Category Archives: How to

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A Spanish Tapas Menu

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The concept of “tapas” is quintessentially Spanish and is truly a reflection of the supremely social culture of Spain, whose people just love gatherings and celebrations of any type.  

The “tapeo” consists of a selection of easy-to-eat savory dishes, much like appetizers are used in America. But rather as an opening act to the main dishes, these hearty and delicious small dishes are the star of meal.

Eaten by hand or with small forks, and consisting of mostly premium cured meats like Ibérico ham and sausages like chorizo, cheeses, olives, anchovies, pickled peppers, nuts and some classic prepared dishes like Patatas Bravas and Gambas al Ajillo, the idea of Spanish tapas is to reduce the effort in the kitchen in order to spend more time actually eating and talking.  With the bounty of superb Spanish foods widely available today, hosting a tapas party this summer is as easy as stocking up on some essentials – including a fine bottle of Spanish wine.

TAPAS PARTY ESSENTIALS

Spanish Hams

Buttery and succulent Spanish hams are some of the best (and for some, THE best) in the world, and a must-have for any Spanish tapas party worthy of its name.

spanish ham for tapas party

Picture from left to right: Serrano ham, Iberico ham & Iberico de Bellota ham.

Serrano ham: Serrano comes from a breed of Spanish white pigs, raised under stringent standards of quality and dry-cured for at least a year in a pristine mountainous area. The result is a rich and firm ham, salty but buttery that’s always found in a Spanish tapas spread.

Jamon Ibérico: The crème de la crème of hams, the words “Jamón Ibérico” makes any foodie’s mouth start watering. Ibérico ham comes exclusively from black-hoofed pigs called Pata Negra, with a privileged genetic that makes their meat richer in delicious intramuscular fat (the same high-quality fat that gives Kobe beef breeds their characteristic flavor), and thus more flavorful and juicier than any other. But If you really want to step up your Spanish tapas game, you’ll want to go for “Iberico de Bellota ham, which comes from Iberico pigs that have been allowed to graze in an area rich in oak tress, called the Dehesa. The pigs eat the oil-rich acorns, giving the meat a distinctive oilier and nuttier flavor – and for some, making it best in the world.

How To Serve:  paper-thin slices, arranged on a small plate.

 

Click here to buy Spanish Meats >

 

 

Spanish Cheeses

spanish cheese for tapas party

Picture from left to right: Manchego, Mahon & Smoked Idiazabal.

Machego cheese: The Spanish tapas cheese by choice and excellence, Manchego is a sheep’s milk cheese, which comes from La Mancha (the famous region where the mythical Don Quixote chased his windmills). A national treasure, Manchego falls under the PDO standards, which means its origin and production is controlled and protected to ensure that any and all Manchego cheeses are always equally excellent.  The flavor and texture of Manchego can vary as it ages, from a supple and buttery young Manchego, to a hard and salty aged version (usually 6-12 months).  Grassy, nutty, with notes of hay, getting more caramelized as it ages.

How To Serve: Cut out 1/4 –inch wedges and remove the rind, which is inedible. Arrange on a plate and drizzle with olive oil. As an alternative:  place a thin slice of Serrano ham over the wedge of Manchego,

Alternatives:
Garrotxa: An artisanal goat cheese produced in small farms on the Catalonian region of Northern Spain; Romao: This cheese gets its complex flavor from being made with rosemary and being rubbed with olive oil. Made from sheep’s milk and a distant relative of Parmesan; Smoked Idiazabal: from Basque Country, a firm sheep’s milk cheese lightly smoked; Mahon: from the island of Menorca, a sharp cow’s milk cheese with fruity notes and an orange rind.

Click here to buy Spanish cheeses >

 

Spanish Chorizo

spanishchorizo

A classic of the tapeo, Spanish chorizo is made of pork and cured with smoked paprika (pimentón in Spanish) and salt. It can be spicy (picante) or sweet (dulce), which just depends on how much pimento has been used. However, keep in mind that a lot of different regions in Spain have their own versions of chorizo. Chorizo Cantimpalo for example, is made using Pimentón de la Vera, a special smoked paprika that comes from La Vera:

How To Serve: For your Spanish tapas party, you must have chorizo! Just slice the chorizo and sauté with a few tablespoons of olive oil, tossing until the chorizo is crispy.

Click here to buy Spanish Chorizo >

 

Marcona Almonds

Pictured from left to right: Marcona almonds with skin, Marcona almonds & Largueta almonds.

Pictured from left to right: Marcona almonds with skin, Marcona almonds & Largueta almonds.

A sprinkle of almonds is a great and easy idea for Spanish tapas, especially when you serve up some plump Marconas. Spain is the only producer of this unique almond; round, sweet and with very low bitterness, the Marcona is grown in the Mediterranean coast of Spain.  Lightly fried and salted, Marcona almonds make a crunchy and delicious tapas treat that goes perfectly with a cold beer.

