Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spanish Feast

I've spent the afternoon in the kitchen, preparing for an evening of tapas, sangria, and good friends. Snow may be falling outside, but in here it seems a lot more like Spain than Chicago.

Russian Salad
Why this is called Russian, I have no idea. It's a Spanish recipe, through and through. While similar to potato salad, it involves more vegetables and features more complex flavors. If you're pressed for time, you could use mixed vegetable giardinara (probably not the hot version, though). You can add capers, if you like.
~ Serves 8 ~

2 lbs. potatoes (I use Russetts)
2 or 3 large carrots, halved lengthwise and quartered
2/3 C. shelled peas (high quality frozen would be work in a pinch)
1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed
1/4 C. chopped Spanish onion
1 large red bell pepper, chopped finely
6 small pickles, diced (I use sweet gherkins)
16 small anchovy-stuffed green olives
1 C. mayonnaise (aioli would be delicious substitute)
1 or 2 hard-cooked eggs, to garnish
chopped fresh parsley, to garnish

Fill 2 medium-large saucepans with water to boil. Peel the potatoes, slice 3/4" thick. In the first saucepan, boil potatoes until tender. Cool, then dice. I boil these separately since the potatoes generally take longer and are a little trickier to time.

In the 2nd saucepan, boil carrots, peas, and beans until tender. Drain and cool. Dice carrot and cut beans into short pieces

Into a bowl, put potatoes, carrots, peas, and beans. Stir in onion, pepper, pickles, olives and mayonnaise while vegetables are still warm. Refrigerate until chilled. Arrange egg and chopped parsley on top before serving.

The rest of the menu?
- gazpacho
- tortilla with red pepper
- shrimp-stuffed eggs
- an assortment of Spanish cheeses and olives


2 x 750 ml bottles of dry red wine (I usually use Cabernet Sauvignon)
6 oz Triple Sec or Cointreau
6 oz fresh-squeezed orange juice
3 oz fresh-squeezed lime or lemon juice (or a combination of the 2)
1/2 C. sugar
16 oz. chilled club soda
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
2 limes, sliced

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large pitcher or punch bowl. Sweeten to taste with sugar, stirring well to dissolve. Add half of the citrus fruit slices. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Stir in club soda just before serving. Serve over ice in large glasses, with citrus slices.

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