Small Goes Global

There’s a fine line between hors d’oeuvre and tapas. Why not cross it? The former’s a dainty prelude to the main course, the latter a delectable entity in its own right, just the thing to satisfy the serial cravings of guests engaged in a spirited evening of talking and tasting. Tapas are typically Spanish, but as small-minded chefs around town are demonstrating with increasing frequency, they don’t have to be. They can be as Asian as Patricia Yeo’s crab pot stickers or as French as Diane Forley’s skewered croque monsieur. At Alfredo of Rome, zucchini escapes the clichéd fate of an antipasto plate to become the wrapper for a sheep’s-milk-ricotta roll. Sake adds an Asian flavor to Sushi Samba’s steamed Manila clams with sofrito. And what’s more American than a salmon croquette, shrunk down to manageable size at Mark Strausman’s new Chinghalle? Still, there’s something to be said for tradition, and no one says it better than chef Luis Bollo of Meigas, downtown’s bastion of nouvelle Spanish cuisine. If you want to see what sparked the craze to graze, sample his classic recipes for tuna-stuffed piquillo peppers, toast with marinated anchovies, and chicken-and-chorizo brochettes, and find out for yourself why tapas is always used in the plural.


Crab Pot Stickers With Spicy Sesame Dipping Sauce
Makes about 30 to 36 pot stickers.
1 teaspoon canola oil
1/2 cup garlic chives (optional)
4 ounces whitefish, diced (preferably cod)
3 small egg whites
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces lump crabmeat
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup bias-cut scallions, white part only
1 package Shanghai-style wrappers or gyoza wrappers (preferably round white-flour wrappers)
1/4 cup peanut oil
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
Heat the canola oil in a nonstick pan, add the garlic chives, and sauté until wilted. Remove the chives from the pan and set aside to cool.

Place the fish, 2 egg whites, and cream in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add fish sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a chilled mixing bowl and fold in the crab, garlic chives, cilantro, and scallions.

Lightly beat the remaining egg white in a bowl. Keep the wrappers covered with a damp paper towel or plastic wrap. Place a walnut-size spoonful of filling in the center of each wrapper, fold in half over the filling to form a half-moon, and moisten the edges with egg white. Beginning at the right, pleat the top fold of the wrapper. After each pleat, pinch the dough to join it with the bottom fold. Proceed until the dumpling is fully sealed. Repeat with remaining wrappers, keeping the finished dumplings covered to prevent drying out.

Blanch the dumplings in a large pot of unsalted boiling water for 2 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. (The dumplings can be made about 5 hours ahead, but must be tossed in a little canola oil before refrigerating to keep them from sticking together.) Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in a large nonstick pan, add some of the dumplings, and sauté, pressing down on the top of each dumpling to flatten and cook the underside until it is golden brown. Do not turn. Remove from the pan and repeat with remaining dumplings.

Fill the pan with a layer of dumplings, golden-brown side down, and deglaze the pan with half the chicken stock and wine. Cover, and let the pot stickers steam and warm through. Remove to a platter with a slotted spoon and repeat with remaining dumplings, adding stock and wine as necessary. Place warm pot stickers on a plate and serve with the spicy sesame dipping sauce on the side.

Spicy Sesame Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons sambal (available in Indonesian and some Chinese markets)
2 shallots, diced
2 tablespoons bias-cut scallions, green part only
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.

Croque Monsieur
Makes about 10 to 12.
1 teaspoon butter
8 slices white bread, crusts removed
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon chopped chives
4 ounces Fontina cheese, grated
4 ounces (6 or more slices) thinly sliced smoked Black Forest ham
1 cup cream or milk
3 eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
Bamboo skewers
Butter an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan and line with oiled parchment paper. Begin layering the croque monsieur by lining the bottom of the loaf pan with bread (use 2 slices for each layer). Dot the first layer with 1 generous tablespoon mascarpone cheese and spread as evenly as possible. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the chives over the cheese. Cover with 1/4 cup Fontina cheese and layer the ham over cheese. This is one complete layer. Build two more layers, ending with a row of bread.

