Tony is all about food. His ongoing food events and special projects have been featured in the press. To learn more, you can view his gallery, read his blog, or simply contact him directly.

Archive for the ‘Spanish’ Category


Tentacles have gone MIA

Now, more than ever, chickens and cows are granted a few more days to graze the fields in order for alligators and kangaroos to take center plate. However, despite this overwhelming rush to serve the more exotic, I was recently disappointed (twice) after ordering a simple appetizer of fried calamari. I thought these restaurants played it safe by omitting, what I claim to be, the tastiest part of the squid – its tentacles. And I make this gustatory claim not because I’m trying to compensate for my long overdue appearance on Fear Factor, but instead do so with concrete culinary evidence on my side: the tentacles have more surface area, which makes them crispier, which in my book translates into yummier.
After striking disappointment at both restaurants earlier this month, I knew it was time to build up the courage and re-enter the squid-frying arena. Actively breaking my vow to never fry in my tiny college apartment ever again, I took out a heavy bottomed pot, cranked up my muffled exhaust fan and opened up all three windows of my apartment in (mid-February) Ithaca. In the end, it was totally worth it.

fried calamari

Fried Calamari

(yields 6 appetizer servings)

Components

  • 1 lb. of calamari, cleaned
  • 1 ½ cups of all purpose flour
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • vegetable oil, for deep frying

Putting them all together

  1. Heat vegetable oil to 350 degrees F and prep the squid by cutting the tubes into ½ inch rings and reserving the tentacle pieces.
  2. Season squid with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Flour each piece lightly, making sure to shake off the excess flour. Fry in small batches until golden brown (approx. 1 minute) and transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.
  4. Serve alongside Saffron Aioli.

Print

saffron aioli

Saffron Aioli

(yields approx. 1 cup)

Components

  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. hot water
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt, to taste

Putting them all together

  1. Steep saffron threads in hot water for 5-7 minutes.
  2. Place the egg yolks into a food processor and slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil to create an emulsion.
  3. Add the remainder of the ingredients and process until well combined.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Can be made the night before)

Print

Dating (à la gastronomique)

Restaurant Week is an epic, 7-day culinary affair that takes place in every fortunate metropolitan city from Los Angeles to New York. During this event an assortment the city’s finest, chic and most trendy restaurants offer a selection of their menu at an unreasonably low, fixed price.

I was in Washington D.C. this past summer when the gastronomic festivities began. Friends were contacted, reservations were made, and we immediately began eating our way through the seemingly endless list of fabulous restaurants.
If I had to play favorites, Mie N Yu, a small restaurant in the heart of Georgetown, wins my vote. Each dish was perfectly orchestrated from taste to presentation and offered sophisticated flavors in each bite. Many of the other restaurants, however, also had spectacular food; so, what sets Mie N Yu apart? Décor. It was absolutely stunning and perfectly complemented the entire dining experience. And if you visit, your experience would not be complete without a trip to their restroom, which has won numerous awards.
My favorite dish of theirs was an amuse-gueule that featured chorizo-stuffed medjool dates. The flavor profile was divine: the sweetness of the date was perfectly paired with the saltiness from the chorizo. Then the chef wrapped this heavenly concoction in crispy bacon and plated it over a bed of Spicy Moroccan Harissa Sauce.

Chorizo-Stuffed Medjool Dates

Chorizo-Stuffed Medjool Dates

Components

  • 4 oz. chorizo (1/4 lb.)
  • 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 small fennel bulb
  • 1 medium shallot
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 20 medjool dates
  • 20 slices of bacon, center cut
  • 1 tsp. harissa paste
  • 3 roasted red bell peppers, drained

Putting them all together

  1. To make the sauce, process the harissa paste, the drained roasted red bell peppers and lemon juice. Slowly drizzle 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to create a light emulsion and add a pinch of salt for seasoning.
  2. Coat a large sauté pan with the remaining olive oil and set over medium-low heat. Slice the fennel and shallot thinly and sweat for 8-10 minutes, or until translucent (add the salt to help break down the veggies while cooking).
  3. Remove the wrapper from the chorizo and pulse in the food processor until it reaches a coarse ground consistency.
  4. Combine the fennel mixture and ground chorizo in a medium bowl and set aside to cool. In the mean time, pit the medjool dates and create a small nest for the chorizo filling.
  5. In a large baking sheet, par-bake (approx. 5-7 minutes in a 350 degree oven) the bacon in order to render some of its fat before wrapping. This can be done in advance and also allows the bacon to crisp up quicker when baking the second time.
  6. Stuff the pitted dates with the chorizo filling and individually wrap them with the par-baked bacon. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 5-7 minutes, or until crisp.
  7. Plate over a bed of the Roasted Red Pepper Harissa sauce and enjoy!

notes:: Inspired by DC restaurant, Mie N Yu. You can make the filling the day and par-cook the bacon the day before.

Print

Tapas gone Trendy

Us college students are often burdened with tons of school work, lack of time and, of course, our social obligation to party. These four (sometimes five) years have marked a period in people’s lives when refrigerators are primarily used to stock drinks and pantries sadly store endless supplies of ramen noodles or mac & cheese – the token caloric providers. Aware of these pressing circumstances, I wanted to come up with an hors d’oeuvre that would be practical for college students, yet fabulous for any swanky dinner party.

The task presented endless challenges. For starters, I needed to find something that was trendy, classy and impressive, but was constricted by factors of taste, affordability and ease. Surely, these criteria sound contradictory, but a simple solution lay in Spain’s most brilliant culinary creation: tapas!
Tortilla Española is a classic tapas served in bars and restaurants all over Spain. Fortunately, this version doesn’t require any fancy gadgets or expert techniques, just a mini muffin tin, potato, onion and eggs (chorizo is optional, but highly recommended).
Enjoy!

mini tortillas españolas

Mini Spanish Tortillas

(makes approx. 24)

Components

  • 3 russet potatoes, peeled
  • 2 medium onions
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • chorizo picante (optional)

Putting them all together

  1. Halve the onions and then slice them into thin strips. Next, finely dice the potatoes.
  2. Coat a large non-stick sauté pan with olive oil and place over medium high heat. Add potato and onions, season with salt and pepper, and sweat the vegetables until tender (approximately 15-20 minutes).
    Note: Make sure to balance between heat and stirring so as to not get any color on the vegetables, but also not to over-stir so that the potatoes keep their shape.
  3. Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Add the cooked potato and onion mixture to the eggs and carefully spoon the mixture into greased mini muffin tins.
  5. Top each individual mini tortilla with diced chorizo and bake in a 400 degree oven for 7-9 minutes or until the tortillas have set.

Print