Dip Bread Appetizers

Dip Bread Appetizers

Dip Bread, a traditional appetizer

Friday, February 08th, 2008 9:18am

dip breadDip bread in extra virgin Olive Oil, fresh ground herbs and spices, or Modena balsamico, is an old country tradition and culinary art. Bread dipping has its origin from Europe, primarily the Mediterranean region. Italy and Greece have made it very popular because it is a simple, yet flavorful gourmet taste experience.

When hosting a family get-together, what is more boring than crackers and cheese for party appetizers? Sliced celery sticks and cubed cheese is not the most popular appetizer either. Consider fresh sliced, toasted, Italian bread with amazing, robust, bread dipping herbs and spices as an appetizer.

Turn the purchase of a fresh baked baguette loaf of bread into gourmet hors dourves. Begin with a special blend of Italian spices, then dress with gourmet extra virgin olive oil, and you have a savory appetizer that will be raved about by your guests.

A good bread dipping seasoning is extremely versatile. It can be used to garnish salads and pasta dressings, or sprinkle over steamed vegetables, roasts and chicken while cooking. The rich Italian flavors also make an outstanding addition to any marinade for beef and poultry.

Bread dipping can be made from scratch using flavored oils, added herbs and spices and quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar. One key to a good bread dipping recipe is re-hydrating the spice mixture. This is done by adding enough water to barely cover the spices in a shallow dish and allowing to stand for at least 15 minutes. Drain excess water off and add olive oil. The re-hydration will bring out the flavors of the spices as if they were freshly diced on your cutting board. Depending on your taste other condiments such as lemon juice, cracked pepper, grated parmesan can be added for additional flavor.

A bread dip appetizer will be as good as the olive oil that you select to add to it. It is recommended to purchase a quality extra virgin olive oil with balsamic vinegar as a variation. Gourmet olive oil adds an exquisite flavor to your bread dip mixture, especially when combined with fresh baked foccacia, baguette, or sourdough bread.

Fine oil and vinegar contribute an exquisite taste to fresh sliced bread. Both can be offered on the table in the same bread dipping dish. Balsamic vinegar will pool in the olive oil adding an artistic flair to the oil and vinegar presentation especially if you use a stylish American Porcelain Bread Dipping Dish. Prepare the bread by slicing the loaf at an angle along the loaf. These slices can be halved and offered on an hors dourves platter, along side bread dipping dishes.

A bread dipping recipe is quick and easy to prepare, and for a party it saves time and energy. Bread dipping is healthy and flavorsome, a unique taste experience, and one of the finer aspects of the Old World cuisine. 

dip bread, bread dip appetizer, bread dipping recipe

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Bread dip recipe

Friday, February 15th, 2008 8:56am

Quick and easy bread dip recipe

Ingredients:
¼ teaspoon fresh ground dried oregano
¼ teaspoon fresh ground dried basil
¼ teaspoon fresh ground sun-dried tomatoes
¼ cup Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A Dash of Fresh ground black pepper
1 loaf of French baguette or an Italian flat bread, fresh from the bakery

Directions:
Slice bread into about 1 inch thick slices. Place dried herbs and sun dried tomatoes in a flat dipping dish. Add water to cover spices. Allow to soak for about 20 minutes. Drain any excess water from the dish. Add Olive Oil. Sprinkle fresh ground black pepper over the top. Use the sliced bread to dip into the herbed olive oil mixture. Some hosts will make several portions and serve in individual dipping dish for each guest at the table. 

bread dip recipe

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Spice up your bread dipping

Thursday, March 20th, 2008 8:24pm

You can make your bread dipping really interesting by adding a whole array of different ingredients. You might like it to be a little more spicy and exciting and choose some pesto, balsamic vinegar, spices of black pepper to add extra flavor. With bread dipping you can use your imagination and whatever are your preferences can be added and its fun to try interesting combinations. Add your ingredients to the oil and let them infuse by leaving your blend sit for around a quarter of an hour and the overall flavor will be more intense.

