savoury canapés: smoked salmon with dill & crème fraiche
vegetarian option: chèvre, semidried tomato & sage
chicken liver and green peppercorn paté
fennel & mint salad
warmed with green olives
sweet canapés: lemon cheesecake & rose pashmak
I styled a tapas menu for a ‘Lunch & Learn’ at work last week and surprised myself by catering almost perfectly for 30 people – with just enough leftover for my own lunch. In case you are interested, these are the dishes I prepared [note: the paneer and Capri salad will feature in future posts].
The origins of tapas are fuzzy, with some sources claiming that tapas started as a means of keeping flies out of drinks, apparently in the form of a slice of cheese, bread or ham that was placed over a glass of wine. Others report that a sickly king decreed all of his subjects must eat food when they drink. I choose to subscribe to the first view, given that tapa literally means ‘lid’ in Spanish.
Nowadays, tapas are generally accepted to be a progressive meal of small dishes that are served with your drink(s), as opposed to a particular style of food.
These links will tell you more if you are interested in the history of tapas:
It took me over a week to prepare for my 1hr+15min cooking demonstration. Aside from menu creation, thinking of discussion ideas and the cooking itself, much of the hard work went into selecting the raw ingredients. For example, I sourced my olives from the Mondo Markets; bought jamon from Spanish Flavours; managed to purchase tomatoes that weren’t floury (which can be hard in Perth).
I designed each element of my menu carefully and purposefully: I selected two types of jamon to contrast the subtle complexity of the jabugo against the bold, full flavour of the serrano; the paneer is impressive to make, with a mix of milk and lemon juice becoming cheese before your very eyes; the salads were palate cleansers; the canapes all used the same shortcrust pastry to show off their versatility.
Creating a cocktail or tapas menu doesn’t have to be too onerous or expensive, so long as you choose mainly simple dishes and plan well. Incidentally, this menu for 30 came to around $10/head (incl.purchase of serving dishes/utensils). Not bad, methinks. I encourage you to try making tapas for yourself – and let me know how it turns out!