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A Taste for Tapas: Seven Appetizing Meals Made Simple

Chef Anne creates a seven appetizers with easy to cook recipes that will have you cooking like a five-star chef.

Covering the  this past weekend put me in the mood for tapas. Tapas is a Spanish cuisine of small bites or appetizers. Some are literally just a bite, like an amuse-bouche. Others are more the size of a small appetizer. In Spanish tradition, tapas (which means to cover) are combined to make a full meal. They typically eat it while socializing at a bar or party. 

I’ve always enjoyed tapas style meals because I can enjoy a variety of tastes and textures. So this week I’ve come up with a menu of tapas recipes that combine the courses you would find in an extravagant seven course meal. Only this meal won’t put your calorie count over the top for the next week because each course is just a bite or two.

Try this Spanish-inspired eating for a party or family meal. The recipes are either no cook or limited cooking so you can put out a spread that makes you look like a five-star chef without all the work.

Be sure to check the serving size on each of the following recipes. Some are written for one serving, so you just double or triple them depending on how many you are serving. Others are written for a set amount of servings.

Queen Margharita Crostini  

(Serves 1)

From a baguette, slice a ½-inch thick round. Lightly toast it. You can use a toaster if you are doing only a few, or for a bunch put them on a baking sheet in a 350-degree F oven until lightly browned.

Remove from the sheet and spread on a teaspoon of sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil (this can be purchased at your local grocery store or prepped by soaking sun-dried tomatoes in oil). Top with a slice of fresh mozzarella and place back in the hot oven until the cheese is just melted. Remove, top with a whole, fresh basil leaf and serve hot.

Apple-Walnut Romaine Wrap  

(Serves 1)

Using the smaller, inner leaves from a head of romaine lettuce, take one leaf and layer on the following mixture: diced apple along with chopped walnuts. Mix apples and walnuts together with mayonnaise and a touch of dijon mustard. Add some crumbled blue cheese or gorgonzola on top and serve.

Toasted Ravioli with Tomato Cream Sauce 

(Serves 1)

Since this is an easy meal, you can use your favorite brands of frozen ravioli and pasta sauce for this.

For each person, take three (two if they’re large) ravioli, dip them in flour, shaking off excess. Next, dip them in a bowl that has a beaten egg and a touch of milk whisked together. The final step is to dip them into Italian seasoned bread crumbs. Heat up 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a skillet on medium high heat and cook the ravioli about three to four minutes on each side. For the sauce: take your favorite tomato-based sauce and heat it in a small pot with a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream to create a tomato-cream sauce they’ll love! Pour a little sauce over the ravioli and serve hot.

Curried Shrimp 

(Serves 1)

In a small bowl, combine ½ cup dry white wine with 1 tablespoon garlic herb cheese spread, such as Boursin. Mix well and set aside. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet. Add 2 extra large shrimp or prawn and ½ to 1 tablespoon curry powder. Stir until shrimp are cooked, about two to three minutes. Add the sauce mixture to the pan and stir until just warm. Serve immediately.

Stroganoff  

(Makes 4 tapas size servings)

Note: You can use beef or chicken for this recipe.

Cut one pound beef tenderloin tips or boneless, skinless chicken breast into ½-inch thick slices. Then cut those into thin strips, about a ½-inch wide. Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a skillet, add meat and stir until browned, about three minutes. To the skillet add ¾ pound mushrooms of your choice, sliced thin. Gently stir in ½ cup sour cream and heat through. Season with salt and pepper and serve. You could serve this over noodles or rice if you like.

Stuffed Mushrooms 

(Serves 1)

After cleaning, remove the stems from 2 to 3 white button mushrooms and finely dice the stems, leaving the caps whole. Heat 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil in a skillet, add mushrooms, 1/8 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder (not garlic salt), 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons of Italian seasoned bread crumbs and 21 teaspoons grated parmesan cheese. Stir to mix together well and cook for about two minutes. Stuff the mixture into the mushroom caps and place them in a pre-heated 350-degree F oven for five to seven minutes or until it browns on top.

Berry Gratin 

(Serves 4)

Pre-heat broiler. Rinse and drain assorted berries such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries. You can use frozen, just be sure to thaw and drain well. Divide the berries into four ramekins or individual baking dishes. Lightly whip 1 cup heavy cream and spoon that over the berries. Take 2 tablespoons sliced almonds and 2 tablespoons powdered sugar and sprinkle over the cream. Place the baking dishes on a baking sheet and put in the broiler, about three to four inches from the heat. Broil about two minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.

This is a seven-course meal that you can be proud of and won’t keep you slaving in the kitchen for days. Not only are tapas style servings beautiful and tasty, they’re figure friendly, too. With these small size servings, you can treat yourself to higher calorie foods without all the guilt. Enjoy!

Chef’s Tips: With any recipe you use, be sure to read through them completely before you start. There’s nothing worse than to be caught in the middle of a recipe and find out you’re missing an ingredient or the proper equipment.

For fresh local ingredients, try one of the following venues:

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