Other options: Largueta almonds.

How to serve: serve in small bowls or sprinkle around the cured meat and cheese board.

Click here to buy Spanish Marcona Almonds >

 

Spanish Tortilla

spanish tortilla

Not to be confused with a flat, corn Mexican tortilla!  A Spanish Tortilla or Tortilla Española, is a dish that’s made with potatoes and eggs, like a very oversized potato omelet. It’s hearty, sturdy (if made properly), and incredibly delicious. A version of a Tortilla de Patatas is found at almost every restaurant and street corner bar in Spain, so it’s a must for an authentic tapas party. Add some sliced chorizo to the egg-and-potato for added spiciness and supercharged flavor.

How to serve: cut into bite-sized pieces to are eaten with by hand (perfect to hold a glass of Tempranillo wine on the other).

Click here to buy Smoked Paprika (Pimenton de la Vera) for your Spanish Tortilla! >

 

Olives

olive Spanish tapas

Spain has a wealth of olive groves, kissed by the salty air of the Mediterranean Sea. The variety of olives that it offers is astounding, like hojiblanca, arbequina, sevillano, manzanillas, amongst many others. So it’s really not surprising that a colorful array of olives are found in small bowls at any tapas party, sometimes right out of the jar, and sometimes marinated in extra virgin olive oil, garlic, sea salt and pretty much anything you can think of.

How to serve: serve a few varieties of Spanish olives in small earthenware bowls, plus add a few here and there with the plates of cured meats and cheeses.

Click here to buy Spanish Merula Extra Virgin Olive Oil >

 

Gambas Al Ajillo

Gambas al ajillo Spanish tapas

A quick and easy disk of garlic shrimp, Gambas Al Ajillo is one of the most classic of tapas dishes. Essentially, the dish is made with fresh shrimp that’s been sautéed in garlic, olive oil, and sherry or brandy, then seasoned with a smoked paprika (although season can vary from recipe to recipe). Delicious!

How to serve: in a small bowl, with lots of the garlic sauce it’s been cooked in and some crusty bread to soak it up.

 

Do you have a favorite tapas recipe? Share it with us in the comments! 

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VIDEO: How To Style A Cheese Platter (In Under 1 Minute!)

CHEESE PLATTER IDEAS: THE ART OF THE CHEESE BOARD

cheeseboard

You’ve got your favorite cheeses delivered, now, how do you put it together?

There’s an art to assembling a cheese board that goes beyond unpacking the cheeses and plunking them down on a platter or board with a few crackers. It’s all about proportions, balance, textures, colors and flavors – art!

We found this fabulous video by Sal Henley for British supermarket giant, Tesco. We loved – and you will too – the cheese platter ideas she gives us to help make our cheese board look not only delicious, but beautiful. She demonstrates how to slice the cheeses, to how to arrange fruit, plus other practical tips for beautifying your cheeses and impressing your guests at your next dinner party.

Video source: Tesco

Short on time? Then this 60-second  how-to video by HGTV was made for you. Learn how to easily (and quickly!) arrange a cheese platter in 1 minute!

Video source: HGTV

 

Cheese Platter Ideas: Tips & Tricks

Hosts and hostesses, entertainers and foodies, take note:

Take the cheeses out of the fridge at least 20 minutes before guests arrive – this brings the fromage to room temperature, allowing the flavors and aromas to develop.

Have at least three cheeses, but no more than five. You want to offer your guests variety, but not overwhelm their palates.

Mix textures, flavors and colors.  A successful cheese board has at least three distinct cheeses. If you’re offering a palate-pleaser like cheddar, then contrast with a soft, gooey Brie and maybe a crumbly blue cheese. Or, divide it up by country, and offer samplings from France, Italy, Spain, the US and perhaps England. However you do it, you want variety on your board.

Pair wisely.  When it comes to the accouterments of the cheese board, think in easy categories: breads, nuts and fruits. A handful of almonds, a bunch of grapes, and a fresh baguette are cheese’s best friends, and you can never go wrong with that. But if you want to get more creative, add jams, chutneys and honey (even honeycomb) – the latter goes especially well with blue cheese and goat cheese. More exotic breads are also fantastic on a cheeseboard, but only if they’re not herbed or flavored (this will cover up the flavor of the cheese itself).

summer cheese platter

Summer Cheese Platter Ideas:

Chèvre + fresh thyme
Goat Cheese + fig  preserves
Brie + strawberries
Feta + watermelon
Blue cheese + honeycomb
Manchego + Membrillo (quince paste)
Sheep’s milk cheese + cherry compote
Cheddar + fresh apples + fruit chutney
Parmigiano Reggiano + Aged Balsamic + strawberries
Mozzarella di Bufala + Extra Virgin Olive Oil + fresh basil
Gorgonzola or Roquefort + Honey
Saint Andre + fresh berries
Comte + cherries
Explorateur + fresh peaches
Asiago + mango

Do you have a fabulous cheese platter tip to share? Leave it in the comments! 

