Francine’s Party Tips: Tapas Nibbles
Advice for the cooking challenged
Feeding friends is easy if you can cook, but what do you serve if you can’t? The answer –tapas. A tapas party is one of the … no, it is the easiest way to entertain. Think of it as a meal that skips the main course!
The word tapas comes from the Spanish tapar, which means to cover. In Spain barkeepers traditionally served drinks covered, topped, with a small plate of complimentary nibbles.
Raid a local gourmet shop and buy anything that looks good like:
A spicy smoked pork sausage. Serve it sliced with thick-cut potato chips or crusty bread.
Air-dried fresh tuna loin. Serve it sliced paper thin with wedges of lemon and crusty bread.
Large green queen or manzanilla olives come plain or stuffed with a variety of fillings including anchovies, garlic, piquillo peppers, salmon, almonds and onions.
Large flavorful almonds from Valencia served fried in olive oil and topped with sea salt.
When the small caper bud matures the resulting fruit is the caper berry. The olive-sized caper berries come with an attractive long stem and are much, much milder than tiny capers. A wonderful nibble with drinks.
Wood-roasted red peppers from Navarra, ready-made in glass jars, are available in most gourmet food shops.
–Marinated or grilled vegetables
Artichokes, asparagus, mushrooms, onions and oil-cured sun dried tomatoes all make wonderful tapas.
–Spanish Cheeses served with a wedge of membrillo – a quince paste – or slices of fig-nut log, available in fine cheese shops. Or you can serve the cheese melted in a skillet topped with some sautéed garlic for a quick modern fondue.
Spain boasts over 100 types of cheeses so you’re sure to find one you just can’t live without. For me it’s Tetilla, a cheese that looks like a breast and hence the name. It’s a rich, smooth, slightly salty cow’s milk cheese.