Tapas + PDX Food Bloggers + Whole Foods Market = happy weekend!
After returning from our European vacation (I’ll share our adventures on the blog starting tomorrow!), I was so delighted to get back into my own kitchen and cook again. The PDX Food Bloggers group, spearheaded by Rebekah of PDX Food Love and Fabiola of Not Just Baked, teamed up with Whole Foods Market and A Well Crafted Party to host a Tapas Competition and Spanish Wine Tasting event. What better way to snuggle right back into my lovely hometown? I decided to make Manchego Stuffed Spanish Meatballs (recipe below) for my contribution.
The event kicked off with a Spanish wine tasting, presented by Justin with Whole Foods Market. I’m normally a fan of the bold Spanish reds and not so much a fan of Spanish white wines, but I instantly took a liking to the first pouring of a 2009 Marques de Gelida Brut Reserva Cava. I was sweating from having just run in from the warm outdoors (a few minutes late, per usual) & from rushing to set up my tapas dish, and the moment that refreshing light white wine hit my lips, I was transported to a place of calm as if on a tender summer breeze. Delightful!
I also enjoyed the 2006 Dehesa La Granja. Like most Spanish Tempranillos, this was a tender, approachable red wine that is also, at just about $20, wallet-friendly.
After the wine tasting, Bee of The Spicy Bee dropped some fun tapas knowledge on the group, and then it was time to taste the tapas.
Admittedly, I was nervous bringing my dish to not just be tasted but also (gulp) judged by local food bloggers. This is one talented bunch when it comes to cooking and baking, and although I thoroughly enjoy everyone’s company, cooking for them is a little intimidating! From tasting my first cronut (croissant + donut = cronut) used in Andrew‘s delicious braised pork rib slider to Rebekah‘s delightful Pinot noir mushroom pate with pickled blackberries (she pickled the blackberries! Genius!), each and every contribution was worthy of applause (and seconds…and thirds…).
In the end, the mouthwatering pumpkin flan by Tiffany of Thyme of Taste won first place in the tapas competition. Tiffany’s dish elevated flan to a new level, as the intense pumpkin flavor and tenderness of the flan was paired with a crunchy brittle. I’m still drooling thinking about it.
While we couldn’t all win first place, the adorable, talented Jenni Bost of A Well Crafted Party put together some fantastic goody bags for each of us, including super cute cocktail picks that she created (I’ll be using those for an event soon, for sure!), Goodness Knows sample bars, Pukka tea, a coffee card from Black Rock Coffee. The sweet event cards and napkins were by TinyPrints, and of course, I loved the whole color scheme ;).
It is always such a joy to reconnect with fellow food blogger pals and to meet new ones. So many times, you feel like you know someone since you’ve been connected with them online and read their blogs for so long, that it when you meet for the first time in person it just feels like seeing an old friend. I’ve included the participating blogger links and encourage you to follow them and get to know them as well! Such a talented, friendly, fun group!
- Mary Eats
- PDX Food Love
- Not Just Baked
- A Well Craft Party
- Margaritas in the Rain
- The Spicy Bee
- Pechluck’s Food Adventures
- Tossing the Script
- Cooking Catastrophe
- Thyme of Taste
- Kung Foo Feltus
Even though my Manchego Stuffed Spanish Meatballs didn’t win, I’m still pretty proud of them, considering I was still in a somewhat jet-lagged daze when cooking them :) They are hubby-approved and I highly recommend these for your fall and winter get-togethers. Be sure to read my make-ahead and leftover tips too at the bottom.
Manchego Stuffed Spanish Meatballs
Recipe inspired by and adapted from Cake and Batter Bowl
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup roasted red peppers
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
1 tablespoon sherry cooking wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
TO MAKE THE SAUCE:
Place all of the above ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.
1 pound ground sirloin (I used 93% fat free ground sirloin)
1 pound ground pork
1 large egg
3/4 cup Panko
3-4 minced garlic cloves
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces of Manchego cheese cut into about 40 very small cubes (see photo below)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
NOTE: Manchego cheese usually comes in 6-pounce portions, and the image below shows a 6-ounce portion with approximately 4 ounces cubed. I used very small cubes because I didn’t want to overwhelm the meatballs with oozing cheese, but you are also free to use larger chunks of cheese if you’d like. I might, in fact, do so the next time I make these.
TO MAKE THE MEATBALLS:
1. Place the ground sirloin, pork, Panko, egg, garlic, paprika, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, mix and knead the mixture until all ingredients are well blended.
2. Shape about 40 meatballs and place one cube of cheese in the center of each. Close up the meat around the cheese and take a minute to reshape the meatball in your palms, ensuring you completely seal the cheese in.
3. Place meatballs onto plates and place in the refrigerator to chill for just about 10-15 minutes. I always find this helps meatballs keep their shape when cooking.
4. When you’re ready to cook the meatballs, heat olive oil over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet. Remove meatballs from the refrigerator and, working in batches to ensure evenness, cook the meatballs until they are browned on all sides.
5. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and add the pureed sauce to the pan. Gently fold in the sauce with the meatballs so all of the meatballs get delicately dressed in the sauce. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until all of the meatballs are cooked through.
6. To serve at parties, pierce a toothpick or cocktail pick through each meatball and gently spoon some sauce over each meatball.
MAKE AHEAD TIPS:
1. You can make the sauce up to one day ahead of time. Simply keep covered and refrigerated until you are ready to use.
2. You can make the meatballs up to one day ahead of time as well. Keep covered and refrigerated, and then set out for about 10 minutes at room temperature before you are ready to start cooking the meat.
1. Toss them into a bowl of pasta for a quick spaghetti with meatballs dish.
2. Place leftover meatballs in a hoagie with some sauteed onions for a meatball sub.