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Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

Your help on the rice front was invaluable, so thank you. Glad yours was a success too!

Jun 29, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

Having a variety really helped, too. The meat-eaters had plenty of meats, the vegetarians had plenty of veggies, and everyone got to have a bit of something.

I did end up springing for a platter of cheeses and membrillo, forgot to mention that earlier. The liquor store gave me a really good deal on the alcohol and since I had an unexpected savings I decided to pass the benefit along to my guests and get some Catalan cheeses.

Jun 29, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

Hi All -

Thanks again for all of the helpful advice! The party went perfectly. We started at 8:00 pm and my last guests left shortly after 3:00 am. In total it ended up being around 33-34 people, which is the most I've ever cooked for.

We never ran out of food, and we never ran out of booze. I never even had to touch any of the "gift booze" that people brought me. By the end of the evening all of the cava, soda, and mineral water were finished, and of the food, I only had about two fist-fulls of the saffron rice, a few slices of cheese, and a few pieces of cake left, that's it. Since I did everything in disposable serveware and kept making rounds to collect trash, there was no virtually no clean-up and I got to bed by 3:30.

Anyway, I am glad that's over until next summer. It was a lot of fun but a LOT of work. Thank you again for all of the support!

Jun 29, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

Thanks so much! I am doing some things tonight and the rest tomorrow also. Good luck to you!

Jun 26, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

Hey, thanks!

I figure if I make it around noon, and cook until it's just about finished, then take it out of the oven and let it cool, and keep it covered (not in the fridge), I can always "freshen" it by pouring a cup of salt-free chicken stock over it and putting it back in the oven on low heat for about 10 minutes. Does that make sense?

Jun 26, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

MMR, a quick question for you or anyone else reading. I've decided to make some saffron rice as a side dish. I have a huge aluminum roasting pan, one of those disposable jobs you can use at Thanksgiving, I'd like to use that if possible. (I bought several packets of Vigo saffron rice from Spain, just to make it easier for myself.) You have to put a baking sheet underneath if you put it in the oven as you may know, since the aluminum isn't strong enough to hold the weight.

Do you think I should just pour the rice and the water as directed in the aluminum roaster, and then stick it in the oven? I'm not sure how long it would have to be in there, I'm guessing 20 minutes or so.

Jun 26, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

Thanks very much!

Jun 24, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

The good thing is that I live in an area with a lot of restaurants and bars, so if they are not happy they can still go eat a block away. ;-)

Thanks for the good wishes. I hope YOUR event goes well also!!!

Jun 24, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

Hmmmm. I'll consider that LW, thanks.

Jun 24, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

Ha, ha! Sadly nowhere near there. Fortunately my sister and both my brothers are coming over an hour early to be my helpers.

Jun 24, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

Technicalities are important if you don't want to have rubber doorstops for dinner ;-) Probably won't have time to do a test run, but just wanted to have some idea of how you do it.

If I get frozen shrimp, then put them in the fridge to thaw per the instructions on the package, I'm not sure whether I am supposed to take them out and let them get to room temperature before putting them in the cazuela?

Jun 24, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

Truthfully I am not an enormous fan of chorizo, a lot of Catalans are not, as it is a bit dry and hot for our palates. La Tienda.com has a few kinds of Catalan sausages, but when you factor in how many people plus the shipping costs, it can get really pricey.

Jun 24, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

Hi KC, well you remember we were discussing paella on here a couple of weeks back, because back then I only had 15 people coming. It's now turned into, "Can my boyfriend/girlfriend come too?" and "My cousin is in town and I was wondering..." I just smile and say "Yes". I don't have outdoor space but fortunately have a living area on two levels so I can accommodate them all.

I'm leaning toward this idea of doing the Spanish veggies platter of asparagus etc., and the garlic shrimp, as those two additional dishes would help round this out by providing another spring/summer veggie dish AND a seafood dish. I make very good meat canelones, but they are a bit time consuming and I'm not sure I could make more than about 30 of them without wanting to beat myself into a pulp and throw myself in the mixer.

