PAIRED Holiday Recipes: Tapas – Albondigas, Crab Stuffed Peppers, Mushroom Crositini

PAIRED: Holiday Recipes | Tapas
PAIRED: Holiday Recipes | Tapas

LOS ANGELES, December 1, 2014 – Tapas are one to two-bite appetizers that are casually served at parties, restaurants and bars in Spain.  They are very similar to appetizers in the United States.  Traditional tapas ingredients include assorted fish, peppers, jamon, but really anything goes.

While traveling in San Sebastian, Spain, I fell in love with the tradition of tapas.  During happy hour they line the bars with beautiful assorted one to two bite appetizers.  You’re free to grab what you want and, then in most bars, you use the honor system and tell the bartender what you enjoyed after you finished.

Below are a few favorites from my kitchen that are blend between Spanish and American cuisine.

Albondigas, crab stuffed roasted red peppers, braised mushrooms with crostini are all great Holiday Bits for your party platters.


Servings 4                                                  Time 1 hour


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, 1 small dice, 1 cut into ½ in strips
  • 2 red bell peppers cut into ½ inch strips
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
  • 2 cups chicken stock or beef stock 
  • 2 baby carrots, sliced
  • 1-pound ground beef
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint leaves and/or parsley chopped
  • 2 tbsp cilantro
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • Dried oregano
  • Chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion strips, red bell peppers and minced garlic and sauté until glossy and aromatic, about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and broth mixture. Bring to boil and simmer.
  2. Prepare meatballs by first sautéing the diced onions and then setting them aside to cool. Once they are cool add the onions to the ground beef, mint, parsley leaves, salt and pepper. Form beef into 1-inch meatballs.
  3. Return soup to gentle simmer. Add meatballs to soup, one at a time. Cover and let simmer for 1/2 hour. Add a few pinches of oregano, juice from lime and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish albondigas with chopped fresh cilantro.

Crab stuffed roasted red peppers

Servings 4-6                                                 Time 1 hour


  • 1 can crab meat (drained)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 6-8 basil leaves minced
  • 1 tbsp spicy mustard
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 6-8 roasted red bell peppers
  • ½ cup tomato sauce or marinara sauce
  • 1 French bread
  • ¼ c good olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  1. In a bowl mix together mayonnaise, lemon juice, spicy mustard, Parmesan and crabmeat, season with salt and pepper.
  2. Rinse the roasted red bell peppers and lay flat.  Stuff all of the bell peppers with the crabmeat and roll each into a cylinder.
  3. Place the stuffed roasted red bell peppers into a baking dish and top with marinara. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  5. Slice bread into thin slices on the bias.
  6. Place French bread pieces on a sheet tray with a little olive oil and salt.
  7. Bake for 3-6 minutes.
  8. Once the crab and crostinis are finished place on top of crostini.
  9. Garnish with parsley and Parmesan.  Serve.

Braised mushrooms with crostini

Servings 4                                                  Time 1 hour


  • 10-15 cremini mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 sprig of thyme leaves
  • 1 small block gruyere cheese (thinly sliced)
  • 1 French bread (you can also use puff pastry)
  • ¼ c good olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Remove the stems of the mushrooms and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  3. Slice bread into thin slices on the bias.
  4. Place French bread pieces on a sheet tray with a little olive oil and salt.
  5. Bake for 3-6 minutes.
  6. Place the mushrooms in a baking dish and fill the dish with balsamic vinegar, water and thyme leaves. Seal with aluminum foil and bake for 10-15 minutes.
  7. Lay a piece of Gruyere cheese on top of the crostini and bake for a few minutes, once the cheese is melted place the mushroom on top.
  8. Garnish with parsley and serve.
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Upon graduating from the California School of Culinary Arts in 2002, Chef Mary Payne Moran began her professional career shelling crabs at the world-renowned restaurant, Michael's in Santa Monica. Simultaneously, she launched her own company, Hail Mary’s, founded upon the belief that good food nurtures the soul, and began catering weddings, parties and large corporate events. In the fall of 2008, Mary began teaching her culinary skills to others. Currently she can be found at Hollywood School House teaching her after school cooking class, and teaching her popular "Vegetables or Not Here I Come" assembly. Most recently, Mary has launched another division in her company as well as a chef she is now also a Certified Nutritionist for high profile clients. She helps her clients discover their healthy way of eating. Mary has recently been published in the Los Angeles Magazine, & The New Jersey Star Ledger. Daily she addresses cooking aficionados through her blog - Cooking with Chef Mary as well as her how-to webisodes on You Tube.