Sangria & Tapas Party Recipes

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Chef Gerald Hirigoyen of Piperade & Bocadillos Restaurants, San Francisco selected this tapas menu from his book, Pintxos: Small Plates in the Basque Tradition. These recipes are an innovative take on the small plate tradition. Each recipe is a savory delight, showcasing a familiar yet new blend of ingredients that the small plates are now known for.

Serrano Ham Croquettes

  • Serves 6
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1½ cups all–purpose flour
  • 1½ cups whole or 2% milk
  • 5 ounces Serrano ham, finely diced (about 1⁄8 inch)
  • Generous pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or homemade fine dry bread crumbs
  • Peanut or canola oil for deep frying

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add ½ cup of the flour and stir for about 2 minutes, or until combined and foaming. Meanwhile, heat the milk in another saucepan on the stove top over medium heat until small bubbles start to form around the edges (just below the boiling point) and remove from the heat. (Or heat the milk in a microwave oven.) Remove the pan with the butter–flour mixture from the heat and slowly whisk in the hot milk, and then whisk well to remove any lumps. Return the pan to medium–high heat and bring to a boil, continuing to whisk. Cook for 3 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened. Stir in the ham and salt and pour the mixture into a small baking dish or rimmed plate. Spread out evenly, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the croquettes, line up 3 shallow bowls on a work surface. Put the remaining 1 cup flour in the first bowl, the beaten eggs in the second, and the panko in the third. Using a spoon, scoop up about 1½ tablespoons of the ham mixture, form it into a log with rounded ends, and place on a plate. Repeat with the rest of the ham mixture; you should have 12 portions. Coat each portion first in the flour, then the eggs, and finally the panko. Arrange the croquettes on a small rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.

Fill a deep, heavy casserole or Dutch oven 1⁄3 full with oil and heat to 365° F on a deep frying thermometer or until a small cut of bread dropped into the oil sizzles, browns, and then stops bubbling within 30 to 40 seconds. (Or use an electric deep fryer.) Place in a paper towel lined rimmed baking sheet near the stove top. Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet, and preheat the over to 250° F. Add the croquettes, a few at a time, to the hot oil and fry for 3 or 4 minutes, or until golden brown all over. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to the towel lined pan to drain. Then transfer the croquettes to the rack on the baking sheet and keep warm in the oven until all of the croquettes have been fried. Fry the remaining croquettes the same way, always letting the oil return to 365° between batches. To serve, place the croquettes on a platter lined with a paper napkin.

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Potato & Chorizo Brandade

  • Makes 8
  • ½ pound dry–cured Spanish chorizo
  • 1 pound Yukon gold or other yellow–fleshed potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat–leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 diagonally cut baguette slices, about 5⁄8–inch thick

Preheat oven to 450° F.

Divide the chorizo in half. Place the potatoes and half of the chorizo (¼ pound) on a piece of heavy–duty aluminum foil, and enclose them in the foil. Bake for 1 to 1¼ hours, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.

Remove the potatoes from the foil and discard the chorizo (it is used for flavor only, and will be too dry to eat). When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them, transfer to a bowl, and mash with a fork.

Cut 3 ounces of the remaining chorizo into 1⁄8 to ¼–inch dice. Add the diced chorizo and the parsley to the potatoes and stir to mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

serve, very thinly slice the remaining 1 ounce chorizo. Mound the warm potato mixture on the baguette slices, dividing it evenly. Place 1 or 2 chorizo slices in each mound.

Fava Beans with Créme Fraîche and Mint

  • Serves 4 to 6
  • 2 pounds fava beans in the pod
  • ½ cup créme fraîche
  • 2 tablespoons extra–virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1⁄3 cup mint lea chiffonade
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

To prepare the favas, split open the pods and remove the beans. Meanwhile bring a small sauce pan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Place a bowl filled with ice water near your stove top. Drop the beans into the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes (this is longer than most recipes will instruct you because the beans are not cooked again). Drain the beans and quickly plunge them into the ice water. With your fingernail, pierce the skin of the bean near one end and gently squeeze so that the bean pops out. Don't worry if the beans separate into halves. You should have about 2 cups of beans.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the créme fraîche, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Add the fava beans, mint leaves and lemon zest and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours before serving to chill and allow the flavors to meld.

Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper before serving. Serve chilled.

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Tomato & Watermelon Salad

  • Serves 4 to 6
  • 3 or 4 small to medium heirloom tomatoes, assorted colors, cored and cut into ¾–inch chunks
  • 1 small English or regular cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into ¾–inch cubes
  • 1 cup ¾–inch cubed yellow or red seedless watermelon flesh
  • 1 Hass avocado, halved, peeled, pitted and cut into ¾–inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mixed fresh herbs in any combination: basil, tarragon, chives and cilantro
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander seed
  • 3 tablespoons extra–virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, watermelon, avocado and herbs. In a spice grinder, grind the coriander seeds to a fine powder. Add the ground coriander to the tomato mixture and toss gently. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the salad and toss to coat evenly. Taste and adjust the seasoning before serving.