3.29.2014

¡Tapas!

Each month, Mark and I write a recipe newsletter which I named recip(e)rocity.

It started when his father died in 2007. The family gathered in Lenox, Massachusetts, and one night we all got together to make a meal for the entire family. Everyone pitched in and, as tends to happen when I am in a room, the conversation soon revolved around food.

A couple of our nieces asked for recipes, and then one asked, "Hey, Uncle David, why don't you write a blog?" I replied fairly quickly that I didn't think I would have the time, energy, or technical ability for a blog (see how well that is working for me?), but maybe I would consider a monthly recipe newsletter. recip(e)rocity was born, so named because from time to time includes recipes from family and friends.

I have missed a month or two along the way, but it has been pretty consistent, and my printed binder is quite large now. In most cases, I don't use blog recipes for the newsletter, or newsletter recipes for the blog. There have been times, though, when one of them is too good not to share it with both audiences. Today's recipe is one of these.

For the July issue each year - to celebrate the diversity of our planet - we offer recipes of the international cuisines that have so enriched the variety of American food. This past July, we opted for tapas as our theme.

For those who are unfamiliar, tapas are a wide variety of small plates, or snacks, served in the early evening in Spain; dinner isn't generally served in restaurants until way after 10:00 (way after my bedtime!). Tapas may be cold or hot, and with the right wine/sangria/cocktail, make for a perfect early supper. Notice: I didn't say ‘light.’ Tapas are not necessarily slimming! In some Central and South American countries, they are known as bocas. In Mexico, similar dishes are called botanas. There are countless versions around the world. Cicchetti, mezes, and so on.

Today's recipe is my version of a tapa we had at one of our local favorites, Contigo, run by my friend Deborah Tenino. Dates stuffed with chorizo wrapped in bacon. What on earth could be wrong with pork wrapped in pork?

So, I made a batch of homemade chorizo (recipe follows), stuffed some jumbo dates from the Bard Date Company and then wrapped them in thick-cut bacon. I roasted them on racks so the bacon fat could drip freely and not make them soggy. They are delicious, if I do say so myself...

And, today, you get a bonus recipe! My friend, Liney, who sent me the dates from her family's date farm, told me that her son stuffs small, yellow, Mexican peppers (called güeros) with a mixture of chorizo and dates, then bakes them. We made our version of those, too, and they were amazing!

So now you have two reasons to make homemade chorizo. It is really easy,  worth doing - as you can season it to you own taste - and then freeze it in small amounts for later use.

So, my advice is to head back to my post on the Jerez Fresca, make a batch of those cocktails, these two tapas, and call it dinner (and get to bed early)!

~ David

Sonoran-Style Chorizo

2 pounds of not-too-lean ground pork
1 tablespoon ground oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup chile powder (pure ground chile colorado, not a spice mixture)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup red wine (or red wine vinegar)


Mix all ingredients together with your hands until the meat is evenly colored by the red chile powder.

Variations:

     • eliminate the cloves and cinnamon, double the oregano, and add 2 teaspoons cumin seeds.
     • use ground lamb instead of pork - wonderful flavor and great with both these recipes.
       
Bacon-wrapped Dates Stuffed with Chorizo

50 large Medjool dates

1 pound chorizo
25 thick-cut slices bacon


Preheat oven to 350º F.


Slice each date lengthwise on one side and remove its pit. Stuff each date with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of chorizo sausage meat. (You may have some chorizo leftover to freeze for another use.)


Cut the bacon in half so you have 50 short pieces. Take each piece of bacon and stretch it around a date about 1½ times.


Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and top with a rack coated with cooking spray. Place wrapped dates, seam side down, on the rack. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until bacon is cooked.


Makes 50 appetizers. 


Chorizo-and-Date stuffed Güeros

9-12 güeros, also called banana peppers

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large shallot, diced
1/4 cup fresh (soft) breadcrumbs
1/2 pound homemade chorizo
6 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped


Preheat oven to 350°F.


Cut the chiles in half lengthwise and, using a knife or spoon, scrape out the seeds and ribs. Using a small skewer, poke a hole in the bottom of each chile.


Heat the olive oil and sauté the shallot until soft. Remove from heat and add breadcrumbs,
chorizo and chopped dates. Mix thoroughly.

Stuff each half pepper with about a tablespoon of the
chorizo mixture.

Place stuffed peppers on a rack over a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until bubbling at the edges.


Serve hot or warm.


Makes 18-24, depending on the size of the güeros.

34 comments:

  1. In my house we call them Tid Bits and Noshy Things. GREG

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    1. Or, you have imaginary cocktail parties... Yet again, our posts are in synch!

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  2. Dear David, love those tapas - we all do. I often make a lot, I mean a lot of different appetizers (we keep referring to them as antipasti) and call it lunch, that way, everybody around the table gets to pick and choose...my favorite kind of relaxed style of dining. Your stuffed dates and peppers look pretty darn delicious to me - I never thought of making my own chorizo but I certainly should. Not many good Spanish stores around here - I visited one the other day and the first thing I looked at was their chorizo...I think, I prefer to follow your recipe...
    Such very pretty plates too - love the presentation! And that recipe newsletter sounds like great fun - I cannot believe you do all that!
    Hope the exhibition is a smashing success!!! You know that I would have loved to visit!
    Ganz liebe Grüße aus dem sonnigen Bonn - es ist 20 (!) Grad hier,
    Andrea

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    1. Andrea - you will love making your own chorizo - you can spice it exactly to your and your family's taste. The other great part is knowing the freshness and quality of the ingredients.

