated. Place in serving bowl and serve to guests with garnishes if desired.

Next, choose three to four different tapas recipes for the tiny main events. Make plenty so your guests can get their fill. Here are the tapas that we recommend.

Tortilla Espanola – These include just a few easy to prepare ingredients yet they are a favorite for tapas parties. They include olive oil, eggs and potatoes with tortilla.

Artichoke hearts (Alcachofas al Ajillo). This is another traditional tapas favorite. It includes lost of garlic and is an amazing choice for artichoke lovers.

Serrano Ham Wrapped specialties

Serrano ham is good when it’s sliced thinly and wrapped around virtually anything includingg melon, plums and other fruits and veggies.

Crostini

Crostini is a must have at any tapas party.

The crustiness of crostini bread is an excellent companion for use with Spanish cheeses, particularly Manchego, but you can select other varieties if you prefer. Combine them with olives, fruits and vegetables to create your own crostini masterpieces.

Other ideas

Consider any food that can be miniaturized as a potential tapas because it is in reality a small portion of food that can range from a radish on a crust of bread to a small dollop of pudding with a a rich creme topping in a small serving vessel. Have fun when planning your tapas party and be original with the influence of Spanish cuisine as your guide.

Food

Desserts with Flair

Spanish cuisine is known for its use of fresh fruits, often combined with creamy flans and custards and arranged for spectacular eye appeal and even better taste. We enjoy experimenting with a variety of desserts inspired by Spanish cuisine and wanted to share a few of our successes that quickly became favorites among friends and family.

Strawberry Flan

This recipe does not require you to be a professional chef and part of its appeal is in the simplicity of preparation and the elegance in appearance and mouth-wateringflavor. It serves 6.

Ingredients

  • 1 pint fresh ripe strawberries, hulled, washed and diced
  • 14 ounces canned condensed milk
  • 6 large eggs or 8 medium
  • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 c. granulated white sugar for carmelizing
  • Fresh mint leaves

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Preparation

Optional: Reserve about 4-5 diced fresh strawberries for garnish.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. On a burner heated to medium, place a heavy skillet and warm for approximately 20 -30 seconds. Pour 1/2 cup granulated sugar and using a wooden spoon, move the sugar quickly and consistently until it is melted. Constant movement is required until the color reaches a medium brown. Pour the caramelized sugar into 6 ramekins, divided equally and set aside.

Place eggs, sugar, condensed milk and all but five tbsp of the diced strawberries in a blender and mix until thoroughly mixed. Pour the strawberry mixture into the ramekins until filled to the rim. Place aluminum foil over each ramekin. The next step is to use a large ovenproof baking pan and add very hot water to the inside. Place ramekins in the pan so they are submerged 75% within the water. This is called a bano Maria or water bath. Place the pan with the ramekins in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the water and uncover them and set out to cool. After they are no longer oven hot, transer each ramekin to the refrigerator and chill them thoroughly.

Serving

Use a thin knife blade around the outside of each ramekin to loosen the contents without disturbing the form. Turn the ramekin onto a serving plate and flip to allow the flan to fall onto the plate. You may gently tap the ramekin if the flan does not easily loosen. Garnish with mint and fresh strawberries. Whipped cream may be added if desired, and serve to your guests.

Other alternatives

You may substitute the strawberries with a variety of other fruits and berries. This dessert is fun to experiment with. Be original and create your own versions with a variety of different garnishes for aesthetic grandeur.