An easier faster way to enhance the flavor of your oil is to prepare your bread dipping sauce the usual way and add your choice of herbs, spices etc. To speed up the process place in the microwave for a few seconds. This will allow the flavors of you ingredients to permeate the oil and has the same effect as if you had let the mixture stand for 15 minutes. This method is perfect for those occasions when you are making your dip from scratch. However, never compromise on the type of oil that you use for your bread dipping dish as an inferior quality or different kind of olive oil will not be suitable, and you will find that the end result is quite inferior.

When you have decided which ingredients to incorporate into your dipping sauce recipes you can prepare batches of them in advance. These can then be stored in a cupboard or pantry or they can be displayed decoratively in your kitchen if decanted into cruet sets. The benefit of having pre-made dipping sauces is that they are always available for you to use for a multitude of recipes and dishes. You can dress salads and vegetables, drizzle over pasta marinade meat, or simply use for bread dipping.

The convenience of bread dipping sauces is that you can prepare a snack or appetizer at very short notice. There are always occasions when visitors suddenly turn up, or your family is looking for something quick to eat to satisfy them. You could always have some fresh vegetables prepared in the refrigerator ready to be served with your dipping oil or simply slice or cube some bread and serve with your dipping oil as a fast snack for your children or if having guests, an appetizer that can be prepared in minutes.

bread dip, dip bread, dipping oil

 

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Italian Ricotta And Rigatoni Pasta Served With EVOO

Tuesday, April 01st, 2014 3:15pm

Numerous Italian-American families use this popular pasta as the prima piatto. The main attribute of this pasta consists on the fact that each ingredient is fresh. The recipe can be cooked with ease, and it is delicious and chewy.

The estimated amount of time necessary for the preparation is half an hour and you will obtain four servings.

List of ingredients:

• Chop up one tablespoon of parsley
• Half of pound of fresh whole milk ricotta
• Mince one onion
• One pound rigatoni, penne, or other similar Italian pasta
• Salt
• Three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
• Two cups of fresh marinara sauce

Use a pot to boil rigatoni. Add some salt to the water as well and drain afterwards. Use a big skillet to heat up the olive oil. The next step will be to sauté the onion and parsley on low heat for a couple of minutes. In the skillet, add the tomato sauce and the desired amount of salt and let the combination cook for a quarter of an hour. After adding the rigatoni and ricotta in the skillet, toss the resulted combination until you obtain chewy pasta.

Choosing Healthy Foods Of The Mediterranean Diet

Thursday, March 06th, 2014 5:46pm

The traditional Mediterranean diet consists of a majority of vegetables and fruits and little meat in your daily diet. This is the exact opposite of the typical American diet in which meat provides the primary source of nutrients. While new and daunting at first glance, incorporating the large amounts of plant produce fundamental to the traditional Mediterranean diet will become a natural part of your daily life. In time, this new way of eating will become second-nature. The Mediterranean diet will be found to be so beneficial to your health that you will not miss your old diet.

The first step of the transition into a Mediterranean style of eating and the key to sustaining your new health benefits is to change how you view food. Never again should produce be consumed for the simple reason of coincidental placement in a supermarket aisle. Food sustains your body, and therefore should be selectively chosen with pride. The preparation of a meal involves one of the highest forms of craftsmanship with a pinch of imagination to create harmony within and without, an edible art. As art brings a feeling of pleasure and appreciation to all who view it, your food should strike a similar chord in your palate and soul. Every day is a gift, and should therefore be celebrated with food, friends, and family.

To emphasize taste, produce should first be chosen seasonally according to your area. Fresh produce is the most vibrant and flavorful, as nutrients and flavor are lost in time and processing. Local grocers, farmers’ markets, and produce stands offer the best of the season at the peak of flavor and nutrition. While what is ripe at home may not be ripe at the time in the Mediterranean, fresh is always the Mediterranean way. Re-discover the taste of vegetables, they will taste better than what you remember from your childhood.

