Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Brooklyn Supper Club
Last Saturday night we got together with our friends Lisa and Aaron and Joanne and Frank at the latters' Brooklyn apartment for a night of culinary and oenological excesses. The theme for the evening was tapas, so everyone brought the makings for a dish or two to cook and share over the course of the evening...along with a fabulous sangria (courtesy of Aaron and Lisa) and plenty of great Spanish wine. Poor Floyd, Joanne and Frank's dog, could only look on in envy.
All told, we had a fabulous time and every morsel we ate was delicious. Since the evening was such a success, I thought I'd share some of our recipes with you.
Frank prepared his tortilla espanola and perfect Spanish crostini crisped with olive oil and garlic and topped with spicy medallions of chorizo and thick shavings of Manchego. Joanne turned out fabulous bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with almonds (recipe below) and stuffed mushrooms. Aaron made transcendently good lobster bruschetta (recipe below). I offered up my spicy artichoke dip (recipe provided under the post "Great Fall Appetizers on this blog) and crab cakes (recipe below), and Lisa topped it all off with rich, decadent chocolate fondue.
We hope you enjoy the recipes to follow!
Joanne's Bacon-Wrapped Dates
40 pitted dates (Joanne recommends big juicy medjool dates)
40 slices of bacon
40 roasted, salted almonds
Stuff one almond inside each date and wrap the date with a slice of bacon. Secure the bacon with a toothpick. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and sear the bacon-wrapped dates, turning as needed until the bacon is crispy on all sides. Drain briefly on paper towels and serve warm.
Note: Joanne also suggests adding nuggets of blue cheese to the stuffing.
Aaron's Lobster Bruschetta
3 1 1/2lb live lobsters
1 Italian baguette (for 12 slices)
15-18 small vine tomatoes (or half that number of larger ones)
10 large leaves of fresh basil
6 oz extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbs butter
1/2 of a white onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbs salt
1 Tbs freshly ground pepper
1 bunch of cilantro sprigs
Fresh parsley, chopped
12 lobster chelipeds (small legs for garnish)
6 lobster antennas (for garnish)
9 small rubber bands
One day ahead: steam the lobsters for approximately 27 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for about 5 minutes and then remove all the of meat (keep the meat portions (claw, tail, etc. intact). Cut the tails in half lengthwise and remove the innards. Save the chelipeds (small legs) and antenna for a garnish (to prepare: center 2 antennas between 4 chelipeds and crosstie with rubber bands). Refrigerate garnishes and lobster meat overnight.
To prepare for serving: chop the tomatoes, removing as much of the seeds and juice as possible (discard seeds and juice). Finely dice the onion, garlic, and basil. Combine tomato, onion, basil, and garlic with the salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and toast the baguette slices on a baking sheet until golden (approximately 10 minutes).
Place a large skillet over low heat and melt the butter. Warm the lobster meat in the butter (turning to coat and warm both sides) for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and slice the claws and tail meat into pieces.
Using three serving plates, place 4 slices of toasted baguette around one lobster cheliped and antenna centerpiece. Add cilantro sprigs to the garnish.
Place a layer of the tomato mixture on top of each bruschetta slice, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, top with a cilantro sprig and add a reconstructed section of sliced lobster meat to finish.
Place sliced lemon wedges among the bruschetta and sprinkle the serving dish with parsley. The bruschetta can be served with dollops of guacamole (use the avocado called for in the ingredient list) or with tomalley.
Miranda's Crab Cakes
1 lb fresh jumbo lump crab meat (picked over to remove shells)
6 green onions thinly sliced (white and palest green parts only)
1/2 large red pepper, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 Tbs olive oil
1 cup mayo
1 Tbs smoked Spanish paprika (or to taste)
1 tsp powdered garlic
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup freshly ground breadcumbs from high quality bread
1 Tbs minced fresh chives
Canola oil or olive oil for frying
Rinse and drain the crab and pick over the meat to make sure there are no shells mixed in. Place the crab in a medium-sized mixing bowl and set aside.
Mince the green onions, red pepper, and celery. Heat 1 Tbs olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skilled. Saute the vegetable mixture until softened (approximately 5 minutes). Season with salt to taste. Let cool slightly and then add to the crab.
In a separate mixing bowl, combine the mayo, lemon juice, 1 tsp olive oil, paprika (be sure to use smoked, spicy Spanish paprika), and garlic powder. Mix well and taste. Adjust seasonings as desired - including adding salt to taste. The aioli should be spicy, smoky, and slightly tangy. It should have a strong flavor and not taste like mayo. Add more spices if needed.
Tear up chunks of fresh, good quality bread and grind into breadcrumbs in a food processor. Add 3/4 cup of the aioli, 3/4 cup of breadcrumbs, and the minced chives to the crab mixture and stir well to combine. The mixture should bind together and should be relatively easy to form into small cakes. If the mixture seems too dry, add more aioli. If it seems too wet, add more breadcrumbs.
Heat oil in a large skillet (oil should be about 1/4 inch deep). Shape crab mixture into cakes (these can be little appetizer-sized cakes or larger dinner-sized cakes). Fry in the hot oil (oil should sizzle and bubble up around the cakes) until dark golden brown. Don't undercook the cakes - you want them to be crispy on the outside. Carefully turn cakes with a spatula (be very gentle or they will break apart) and brown them on the other side. Remove from oil and drain briefly on paper towels. Serve cakes hot with a dollop of the remaining aioli on top (you can also sprinkle the aioli with more paprika or with diced chives or fleur de sel as a garnish).