Tapas Night with Evil David- Part 1

Those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile know that the Dowd family has two Davids in its circle of friends- "good David" whom you may remember from my post about Good David's Pam warning, and "evil David" our globe-trotting friend who started tapas night, which has become a weekly event in our household (how he got his name is another post, but suffice it to say, he got this moniker from Molly, my youngest). Several commenters here have asked me to post about tapas night and I am finally getting around to it! How did Dowd tapas start? One Wednesday, I came home from work to find Evil David at our house cooking (how you can call any man who is cooking at your house evil, really makes no sense to me....), determined to introduce us to tapas (when tapas wasn't cool!) Tapas has evolved so that David and I each make two or three dishes, and coordinate so we have a good mix of meat, seafood and vegetables.

For those who may not know what tapas is, it is a tradition that started in Spanish street bars and cafes, when restauranteurs used rounds of bread with toppings to keep flies from landing in their after-work glasses of sherry. It started out with the Spanish equivalent of bruschetta, olives and other tidbits, and graduated to dishes like marinated cheese, little savory meat pies and fried sardines. Our first tapas was an incredible meal... and the start of a Wednesday night tradition in our house. While tapas started out authentic, it has become a night to experiment, to try a new dish or cuisine. We have had Spanish, Turkish, Korean, Chinese, Indian,French, Moroccan, African, Italian, and Thai dishes to name a few in the name of tapas night. We have enjoyed, shrimp, clams, mussels, venison, rabbit, tuna cheeks, grilled sardines as part of tapas menus. We have had as few as 5 for tapas and as many as 20 (on the Mother of all Tapas night- definitely another post!) In the fall and winter, tapas requires wine, but often in warmer weather, we have cold tapas dishes, salads and a pitcher of red or white sangria.

Whether you want to explore Spanish food or not, it is great to have this type of family event midweek- it gives you something to look forward to in the middle of the week, provides a platform for playing with food of other nations, encourages experimentation, makes memories.

Since tapas is a regular part of our lives now, there will be many more posts and hopefully pictures (my cable to transfer pix from my camera to my computer is "temporarily misplaced") of future tapas nights. I will share a few easy and quick tapas dishes that you can use to start your own tapas tradition and you will see other dishes spread throughout other posts (See my herb-stuffed fish, one of my favorite summer tapas recipes in the post Fear of Fish).

Easy Smoked Salmon with Capers

4 ounces smoked salmon, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon of dill
freshly ground pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together, and let set for at least one hour in the fridge. Serve with crackers, toast rounds, or belgian endive.

Ploughman's Sandwich (each sandwich makes 4 tapas servings)

2 slices of "heavy", dense multi-grain bread
1 tablespoon of fig or quince jam
Thick sliced Manchego cheese

Spread jam on one slice of bread. Cover jam with sliced cheese, top with other slice of bread. Cut sandwich into quarters and serve.

Shrimp with Garlic and White Wine

1 pound of shrimp(I often use flash frozen deveined E-Z peel shrimp, but fresh are great too!)
3-6 cloves of garlic (or more depending on your taste)
1/2 cup white wine (any semi-dry or dry)
Salt and Freshly ground pepper to taste(or Red pepper flakes if you like heat!)
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

Put olive oil in pan and add garlic, being careful not to burn. Throw in shrimp ,and toss to coat with olive oil. Add wine, and cook shrimp just until pink (1st cardinal sin with any seafood is cooking too long!). Add salt, pepper or pepper flakes as desired. Serve with toasted baguette or ciabatta to soak up the delicious juices.

Grilled Sardines

Fresh sardines (if you can get them) or canned sardines packed in olive oil
Coarse salt
1 lemon, cut in quarters
If using canned sardines, drain oil and rinse lightly. Place on preheated grill on oiled piece of foil. Salt with coarse salt. Turn once until heated through and a little crisp on the outside. Serve with lemon squeezed over.
Note: I was never a sardines person, but these are surprisingly delicious, particularly with the lemon! David eats bones and all, but I eat away from the backbone!
Other Suggestions: Herb stuffed fish, Hummus with pita chips, artichoke dip, bruschetta....more to come!


s'kat said…
First of all, tapas night sounds like a really fun tradiiton!

Secondly... where on earth are you finding fresh sardines around here?!?
Deborah Dowd said…
Shelley- I will defintely have to have you over one night- we could have Iron chef Tapas a la Newport News! And alas there are no fresh sardines, so I use good canned ones and rinse well...
Great idea, I have just recently been playing around with spanish cuisine and this weekend I hope to conquer Octopus.
Kristen said…
I love the idea of tapas night. Very fun!
I love tapas and these sound like great additions to the menu!
Blogarita said…
Grilled sardines? Sounds like something I could go for. Not sure I'd ever find the fresh ones around here, though.
beckylee said…
I'm a huge fan of family food traditions, and this sounds like a great one, and so much more imaginative than, say, "Pizza Wednesdays".

My husband and I made our first trip to Spain for an anniversary trip in November and some of your tapas sound better than the ones we ate over there!
Deborah Dowd said…
CFG- Octopus!You are really brave!

Kristen- It is a great way to entertain.

Christine- I picked some of my standards, but believe me there will be more!

Blogarita- I have never found fresh (though evil David says they are without parallel), but even Evil David says the canned variety are an acceptable substitute.

Beckylee- Encouraging food traditions in the midst of a busy world, is one of the raison d'etre of this blog. There is room for Pizza Wednesday(we actually have CPF- Cheese Pizza Friday, a holdover from when Catholics didn't eat meat on Friday) and tapas night!
Freya and Paul said…
Yum! Sounds like a great way to spend an evening and I enjoyed your Ploughmans Sandwich (Ploughmans lunches being a common meal in British pubs!!)!
Ellen said…
What a great idea! And easy to expand upon with extra guests... and I'd imagine once word gets out extra guests show up frequently!
Ronnie said…
Deborah, I love tapas. I often make italian tapas which is called cicchetti. My guests seem to love this way of eating. Thanks for another informative post
Deborah Dowd said…
Freya and Paul- I had forgotten that David introduced that to us as British Pub food (I should have entered that in the British Food is no joke blog event!)

Ellen- At our house tapas can expand from 5 adults to a high of about 30 adults, but you can always throw a couple of things together or have guests bring olives or good cheese and bread!

Ronnie- It is similar to a cockail party but a little more substantial. What my guests seem to love is the experimentation, it opens their eyes to new things to try!
Erin S. said…
I will have to try the grilled sardines--I just ate a bunch on a camping trip (as well as some tinned smoked troat from trader joe's--quite good!), and I'm looking for new things to try with my newfound tinned fish love.