Tapas Night in Paris

 There is truly no better adventure than a foodie adventure. While in Paris on a Northeastern Dialogue, Andrea Gordillo and I ran into a friend of hers from high school, Andrew. He had been living in Paris for sometime and took it upon himself to show us the town. One evening we were invited to join his cousin and him for dinner at his cousin’s apartment. We gorged ourselves on braised duck breast and fragrant rice in this gorgeous Parisian apartment a block away from the Place de la Concord. The next day, Andrea and I decided to thank our hosts from the previous night with a feast of our own creation. The only problem was, what do we cook? 

We threw ideas back and forth of various dishes that would match the splendor of the previous night. We couldn’t decide. I wanted lamb. She wanted fish. The discussion continued. Finally, we found a compromise. Tapas Night. Truly, tapas are the best way to consolidate indecisive minds while preparing a meal. Tapas are traditional Spanish are served as small plates dishes that act more like an appetizer than a meal. However, the combination of multiple tapas plates can create an epic feast made up of a myriad of tastes and textures. I have always loved tapas dinners. One year, I had the audacity to turn my family’s traditional Thanksgiving dinner into a Thanksgiving Tapas Night, turning each traditional dish into a personalized serving. Although, that is another story in itself. Back in Paris, Andrea and I were shopping for the multitude of ingredients: potatoes, dates, lamb, goat cheese, etc.  Once the ingredients were bought, the menu was set and we were ready to begin cooking. 

Our Tapas Menu:
Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese wrapped in Prosciutto
Patatas Bravas (Sautéed Potatoes in Spicy Tomato Sauce)
Pickled Carrot Salad
Crostini with Pequillo Peppers Stuffed with Goat Cheese
Fresh Mint and Rosemary Seared Lamb Lollipops

Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese wrapped in Prosciutto

24 dried Medjool dates
12 wide thin slices of prosciutto
2 oz. goat cheese

Heat broiler to low. Take the dates and slice the lengthwise opening up the center. Pull out the pits, which should leave each date with a little hollow pocket. Stuff the cheese into the hollow pocket in the center. Halve the slices of prosciutto lengthwise, then wrap each stuffed date with the long thin slice of prosciutto all the way around the date. If the prosciutto won’t stay on the date, you can fasten prosciutto to the date with a toothpick that has been soaked in water for ten minutes. Place each wrapped, stuffed date onto a cookie sheet and throw under the broiler for three minutes until the cheese starts to bubble.

Patatas Bravas (Sautéed Potatoes in Spicy Tomato Sauce)

1 kg (2.2 lbs) potatoes, Yukon golds work best
Olive oil for deep-frying
Sea Salt
Black Pepper

Sauce:
4 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp tomato sauce, not paste
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp orgeano
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut potatoes into a little smaller than 1 in cubes. If there is skin, like on a russet or Idaho potato, skin them first. Heat the olive oil in a deep-fryer (or a deep set pot) over medium -high heat, about 350˚F. Cook the potato in batches for 5 – 6 minutes, or until golden in color. Drain well on paper towel. Let the potatoes to cool slightly. Reheat the oil to medium- high heat. Cook the potato in batches again, for 2 minutes or until crisp. Drain on paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Frying the potatoes twice provide more of a crispy crust.

For sauce, heat up 4 tbsp olive oil in a large pan and fry the garlic. Then mix in the tomato puree, vinegar, and seasonings. Add the potatoes and toss to coat.



Pickled Carrot Salad

2-3 carrots
½ cup of raisins
¾ cup of chopped fresh parsley
1 cup of Cider Vinegar

Grate carrots up with a cheese grater. Toss in raisins. Pour vinegar over it and let the carrots pickle in the vinegar over thirty minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even pickle. Throw on parsley at the end before serving.


Crostini with Pequillo Peppers Stuffed with Goat Cheese

Baguette, sliced into ½ inch slices
Olive Oil
Salt
Jar of fire roasted pequillo peppers
2 oz Goat Cheese (herbed goat cheese works really well)
½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay slices of baguette on a tray. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake until golden 15 minutes. Take out of oven, but leave on cookie sheet.

While crostini are baking, fill a pastry bag (or a Ziploc with one corner cut out) with the goat cheese. Take the peppers out of the jar and dry with a paper towel. Fill each pepper with cheese. Place on top of cooled crostini slice. Throw back in oven for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Fresh Mint and Rosemary Seared Lamb Lollipops

2 racks of lamb
Fresh Rosemary, minced
Black Pepper
Sea Salt
Olive Oil
Fresh Mint, for garnish

Evenly slice the rack between the bone, leaving a rib chop. Salt and pepper the chops, then drizzle them with olive oil. Massage seasonings and oil into the meat to ensure even coating. Sprinkle minced rosemary over the chops.

Pour a little more olive oil (like 2 tsp) in a large frying pan. Turn the flame to medium-high heat for a minute or two to heat up the pan. While you’re heating the pan, tilt the pan in various directions spreading the olive oil evenly around the pan. Once the pan is hot, drop in the chops and hear them sizzle. If you don’t hear them sizzle, the pan is too cold and they won’t sear.

Leave them on the pan for a few minutes until they are fully browned at the bottom, and then flip them. The time it takes to sear either side of the chop depends on the thickness of the chop. This is also why its so important to cut each chop evenly, so it cooks evenly. The times it take to sear the lamb will vary from 3-6 minutes on either side. I did mine for 4 minutes on either side, because I like my lamb medium rare. Once they are done cooking, place on plate and allow to rest for 5 minutes, keeping them juicy and delicious.

 Written by Slow Food NU Member

Meg Lazar


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