International Tapas Night!!

As winter comes to a close and another ski season has sadly ended, the warm weather inspires me to entertain.  I love to entertain at home, and it is quite possibly the only reason I don’t sell my house and keep paying those high taxes.  This past weekend I invited a few local friends over for a theme party to celebrate Cinco de Mayo sans the kiddies.  In reality I had no idea it was Cinco de Mayo when I planned it, I just saw it as May 5th.
The theme: International Tapas!  Looking at my guest list, I realized that I had a representation of at least eight countries of origin so it was a natural choice.  Plus the concept allowed me to ask each guest to bring a dish to represent their country and reduce the amount of cooking I would need to do.  As the weeks went on my Cuban, Paraguayan & French guests dropped off.  That still left us with five countries: Italy, China, Malaysia, Mexico and India.  The rule was to bring a dish that can be eaten on a small plate.  I chose to also represent Spain, a must for tapas.
The final menu was a fantastic combination of tastes.  Here’s what we wound up with (I’m putting these in the order in which guest arrived so as not to slight anyone):
Vegetable Pakodas – courtesy of S – these were tasty little morsels of eggplant, onions, & potatoes fried in a chickpea flour batter
Paneer Masala – courtesy of R & C this dish was brought complete with its own little serving bowls and was delicious.  I typically don’t like paneer (which is a fresh cheese) but I ate my entire bowl full.
Malaysian Ladok – courtesy of W & L there were two versions of this – one with pork and a vegetarian version with taro & water chestnuts.  Each filling was wrapped with soy bean curd sheets and deep fried.  Absolutely delicious and I’m still enjoying the leftovers.
Marinated Eggplant & Arancini – courtesy of M & R the eggplant my friend makes is something I request often from her.  It is always a big hit with the crowd.  Such a simple yet delicious creation!  Arancini (fried rice balls) are one of my favorite guilty pleasures in the carb world.  My friend made them stuffed with mozzarella and prosciutto.  Fantastic!!
Pan fried Dumplings – courtesy of D & M a big hats off for the dumplings from my friend who had surgery three days before the party, told me she would not be able to come and would send her husband alone.  Lo & behold she showed up at the last minute, crutches & all and stayed till the very end.  In all my mentions above I led off with the intial of the person who actually did the cooking.  However in this case I believe I may have it wrong. J  A big thank you for the effort to join us!! And the dumplings were great!!
To my friends’ wonderful efforts I added:
Spicy Lamb meatballs w/ cucumber yogurt sauce – To ground lamb I added spices, garlic & ginger paste, sautéed onions, mint chutney, chilies, cilantro, salt, egg & breadcrumbs.  Panfry and reheat in the oven.
Batata Wadas these are a popular street food in Mumbai typically served on burger buns with a spicy garlic chutney.  They are made by boiling potatoes, chopping them into small cubes then add sautéed onions with kefir lime leaves, green chillies, turmeric, mustard seeds, salt & lime juice.  Mix it all up, roll into balls & deep fry them in a batter of chickpea flour with spices.
Shrimp with garlic & thyme Shrimp marinated in garlic, thyme, lemon zest, crushed red pepper, lemon juice & olive oil then baked for 8 minutes in a 450 degree oven.
Chorizo w/ peppers & onion  this one was my least favorite of the evening as I cooked the chorizo too long and it dried out while the peppers and onions nearly disappeared from overcooking.  Will have to revise the cooking method next time around.  Hey, they can’t all be winners!!
Roasted Tomatillo & Chipotle Salsa (recipe from Rick Bayless) with tortilla chips rounded out the menu
Conversations of the evening went in very interesting directions with many that likely shouldn’t be mentioned on a family blog.  We managed to have two spilled drinks (a sure sign of a good party) and lots of laughs!

To wash it all down were pitchers of Mango Mojitos made with my home grown mint and lots of wine of course.  We even managed to do our own little 750 vs Magnum tasting which was enlightening to all who tried it.  The final sign of a good party came after all had gone home and I opened the refrigerator to pour myself a glass of water when all of a sudden my very large wine opener which sits on top came tumbling down on my head and lay in pieces on the floor.  It was time for bed!!!
What a fun night with great friends!! I can’t wait to plan the next shindig………….

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