Saturday, February 23, 2013

Family tapas night

Friday evenings have long been when we get together with my sister in law and niece for dinner. It started as Takeaway Night when we moved back to Auckland in 2006, and we’ve continued ever since. It’s one of the highlights of my week.

Despite the name, we don’t always have takeaways—sometimes I cook, things like roast dinners in winter, maybe something in the slow cooker, or maybe some new recipe we want to try out. Whatever the meal, it’s always fun to get together over food and wine and talk about our week and the world around us. I sincerely treasure those times.

Well, lately we’ve gone out for tapas a few times and liked that the smaller portions mean we can get a variety of things to try and enjoy without over eating. That gave me an idea: Why not make tapas at home?

So, I researched a few recipes online, then went to the grocery store and looked for things that I could make into something. Basically, it went, “I can make something with that!”

Last night was my first attempt, though it ended up as a kind of cross between tapas and antipasto. As the “main” dish, I made a “Spanish Tortilla” (basically a frittata). I mention that first because the photo above, taken by our niece using her phone (and later Facebooked, of course), doesn’t show it. The photo lets me describe what IS in the photo:

The square dish is an individual portion of Haloumi Salad, with the lightly fried Haloumi cheese served on mixed salad greens with yellow and red cherry tomatoes, a small dollop of basil pesto and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

The ball to the left of the salad is Arancini, a risotto ball stuffed with mozzarella and rolled in breadcrumbs. Normally, this is basically deep fried, but I browned them in a little olive oil and then heated them through in the oven to reduce the fat. It was served with various chutneys and sauces. This was a big hit, though next time I’ll make them smaller and add some salt (I don’t usually cook with salt).

In front is the bright red Peppadew (basically, a mini bell pepper) stuffed with cream cheese. The peppers were store bought and we stuffed them. It’s possible to buy them already stuffed, but we think they’re WAY too hot; our version is milder.

To the right (and visible on the plate in the background) is prosciutto stuffed with a cream cheese, sour cream and basil filling and rolled. Also on that plate in the background is pancetta stuffed with the same filling (these were my invention so there’d be things that didn’t require bread or crackers to eat). Our niece’s plate also has a bit of French bread with a smear of guacamole, both provided by my sister in law.

We also had things I didn’t make: Some pâté, some pesto, some special cream cheese spread (and that guacamole), all with a selection of gluten-free crackers and crostini. We also had some store-bought olives and feta, plus grapes and other small fruit.

There were six of us this week, and we all had a lovely time and a satisfying meal without over eating—which was the whole point of the experiment. I learned a lot, and I’ll definitely be doing this again. Still, I’ll probably buy a tapas cookbook at some point so there’s more variety.

And that’s the story of our first Family Tapas Night.

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