Alibi V.13 No.25 • June 17-23, 2004 

Tasteful Reads

A Spanish Tapas Party From Santa Fe's El Farol

Recipes from James Campbell Caruso's new cookbook

Spanish food is perfect for summer. When it's hot and you're feeling sluggish—not peckish—and little plates of cool tapas come to the table, your tummy is suddenly ready for some action. In the summertime, Santa Feans are particularly fond of El Farol, a Spanish restaurant in a beautiful old adobe on Canyon Road. There, Chef James Campbell Caruso puts out a mouthwatering menu of tapas that can reinvigorate even the most wilted appetites. Santa Fe can be too far for us to drive when the mood suddenly strikes so aren't we lucky that El Farol finally published a cookbook? The eponymously titled El Farol (hardcover, Gibbs Smith, $29.95) is a collection of the chef's favorite dishes, including a large collection of both cold and hot tapas. Here's a preview of the book, a collection of tapas (plus soup and dessert) that would work beautifully together as a refreshing backyard dinner.

shrimp escabeche
shrimp escabeche

Gazpacho (Chilled Raw Tomato Soup)

This is a classic soup of southern Spain.
Serves 8


10 roma tomatoes

1 red onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 small cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped

3 slices rustic white bread, crusts removed

1 1/2 quarts cold water

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Hard boiled eggs, chopped (optional)


1) Put all ingredients in a glass or plastic container and allow to stand for 15 minutes.

2) Purée well in a blender and refrigerate for 1 hour.

3) Serve in chilled bowls and top with chopped hard boiled egg if you like.

Betabeles (Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese Dressing)

Roasting brings out the earthy sweetness of the beets. The color contrast of the deep purple vegetable and the bright white of the dressing makes for a nice presentation. Serve this dish at room temperature.
Makes 4 tapa servings


1 pound fresh red or gold beets

1/2 cup sherry vinegar

1/4 cup good olive oil

4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced very thin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

1 recipe goat cheese dressing (recipe follows)


1) Preheat oven to 425° F.

2) Wash beets well and trim greens. (Save the greens; they are excellent for steaming or braising.) Cut beets into quarter wedges. Do not peel.

3) Toss beets and all other ingredients together in a large bowl. Transfer to a baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for 35 minutes.

4) Allow to cool to room temperature. Transfer to a platter and spoon the goat cheese dressing over the top.

Goat Cheese Dressing

Excellent with roasted root vegetables such as beets and parsnips. Use it on summer salads with cucumber, fresh asparagus and baby carrots.
Makes 2 cups


1 cup fresh soft goat cheese

1/2 cup milk

1 serrano chile, chopped

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 green onions, chipped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper


1) Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and purée well.

2) Chill for 1 hour to let the flavors come together.

Ensalada de Uvas con Queso (Grape Salad with Fresh Mozzarella)

A pretty summer salad with a nice combination of sweet and tart flavors.
Makes 8 tapa servings


1 cup seedless green grapes

1 cup seedless red grapes

1/2 cup small cherry or teardrop-shaped tomatoes

1 cup fresh cilengene (small balls of mozzarella, or cut a larger ball into 1-inch cubes)

1 cup pitted Moroccan black olives or kalamatas

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste


Toss all ingredients well and chill for 1 hour before serving. Can be eaten at room temperature.

Salmon Ceviche with Sweet Corn Vinaigrette

Vibrant pink and yellow colors make this ceviche a great presentation. At El Farol it is drizzled with paprika oil and served with pumpkinseed flatbread.
Makes 6 tapa servings


For salmon:

1 1/2 pounds salmon

1 cup fresh lime juice

1 white onion, diced

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon toasted ground coriander seed

For corn dressing:

1 1/2 cups fresh sweet corn, blanched

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons fino (pale, dry sherry)

1/2 cup olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

To serve:

2 roma tomatoes, diced

2 green onions, chopped

Bibb lettuce


1) Cut salmon into 1/2-inch cubes and toss with lime juice, onion, salt and coriander in a nonreactive container. Refrigerate for 12 hours or up to 24 hours.

2) Make the corn dressing in a food processor by adding 1 cup corn to vinegar and fino in the workbowl. While the motor is running, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until the mixture emulsifies. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3) Remove salmon from lime juice and discard the juice. Toss salmon with the dressing, tomatoes, green onions and remaining corn. Serve on Bibb lettuce with flatbread and a drizzle of olive oil or paprika-infused oil.

Shrimp Escabeche with Black Olives and Mint

This is a quick pickled shrimp dish for a hot day.
Makes 8 tapa servings


3 cups apple cider vinegar

1 cup water

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon whole cloves

Juice from 2 oranges

Zest from 1 orange

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons ancho chile powder

1/2 white onion

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 cup sliced black olives with 1/4 cup of brine

2 red onions, julienned

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint


1) Put all ingredients except the shrimp, olives red onions and mint into a large saucepan and bring the reserved liquid to a boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes.

2) Strain out flavorings; bring the reserved liquid to a boil again.

3) Add shrimp and cook until just cooked through (about 2 to 3 minutes). Remove shrimp from liquid and allow them to cool.

4) Put red onions and olives into a bowl. Pour the hot cooking liquid over the red onions and olives. Marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

5) Add the shrimp to the onion mixture and refrigerate. When chilled, serve topped with fresh mint.

Higos y Datiles (Mascarpone-stuffed Figs and Dates)

At El Farol, these mascarpone-stuffed figs and dates are served with toasted pistachios, orange segments and a caramel sauce made from Pedro Ximenez sherry. Use your favorite caramel sauce or serve without for a lighter, fresher flavor.
Makes 4 servings


12 large dried figs

12 large pitted dates

1/2 cup Mascarpone cheese

10 orange sections

1/2 cup shelled pistachios, lightly toasted and crushed


Slice each fig and date lengthwise without cutting all the way through and press them open. Fill each fig and date with mascarpone cheese. Arrange 3 filled figs and 3 filled dates on each plate. Top with orange sections and pistachios; drizzle with optional caramel sauce.