This past weekend, I was invited to exhibit my cookbook at the annual Great Valley Bookfest in Manteca, California. Part of the deal was that I was asked to do a cooking demo, somethinhg I had never done before. For those of you who have never heard of Manteca, it is a semi-rural agricultural town located in California's Central Valley, about 60 miles south of Sacramento. An unlikely place for a book fair, but 4000 people showed up!
It was a new and excellent experience for me. I sold quite a few books, met lots of very nice people including a couple who shared my exhibit table and may become lifelong friends. The husband of the couple is a veteran (147 shows) TV screenwriter, producer, and director in addition to being an aspiring novelist. You can imagine that it was a most interesting day.
My demo came off without a hitch. The person in charge told me that it was the best presentation of the day despite the fact that I was the only non-professional presenter. The others were chefs, restauranteurs or caterers. Some of the stuff they made was g-d awful. One lady massaged kale, stating that it would rejuvenate the body. She was young and skinny, and I am old and portly, so maybe she has it right, but I'll be she doesn't enjoy eating half as much as I do.
I didn't know what the cooking setup would be like, so I chose to make something simple, namely mushroom tapas, a recipe I got in Barcelona from a restaurant called Tapas, Tapas. It takes just a few minutes to make and is quite delicious. There were about 25 people in the audience and all of them asked for seconds! Here is the recipe, guaranteed to impress your friends.
1 Lb Button mushrooms, white or crimini
6 cloves Garlic, sliced thin
2 Tbs Fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs sherry
2 Tsp Paprika (hot, sweet or smoked)
2 Tbs Finely chopped Italian parsley
Sauté the mushrooms in a single layer in EVOO over very high heat for about 2 minutes. You will probably need two 10" or 12" skillets. Add the sliced garlic and sauté until fragrant, 30 - 60 seconds. Add the lemon juice, sherry and paprika. stir to coat the mushrooms and cook for a minute or so. Sprinkle over the parsley and serve at once with toothpicks for stabbing. Ideally, this dish should be one of many tapas served with a glass (or 2) of the sherry that you used in the recipe.
The measurements given in the recipe should be viewed as rough guidelines. Use more or less as you like. If you want heat, but don't have hot paprika, just add a little cayenne, red pepper flakes or even a dash or two of sriracha sauce.
A word about sherry, a critical ingredient of this recipe. First, use sherry from Spain. The domestic stuff just doesn't cut it. Sherry comes in several levels of sweetness. From driest to most sweet, the main ones are Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso and Cream. I like Amontillado for this recipe, but Fino is good if you want it less sweet. Oloroso and Cream sherries are too sweet in my opinion.