Despite the natural goodness found in fresh produce, sometimes a little extra flavor is needed. Herbs and spices will enhance the flavor of your meals in ways you never dreamed of. As a bonus, herbs and spices are low in calories but high in flavor. Vegetables, and even fruit, will take on flavors you never thought possible. No Mediterranean diet would be authentic in flavor without these components. Salt will be less needed with all the flavor herbs such as oregano, parsley, thyme, rosemary, and black pepper provide.

Similarly, who needs a lot of calories, sugar, and saturated fat with spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and vanilla available? Dried fruit is a sweet, delicious, and nutritious way of re-imagining dessert. It is also more fulfilling than cakes, brownies, and such as dessert. The reason for this seeming-paradox is due to the additional nutrients found in dried fruit. Even so, if you make fruit the basis of your desserts when you do splurge occasionally, it is still the Mediterranean way.

Harvesting Olives From Olive Trees

Friday, February 21st, 2014 3:21pm

Olive trees use the nutrients preserved from the past year to yield flowers and fruit in the current year. Once the flower blooms during the winter, it undergoes a slow development into a ripe fruit by spring time. Black olives go from pink to purple and then to black, and they are commonly harvested from November to March. Green olives are commonly harvested starting in October. The volume of oil present within the olive fruit increases the more you let the fruit ripen. Oil that is pressed from ripe ones tends to be yellow or golden in color whereas oil pressed from lesser ripened fruit tends to be greener in color with a peppery kick.

The methods of harvesting olives will vary, depending on the location in which they are grown.  Some countries consider the fruit ripe when it naturally falls to the ground. Other countries pick a select time to take the fruit off the tree by picking them off, shaking them off, or beating them off.  No matter which method is used, the cultures growing the olives integrate ancient practices into doing the work of making olives happen. Despite the extended time and effort it takes to harvest olive oil, many people enjoy the unity the process brings to the society when everyone tends to participate. Even in bad weather, most cultures see harvesting olives as an honored tradition—a way to connect with their forefathers.

Of course, there is a high diversity of olive fruits and trees since this plant has been highly popular since biblical times. Spain produces over twenty different types of olive fruits and is known for the Greek Kalamata and Manzanilla varieties.  The sweet Kalamata olives are primarily used in vinaigrettes and are brined as soon as they are ready to be used. If they are not in a vinaigrette solution, then they are usually pickled. Keep in mind that when eating Kalamata olives, the seed will be present.

The manzanilla olive is commonly referred to as the Spanish olive, but it can be grown and harvested in Australia as well as California.  The term “manzanilla” literally means “little apple” in Spanish, but the taste is more of an almond flavor than anything else. The fruit is cured with brine and is sometimes stuffed with garlic or pimento.  Italy grows a popular olive tree that produces an early fruit with high oil content called Ascolona. The Ascolona olive, which is cured in sea salt and Peruvian water,  is great for being stuffed and fried, and it has a nice taste with no bitterness.

The Barouni olive oil, native to Tunisia, is considered the largest olive oil in existence. The fruit looks like a greenish-black plum. This olive is ideal for curing at home, but it is not pressed for its oil. Today, the Barouni olive can be grown and harvested in the United States.

The amount of olives a tree produces will largely depend on its age and origin.  Trees no more than 20 years old, known as immature olive trees, will produce significantly lesser fruit than trees between the ages of 30-100 years. Ancient trees, trees at least 150 years old tend to produce limited fruit.

Storing And Stir Frying Olive Oils

Friday, February 21st, 2014 2:55pm

Originating in the east, stir frying is now not only popular in oriental cookery; it is popular all over the globe. Especially in the United States were obesity is prevalent, people have been searching for a method to cook that is healthier, and a way to make even vegetables taste great. To stir fry, you will use a pan that is conical or a traditional wok, and when using a metal ring, you will require a support to ensure your pan stays in place. This excellent method for cooking anything from meat to vegetables is quick, healthy, and simple.

