You’ll never guess what I did! I can’t believe I pulled it off…with minimal help, I somehow managed to cook 9 tapas-style dishes for a party of about 25 people. My boss asked me if I’d cater his birthday party…tapas style. He let me pick the dishes, did all the shopping for me, and gave me full reign over his kitchen for two days. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve ever had because honestly, as I was prepping, I had no idea if it was all going to come together in the end. I did get a little bit of prep help from one of the guests; she was nice enough to do some slicing and chopping for me (Thank you Judy!!!) and I had help with some of the plating and a little bit of cooking from my good friend (and my boss’s daughter) Kait’s boyfriend, Zach.
Some of the dishes I chose to make were things I’ve made before but repurposed into something a little new, like my Spinach and Artichoke Dip. I stuffed that into baby bella mushrooms and baked ’em for a bit. Of course the extra dip was set out with tortilla chips because duh, you can’t not have spinach and artichoke dip at a party. I made that amazing Sesame-Glazed Cauliflower again, but this time added in Brussels sprouts, and I did another riff on my Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash with Dried Cherries, Pomegranates and Pepitas, but changed up a few things. I made my favorite Basil Pesto and slathered it all over cooked shrimp. I let that marinate for a bit and made a corn and tomato salad to serve under the shrimp. Of everything I made, I was most proud of that dish. It was plated beautifully and had such vibrant colors. Plus, that basil pesto is out of this world. I scooped Mango-Peach Guacamole into mini phyllo dough shells, topped sheets of puff pastry with balsamic caramelized onions, sliced apples and gruyere cheese and melted it to perfection, whipped up homemade aoili and brava sauce (Jose Andres recipes! Ah!) for Patatas Bravas, stuffed corn tortillas with goat cheese, eggplant, zucchini and squash and grilled up some veggie quesadillas, and made salmon cakes and a spicy chili-garlic sauce for dipping.
Feedback was amazing, and everyone really seemed to enjoy the food. I know the man of the evening really loved it. I am so grateful he gave me this opportunity; I would never have thought I could do something like this and I really hope I can again soon.
Don’t worry, I wouldn’t entice you with all these delicious descriptions if I wasn’t going to share the recipes! I’ll be sharing each and every one of them, so make sure you come back and check ’em out!