4th of july dessert

Video: A Patriotic 4th of July Dessert!

4th of July dessert

 Juicy peaches, sweet strawberries and plump berries are ripe for the picking – and ready to be the star of your 4th of July desserts.

Need some inspiration for your 4th of July dessert? Joan Nathan’s fruit crisp is our featured pick! It’s filled with strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, then topped with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream, for the perfect and most delicious red, white and blue patriotic dessert.

There’s nothing more wonderful in the too-short summer season than making the most of the bounty of fruit that is just bursting with flavor and color. Juicy peaches, sweet strawberries and plump berries, to name a few, are ripe for the picking – and ready to be the star of your summer desserts. For this 4th of July dessert “pie”, the concept of tart is turned upside down, with the dough on top, the fruit at the bottom. This way, the juices of the fruit don’t turn the dough soggy, ensuring crisp bites.

Serve in spoonfuls over bowls, or, to give the presentation a more “summery” twist, spoon into mason jars and use long milkshake spoons.

Bonus!  This wonderful recipe is an all-season must – just replace the summer berries and rhubarb with whatever fruit is at the market, like crisp apples in the fall, or citrus fruit in the winter.  If the weather is cooler, top with whipped cream instead of ice cream (although we’re partial to ice cream all year long!).

 

 

 

Video: Tablet Magazine

smoked-crocodile-andouille-sausage-1S-502

Grilling Sausages: The Ultimate Guide

The perfect grilled sausage!

The perfect grilled sausage! Photo by Steven Depolo

Grilling sausages perfectly can be a tricky endeavor, but an essential skill that all grill lovers should have. The versatile and delicious sausage must be treated with care and respect, finding the perfect balance between heat, fire and timing. Too much fire and you end up with a charred, shrunken and unappetizing lump of coal; cook it too long, and the sausage will dry up; cook it too little, and it will not only be raw, but also mushy. The perfect grilled sausage should have a nice char, a crispy skin, loads of juiciness and be cooked throughout.

Impossible? Never! We give you the top three tried-and-true methods for grilling sausages perfectly, every single time, so you’ll be ready come grilling season.

grilling sausages

Photo by: Martin Abegglen 

GRILLING SAUSAGES: THE TECHNIQUES

There are several methods to getting a sausage to grill perfectly, so take note and sharpen your grill skills.

 

METHOD 1: Straight-Up Grilling 

Grilling over moderate fire is the most straightforward method for grilling sausages.

Perfect char marks.

Perfect char marks. Photo by: Didriks

What you’ll need: a grill, a food thermometer, patience

How to do it: follow the two-zone fire method by dividing your grill into two sections, one hotter than the other (you control this by the amount of coals on each side). Place the sausages over moderate fire, and using food thermometer, test the temperature of the sausages until it comes up to 150 degrees F, and the exterior is nicely browned.

What to look out for: overcooking – make sure your heat is not too strong, or you’ll end up with a burnt coal. Also, flare-ups are common due to the fat content of sausages.

 

METHOD 2: Poach, Then Grill

This time-honored method is followed by grilling devotees around the world.

Grilling sausage tip: poach before grilling.

Grilling sausage tip: poach before grilling. Photo by: Austin Keys

What you’ll need: cold water, stove, pan, food thermometer.

How to do it: in a large saucepan, add the sausages and cover with cold water, and bring to boil over low heat. Test the internal temperature of one of the sausages with a probe thermometer – when it reaches 150 F, take them out and place them on the grill to finish cooking.

What to look out for: while this is a fairly fool-proof method, because you’re not grilling the sausage for that long – just enough to get the browning and charring – you won’t get a ton of smoky grill flavor.

 

METHOD 3: The Beer (or Wine) Hot Tub

Poaching or simmering the sausage in a beer, wine or sauce will reduce cooking time and add spectacular flavor.

grilling sausages in a beer bath prior

Delicious sausages simmering in a bath of beer and spices. Photo by: J. Kenji López-Alt

What you’ll need: a disposable aluminum pan (if you’re doing it directly on the grill) or a large saucepan (if you’re doing this on the stovetop), food thermometer, water or liquid ingredient of your choice (beer, stock, wine), and any other ingredients or seasoning you want (onions, peppers, spices, etc.).

How to do it: place the sausages in the pan and cover with the cold liquid and/or other ingredients, and place it over a hot fire to bring it to a simmer. Once it starts simmering, move it to a low-heat section of the grill (or lower the stove fire), and cook slowly. When the sausage has reached the 150 F (test using a food thermometer), it’s done and can be transferred to the grill for the final char. For more on this method, visit this step-by-step grilling sausage guide the food-loving folks at Serious Eats.