Whisk together the cream or milk and eggs in a bowl to make a custard. Strain the custard through a sieve and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the custard over the croque monsieur, cover with parchment paper, and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before baking. The croque can be placed overnight in the refrigerator at this point if desired.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the loaf pan in a deep casserole and add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the loaf pan to create a bain-marie. Cover with a piece of buttered parchment paper. Bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the custard has set. Test with a toothpick – if it comes out clean, remove from the oven and the bain-marie and allow the croque monsieur to cool in the loaf pan. When cool, place in the refrigerator to chill. Turn the croque out of the pan and cut into generous 1/2-inch-thick slices. Cut each slice in half across the layers and skewer the two halves together. (The slices can be left whole for a sturdier presentation.)

To serve: Heat an 8-inch sauté pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil and gently place the croque monsieur skewers into the pan; sauté until golden brown on both sides. Serve with a green salad.

Piquillos Rellenos de Atún
(Tuna-stuffed Piquillo Peppers)
Stuffs about 10 peppers.

5 ounces sashimi-quality tuna, trimmed
Coarse sea salt
1/2 stalk celery, finely diced
1 slice peeled fresh ginger, about the size of a quarter
2 sprigs Italian parsley
3 black peppercorns
8 to 9 tablespoons extra-virgin Spanish olive oil, plus additional oil for sautéing
1 leek, white part only, minced
2 tablespoons minced carrot
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallion, white part only
1 medium beefsteak tomato, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
1 jar (6 to 7 ounces) imported wood-fired piquillo peppers, drained (available from Kitchen Market, 218 Eighth Ave., near 21st St.; 212-243-4433)
1 tablespoon pitted, minced black olives
Maldon sea salt
1 generous handful mâche

Cut the tuna into 1/2-inch-thick slices and coat both sides with 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt. Set aside for 5 minutes, then rinse the tuna and pat dry.

Put the celery, ginger, parsley, peppercorns, and 5 tablespoons olive oil in a blender and purée. Place the tuna in a bowl and coat with the puréed marinade. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes. Remove the tuna from the marinade and scrape off the excess marinade before cutting the tuna into very small cubes.

Sweat the leek in 2 teaspoons oil in a sauté pan over medium heat until tender, add carrot, and cook for 2 minutes. Season to taste with coarse sea salt. Add sherry vinegar and 3 tablespoons oil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.

Mix the diced tuna with the scallion, the tomato, and the carrot-leek mixture. Fold together gently until combined. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt, pepper, olive oil, and vinegar. Trim the peppers and carefully pack them with the tuna mixture, taking care not to tear the peppers, as they are very soft.

Serve the peppers topped with olives, Maldon sea salt, and a little mâche.

Tosta de Boquerones
(Toast With Marinated Fresh Anchovies)
12 portions.

2 tablespoons aïoli (1 thin slice of garlic puréed with mayonnaise)
12 1/4-inch-thick slices day-old baguette, brushed with oil and fried or toasted until crisp and golden on both sides
12 to 14 fillets of marinated white anchovies (available at Dean & DeLuca)
2 ounces salmon roe (4 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon pitted, minced black olives, preferably Calamata
Extra-virgin Spanish olive oil
2 roma tomatoes, peeled and diced very small (optional)
2 teaspoons thinly sliced chives
12 little sprigs chervil

Spread a little aïoli over each piece of toast. Make a teardrop of the anchovy by bringing the ends together and placing on top of the aïoli. Fill the centers with salmon roe, sprinkle with a few of the chopped olives, and dot with oil. Garnish with tomatoes, chives, and chervil.

Salmon Croquettes
Makes about 16 croquettes.

3 6-ounce cans salmon, skin and large bones removed
4 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, minced
1/2 clove garlic, minced
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour plus 1/4 cup for dredging
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 jigs Tabasco sauce or to taste
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 eggs
2 cups unseasoned fresh bread crumbs
1 cup vegetable oil

Drain the salmon and place in a stainless-steel mixing bowl. Heat the butter in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic, and sauté until translucent. Stir in the 4 teaspoons flour using a wooden spoon; when the flour and butter are combined, slowly add 1/2 cup milk, stirring to prevent lumps from forming. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir the salmon into the sauce until all the ingredients are combined and return to the bowl. Add the parsley and season to taste with the salt, pepper, Old Bay, Worcestershire, and Tabasco. Stir in the mayonnaise using a rubber spatula, cover the bowl, and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

With the palms of your hands, form the salmon mixture into small patties, about 112 inches in diameter. Beat the eggs in a bowl, put the remaining milk in another bowl, sprinkle 1/4 cup flour on a plate, and spread the bread crumbs on a cookie sheet.

