February 3, 2012

The tapas parties begin...

The first tapas party began for Monique's birthday in September last year. As I said in my previous post, it came about as a way to have a catered party, but not spend the whole night in the kitchen.

This party was really testing unchartered waters, and in asking everyone to bring a plate of savoury and a plate of sweet we had no idea how much food would arrive on the night. As it turned out...we had WAY TOO MUCH!!!

In a way it was brilliant. Generous and such a fantastic way to celebrate a friend's birthday. In another way, by the end of it, you didn't want to see another morsel of food for as long as you lived.

At the time I was thinking about what I would cook, I couldn't get my mind off mushrooms. I like the flavour of Swiss browns and the shape of Enoki. It was time for me to have a bit of a mushroom-fest again, and I couldn't think of a better occasion to embrace it and plan a recipe.

I was also remembering past conversations I had had with some friends of mine as to the virtues of Jamon over Prosciutto. I had always been a Prosciutto fan myself, but had been steadily convinced that I would be converted the moment I tried Jamon. Jamon is essentially the Spanish equivalent of Italian Prosciutto...and I must say at this point...it's delicious!!!

So with both of these "obsessions" going on in my head...I constructed by savoury dish out of mushrooms, truffle, Jamon and Persian fetta :) YUMBO!!! I served the mushrooms in shot glasses topped with some pan fried Jamon and a piece of Persian fetta.

Mushroom shooters
Cooking Time Prep time 10 mins, cook 20 mins (plus cooling)
Serves 6-8 (approximately)

500gm Swisse Brown mushrooms sliced
100gm Enoki mushrooms, ends removed
1 brown onion finely chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs butter + 2 tsp for cooking
1 Tbs thyme (fresh) + extra for cooking to taste
1 tsp garlic/2 garlic cloves crushed
Salt
Verjuice/white wine
Parsley with some to serve
Chilli flakes (optional)
1 tsp Salsa Tartufata (Truffle & Mushroom sauce)
2-3 slices of Jamon
Persian fetta

On low heat, add butter to a heavy base pot and allow it to go nut brown in colour. Add approximately 2 tablespoons of olive oil to stop the browning process and then add the onion and 1 tablespoon of thyme.

Sweat the onion so that it is cooked but not browned and add the Swisse Brown mushrooms and put 2 teaspoons of butter on the top. Let the mushrooms cook down.

Meanwhile in a frying pan, fry a few slices of Jamon and put on paper towel to drain. Chop up into small, "bite sized" pieces.

When the mushrooms are soft add the garlic, a good pinch of salt and a splash of verjuice. You can use white wine as a substitute here.

Add the Enoki mushrooms and some parsley, thyme and chilli flakes to taste. I like a good hit of parsley here almost a quarter of a cup. I added more thyme because the flavour wasn't coming through...and chilli flakes because I love them and they add interest. If you don't like chilli don't add them.

When the Enoki are softened, take the pot off the heat and add the Salsa Tartufata. Mix gently, being careful not to break up the Enoki mushrooms.

Spoon into shot glasses and serve with a piece of Jamon, a piece of Persian fetta and a pinch of chopped fresh parsley.

** This recipe can be made vegetarian by omitting the Jamon on serving.

Mushroom Shooters

Then for dessert. It seems that there was a current theme for the decision around what I was cooking. It all had to do with what was on my mind at the time. For dessert...all I could think about was Banoffee Pie.

I had first heard of the concept of Banoffee Pie from my friend Jacqui, who had spent a good amount of time living in the UK, where Banoffee Pie is quite popular. Then I noticed that it was on a dessert menu here in Brisbane. I ordered a piece...and have to say...I wasn't impressed. But really, what can go wrong with caramel, banana and whipped cream. Not much!!! So I thought I would give it a go and see if I could get my Banoffee Pie to taste better than the one that I had at the restaurant.

To give myself a bit of a flying start I found this recipe off allrecipes.co.uk and decided to go with it.

Little Banoffee Pies
(From allrecipies.co.uk recipe by Carnation)

Cooking Time Prep time 10 mins, cook 40 mins (plus cooling)
Serves 6

Base:
225g (8 oz) digestive biscuits
85g (3 oz) butter, melted
Filling:
397g can Carnation Caramel
3 small bananas
150ml carton whipping cream, softly whipped
cocoa powder to finish

Crush the biscuits in a blender or in a double-lined bag with a rolling pin. Combine the crushed biscuits with the melted butter.

To make the pie bases use the back of a teaspoon to press the mixture into the base and sides of 6 individual 9 cm (3½ in) loose-bottomed flan tins. Chill for about 20 minutes.

Divide the Carnation Caramel between the bases.

Remove the pies from the tins. Slice the bananas, reserve six for the top and fold the rest into the softly whipped cream.

Spoon the mixture over the caramel, decorate with a banana slice and dust with the cocoa.

** Also, instead of individual pies, you can make one large banoffee pie by using a greased 18 cm (7 in) deep springform cake tin.

Little Banoffee Pies

The things that I changed with this recipe was that I mixed banana pieces into the caramel before filling the tart shells. And I got my blow torch out (no excuses necessary) and caramelised the banana pieces for the top with some demerara sugar. This was just me having a rush of blood to the head, and is totally not essential.

Making the pie shells was a bit of a challenge because the mix is so short and crumbly. So me being the classy girl that I am, served them in the baking tray I had made them in, I was scared that if I didn't, they would all fall to pieces. A second take is needed I think to try and perfect the pie shells.

Don't be put off by my cooking experience though. I am not the greatest dessert cook, but I do love to give it a red hot go. Give the Banoffee Pies a chance if you need a recipe for dessert...they really are quite tasty.

So all in all...a FABULOUS night :) If you are looking for a party food format, this really works very well. Taste sized portions of really gorgeous food. Most memorably, it was the first time I had tried Anna's brownies...and I must say...LIFECHANGING. I have the recipe, but they are Anna's brownies, and with her permission I may publish the recipe in the future.

Bruschetta
Bruschetta

Turkish lamb pizza
Turkish lamb pizza

Arancini balls
Arancini balls

Mexican chicken fajita cups
Mexican chicken fajita cups

Chicken and chorizo skewers
Chicken and chorizo skewers

Anna's brownies
Anna's brownies

Whoopie pies
Whoopie pies

Meringue cake
Meringue cake

Chocolate ganache cake
Chocolate ganache cake

Raspberry cup cakes
Raspberry cup cakes

Stay tuned.

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