You’re invited, tapas party.  BYOB.

The new year has me thinking about food, of course, and travel — reminiscing about past adventures,  daydreaming about future destinations, anticipating new foods to be discovered.  Come this time of year, am tired of the winter’s gray, bored with the daily routine, the travel bug begins to ease its way into my conscious.  Where to next?  What adventures lie ahead in 2013?

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover.” – Mark Twain

Until then, will have to settle for a little taste of the world here at home.  In Spain, tapas, or pintxos (in the Basque region), are the perfect vehicle for bringing people together for good food, wine (or Txakoli/ Chacolí), and conversation.  Order a few, order many, and share; stay awhile or move on to the next tapas bar in search of more savory bites.  This is my inspiration for today’s post.  On the menu: escabeche of mushroom and mussels — festive and fun, and a fond reminder of indulging in the best of San Sebastian until my stomach was as content as could be.

Escabeche = a Spanish preparation where fish, seafood, vegetables etc. are first (commonly) seared then marinated in a tangy sauce of olive oil, vinegar, herbs, and spices; served cold or room temperature after marinating in the refrigerator overnight or longer.

This particular escabeche (or marinade) — olive oil, sherry vinegar, onion, garlic, and fresh herbs —  is quick  and easy to prepare, and versatile.  While it’s great with roasted mushrooms and steamed mussels, its uses do not end there; perhaps, swap out the mussels for clams, fish (such as mackerel or sardines), or even shrimp.

The great thing about escabeche is that you can prepare it a day in advance.  The longer the mushrooms and mussels marinate, the more they absorb the delicious escabehce and the better they taste.  And, most importantly, more time for you to relax and enjoy good food (and wine) with friends.


Prepare the escabeche in advance and enjoy the party…

A colorful confetti of red and yellow bell peppers, cucumber, jalapeno, and red onion make it all the more festive…

For a fun presentation, serve in cans like the ones below…



Cremini Mushroom Escabeche

1 pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed, larger ones halved, smaller ones kept whole
Extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 tablespoon parsley, chopped
2 sprigs thyme
½ recipe Escabeche Marinade (below)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pepper relish (see recipe below) for garnish

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add the mushrooms (in batches) in a single layer and sauté until browned, about 6 to 7 minutes (repeat with the remaining mushrooms, adding more olive oil as needed).  Add the smoked paprika, herbs, and the escabeche marinade.  Season with salt and pepper, and let cool.  Garnish with chile relish.  Serve at room temperature.

Note: You can let the mushrooms marinade in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

Mussels Escabeche

1 1/2 pounds black mussels (look for plump mussels)
Zest of ½ an orange
½ recipe of Escabeche Marinade
Pepper relish (see recipe below) for garnish

In a large pot/pan, bring enough salted water to cover the mussels to a boil.  Add the mussels, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the mussels open (will take just a few minutes).  As the mussels open, remove them from the water.  Discard any mussels that do not open.  When cool enough to handle, remove the mussels from their shells and place the meat into a bowl.  Cover with the escabeche marinade.  Zest half the orange into the mussels.  Garnish with chile relish.  Serve at room temperature

Note: Let the mussels marinate up to 24 hours in the fridge.  The mussels are good eaten right away, but get better the longer they are allowed to absorb the marinade.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

Escabeche Marinade

(divided between the mushroom and mussels escabeche)

1 medium onion, thinly sliced
8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 thyme sprigs
1 sprig rosemary
1 bay leaf
Pinch chili flakes
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup sherry vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sauté the onions, garlic, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, and chili flakes in ½ cup of olive oil until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Turn off the heat.  Add the sherry vinegar and the remaining ½ cup of olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Pepper Relish

This makes more relish than you’ll need for garnish and makes for a tasty salad on its own.

1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 small seedless cucumber
2  jalapeño peppers
½ small red onion
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut the bell peppers, cucumber, jalapeno, and onion into a small (~1/8 inch) dice.  Toss with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

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I always find your posts to be so unique and creative (aside from very pretty).


I always find your posts to be so unique and creative (aside from very pretty).


Thanks for the positive feedback Amy. I have a boring day job and the kitchen is my creative outlet.

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