Stir frying is healthier than other methods of cooking as you only require a small amount of olive oil. You can combine some stock or soy sauce to your stock to create excellent dishes, fish sauce from Thailand being a firm favorite. Extra virgin olive oil, as well as seasoning with vinegar, garlic, or ginger is also popular ways to stir fry and create delicious results. When stir frying, ensure that your meat or vegetables are cut into thin pieces, and that they are all the same size. The food will then be cooked in batches, to ensure that all the food is cooked evenly and sufficiently.

Oils that are used for cooking need to be kept away from direct sunlight and heat if you wish to preserve them properly. The best place to actually store your oil is actually in a dark cupboard as opposed to next to your stove. If you wish to use your own container for storing oil, porcelain, steel, or stained glass are the best, once again protecting the oil from sunlight. Oils should never be stored in plastic containers, and certain metals will cause an adverse reaction. Finally, fine oils such as hazelnut and walnut are best kept chilled.

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

Wednesday, February 05th, 2014 3:03pm

  • Four tablespoons olive oil
  • Can of eight sun dried tomato halves in oil or water
  • Six leaves of basil
  • Two fresh chilies
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • Sea salt

Peel the garlic cloves and was the basil leaves well. Remove the tomatoes and soak them in water for one full hour if they came in oil. During that time, mix all the ingredients together in a food processor and blend for five minutes. Remove and pour into a serving bowl and serve as a relish. A cruets.com olive oil cruet may come in handy to add more olive oil if desired.

Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette

Saturday, January 11th, 2014 12:40pm

Easy Vinaigrette

Add character to your salad or meal by making some minor adjustments to a simple vinaigrette dressing which is made up of olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

A vinaigrette is not just for salads. An entire course from entrée to dessert can include a light handed drizzle of vinaigrette. For example, when it is hot outside, a simple barbecued meal with tossed salad may be all that a vinaigrette is needed for.

Vinaigrette dressing is quite simple to prepare. Just remember the common ration of three to one. Three parts oil and one part citrus or vinegar. Anything that tastes a bit acidic. Use the best quality oil and vinegar, sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. First blend the salt and pepper into the vinegar and then briskly stir in the oil. That is all there is to making the basic vinaigrette dressing.

To prepare a classic vinaigrette, red wine vinegar and olive oil is used to which mustard, or shallots or herbs or spices can be added. Instead of olive oil, use walnut or hazelnut oil. Even balsamic or white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar will give a classic vinaigrette its special taste and turn a simple vinaigrette into something exceptionally special.

By using a little Dijon mustard that is whisked into the vinegar and then adding the olive oil, the two ingredients emulsify that much easier. It is a bit of a heavier mixture but most definitely worthy trying.

Whether you prefer a more tart vinaigrette depends on your unique taste. You can increase the ratio from three to four parts vinegar to one part oil or even more if you so desire. Each person’s likes and/or dislikes are varied and especially is this so with the kind of dressing used.

By mixing more oil to the vinegar, a milder tasting vinaigrette is prepared to compliment a delicate salad bed or fresh herbs. With a higher proportion of balsamic vinegar, a sharper vinaigrette is prepared and can be poured on a grilled steak or on bitter greens where tartness calls for a more distinct flavor.

Experiment with flavors, play with texture and the temperature or just plain keep it simple. Match mild rice wine vinegar with a touch of toasted sesame oil in which olive oil has been added. Or combine walnut oil with a mellow sherry vinegar. Chop basil, dice shallots or mash roasted garlic. Body is given the vinaigrette, not just flavor. You could even whisk in grated ginger or stone ground mustard and wild honey. Do you see the possibilities that a creative mind could dream up?

If you intend to roast a chicken or sear hanger steak than simply mix some of the meat juices with heated vinegar. Already you have turned dull meat into something appealing to the palate.

