On the menu: Tapas! Not only was the class super fun, the food was really good! And no one minded that I was taking photos of everything (I asked beforehand, of course).
I contacted the owner to get permission to post the recipes. She asked if I could just post 4, so I picked my favorites from the evening.
No recipe, but here is the photo of the Sangria. YUM!
Sangria is super easy to make and you can make it to your liking. Most of the sangria I’ve had in restaurants are VERY sweet! Almost too sweet. But Michael and I were in charge of making the sangria for the class and we made it less sweet. It turned out great.
The class started making the Flan first. I presume it’s because it has more steps and takes longer to prepare/cook. The instructor gave us tips on how to make caramel:
Drizzle it into the Ramakins.
Michael learned how to make the candy topping.
Next up were the candied nuts! YUM! One of my favorites for the night. They were so tasty. I am dying to make these. I think they’ll be a great holiday gift.
Candied Almonds, Cashews and Pecans
1 cup mixed cashews and pecans
1 tb. brown sugar
1 tb butter.
1/2 tsp. Tabasco
2-3 sprigs rosemary (optional)
To candy the nuts, sauté raw unsalted nuts of your choice with brown sugar, butter and a small sprinkling of salt. When they get nice and brown, remove from heat and add Tabasco. Maybe some green? – chopped rosemary or parsley work well. To cool, spread out a plate in the thinnest layer you can so they won’t be a sticky blob. Cool (and store) via a quick blast in the freezer, and break apart before serving. These can be made days, or even weeks!, in advance and stored in an airtight container in the freezer.
I’m bummed the photos of the nuts didn’t turn out.
Another couple in the class was in charge of making the Mexican cheese with guava paste. Sprinkle parsley and olive oil on top. It was a yummy treat to munch on while we cooked.
I love nibble-food. Here are the spiced olives:
The Tortilla Espanola was the main dish of the night, but not my favorite. It was basically like a frittata.
Empanadillas de Carne
These mini-empanadas are lovely for a party – easy to make in advance, freeze, and heat in the oven to order. To simplify life, use round potsticker (wonton) wrappers that you can find at Asian markets and many grocery stores. Some students like to use puff-pastry dough that they roll out and stamp into circles with a drinking glass. This yields a flakier-pastry empanada. Depends what you like – flaky pastry or thin and crunchy pastry.
For the empanada filling (which yields enough for a whole packet of wrappers):
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup bell peppers, finely chopped (Use multi-colored, because they are pretty)
1/2 lb. all natural ground beef. Lean (10% fat) works but not super-ultra lean (5%), since the pastry needs some fat to get crispy.
2 Tbs. ground cumin (Why not toast and grind them yourself for a lovely flavor?)
1/4 cup (a handful) raisins
1/4 cup green olives, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
For Dipping Sauce:
2 cups Greek yogurt
2 Tbs. cumin, toasted and ground.
Sauté the onion and peppers in a lug of olive oil until clear. Add the ground meat with the cumin, raisins and olives and cook until the meat is just done, or, ideally just underdone! It continues cooking in the oven and will ensure you a juicy rather than dry empanada. Once the filling cools slightly (or thoroughly), you can fill the wrappers with a spoonful of filling. Run your fingertip, dipped in water, along the edge of the pastry to make a seal. Fold over and twist for a pretty crust. At this point you can either cook the empanadas, or freeze them, spread out on a sheet, to use later.
When you are ready to cook the empanadas, lightly brush with an egg wash (an egg beaten with ¼ cup water) before baking. This step is not absolutely necessary – it just ensures a nice toasty-looking empanada. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees until brown. Serve these with a yogurt-cumin dipping sauce: simply mix some ground cumin into some Greek yogurt. Just on their own they are yummy, too! Now that you know the secret, please experiment with other fillings: mushroom, spinach and gruyere, or even mozzarella and membrillo!
Sauteing the onions, peppers, and ground beef filled the room with delicious aromas. We learned how to make the Empanadillas. Michael and I decided they’d be better with a spicy pork. They were still good.
You can buy pre-made hummus at Trader Joe’s and doctor it up to look lovely and presentable, but why not make it yourself when it is so easy and delicious?
1 can chickpeas or
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked and boiled until tender
1 clove garlic, peeled
Extra virgin olive oil
3-4 sprigs parsley
¼ tsp. paprika
For a nice plateful of hummus, use one can of canned chickpeas (or soak and boil your own) and put in a food processor with a clove of garlic and the juice of at least one lemon. A swirl of olive oil will add richness or flavor and a smooth consistency. Salt works a charm. For variations: What about adding a roasted red pepper or two? Or sun dried tomato? You are the Hipcook!
To serve, plop the hummus onto a plate and smooth the top. Make a little swirly-well, which you can fill with olive oil. Sprinkle all over with chopped parsley and a dash of paprika. Serve with toasted bits of tortilla bread, or use toasted pita triangles, lavash, or even pita chips. Here’s to your good health, hummus is wonderful!
The hummus was a show-stopper. It was delicious and spicy! Adding more garlic makes it spicier. The hummus didn’t have tahini sauce in it either but it was great without it!
1 lb. shrimp (frozen, uncooked, or fresh)
2-3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
5-8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno chili, chopped (optional)
½ cup dry white wine (optional)
½ lemon (optional)
¼ tsp. saffron (optional)
Buy a packet of frozen uncooked shrimp, or get fresh ones from a fish market. Try to buy the kind with the tail on for easy grabbing. Make sure the shrimp are as dry as possible before they go into the skillet or wok – so drain them well in a colander.
In a large skillet or wok, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add about 5-8 cloves of finely chopped garlic. When the garlic starts to sizzle and imparts its flavor, add the shrimp. Feel free to add some finely chopped jalapeno chili for some heat if you like, or a ½ a glass of white wine. You can also add a pinch of saffron threads. Once the shrimp are cooked through (they will turn pink all over), serve immediately, piping hot. Feel like adding a squeeze of lemon, a dash of flake salt or a handful of chopped herbs? Go for it! Remember a bowl for the tails. Yum!
The shrimp were my FAVORITE of the night! So delicious! Michael showed off his mad skills when it comes to tossing food in a skillet. 🙂 Everyone was impressed.
The instructor ran out of saffron so she only added a tiny bit–still it was enough to make an amazing dish. I cannot get over how much I loved the garlic-saffron shrimp.
At the end of the class, we all sat at the table and ate the food. I was stuffed by the time we left. Which was awesome because I had NOT been able to satisfy my insatiable hunger since Hood to Coast. The cooking class definitely cured me.
It was a really fun class and I’m excited to try more things like that!
NOTE: Everything we learned to make the instructor said we could prepare ahead of time for parties. She also said almost all of the ingredients could be found at a Trader Joe’s. There were a few items (like the pastry for the Empanadillas) that need to be bought at an ethnic food store.
Eating the food made me want to travel to Spain and eat more!
QUESTION: Have you ever taken a cooking class? Did you like it? And did you go home and recreate the dishes you learned?