Tapas: Small plates bring big flavor

Baby Beets, Cucumbers and Feta Pintxos

Note: If you cannot find baby beets, use small beets. To make a vinegar reduction, simply simmer the moscatel vinegar until reduced by half.

• 8 baby beets, 1 to 1 1/2-inches in diameter
• Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
• 8 squares feta cheese, cut 3/4-inch square and 1/2-inch thick
• 8 pitted Kalamata olives
• 8 squares peeled English cucumber, cut 3/4-inch square and  1/2-inch thick
• Extra-virgin olive oil and moscatel vinegar reduction, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim the stems of the unpeeled beets, leaving 1/2 inch intact. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place them in a baking pan with 1/4 cup water. Roast for 30 minutes, or until just tender when pierced with a knife. Transfer to a bowl of cold water. When they are cool enough to handle, top and tail them and slip off the skins. (Note: If you are using small beets, cut them into squares, as you did the feta and cucumber.)
Thread each of 8 skewers with a beet, a feta square, an olive and a cucumber square. Arrange on a small platter. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar reduction. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Makes 8
— Gerald Hirigoyen, “Pintxos”

Albondigas with Wine Sauce

• Olive oil
• 1/4 cup onion, minced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 pound each ground beef and pork
• 3 tablespoons fresh, flat-leaf parsley, minced
• 1 large egg, lightly beaten
• 2 slices country bread, crusts removed, soaked in water, squeezed dry
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• Salt, pepper
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Wine Sauce:
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tablespoons chopped, blanched almonds
• 2 tablespoons fresh, flat-leaf parsley, minced
• 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
• A few saffron threads, warmed and crushed
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 cup minced onion
• 1/2 cup dry white wine, dry fino or amontillado sherry
• 2/3 cup chicken broth

Meatballs: Saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.
Combine ground meats, parsley, egg, softened bread, spices, salt, pepper and onion mixture. Mix well. Fry a nugget of the mixture, taste and adjust seasoning.
Shape mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Spread flour in a shallow bowl. Roll meatballs in flour, coating evenly and shaking off the excess.
In a large frying pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sear meatballs, turning as needed, until golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.
For the wine sauce: combine the garlic, almonds, parsley, paprika, saffron, a pinch or two of salt and a few grinds of pepper in a food processor; process until finely ground into a “picada.”
In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add wine and broth; bring to a simmer. Add meatballs, reduce heat, cover and simmer until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes more. Add the picada and cook a few minutes more.
Serves 8
— Joyce Goldstein, “Tapas: Sensational Small Plates from Spain”

Grilled Chorizo Kebabs with Cherries

Note: This recipe works equally well with fresh figs or apricots.

• 12 ounces cooking chorizo, cut into 1/2-inch circles
• 1/2 pound cherries, pitted
• 1 large red onion or bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
• Olive oil

Preheat grill.
Skewer the ingredients together, alternating between the chorizo, fruit and onion. Place in a grill-safe pan. Drizzle with olive oil.
Grill over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, rotating the skewers periodically.
Serves 4
— Matchbox Wine and Tienda.com

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