      Glad you like the plates - it is (as you know) fun to bring them all out!

      20 Grad!!! Ausgezeichnet!

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  3. I don't think I'd do well with tapas, the whole idea of little bites would be wasted on me because I'd eat the whole plate! I got some dates, since we Muslims consume them like it's the end of the world, they are so good right now! Like candy. I can get away with using ground chicken can't I? I don't eat pork and I don't like lamb (yes, I'm difficult) but I have always loved the flavours of chorizo, I made a beef one a long time ago but don't know where that recipe is anymore. I'd love to make those stuffed peppers, they look wonderful! And I want to be on your newsletter list :) Sure glad you listened to your nieces and started a blog. You are one of my favourites xx

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    1. Thank you so much, Nazneen! Yes, we make tons of tapas/apps/hors d'oeuvres and then eat then all ourselves. Why not? Yes, you can use any meat you want (What? No lamb???) - beef works really well. Chicken thigh better than chicken breast (more fat!). If you do use lean chicken or turkey, add some butter or olive oil to compensate. Lean pork still has plenty of fat! If you want the newsletter, send me an email at cocoaandlavender@gmail.com with your email address and I will add you to the list! That goes for anyone who is reading and would like to get it.

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  4. Hi David, As Andrea wrote above, I had never thought of making chorizo...but certainly will now! I like Nazneen's idea of using chicken, too. I am thinking of all sorts of meals to make with that chorizo...from pasta to stuffed bell peppers. Thanks for the mouth-watering ideas!

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    1. Thanks, Susan! The possibilities are endless - once I figured out that I don't need to stuff sausage meet into casings, my life got much better. Glad you enjoyed the post!

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  5. Yummy! My sister made bacon wrapped dates at Christmas and we couldn't get enough of them, so we will happily try this one. And, never thought of making chorizo - Ed is going to love this idea.

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    1. Nicole - I hope you end Ed enjoy making your own sausage. Try making homemade Italian sausage meat, too.

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  6. Whilst I may not be a great fan of dates, I'm willing to give this tapa a try. You had me at pork and pork.

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    1. Well, I suppose you could just skip the date and have the pork wrapped in pork, John! My mother's recipe for prosciutto-stuffed pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon is another favorite...

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  7. Hi David, so many delicious little nibbles. My Peter is sure to love these! Many thanks!

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    1. Thanks, Liz - I do hope you and Peter enjoy them!

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  8. Ok, you write a weekly blog (that you actually get out, WEEKLY), and a monthly newsletter, AND work full time. I feel like such a slug! Of course, I do get points for early morning rising (3am when I have to bake...) I love dates by them selves, baked into something, and especially with savory dishes - definitely trying these! Hugs to Mark (and you)

    K

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    1. Hi, my name is David and I am an overachiever... :) Believe me, Karin, you do PLENTY! xox

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  9. If you could see me now, you might die laughing. My eyes are popping right out of my head. Dizzy with so many DElicious photos and recipes, I don't know what to say.
    All I know is I'm out of medjools!!

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    1. Out of Medjools? Ouch! Hope you get some soon, Colette, so that you can try these! xo

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    2. Oh, yes. They're on my list.

      I'm back to take notes!

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  10. Many moons ago, I lived in Madrid for about a year. Best year ever! There is simply nothing better than an evening with friends and tapas. And these look truly amazing. I might even be drooling about the dates, chorizo & bacon. OH MY! The deliciousness factor is out of control. Really.

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    1. Thanks, Valentina - they are pretty tasty! Sounds like an amazing time abroad... wouldn't it be fun to do that again for a year and just concentrate on the food?

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  11. You write so well David. I love every aspect of this post, from the Recip(e)rocity newsletter to the memories attached and the adventures that you and Mark have had in coming up with recipes of your own. I love tapas. I loved them in Spain and I love being able to make them at home. However, I've never tried tapas like the ones you've provided recipes for today. I am really intrigued by the stuffed dates, I want to make them for myself! Thanks so much. Yum!

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    1. I really appreciate your kind words, Laura - I think for you and me, the writing is as much fun as anything else! I hope you do get to make them - I think you and Aaron will enjoy them a lot.

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    2. You are so right David! And re the recipe, I'm planning to make it for a party this weekend. I will update you but I am certain we'll love it!

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    3. Have fun! Every time you post photos of one of your parties, it is like a scene form a movie I was to be in!

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  12. Getting to bed early is easy, making my own chorizo sounds more daunting, although I am off to look at the recipe. You have totally piqued my curiosity!

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    1. Daunting? Not for you, Fiona! I have seen you make pistachio pudding form scratch! This is nothing compared to that!

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  13. I love reading your posts…always interesting and well done. So many delicious little bites! I adore the dates with bacon…I could probably eat the whole plate!

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    1. I think I did eat an entire plate, Kathy! Thanks for your nice comment!

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  14. How lucky are we that you are sharing recipes from your monthly newsletter with not one but three recipes. The chorizo and the two preparations sound wonderful.

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    1. Thanks, Karen - I knew this post would be a hit with many people - especially my food-loving friends, as we all like to try so many different flavors!

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  15. Tapas are one of the best meals ever, the idea of this and that in bites is simply genius! And when you mix, not only pork with pork, but with sweet too, I'm all in. I could eat those dates for days David, seriously!

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    1. I have to laugh at the "pork with pork" comment, Paula, because one of my mother's recipes that I love is her pork tenderloin stuffed with prosciutto and wrapped in bacon. I am trying to add a fourth pork but cannot thin how to do it! So glad you ilked the post!

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Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

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