This is a bit more of an elegant tapas, what I think makes it so good is the variety in textures and temperature when you are using both cooked, roasted and raw cauliflower. The cream can also be used as a great side for meats as well.
Cauliflower cream with hazelnuts & truffle vinaigrette
truffle oil or truffles in oil
Break the cauliflower in smaller pieces and let simmer in water with some salt until cooked through. Strain the water and add a little bit of cream and blend until completely smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Raw and roasted cauliflower
Using a knife carefully cut away small pieces of cauliflower, soak them in cold water to keep them crunchy until serving. Then cut one bigger piece and roast it in a pan with olive oil until golden and almost cooked through.
Truffle vinaigrette and hazelnuts
Combine olive oil, truffle oil and some vinegar, season with salt and pepper. Roast the hazelnuts with a few drops of olive oil.
Arrange all ingredients on a plate, serve the cream and roasted cauliflower warm and the hazelnuts and vinaigrette at room temperature and the raw cauliflower cold.
This is a simple and great tasting summer classic, for this serving I cut the watermelon in bite size pieces and topped it with the feta cheese and mint but this is also a great side for grilled meat or something to put at a buffé, in that case just combine all ingredients.
Watermelon with feta cheese & mint
greek feta cheese
Peel and cut the watermelon in small pieces, cut the feta cheese in pieces slightly smaller than the watermelon, put the cheese on top of the watermelon and add the fresh mint with some olive oil a sprinkle of salt and a little bit of black pepper.
Grilled artichokes is not something I do very often, I usually buy marinated ones that are great but sometimes it´s fun to use fresh ones. I tried to explain how to prepare the artichokes in the recipe below but if you have never done it before I found a step by step instruction with some pictures here.
Grilled artichokes with herbs and garlic butter
Peel the stems of the artichokes and remove the outer leafs, cut away the top and soak the artichokes in cold water with some squeezed lemon. This is for keeping the artichokes from turning brown. Bring salted water to the boil and add the artichokes with another squeeze of lemon, let the simmer until they are cooked through. Remove from the water and let them cool off in room temperature.
Divide the artichokes and remove the center of the flower, be careful not to remove the bottom. Then cut each half in a few quarters depending on size. In a food processor mix butter, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper into a soft garlic butter. Rub the artichokes with the butter and grill them over high heat for a few minutes.
Arrange the artichokes on a plate with some fresh herbs, and some spoonfuls of the garlic butter, salt, olive oil and pepper. Serve.
A truffle risotto is perfect for almost any occasion, it works especially great served as a small tapa because
it´s so rich and full of flavors. When a risotto is served as a side I almost always think it´s to powerful. For the truffle flavor I used thinly sliced summer truffles that has been marinated in truffle flavored olive oil.
Some food snobs think that you shouldn´t use truffle oil at all but I got a sneaky suspicion they don´t pay for their own white truffles. I think a good quality truffle oil is a perfect substitute for the real thing. But don´t be too generous with the oil since it is usually very strong in taste.
dry white wine
light chicken or vegetable stock
Finely dice the onions and garlic, add some olive oil into a pan with the garlic and onion and slowly cook on low heat. Add the rice and let it cook in the oil for a few more minutes. Add salt, pepper and then the white wine and let it reduce until almost gone. Add the chicken stock a little at the time and stir the rice throughout the process, this usually takes about fifteen minutes.
When the rice is almost cooked through add a little bit of butter, truffle oil and some grated parmesan cheese. Combine and season to taste. If the risotto isn´t creamy enough then add some more stock.
This is a great recipe when you want to spice up your basic Moules Marienere recipe, it´s more or less the same thing but I add some Thai flavors to the recipe to spice it up a bit. I have seen some recipes where the cream have been replaced with coconut milk but I think using cream with the Thai spices gives a much better result.
Mussels with Thai flavors
dry white wine
Clean the mussels and discard any broken ones, rinse under cold water. Roughly chop lemon grass, lime leafs, red chili, garlic, onion and ginger. In a big pot add oil and the chopped ingredients and let them cook for a few minutes in the oil on medium heat. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the mussels and white wine and turn the heat to max, put a lid on and let the mussels steam for a few minutes. When the mussels have opened the remove them and set aside. Add some cream and bring the sauce to a boil, adjust salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the mussels and serve immediately.
Well this is not much of a recipe but that´s the great thing about serving tapas, you can keep it as simple or complicated as you like. However, serving Parma ham and cantaloupe is of course all about the ingredients.
You can replace the Parma with any other high quality Italian ham, but I usually stay away from the Spanish hams when I do this because I think they can be a bit to powerful for this dish. Have your shop slice it for you and then find a decent cantaloupe to go with the ham.
Parma ham with cantaloupe
Remove the seeds and peel the cantaloupe and cut in pieces, arrange with the ham on plates with a few drops of olive oil and a twist of black pepper. Done.
Ground pork meat is not something I use that often but with Asian flavors and a little bit of heat it´s great, it´s also a great way to serve something really tasty when you´re on a budget since ground pork is usually really inexpensive.
I shaped the meat around lemongrass but I also put some finely chopped lemongrass in the meat so you can replace the lemongrass with wooden skewers, but don´t forget to soak them in water before you use them, this will keep them from splitting and catch fire when on the grill.
Pork skewers with lemon grass & Sriracha
ground pork meat
mixed fresh herbs for example, cilantro, parsley, chives
red chili flakes
Sriracha sauce, or your own favorite (for serving)
Finely dice the thick part of the lemon grass with the herbs and garlic. (Only use the thick end of lemongrass when it will be chewed because the closer you get to the top the chewier and woodier it will be.) Combine with the ground pork, salt, pepper, chili and a few drops of lime juice. Fry a piece of the meat and taste before you start making the skewers, adjust the taste if necessary.
Shape the meat and put them on the skewers. Grill the skewers on medium heat until they are cooked through. Serve with some Sriracha sauce or your favorite hot sauce.
Salsiccia with cannelini beans and fresh basil
canned cannelini beans
Fry the salsiccia in a pan on medium heat until cooked through. Remove the salsiccia and chop garlic and add to the pan, slowly roast the garlic in the fat that stays in the pan after it´s been fried. When the garlic starts to brown add the canned beans and a few leafs of basil. Let the beans simmer for about ten minutes. Crush the beans with the backside of a spoon into a rough puré. Season with salt and pepper.
Slice the salsiccia and serve with the beans and a few extra leafs of basil and a few drops of olive oil. Good luck.
For me this is one of the must have dishes for summer, with great tomatoes, high quality buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil you simply can´t go wrong. If you can´t get hold of buffalo mozzarella then I shouldn´t make this dish because it is so dependent on the cheese.
Also use different sizes and shapes of the tomatoes, this make the dish look better and it´s more fun to eat when the tomatoes varies in taste.
tomatoes, different varieties
Cut the tomatoes in different shapes, break the mozzarella into smaller pieces and combine with fresh basil leafs and the tomatoes. Season with salt, black pepper and olive oil. Serve immediately, if you need to make or prepare the salad ahead of time then keep each ingredient separate until serving, otherwise the salad loses it´s freshness and tends to get soggy. Good luck.