Even though you are able to “dress up” a vinaigrette dressing by adding all kinds of different ingredients, sometimes it is best to just “dress down” and leave it to the basic ingredients. The food flavor is greatly enhanced with something as effortless as simple vinaigrette. 

vinaigrette dressing

 

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Bread Appetizer Bruschetta

Saturday, February 21st, 2009 9:32am

Tuscan Cooking and Bruschetta

When the great Italian Cook Marcella Hazan was talking about the practice of toasting bread that had been soaked with freshly pressed olive oil, flavoring it with the smoke and the spicy elements of the new oil, he claimed it to “probably as old as Rome itself.” He traced the origins of bruschetta to the Latin “bruscare” which translates to “toast over the coals.”

The Tuscans have some issues with this though as they claim that is a recipe of Etruscan, you guessed it, meaning it originated in Tuscany. Wherever it originated, it is still one of the easiest traditional Italian dishes to make. The process is quite simple. You rub toasts of break with garlic and let the coarseness of the bread open of the flavor, then soak the bread with olive oil and sprinkle it with sea salt.

The addition of things such as tomatoes, anchovies and onions did not arrive until the after the 16th century. That being the case, most traditional Italians will dismiss this as part of the dish. Furthermore, when the oil is at is freshest, you would not want to cover the rich flavors with anything that would detract from it.

The creation of bruschetta is to bring about the flavors of the freshly harvested oil. When you pour it from the bottle, it flows rich and green, sending out a nose of aromatic herbs and scent of freshly mowed grass that will counter the bite that it creates in the back of your throat. When it is time to harvest, local farmers get the assistance of the whole community to help in raking the trees. They use soft nets to cash the olives as they fall so they will not be damaged.

The best olive oil is the result of pressing within 24 hours of the harvest as the olives begin oxidizing immediately upon their removal from the trees. The scarcest and most fragrant oil has traditionally come from the first pressing. In modern times, there is more oil harvested during the first press because of centrifuges. However, there are still traditional producers that create an “affiorato.” This is an oil that separates from the olive naturally and is hand ladled off.

The taste of olive oil can be affected by many things. If you are in Tuscany, they will claim that the altitude above the sea is what affects the flavor the most. If you go to Lazio, variety is the key to the flavor. If you are looking for a peppery flavored oil, Frantoio is where you need to be while a fruity taste is the characteristic of Caninese and Leccino will produce a sweeter oil. As with wines, ripeness affects the overall flavor as well, if the olives are harvested to early, they will be very harsh, later produces a much milder oil.

Before the popularity of olive oil, the harvesting season was pushed to be as late as possible and then they would let the oil sit over the winter to create a smooth, mild taste. Nowadays, British restaurants are demanding a supply that must be kept up with and harvesting is happening earlier and the oil does not age as it used to. This has created an oil with a bite, tasting of pesto, almost and even a little bit or artichoke.

Bruschetta is not the only dish that has reaped the benefits of this new, fiery oil, dishes such as ribollita, a traditional hearty bean soup that oil is added to, have enjoyed great new flavors. Lest we not forget the traditional Florentine meat dish bistecca, which has never been better as it is soaked in this wonderful new blend of olive oil.

As the weather turns warm, we are treated to a dish or artichokes, radicchio and baby vegetables (pinsimonio) that we can dip in the oil, an ideal finger food. However, nothing will replace  the dish that was meant to appreciate the true flavor of the oil, a simple piece of bread, soaked in olive oil and then toasted over the hot coals.

While most olive oil is not bottled until after Christmas, the harvesting begins in late November. As heat and light affect the flavors of the olive oil, it is an unpasteurised product, the flavors will mellow out as February rolls around. Italy is very strict about its olive oil, they demand that all bottles be fitted with a label stating its expiration date 2 years after its bottling. Of course, there are those that try and get around the law by pushing back their bottling process by as long as a couple of years.

FYI, when you are ordering bruschetta at the local Italian restaurant, it is actually pronounced: bruce-sketta.

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