Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Last Night's Dinner #19: Tapas Night

Tapas Night
:: Chorizo braised in hard cider
:: Tortilla (Spanish Potato Omelette)
:: Shrimp in Garlic Olive Oil
:: White Sangria

This dinner was one of the best meals that I've ever made and it was fairly easy - so I urge you to give it a shot. Try it as a Saturday night special if you don't have time during the week. I'm also including little tips I learned along the way at the very bottom. Enjoy!

Each recipe serves 2:
one guy and one girl, or three girls possibly 4 if they eat like birds

Chorizo braised in hard cider

You'll need:
- Chorizo (5oz, I used 3/4 of what I bought), cut into 1/4" diagonal slices
- 1/2 cup of hard cider (you can also use a combo of beer and apple juice if you can't find hard cider)
- 1/4 cup of chicken broth
- 2 tbs parsley, finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbs of sherry vinegar (optional)

Step 1. Cut chorizo diagonally into 1/4" pieces and set aside.
Step 2. Heat up olive oil and cook onions for 3-4 minutes then add paprika and cook for another minute or so (image 1).
Step 3. Add hard cider and allow to simmer for a minute then add the broth. Lower the heat and allow the liquid to reduce by a third.
Step 4. Once the mixture is reduced, add the chorizo and simmer. You'll notice that the liquid will slowly evaporate and the natural oil from the chorizo will begin the browning process (image 5). I prefer my chorizo slightly well done (edges a little burnt). You'll know when it's done.
Step 5. Pour the sherry vinegar over the chorizo (optional) and add the parsley right before you turn off the heat.


You'll need:
- 4 large eggs
- 4 potatoes (I'm not sure what variety I used, it had light/thin skin - not Idaho, might've been Russett), sliced as thin as you can by hand
- 1/2 Spanish yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 tbs olive oil
- salt to taste

Step 1. Crack eggs into a bowl and whisk lightly; don't over mix. Set aside.
Step 2. Peel and cut potatoes into very thin rounds (image 1). Season well with salt. Finely mince the onion.
Step 3. Heat up a little more than 1/2 tbs of olive oil in a large skillet (preferably non-stick). Add potatoes. You have to be careful not to add to much olive oil or you'll end up with fries. You want the potatoes to cook and not brown. You don't want them to be crispy so make sure you adjust the heat accordingly and keep mixing/turning so they don't brown and crisp up. The salt that you added should've created some moisture; the salt draws out the starch from the potatoes - you'll notice that the potatoes will get a little sticky.
Step 4. Once you notice the potatoes breaking naturally as you mix and turn (image 6), add the onions. At this point, you should also add the remaining olive oil little by little. The mixture should remain moist, so if you feel that you need more oil go ahead and up the amount. Again, just make sure they don't end up as homefries. No browning!!
Step 5. Once the potatoes and onions are soft, remove from heat and slowly add to the eggs. Step 6. Using a fork, partially mash up the potatoes (image 7) and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes so that the potatoes absorb some of the egg.
Step 7. In a smaller skillet (preferably non-stick) than the one you used to cook that potatoes - add a small amount of olive oil (1 tsp). Go grab a plate that's bigger than the skillet and put it within hand's reach.
Step 8. Pour the mixture into the pan and quickly stir for 30 seconds then leave it alone. In about 2-3 mins or when you feel like you'll be able to safely turn the omelette, take the plate and place it on top of the skillet then flip it upside down. The side that was just cooking should be visible. Now carefully slide it back into the pan, so that the other side can cook. You do this flipping thing 4 to 5 times. Be careful because it gets heavier and heavier with each flip! Make sure your flame is low so that the outside doesn't burn or brown too much - especially by flip #3.

Shrimp in Garlic Olive Oil

You'll need:
- dozen thawed uncooked shrimps with tails (I used frozen ones)
- two cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 4 tbs olive oil
- pinch of smoked paprika
- pinch of red pepper flakes (peperoncino)
- salt to taste

Don't heat up the pan before adding the oil this time, because you don't want the garlic to cook too quickly.

Step 1. Low heat, add the olive oil and garlic at the same time and heat up for about 3-4 mins.
Step 2. Add the shrimp and quickly follow up with the red pepper flakes, paprika and salt. Cook until it turns just about pink. Try not to overcook the shrimps and make sure that the garlic does not brown. Remove the pan from the heat every now and then to control the temperature.
Step 3. Remove from heat and plate shrimps with the olive oil and garlic. Finish with a splash of olive oil.

Oh and don't forget to serve warm crusty bread for sopping up garlic oil!!


So as promised (if it turned out good)... it did!!!

**Make this one day before you plan to serve it. I know it's a pain in the butt it really makes a big huge difference!! It's worth the wait and effort.

