Sunday, March 10, 2013

Book Club Gathering with a Spanish Flair

Several months ago, my friend Domenica told me that she and some friends from work had discovered that they were all reading Gone Girl at the same time, so they decided to form a book club to discuss it...and also to drink wine and eat good food together. Tee hee. I am sad that I missed the first meeting--especially as I have read all of Gillian Flynn's books and enjoyed them. But she invited me for the second book, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zaf√≥n, another book I read and enjoyed very much; in fact, I use a quote from it as a heading to this blog!

Because the book is Spanish, Domenica decided on a tapas theme for the book club meeting. And the membership did not disappoint! The sangria flowed freely, as did an odd drink of red wine and Coke called kalimotxo. For the savory nibbles, there were stuffed mushrooms, little cheeseballs rolled in nuts and skewered, crackers and hummus, olive and cheese bread with tomato sauce to dip into, and a beautiful Spanish tortilla (like an Italian frittata).

For the dessert course, our lovely hostess made churros and a thick, decadent chocolate sauce to dunk them into. Another gal made some gluten-free lemon bars that were nutty and tangy, but the real showstopper was this gorgeous dulce de leche flan cake atop a brownie-like base. YUM!

As for my contribution, I am still without a range in my kitchen, so I wanted to make something simple, something that I could cook quickly at the party, right before serving. What could be more perfect than some spicy, garlicky shrimp and a crusty baguette to sop up the yummy juices? Easy, delicious, and you will always bring home a clean plate if you serve this dish at a party!

Gambas al Ajillo (Spicy Garlic Shrimp)
(Source: adapted from Lisa and Tony Sierra)

1 1/2 lbs. shrimp, 25 count to a pound (I used frozen, ez-peels)
6 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon sweet Spanish paprika, plus 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 (up to one whole) teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
2 tablespoons (up to 1/4 cup) cognac or brandy
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon for juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 fresh baguette, toasted and sliced

Mix the shrimp with the garlic, all the seasonings, cognac, and olive oil. Saute in a large skillet in a single layer, just a couple/few minutes each side, until they are pink throughout and just starting to curl a bit (not all the way to a "c" shape). Transfer to a serving dish along with the seasoned oil, squeeze the lemon over the top, and garnish with the fresh parsley. Serve with slices of crusty bread to soak up the yummy juice!


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Lisita said...

Hi! My name is Lisa Sierra. My husband and I are the Spanish Food experts on About, and wrote the recipe you used for the garlic shrimp. It looks so yummy... and you are a great photographer, too!