Jun 24, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

Thanks SM, that was my concern also, when I started going over my shopping list...I was concerned that I either needed to make one big substantial dish or maybe two smaller dishes to round this menu out.

If I do a platter of asparagus, artichoke hearts, etc., that I discussed with another member on this post, that's one additional dish, and then if I do the garlic shrimp I've been discussing with another poster, that's a second. Mind you, given how much cava we have, some people are probably going to be enjoying the bubbly too much to remember to eat ;-)

Jun 24, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

Since I am doing meat and cheese on top of the bruschetta, and because authentic Spanish meats and cheeses can get expensive for this many people (serrano ham is $25 a pound at my market), I'm going to avoid a meat and cheese tray I think. But definitely have some extra bread for people sopping up oil, sauces, etc. Thanks!

Jun 24, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

Well thank you. This is my 4th Annual party, it's gotten bigger every year as word has spread, hence my feeling a bit overwhelmed this year. So much easier to cook for 8, which is how it started.

If I do a platter with asparagus, pre-roasted piquillo peppers, and marinated artichoke hearts, all of which are from Spain and I can get at Trader Joe's, then all I would have to do is sprinkle some sea salt and drizzle them with some Spanish olive oil, and no cooking required. So that's one more dish.

Jun 24, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

Oh I know that one - "Foods and Wines of Spain" by Penelope Casas is frankly my English-language bible for foods from Spain. She's the Martha Stewart of Spanish cookery: sometimes a bit too fancy, but extremely comprehensive and clear. I have a number of cookbooks in Spanish and Catalan, but then it always gets a bit awkward because all the measurements are in metric :-S

So basically what your version is to combine everything in the cazuela, cover it in saran wrap, put it in the fridge, and then when it's time to get ready you bake it? How long and at what temperature?

Jun 24, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

What a great username. I am part Scottish myself.

I've never heard of that ratio before, but then I'm not a professional chef. Maybe you can give some guidance?

The party starts at 8 and runs until the booze runs out (last year this was about 2 am.) Some people will stay all night, others will stay for an hour or two and then head on elsewhere. Let me explain my concern in worrying over whether there is enough:

- certain items are just snacks to pick at, and people might have a few or none. The olives, nuts, and chips fall into this category.

- the bruschetta, meatballs, and veggie croquettes, I'm thinking like this: Johnny over here is going to have one slice of the ham-topped bruschetta, and a couple of meatballs, while his girfriend Katie is going to have one slice of the cheese-topped bruschetta and a couple of the vegetarian croquettes. So that means I need to make 32 pieces of bruschetta (16 with ham and 16 with cheese, since you can get about 16 slices out of a long baguette); and at most 60 meatballs and 60 croquettes, for people who want seconds on those.

- the two tortillas will each be about 14 inches across and rather thick. One has meat, and one does not. I'm not expecting people to eat them both, as they are rather thick and heavy. I am not sure whether I will slice them like pie or cut them into cubes and stick toothpicks in them. The latter is not as pretty.

- the salad is just to give some green relief. Some people won't have any, whereas those watching their weight might have more. Salad is also mercifully cheap to make and requires little effort.

- the two desserts are because these are very particular desserts for the party, that people have asked for/expect. My sister is making all the dessert items including making the coffee and tea so I don't have to worry about that.

In any case, so you see my concern that I don't have enough?

Anyway, let me know what you think. Thank you!

Jun 24, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

Actually I had been thinking about doing that and had posted on here before asking about it. Unfortunately that was when I only had around 15 people coming and it was still possible. Making paella for 30 would, frankly, be an ordeal in my postage-stamp kitchen. Thanks though!

Jun 24, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

Hmmm...so what do you do, get an oven-safe casserole dish or cazuela, coat the bottom with oil, toss in the minced garlic and pimenton and shrimp, and then...what?

I've always made it on top of the stove, not in the oven, so I don't overcook and I can add a bit of white wine or sherry as needed.

Jun 24, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

That's exactly what I am doing with the albondigas - I'm cheating and buying them already formed, then I need to broil them for a few minutes, and add the sofrito tomato sauce to them, and then put them aside. I'll stick them back in the oven to reheat them.