- 1/2 gala or fuji apple, cut into cubes
- 1/2 riped mango, cut into cubes
- 1/2 riped peach, cut into slices
- 1 orange (half of it cut into bite-size 1/4 segments; other half will be juiced)
- 1 lemon (half of it cut into bite-size 1/4 segments; other half will be juiced)
- 1 tsp each of orange and lemon zest (zest the halves that will be used for juicing purposes)
- 1 bottle of dry white wine (I used Chardonnay - get a decent bottle, as much as I like Trader Joe's 2-buck chuck, spend the extra $4-5)
- 16 oz apple juice (I used Tropicana)
- 3/4 cup simple syrup (2:1 sugar/water ratio)
- splash of Cointreau* or another type of orange-based liquor (grand marnier* is also good)

Step 1. Pour wine into a pitcher and add zest of orange and lemon.
Step 2. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and half an orange.
Step 3. Add cut fruit, splash of Cointreau, 3/4 of the apple juice (save 1/4 to add right before you serve it), simple syrup. (You can add more or less, it really depends on your taste. I prefer my sangria sweet)
Step 4. Let nature do its business and leave it alone.
Step 5. Next day, mix it up and taste. See if you need/want to add the remaining apple juice. You can add more or less, again depends on your preference.

- Put the glasses that you'll be using in the freezer for a couple of hours. You'll speed up the process if you add some water and ice cubes. It's a nice touch.
- If you really want to go the extra mile, pour some of the mixture into an ice-cube tray. This way, you don't water it down! I didn't go the extra mile and it was still good w/ water ice-cubes.
- Most corner liquor stores will have tiny bottles of liquor, so you don't have to buy a big bottle.
- Make sure that the shrimps are as dry as you can get them (use a paper towel to suck up as much water as possible) prior to cooking so that the olive oil doesn't become watered down.
- You can do steps 1 - 3 anytime and save the mixture until you're ready to cook the chorizo. Knowing that I would be too tired to cook after a 7pm spin class, I did steps 1-3 in the afternoon so all I had to do when I got home was add the chorizo and wait for it to brown. I also prepared the tortilla in the afternoon and just heated it up covered in foil in the toaster oven.


Karen said...

one request miss master chef...can you also add the prep/cooking time to your dinners so your students will get a rought idea of how long these gourmet meals take to make???maybe i can squeeze this meal between the kids dinner time and bath/bed time...a nice date with hubby at home :-)

Marichelle said...

Will do!

Z said...

MMMMMMMM.....I love tapas!!! I think I might have to try it!! Tapas night looks fun!

Karen said...

UPDATE - you've inspired me to actually attempt to make a decent meal for me & hubby while the kids are awake!!! i was able to make my version of chicken/shrimp/tomato/basil cream pasta after i fed the kids and we were able to eat it before we put them to bed!!! i have to give you the was kind of all in my head...and whatever was in my fridge. quick and easy and tasty. hubby was happy :-) thanks for the inspiration!!!

Marichelle said...

Yay Karen! I think those are the best ones... the ones in your head. Can't wait to try it!

The best thing I learned from watching Top Chef or any of the food network shows is the idea of PREPPING. For me, cooking is a 2:1 or sometimes even 3:1 ration of prepping to cooking. I know most cooks hate prepping, but for me I find it very relaxing. Slicing, chopping, putting everything in nice prep bowls or sometimes ziplock bags when I too lazy to wash extra dishes - if I had a dishwasher that would be awesome.

So I would suggest going out and buying some prep bowls, different sizes. This will get you in the mood to prep I think. Or go to a chef supply store (good ones on Bowery and Houston) for cheaper ones. Even your local 99 cents store should have something you can use.

Happy Cooking!!!

Z - let me know how it goes!

Karen said...

here you go...i have yet to name it...but it's very tasty:

2 chicken breast cutlets - cut to bite sized pieces
shrimp - i used the frozen shrimp...i had about 1/4 of a bag
4 plum tomatoes - deseeded and diced
4 cloves minced garlic separated into thirds
bunch of basil - juliened
thin spaghetti - Barilla


heat water to rolling boil
add salt
cook this spaghetti to al dente - 6 minutes
drain under cold water
coat with EVOO


heat 2 tbs EVOO in skillet
add 1/3 of minced garlic - cook until glossy
add chicken
season with salt & pepper
cook until juice runs clear - around 5 minutes
bring burner to HIGH
add 1/3 garlic
add shrimp
toss until shrimp just turns pink - around 3 minutes

scoop chicken & shrimp out of skillet - leaving oil and garlic

add 1 tbs EVOO to skillet and the rest of the garlic
add tomotoes - season w/salt
cook until tender - but not mushy
add basil
cook for another 1 minute
bring burner to LOW and add 1 cup of heavy cream
simmer and add about 2 tbs romano cheese (you can also use parmesian)

then add chicken and shrimp bring to a simmer then turn burner off.

plate spaghetti in a bowl and top with chicken & shrimp sauce.

prep/cook time: 20 minutes - 25 minutes with kids tugging at your legs :-)

i'm not really good at writing recipes...will work on it. as soon as i can afford to get a new camera i can send you pics :-)

Marichelle said...

mmmm can't wait to try this! thx!