Al Fresco Spanish Tapas With Habitual Hostess
Always inspired by entertaining connoisseur’s Alston and Leigh of Habitual Hostess, we asked the two fête queens to share their go-to ingredients for an al fresco August dinner done right.
Amidst autumn’s upcoming chill in the air, the dress code is silky dresses in vibrant shades of cerulean and green.
As for the menu, sparkling cocktails and Spanish-inspired recipes (think garlicky shrimp, artichoke and olive crostini) made fresh with farmer’s market finds are always loved.
Did someone say Cava?
Below, a behind-the-scenes look at their latest dinner party, including how to perfectly toast your crostini.
What They Wore:
What They Served
Tinto de Verano
4 ounces dry red Spanish wine (a Spanish Grenache works perfectly!)
4 ounces lemon-lime soda
1 lemon or lime slice for garnish
Artichoke & Olive Crostini
1 can (14 oz) of artichoke hearts, drained
1 can (14 oz) of green olives, drained
1 tablespoon capers
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil
Toasted baguette slices for serving
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until it’s coarsely combined, about 10 seconds.
Serve dip spooned on top of crusty bread.
Adding a Spanish sparkling, like Cava, elevates any occasion. Its taste is far more similar to Champagne than Prosecco. It’s dry with effervescent bubbles, lime, apple and almond flavors.
Pairing Cava with this Artichoke Olive Tapenade Crostini was a delight! The brilliant bubbles cut through the oils perfectly making it addictive and delicious!
Hot Chorizo Fundido
4 ounces dried chorizo, diced small
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 scallions, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated
Bread slices and red pepper strips for serving
Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
In a medium bowl, mix the jalapeño, cilantro, scallions and salt. Add the cheese and toss well.
Preheat the broiler. Combine the chorizo and cheese mixture and pour into a shallow baking or gratin dish. Broil until melted and bubbling, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Ribera del Duero is the ultimate expression of “Tinta del País” or Tempranillo in Spain. It tends to have more power and elegance than Rioja. It’s velvety and refined with lots of fresh fruit, toasted notes and slightly creamy. The moderate acidity makes this Tempranillo extremely food friendly and elegant.
The freshness of all the ripe fruit is refreshing against the salt and spice in the Hot Chorizo Fundido. The balanced acidity in this wine brings out the spices in the dish in only the best ways.
Garlicky Shrimp & Pan Con Tomate
1 1/2 lb large shrimp
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons olive oil
15 plump garlic cloves, minced (3 Tablespoon)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake
1/4 cup sherry or white wine
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoon lemon juice
Minced parsley to garnish
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium low heat. Once warm, add butter and let it melt. Add smoked paprika and red pepper flakes and let it toast for about 1 minute. Add garlic and let that sauté another minute. Add sherry, salt, black pepper and lemon juice and stir to combine. Take off heat.
Peel and devein shrimp. Pat dry with a paper towel and sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. Toss shrimp with cooled sauce.
Divide shrimp between six ramekins or in a medium sized baking dish, laying the shrimp flat but slightly overlapping. Divide remaining garlic sauce to top.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Top with parsley and a sprinkle of flaky salt.
For the Pan Con Tomate:
6 pieces of rustic bread
1 large ripe tomato (or two small)
1 plump garlic clove
Large pinch of salt
Preheat your boiler. Drizzle bread with olive oil. Broil a few minutes until toasty.
Cut tomato in half. Grate the tomato on the large holes side of a box grater. Add finely grated garlic and salt. Spoon on top of toasted bread.
From the Rueda region in Spain, Verdejo is a dry white wine filled with citrus (think grapefruit and lime) and is a wonderful alternative to a Sauvignon Blanc.
The Verdejo's vibrant citrus flavors are a lovely match for all the garlicky goodness in this Shrimp dish. The acidity also brings out the best flavors of the shrimp creating such a well rounded and delicious pairing!
Zest of one large lemons
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups ground almonds or almond meal/flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
A few whole almonds with skin on, for middle of cookie decor
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Zest lemon. Add to the sugar and pinch together.
Separate yolks from the egg whites. In a medium glass bowl, beat the egg whites to a stiff peak with an electric mixer or hand mixer.
Gently stir in egg yolk. Do not overstir.
Add sugar, ground almonds, extracts and mix.
Use your hands to roll cookies into mounds and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Press an almond into the center of each cookie.
Bake in oven on center rack for approximately 15 minutes or until the cookies start to turn a golden color.
Transfer cookies immediately from pan to wire rack using a spatula. Let cool.
The best way to end a meal is with sweet on sweet! Sherry is a traditional dessert wine of Spain and Amontillado style has a richer, nutty flavor profile with some more complexity compared to other styles.
The flavor profiles of both the cookie and the Sherry were similar with almond and hazelnut flavors creating the perfect complementary pairing to end the night.
What They Sipped
Tinto de Verano
Artichoke & Olive Crostini
Hot Chorizo Dip
With Finca La Capilla Crianza, Ribera del Duero 2018 (Tempranillo)
with Pan Con Tomate
What They Wore
“We each donned a silk shirt dress from J.McLaughlin’s latest line, I wore the Mollie silk dress and Alston wore the Seville silk dress. The flowy material is perfect and the cut is easy for hosting and entertaining.” – Leigh
“I loved the versatility of the Paloma dress and how you could have a different look by adding a belt or even wearing it open for a more casual look.” – Heather
What They Listened To
What They Wore
Dining al fresco transports you to that place you are trying to get to with the ambiance you create! Tonight we dined in Spain!