On August's Show: A Spanish Tapas Party

Imagine the fun of a small gathering of your friends for an evening of socializing while you all enjoy delectable tidbits of savory Spanish appetizers. Of course you can do it! With minimal fuss, you can throw together a delicious Tapas menu like the Europeans have been enjoying for centuries. Tapas have become all the rage in the U.S. recently. "Tapas Bars" are popping up everywhere and you can easily create the "tapas experience" for your friends in your own home.

A few things to remember:
1. Keep it simple. No elaborate set up is required. Tapas are designed to be nibbled while standing up, holding a drink. No eating utensils are needed as tapas are always considered "finger food".
2. Make a dish or two and purchase the rest of your "tapas spread" at the grocery store which will likely carry most of the items you'll need: fresh, crusty bread, sausages, cheeses, nuts and olives. (Many stores even have olive bars).
3. Be sure to have plenty of cool beverages on hand. My "San" Sangria, a delicious, fruity, nonalcoholic sangria is an excellent choice.
4. Relax, eat and have fun!

A Sample Menu for your Tapas Party:
Savory Sausage Empanadas
Skillet Garlic Shrimp
Grapes in Goat Cheese
Marcona Almonds
Marinated Olive Medley
Manchego Cheese & Chorizo Sausage Skewers
Loaf of Crusty French or Italian Bread

In a large pitcher combine:
1 1/2 liters ginger ale
1 quart red grape juice
1 small can frozen limeade concentrate
Orange, lemon and lime slices
Serve ice cold.

Skillet Garlic Shrimp

This dish is very much about the olive oil so be sure to choose a good quality, delicious one. As the shrimp and tomatoes cook, they will release liquid which combines with the olive oil to create a delicious dipping sauce. Serving large chunks of bread along with this dish is the best way to soak up every drop!

1 cup olive oil (good quality, fruity and fragrant)
6 cloves minced garlic
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 T. red pepper flakes
2 T. fresh flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
2 t. salt
1 1/2 lbs. medium shrimp, uncooked, peeled, deveined, tail off
Loaf of crusty French or Italian bread

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until light golden and fragrant - be careful not to burn. Add tomatoes, pepper flakes, salt and shrimp. Stir and cook until shrimp is bright pink. Sprinkle with parsley.

Serve as "tapas" directly from the skillet or transfer to a shallow serving bowl.
Serve with large chunks of bread for dipping in the liquid.

Savory Sausage Empanadas

1/2 lb. bulk sausage
1/2 med. onion, finely chopped
1 t. garlic powder (or 2 cloves minced garlic)
1 t. oregano
1 t. ground cumin
1/2 c. chopped pimento-stuffed olives
1/2 c. raisins
2 eggs, separated
1 pkg. refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In skillet, crumble sausage. Add onions and spices and cook until sausage is no longer pink. Drain. Add olives and raisins. Beat egg yolks and add to mixture. Set aside.

Unfold pie crusts and cut into rounds using a 3" biscuit cutter or an inverted glass that is about 3" in diameter. (I can usually get 8 or 9 rounds per pie crust).

Place about 2 teaspoons of the sausage mixture into the center of each round. Carefully fold the round in half (like a taco) and press to seal the edges. Use the end of a fork to create a decorative edge. Brush the empanadas with beaten egg whites.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.