I'm worried about doing gambas ahead of time though, putting them in the fridge, and run the risk of their turning to little rubber bullets if I try to reheat them.

Jun 24, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

It will save me a lot of clean-up worries too. If they break, they break.

As people arrive, I do have to broil the meatballs and the croquettes on cookie sheets in the oven for a few minutes before plating them, to get them warmed up, since they will be made earlier in the day. Everything else will be room temperature.

Jun 24, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

Ha! Well, by large I mean I went to the local party supply store and got the biggest disposable plastic-crystal-looking platters, bowls, trays I could find. Enough to hold, for example, between 60-75 meatballs. An infant could take a bath in the salad bowl I got. ;-)

Asparagus might work, it would add some additional green to the menu. I'll put that in the maybe column. Thanks!

Jun 24, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Help! Tapas Menu Meltdown

I have a tapas party coming up this weekend which has grown exponentially to now include nearly 30 people. I had originally planned on making paella as a main dish, but there is no way I can make it for that many people - too much work, too small a kitchen, and no outdoor space.

My sis is going to be helping out a bit by making a couple of dishes, but I need to know whether this following menu is enough or whether there are some things I should add.

I will obviously provide large portions of these, so people can pick at what they want, and we have several cases of cava (Catalan sparkling wine) and Italian soda, so no problem on the drinks.

I am trying to avoid dishes like gambas al ajillo or calamares a la romana which need to be prepared at the last minute before serving. I want to have the last hour before my guests arrive to shower and change and sit and enjoy my first drink quietly.

Anyway, at this point I am planning on doing the following:

- large bowl of mixed Spanish olives
- large bowl of marcona almonds
- large bowl of rosemary-olive oil potato chips
- large tray of pan con tomate (Spanish version of bruschetta) with Spanish ham on top
- large tray of pan con tomate (Spanish version of bruschetta) with Manchego cheese on top
- large tortilla de patatas (potato and onion frittata)
- large tortilla paisana (potato, bell pepper, and bacon frittata)
- large salad of spinach, pine nuts, raisins, and blood orange segments
- large tray of croquetas de verdura (vegetable croquettes)
- large tray of albondigas en salsa tomate (cocktail meatballs in spicy tomato sauce)
- large tray of chocolate-raspberry and chocolate-orange truffles
- large "coca" with candied fruits (Spanish shortbread)

I'm just not sure this is enough. I'd really appreciate your feedback. Thank you!

Jun 24, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Paella Question

I plan on doing butifarra (a kind of Catalan sausage), peeled and deveined shrimp, squid rings, and bay scallops. Obviously the sausage has to be cooked in advance so it can brown. What do you suggest given the remaining ingredients?

Jun 11, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Paella Question

Er...you REALLY ought to think twice about posting your phone number in a public forum. It is NOT a good idea, believe me.

My initial idea, which you basically reiterated, was to do what you're saying, i.e. make two paellas on the stovetop and then combine them together into a big aluminum disposable pan and let them finish cooking the last 10 minutes in the oven. They won't technically be paellas because they aren't cooked in a paellera, and they won't have a crust, but I'm going to try it anyway and see how it goes. If it's a disaster there will be still be plenty of other things to eat. Thanks again!

Jun 10, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Paella Question

Thanks for the suggestions. As I mentioned in the original post, he problem is I have no outdoor space and therefore no grill. I'm stuck with your standard apartment-sized oven.

I'm wondering whether I should just make a sort of improvised arroz a la marinera in a big stockpot, instead of paella, and then finish it in the oven, since there would be no question of trying to achieve a soccorat in that case.

Jun 10, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Paella Question

Wow, for 40! What are the dimensions of the pan you use, if you don't mind my asking?

Jun 09, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Paella Question

Ah, gotcha. That's not a bad idea, if I can borrow one. I will ask around. Thanks!

Jun 09, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking

Paella Question

JungMann - that is an interesting idea I had not considered. When you say roasting pan are you talking about the steel kind, like a broiler pan or a turkey roaster?

Jun 09, 2009
benmcd in Home Cooking