Dip Bread Appetizers

Dip Bread Appetizers

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. 

[tag]vinaigrette dressing[/tag]

 

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.

[tag] bread appetizer, bruschetta[/tag]

Olive Oil In Your Diet

Thursday, February 05th, 2009 4:13pm

Throughout history olive oil has been found benevolent in the Mediterranean diet. Now many restaurants serve olive oil on the table with oil and vinegar cruets.

Because of the saturated fat content and taste, many dislike olive oil. A great plus is that there is no cholesterol in olive oil. A Mediterranean diet based on olive oil, has been favored by health advocates. Since there are different preferences, you should aim to find one that you like. Extra virgin olive oil is most beneficial.

Olive oil contains beneficial ingredients for the heart such as, monounsaturated fat and other ingredients. Olive oil nutrients reduce risk of colon and breast cancer, improve gall bladder function, help prevent cardiovascular disease, and even treat arthritis. Fats in olive oil make up for diets lacking fatty acids found in low-fat diets or poor eating habits.

Other benefits of olive oil are more flexible arteries, which prevents heart disease, and more energy. Toxic materials are unable to affect genetic materials when olive oil is added to the diet.

Linoleic acid, or omega 6, and alpha-linoleum acid, or omega 3, are both beneficial fatty acids found in olive oil. The amounts of fats found in olive oil vary in type and percentage. Oleic acid, or omega 9, is an unnecessary fatty acid that accounts for almost 75 percent of fats in olive oil. Palmitoleic acid, or omega 7, accounts for 10 percent of fatty acids. Olive oil protects arteries rather that harming them by protecting stems against anti-oxidant ingredients such as tyrosol and hydroxitrosol. These are phenolic compounds which can have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Olive oil also contains beta-carotene and tocopherols which are anti-oxidants from the vitamin E group. The oil gets its color from chlorophyll, which contains lots of magnesium and can be found in olive oil. Many people with cardiovascular disease are deficient in magnesium.

Olive oil contains Squalene, an agent of phytosterols that prevents cholesterol absorption from foods. It also brings oxygen to the tissues. Squalene reduces scars, prevents atherosclerosis, and helps dilate blood vessels, which increases heart activity.

  • Olive oils should be included in your diet to achieve all of these health benefits.
  • Olive oil can bring out natural beauty.
  • Olive oil can have healing effects on chapped lips, dry hair, and skin.

If a small amount of olive oil is applied to the lips before bed it can prevent chapped lips. Any other dry part of the body can be soothed by olive oil. A nice soak in the tub is created when ¼ cup of olive oil and lavender is added to a bath. Add a few tablespoons to your hair and cover with a shower cap for 30 minutes for a soothing treat.

You can easily experience olive oils benefits by using it in day-to-day cooking. Olive oil can work as an anti-aging agent. Just use olive oil on nails, hair, and skin to be naturally beautiful.

 

Healthy Italian Cooking Made With Olive Oil And Care

Friday, October 03rd, 2008 7:17pm

It’s true Italian cooking traditions, the building blocks of the Mediterranean Diet, favor simple ingredients like fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish pasta and just the right spices, all prepared with care. But don’t forget two of the cuisine’s cornerstones: olive oil and bread.

You’ll always find olive oil on the Italian cook’s table, sprinkled over vegetable and salads, added to soups, pastas, and sauces or paired with balsamic vinegar as a dip for bread.
And the freshly-baked bread…dipped in fresh herbs and spices, toasted for garlic and foccacia bread, used for flavorful stuffing and bread crumbs, or just drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. Bread is fundamental to Italian cuisine, and there are many varieties from which to choose. Try a slice of Sicilian panelle bread, a rounded loaf perfect for oil dipping or as an accompaniment for soup. It has a real brick oven taste to it and may be hard and crusty on the outside, but is soft and firm on the inside. You may also enjoy a long baguette topped with sesame seeds, known as a French loaf in Italy.

Steer clear of the grocery store’s spongy white “Italian bread” when selecting a quality, freshly-baked variety. Look instead in bakeries where authentic, Old Country recipes may be used. A luscious appetizer or snack can be made with extra virgin olive oil and spices, but the bread must be of an appetizing quality. There is a bread for every taste, including such varieties as Tuscan, Ciabata, Panelle, French, and Baguette.

[tag] bread dipping, Italian food[/tag]

Vinegar Varieties for a Vinaigrette

Thursday, June 26th, 2008 9:16pm

The many different varieties of vinegar

One of the basic ingredients of vinaigrette is vinegar. There is an array of different kinds of vinegar which are distinguishable from each other by their individual taste. Listed below are the most widely used types of vinegar:

Italian Balsamic vinegar from Modena

Red and White wine vinegars

Sherry vinegar

Vinegar made from apple cider

It is a good idea to sample all of them to find out which ones you enjoy most and to have some readily available before you create your own vinaigrette.

Another equally essential ingredient in vinaigrette is oil. You may like to consider either olive oil or grape seed oil for their flavor and in preference to vegetable oil as a healthier option. However, whatever you choose, it is important to remember that a good vinaigrette can only be created from a good quality olive oil and the best type of oil is imported Italian olive oil such as Masserie.

[tag] vinaigrette vinegar[/tag]

 

Basic Vinaigrette

Monday, May 26th, 2008 4:22pm

Vinaigrette can be made in advance of when you will need it, then kept in the refrigerator and simple allowed to return to room temperature before serving. Be careful when adding shallots or garlic, however, as these ingredients strengthen with time.

Ingredients:
3 to 6 Tablespoons of acid such as vinegar or lemon juice
¾ Cup of extra-virgin Olive Oil and pure Olive Oil mixture
Kosher Pepper and Salt

Optional Ingredients: 1 ½ to 2 Teaspoons of Dijon Mustard (especially for use with Champagne or white wine vinegar)
1 Teaspoon of Shallots, minced
½ to 1 Teaspoon of Garlic Cloves, minced or pressed; or Garlic Puree
Herbs, chopped

Instructions:

If you are using mustard, then whisk the vinegar together with the mustard first. Then drizzle in the olive oil as you continue whisking. Adjust to taste using salt and pepper, and whisk in any additional ingredients you desire.

Yield: 1 Cup

[tag] basic vinaigrette[/tag]

Olives In Your Recipes

Thursday, April 10th, 2008 11:28am

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 11:21am

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 9:04am

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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