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New tastes popping up everywhere for holidays




Tapas are popping up everywhere this holiday season, with the name covering a wide range of finger foods. The tapas tradition began in the mid-13th century Spain, when Castilian King Alfonso X decreed all taverns must serve a bit of food with wine or spirits. The word “tapa” means “cover,” and food historians believe the first tapa was a slice of bread used to protect poured wine from fruit flies. Centuries later, the lowly tapa has reached culinary heights.

Authentic Manchego cheese in Ham Croquetas imparts zesty flavor and creamy texture. Scallops in a Blanket are a lovely presentation, and Jarlsberg provides a pleasing, mellow-nutty counterpoint to smoky paprika. Small scallop shells can be found at a favorite housewares shop. Some quick-to-assemble ideas also follow. Have lots of small plates on hand for second and third nibblings …

Cheesy

Ham Croquetas

2 (15-ounce) cans small white beans

1 cup very finely chopped lean cooked ham

2 teaspoons minced roasted pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon (or to taste) onion salt

1/2-inch thick slice (about 4 ounces) Manchego cheese (if available, Gran Maestre variety)

2 beaten eggs 1 cup plain bread crumbs

Vegetable oil for frying

Drain beans and dry on paper towels. Pulse in food processor or mash to make thick bean paste. Add ham, pepper, garlic powder and onion salt to paste, mixing well. Set aside.

Cut slice of Manchego cheese into 24 rectangles (1/2-inch by 3/ 4-inch). Use a rounded tablespoon of bean mixture to form ball around each cheese rectangle, sealing it completely. Repeat with each cheese piece. Roll all croquetas in breadcrumbs. Heat 2 inches of oil in a highsided medium-sized pot to 360 degrees Fahrenheit.

Working in batches, using two forks, dip the breaded croquetas in egg to coat completely; roll again in bread crumbs. Fry a few at a time for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. (These can be frozen, to serve at a later date.) When ready to serve (thaw to room temperature, if frozen) warm on foil lined tray in 300 F oven for 18 to 20 minutes. Makes 24 croquetas.

Scallops in

a Blanket

Preheat broiler.

Slice 12 fresh, very dry sea scallops in half horizontally. Combine 1/4 cup olive oil with 2 teaspoons EACH smoked paprika and oregano. Cut 4 Roma tomatoes into slices about the same size as scallops. Coat each tomato slice in oil mixture and place a slice on small scallop shell (or place all on foil lined baking sheet). Sprinkle each with bread crumbs. Broil 3-4 inches from heat source, about 3 to 4 minutes or until very hot.

Toss scallop slices in remaining oil mixture. While tomatoes are still hot, place seasoned scallop on each and top with 1/4 teaspoon Salsa Verde and a large pinch of grated Jarlsberg cheese. Finish with a sprinkle of bread crumbs and broil again, about 1 to 2 minutes, or until scallops are white and cheese is bubbly. Serve warm.

CHEVRAI TURTLES: Shape soft fresh Chevrai goat cheese into small balls and sandwich between toasted walnut halves.

CREAMY CUCUMBER BITE: On cucumber round, layer marinated sun-dried tomato and top with piping of Boursin Garlic & Fine Herbs cheese, mixed with pesto.

©2008 King Features Synd.


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