A brief recap of our Gourmet Dinner Club:
Two years ago, we started having regular dinner parties with two other couples. We alternate who hosts, who then picks the theme and makes the entree. The other couples make appetizers and dessert. If the host wants, they can also invite a guest couple and assign them a soup or salad course.
Our Spanish dinner darty
For our eighth installment, Jenn and Eric chose a Spanish theme. They invited Jeff (aka Chef Jeff – but no, he’s not a chef) and his girlfriend Olivia. Jeff is a longtime friend of Alicia, but Jenn and Eric have made friends with him along the way.
It was a beautiful day in New Jersey, especially for late March. It was in the mid-sixties and sunny which meant we could sit outside and enjoy some vitamin D along with our wine.
As our appetizers, Danny and Alicia brought squid for grilling, a butter bean spread, roasted shishito peppers, and Spanish cheeses and chorizo.
For a soup course, Jeff and Olivia brought an Andalusian gazpacho, which has ancient roots. Temperatures in Andalusia are frequently over 100 degrees, and this cool and refreshing soup would be the perfect addition for a hot day. We updated the gazpacho with bread, cheese, and sour cream.
The entree course brought the crown jewel of the evening – paella. Jenn and Eric brought out the MASSIVE paella pan and got to work. In front of our eyes they created a masterpiece paella with chicken thighs, chorizo, shrimp, squid, mussels, and clams. The best part was that they had never cooked paella before didn’t cook directly from a recipe. They researched traditional paella recipes and created their own version and it turned out incredible.
I ditto what Dan just said to me while I’m writing this post, “I could eat that every night.”
To wrap up the evening, I brought a dessert. Now, when I started thinking about what to make for dessert, Google gave me some traditional options, but most Spanish desserts include nuts (not good for Jenn). Then I asked my sister, Mady, who lived in Spain for a year and a half, “What do people typically eat for dessert in Spain?” Her response: “Shots.” Apparently, the Spaniards she knew were more into the alcohol than sweets. Since I knew we would be enjoying wine throughout the night, liquor was not the right choice.
I ended up picking churros, which are always a winner. It was my first experience frying and it wasn’t nearly as frightening or messy as I anticipated. To make the churros in advance, I fried them at home without seasoning with cinnamon sugar. Before we ate them, I put them back in the oven for a few minutes to warm, then covered them in cinnamon sugar. I also made an espresso-chocolate dipping sauce for good measure.