Archive for October 31st, 2011

Tapas day at The Havens

A while ago I was in Costa Rica and our niece Alex came down almost every weekend to hang out and cook with Jim.   One fine afternoon, they both created dishes that are served with thinly sliced baguettes.   Alex made  tomato with goat cheese and Jim made a garlic and bleu cheese thing.   They started reminiscing about when we went out to have tapas at La Bodega in Kansas City.

From that they went on to opine that they could probably do a creditable afternoon of tapas right here in our own kitchen.  It didn’t take long for them to set a date, and after a certain amount of talking back and forth, a menu was planned, a shopping list made, and anticipation began.

Yesterday, the actual event occurred, with (pardon my very subjective opinion) wonderful results.   We only had to go to the store about three or four times for things we forgot to acquire, one of which was beer (shocking, I know)(that we would forget to buy it, not that we would drink it).

Actually, one of the most egregious omissions was powdered sugar for the frosting for the carrot cake.   We were laboring under the delusion that the pantry would supply us with all the powdered sugar our hearts could desire, based on the existence of several pounds of brown sugar, about 20 pounds of white sugar, a pound of super fine sugar, not to mention crystallized sugar from Germany for one’s tea.  Alas, none of those were what were required for the frosting, and a trip to the market was made before the cake got frosted.   But this was a minor glitch in the days proceedings.

So.  The Menu:

  1. Spicy baked tomatoes with goat cheese, served with french bread
  2. Dungeness crab cakes with wasabi cream
  3. Caprese salad with balsamic pesto vinaigrette,  King crab cocktail
  4. Nachos with fresh jalapeños, mexican cheese and black beans
  5. Skewered kosher sausage bits in jalapeño corn batter
  6. Sesame crusted salmon with orange dipping sauce
  7. Carrot cake


First course:   Spicy tomato with goat cheese.    The tomatoes, garlic and serranos in this came out of our garden.  This is how it looked coming out from under the broiler.

And this is how it looked when on the french bread (which was made in house, by the way).

And yes, it was delicious.   It was very hard to limit consumption of that little tidbit, but the immediate preparation of the crab cakes began.  It helped distract us from the succulent tomato/goat cheese spread.

Here is my serving, complete with the wasabi cream, which was just piquant enough.

After a suitable amount of oohing and aahing, the caprese salad and the crab cocktail made their appearance.   Once again, the tomato was from our garden and the pesto was some that I made not that long ago.

After that course, we took a little break while the nachos were put together.   These were not the sort of nachos you find at the ball park, all canned “cheese” sauce and bagged chips, nor were they the piled up overloaded things you find at most restaurants nowadays.   These were like the nachos we were served in Mazatlan about 25 years ago, so impressive that Jim has never forgotten them.   First, he made the chips from fresh corn tortillas.  Then he made the refried black beans.

Sorry, these jalapeños did not come from our garden.   If pickled pepper rings would have been deemed correct, they would have been.   Instead, these were acquired at the market.

Still awfully pretty.  Here are the nachos in preparation.

It was during this process that Mallory began to haunt the kitchen area.   Everything was SO interesting, and it smelled SO good, surely a cat should get to have something.   Shouldn’t it?

That used to be Mike’s favorite post also.   You can monitor everything that is going on from that particular spot.  It has an unimpeded view of the living room, the dining room, and the utility room.   It also has the advantage that it is right in the middle of everything which gives you the maximum possibility of being stepped on.  However, we managed to avoid making that particular faux pas.

That is me in the background, doing my best to keep up with the impressive manufacture of dirty dishes that accompanied this event.

These are the nachos, fresh out of the oven, right before we gobbled them up.

Next the corn dogs skewered kosher sausage pieces in jalapeño corn batter.

They really were quite tasty.  We had a choice of dijon or honey mustard.   Both were excellent.

We took a break for a while after those two courses.   After a while, Jim got up and started production on the sesame dipped salmon.  We sort of caved on this dish:  the sesame seeds were supposed to be black sesame, but what we had were white sesame seeds.  They worked just fine.

And yes, Mallory’s patience was finally rewarded.   She got to have tapas too:  fresh raw salmon, her first ever taste of such a thing.   It required quite a lot of chewing, and she did not scarf it down at all, but I would say it was much appreciated.  One has to wonder about the appropriateness of providing one’s cat with line-caught wild salmon at some astronomical price pre pound, but there it is.  it is what we had, so it is what Mallory had.

Ruby was not left out.   Jim tried to make crispy salmon skin, but it didn’t crisp particularly nicely, and so we gave the skin pieces to Ruby.   I would have taken a picture of her enjoying them, but she ate them so fast I didn’t have a chance.

This is how the dish looked right before I ate it.   I did not accomplish this quite as fast as Ruby ate her skins, but it didn’t take the four of us long to consume the whole amount Jim prepared.

Last but not least, the carrot cake.

We had leftover cake for breakfast this morning.

I will close with a shot of the kitchen, taken shortly after we enjoyed the cake, while the cooks were resting on their well deserved laurels.

The stock pot on the stove still had very hot oil in it, which is why it wasn’t scrubbed and put away.  Not to be a braggart or anything, but I submit that my talents as scullery maid are a valuable addition to this sort of affair.

And I did make the frosting for the cake….

Plans are already in the works for the next extravaganza!   We can hardly wait.

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