What to look out for: make sure that you don’t boil the liquid, which will cause it to evaporate. If you lose some fluid, make sure you replace it.

 

GRILLING SAUSAGES BONUS TIPS:

  • Before you even start grilling (or poaching), let sausages come to room temperature. They’ll cook much faster.
  • After the sausages have reached the final temperature (150-160 F), let them rest in a warm place (the edge of the grill, for example, or a hot plate) for about 5 to 10 minutes, so the juices have a chance to settle. If you cut or bite into it directly, you’ll lose a lot of moisture. Warning: if the meat is pink, put the sausage back on the grill, it’s raw.

Here is a video on how to barbecue a Curly Q Sausage

Get that grill fired up! We’ve got great sausages to serve up this Memorial Day! Shop Sausages >

 

 

Caviar and egg, a classic combination!

Gourmet Guide: Serve, Store, and Eat Caviar Properly

Caviar is one of our best-selling items here at GourmetFoodStore.com.  A lot of you love to eat caviar, so it might come as a surprise to know just how many people are intimidated by the glossy eggs.  How do you serve caviar is one of the most oft-asked questions, followed by the inevitable sequiturs, how do you store caviar, and, of course, how do you eat caviar?

First on our “Gourmet Guide” series, read on to find out everything you need – well, everything we could think of! – to know about serving, storing and eating caviar!

How To Eat Caviar: Caviar on quail eggs and celery salt.

Caviar + Quail Eggs: A classic combination! Ph: CharlotteJulienne

THE DO’s AND DON’Ts OF SERVING, EATING AND STORING CAVIAR

DO…

Serve ChilledCaviar is always served not just cold, but ice-cold. Keep tins of caviar in the fridge right until you’re ready to serve. If you’re going to set the caviar out for people to serve themselves, buffet-style, keep it in the original tin over another bowl of ice, to keep it nice and chilly. Or invest in a gorgeous caviar server!

Use Mother Of Pearl: You want to use either mother of pearl, glass or (and we shudder to even suggest it) in an emergency, plastic…but really, why would you ever serve caviar with plastic?

How To Eat Caviar: Mother Pearl Serving Set And A Glass Serving

Left: Mother of pearl utensils won’t alter the flavor of caviar. Right: A glass server with a bowl for ice will keep your caviar nice and chilly.

Keep It Simple: The most classic way to eat caviar is over a blini or toast points, with a dollop of crème fraiche. A sort of buckwheat mini-pancake of Russian origins, blinis have a very mild bland flavor that acts as the perfect vessel for the salty taste and crunchy pop of caviar.

Feel Free To Be Creative: There are other ways to serve caviar besides as an hors d’oeuvre. Try it over soft or hard boiled quail eggs, with potatoes, or sprinkled over pasta.

How To Eat Caviar: caviar over crispy potato skins with creme fraiche.

A simply delicious and creative way of serving caviar: freshwater caviar over crispy potato skins with creme fraiche. Ph: Thefood-online.com

Drink Vodka or Champagne: down a shot of chilled vodka with caviar to be super authentic, or with a flute of bubbly champagne to be totally glamorous. You can also try a light beer or a crisp and subtle white wine.

Be Gentle: caviar eggs are delicate and tend to be crushed, so gently place the eggs where you want them.

DON’T…

Use Metal: You never, ever, ever, EVER want to eat caviar with a metal utensil – don’t even touch it with metal. Metal changes the flavor of caviar and will taint it with an awful metal bite.

Add Too Many Other Ingredients: the idea is to keep side ingredients bland and to a minimum, to let the flavor of the caviar shine through…after all, you’re paying a pretty penny for each of those eggs!

Actually Cook It: caviar is really not meant for cooking; it becomes tough and the flavor changes.

Drink Caviar With Red Wine or Dark Beer: Try to eat caviar and then down it with a big bold red wine and you’ll quickly realize why. The caviar’s saltiness calls for a drink that’s refreshing and cleanses the palate. Red wines and dark beers are too overwhelming.

How To Eat Caviar: hen egg, homemade potato chips, onion sousbise, and herb salad.

Go beyond the blini and try your caviar with a soft hen egg, homemade potato chips, onion sousbise, and herb salad. Ph: Eats.Meets.Wes

TIPS FOR STORING CAVIAR

  • Read all labels carefully once you get your product.
  • Caviar is highly perishable and must be stored in the fridge.
  • Do not freeze.
  • Once opened, consume within 2-3 days, caviar won’t keep for long.

 

Products from this post:

Caviar Selection >
Creme Fraiche >
Blini & Toast Points >
Caviar Serving Utensils >