Dip Bread Appetizers

Dip Bread Appetizers

Archive for April, 2008

Olives In Your Recipes

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Use the flavor of olives in healthy recipes, even with a taste of olive oil.

Your local supermarket or delicatessen shop should carry a variety of olives, and you can find them packed in tinfoil bags or glass jars, or even sold loose from containers full of olives.

Olives can be stored for up to several weeks if kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and will keep even longer if stored in brine.

Olives can vary greatly in flavor, and can be bitter, sour, smoky, salty, or even ‘herby’, when Mediterranean herbs are included in their packing. You should try each variety in order to find the one which you prefer most, as different tastes will appeal to different people.

Toss, spread and chop. Here are some of the ways to prepare olives:

You can use olives to make olive tapenade, a great tasting spread that is easy to make and extremely versatile. You can use it as a sandwich spread, as a dip for bread, or on top of fish or poultry dishes. To make this spread, place olives that have been pitted in a food processor, then include garlic, olive oil, and seasonings of your choice. Blend until a paste is obtained. This spread can be stored in the refrigerator for later use.

Pasta tossed with garlic, tomatoes, chopped and pitted olives, and olive oil then topped with your favorite fresh herbs makes a great tasting dish.

Add more taste to a tuna or chicken salad by adding chopped olives to it.

When serving any Mediterranean-style meal, place a small plate of olives on the table together with some chopped raw vegetables and bread.

Don’t hesitate to try a bread dipping bruschetta or crostini that calls for kalamata olives. It is a welcome addition to any bread dipping recipe.



The Taste of Olives

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

While the taste of olives may take some getting used to, once you have acquired a taste for olives, it quickly becomes something that you always have close at hand in the kitchen.

Olives have a long history and have been consumed by humans for more than 5000 years, starting in Crete. Since then, people in Egypt, Greece, the Mediterranean and Palestine have quickly become involved in the cultivation of olives.

There are many references to olives in ancient history, including mentions in the Bible, depictions in Egyptian art and appearances in Greek mythology. For ages olives have been a source of food, fuel, and medicine for countless civilizations, and even the olive tree has found use in the form of lumber material.

The olive also symbolizes wisdom and peace; a dove with an olive branch in its beak is a universal symbol of peace. Since 3000 BC, people have produced and consumed olive oil. Freshly picked olives cannot be eaten without first being processed, as their skin contains a chemical known as oleuropein, which gives it a bitter  taste.

There are various methods of processing olives, and these methods differ according to the type of olive, region and the desired final taste, texture and color. Olives are harvested in the fall, and some are picked while still unripe and green in color, while others are picked only when fully ripe and have turned black in color.

Not all black olives are black when they were harvested, however, and certain methods of processing olives involve exposing green, unripe olives to the air, which darkens their skin color through oxidation. The final color of olive oil is not only determined by the color of the olives used to produce it, but is also determined by the methods used to process it, which may include fermentation or curing the olives in oil, brine, salt, or water.

Through processing, olives may become purple, black, brown, red, or yellow in color and the texture of their skin may also change, becoming either shriveled and wrinkled or smooth and shiny. Olive oil is produced and has been used for many centuries for health and cooking. Present day cooking has leaned more towards healthy food and olive oil is one of the main ingredients.

Kalamata, Nyon, Cerignola, Nicoise, Sevillano, Picholine, and Manzanilla are some of the many types of olive that are available. Besides variations in size, color and texture, olive flavors also differ widely, ranging from sour to smoky, bitter to acidic.

Olives can often be found in the pitted form as well. Spain, Greece, Turkey, Italy, and Morocco number among the main producers of olives today. Olives, which contain vitamin E, flavonoids, poluphenols, and monounsaturated fats, are generally considered to be a healthy form of food, and also possess anti-inflammatory properties. They also provide protection against heart related diseases and are good for the health of the gastrointestinal tract.


Italian Crostini quick and easy

Saturday, April 05th, 2008

Italian crostini is a round bread toast. The bread is sliced and then toasted in an oven, and often garnished with various different toppings. Crostini is viewed by some as a mild garlic toast. It is an ideal accompaniment to antipasto, salads, and thick soups. It is sometimes served as an hors d’oeuvre for the main course. You can easily make this Italian toast yourself in just a few minutes. It is quick and easy to make, and remarkably
good tasting especially if you use fresh ingredients.

Use a fresh baked French baguette loaf of bread, Italian bread loaf, or even a sourdough fresh baked loaf. Cut the loaf of bread into half inch thick slices. Using a basting brush, brush both sides of each bread slice lightly with extra-virgin olive oil. Preheat the oven to 375°. Use a large baking sheet and arrange bread slices in a single layer. Toast until golden brown. You will need to turn the bread slices over so that they are equally crisp about 2 1/2 to three minutes for each side. Take care not to burn the crostini. While the bread is still warm, rub one side of each slice with baked garlic clove. ( A baked garlic clove has the consistency of a paste). If you don’t want to use baked garlic cloves, you can peel 3 fresh garlic cloves, press them through a garlic press, and saute the pressed garlic for about 2 minutes in a pan on low heat. Use about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to saute the garlic.

There are numerous toppings that you can use depending upon your personal taste. You can use a vegetable peeler and thin slice Parmesan cheese and then drizzle the toast and cheese with a fine quality olive oil. Mushrooms that have been thin sliced and marinated in a vinaigrette dressing can also be used as a topping. Any pickled olives such as Kalamata olives can also be diced and added to a crostini topping. A mixture of diced, red ripe tomatoes, fresh minced basil leaves, and mozzarella cheese are also popular as a crostini topping. Numerous other herbs can also be added fresh rosemary, sea salt, fresh ground black peppercorns also make fine editions.

Any number of mild cheeses can be grated, sprinkled over the toast. Melt the cheese by placing the baking pan back in the oven for a minute or two. Serve while hot.

[tag] crostini, Italian crostini, quick and easy crostini[/tag]


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