Dip the croquettes first in the milk, then in the flour, then in beaten egg, and finally coat with bread crumbs, making sure each croquette is completely covered with bread crumbs. Set on a tray. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, place several of the croquettes in the pan and sauté for about 3 minutes on each side, or until bread crumbs turn golden. (Make sure the oil does not smoke and discolor or the bread crumbs will burn.) Place the croquettes on paper bags or paper towels to drain. Serve warm with garlic mayonnaise or a slice of lemon.

Pincho de Pollo y Chorizo
(Chicken-and-Chorizo Brochette With Cumin Aïoli)
Makes about 10 brochettes.

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 clove garlic, crushed to a purée
1 tablespoon ground cumin
5 to 6 imported Spanish chorizos (1-inch diameter), sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
3 skinless, boneless chicken-breast halves, about 11/2 pounds, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup Spanish olive oil
12 to 14 bamboo skewers, 8 inches long, soaked in water

Put the mayonnaise, garlic, and cumin in a blender and pulse until it has a smooth consistency. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate the cumin aïoli. This should be made several hours ahead.

Starting and ending with chorizo, thread the skewers with alternating pieces of chorizo and chicken. Set the brochettes in a shallow bowl, cover completely with olive oil, and allow to marinate 12 hours.

Remove the brochettes from the oil and shake off excess oil. Heat the grill or pan until very hot, place the brochettes on the grill, and sear on all sides, turning frequently until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Serve with the cumin aïoli.

Steamed Manila Clams With Sofrito, Sweet Sake, Bacon, and Fried Ginger
Serves six.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling
1/4 cup julienne of fresh ginger
1/4 cup chopped bacon
1 cup diced white onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup 1/4-inch diced red peppers
1/2 cup 1/4-inch diced yellow peppers
1/2 cup 1/4-inch diced poblano peppers
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
48 Manila clams (New Zealand cockles can be substituted)
1/2 cup sweet sake
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a small frying pan, add the julienne of ginger, and cook until golden. Drain and set the ginger on a paper towel to dry.

Add the bacon to a large, hot frying pan and cook until the fat is rendered and the bacon is cooked and crisp. Add the onions and garlic and cook until onions are translucent. Add all the peppers and cook until they are soft, then sprinkle in the thyme. Add the clams and sweet sake to the sofrito in the pan, and cook until the clams have steamed open. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place 8 steamed clams in each bowl and spoon the sofrito mixture on top. Garnish with the fried ginger and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Seared and Marinated Zucchini and Sheep’s-Milk-Ricotta Rolls
in Mint Dressing

Serves six (makes about 20 to 24 rolls).

4 zucchini
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces imported Italian sheep’s-milk ricotta
1 rounded tablespoon toasted pignoli nuts (toasted in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes)
1 rounded tablespoon finely chopped raisins
1 rounded tablespoon finely chopped pitted dates
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon vincotto (available in BuonItalia in Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Ave.); balsamic vinegar can be substituted
1 tablespoon finely shredded mint
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Cut the zucchini lengthwise into 1/5-inch-wide slices. Discard the two outside green slices from each zucchini. Set the slices on a large plate and season with 2 tablespoons oil, and salt and pepper. Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat and sear the slices on both sides until pale golden; set aside on a large platter to cool. Repeat with remaining slices.

Combine the ricotta, pignoli, raisins, and dates in a bowl. In another bowl, mix together the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, vinegar, honey, vincotto, mint, and Worcestershire sauce.

When the zucchini reaches room temperature, place a spoonful of the ricotta mixture at one end of each strip of zucchini and roll up. Serve the rolls on individual plates, 3 or 4 pieces each, topped with the dressing.

Small Goes Global