Monday, March 27, 2017

"Tapas" Make Great (Easy) Appetizers

What Is Tapas Food?
Tapas foods are finger foods that are served in cafes and bars. The word tapas comes from the Spanish word, tapar, which means, “to cover.” Coming in various different forms, tapas fare can be hot, cold or marinated. Tapas are usually flavored with cumin, salt, pepper, garlic, chilies, paprika, saffron or olive oil. Possible dishes include olives, Serrano ham, chorizo, salt cod, Spanish omelets, rings of battered squid, meatballs with sauce, stuffed mussels, stuffed piquillo peppers, and much more. In many parts of Spain, if you order a drink at a bar, a tapa is served with it for free.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Charcuterie Boards-Whatever You Want Them To Be

I was just introduced to the idea of a “charcuterie” board recently when shopping on one of my favorite on-line stores for specialty meat, poultry and game products. They were having a sale on suggested ingredients and included their definition and history of the charcuterie board. It was essentially an “all meat” version of the traditional cheese board.
Since then I’ve learned that a “charcuterie” board can be a “combo” meat and cheese board. It all depends on your tastes.
This type of “appetizer” can actually be used as a dinner party considering the extent you can complete the board. So with much less effort than preparing numerous courses (and all the dishes, serving platters, etc. that are needed) you have a delicious, casual and easier “dinner” party. The variety of meats, cheeses and other accompaniments you can include in the board can please every taste and personal preference.
So let’s get started with the “how to”.
First, you want to select of variety of tastes with both the meat and cheeses. Mild, medium and bold flavors allow the guests to create a variety of combinations to suit their tastes. Some may prefer mild, softer flavors over a more bold palate. For example...a brie cheese vs a bleu cheese…a mild ham vs a spicy salami.
Some meat suggestions….pepperoni, cappicola, prosciutto, hard salami (mild & spicy),pancetta, mortadella and sopressata. The names may sound fancy/exotic but most grocery stores will have a variety of what you need. If you have a good Italian deli nearby…so much the better !
For your cheese selections…..brie, bleu cheese, aged gouda, a firm Italian cheese (provolone, asiago, fontina, Pecorino Romano), soft cheese spread, Monchego…your options can go on and on.
Other ingredients to compliment and complete the “meal”…..
Dried apricots, dates or figs…fresh grapes
Jams or spreads to bring some sweetness. “Quince paste” is a traditional compliment to the Manchego cheese.
Pickled vegetables such as gherkins..plain or flavored/stuffed olives, pepperoncinis,etc.
Spicy spreads and/or dips….stone ground mustard, hummus (plain or flavored),  tapenade.
Crackers & crusty bread…flavored crackers or the very traditional plain “water” crackers….slices of a good French baguette.
The final touch……beverages
Wine is traditional.Reds and whites. Again, to please all your guest tastes….some sweet...some dry.
Beer is also an excellent addition….variety according to guests’ tastes...the popular “lights” and some more hearty brews. “IPAs” are very in vogue
To please all tastes...soft drinks… soda…bottled water.
The presentation……simply Google “charcuterie boards” and you will see a very large variety of pics to get ideas. Don’t’ get intimidated…it is easy.
Want to add some flair and style…small candles..tea lights…soft music..just in the background…nothing to overpower the conversation.
Cocktail napkins...paper from the local party store to match the occasion or your décor.
Have a delightful, simple (compared to full dinner) get-together…..great food and drink..with friends and family...put together a charcuterie board !
For a variety of quality cookware to prepare your meals, visit my website @ We offer a selection of enamel coated pots, pans, and sets from respected brands like Rachel Ray, BergHOFF, Reston Lloyd, Lodge and Fancy Cook.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Cheese Boards Make Great Appetizers

Cheese boards make great appetizers or a light dinner if you use your imagination.....have fun...

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Fun With A Wine & Cheese Party

Another fun idea for a party that’s simple and easy is wine and cheese. Think of it as a dinner party with relatively easy prep and clean up. We all enjoy having dinner, in or out, with friends. No one likes to eat alone and sharing time with friends is healthy and enhances relationships…not to mention just plain fun! Most “social drinkers” prefer wine over traditional alcohol cocktails. Want to please everyone…even have some beer available!
Many people consider a dinner party a very time consuming and daunting task and thus don’t have as many of these get togethers. A simple wine and cheese party can create a very relaxed and comfortable atmosphere to enjoy your friends’ company.
Basically, all you need are wine glasses, some small plates, cocktail napkins (paper is fine) and you’re good to go. You don’t need an assortment of wine glasses if you don’t already have ones for red and white wine. Likewise, you don’t need a collection of plates..just some small party plates will do. Napkins….go to your local party store and get some small cocktail napkins in colors/patterns to match the occasion or décor.
If you want to add some flair, use tea lights or small candles for atmosphere and mood setting. Light music adds to the entertaining atmosphere.
Now for the most important part….the wine and cheese!
In its simplest form, you can get your favorite dry red and white wines and a sweet red or white to complete the selection and cover everyone’s tastes and serve them with assorted cheeses like Swiss, brie, cheddar, bleu, Gouda and an Italian favorite. There are also a variety of cheese “spreads” and flavored cream cheeses that can add different flavors and textures. A bunch of fresh grapes adds some additional personality and flavor to the presentation Assorted crackers and crusty bread complete “the meal”. Another option is to add a selection of sliced meats to the cheese board. A small bowl of assorted olives is another nice touch.
Note… with a little careful shopping, you can easily get a nice quality bottle of wine for $10 or less. Also..from my experience… guests will offer to bring a bottle of their favorite wine to share with everyone which adds more variety and personality to the selection.
If you want to get more elaborate…consider pairing the cheese with the complimentary wine. Wine and cheese from the same region tend to go well together but it doesn’t mean you have to serve a French wine with a French cheese or Swiss with Swiss. Do what’s comfortable for you.
Some suggestions…
Camembert with Chenin Blanc or Cabernet
Brie with Merlot, Champagne or a Sweet Sherry
 Roquefort with Tawny Port
Sharp Cheddar with Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc or Rioja
Italian Cheese with Chianti
Muenster with Beaujolais or Zinfandel
Swiss with Gewurztraminer
I hope I’ve convinced you that a very comfortable and enjoyable get together can be accomplished with just a little effort and not a great expense….and…you won’t have a lot of dirty dishes to clean !
For a variety of quality cookware to prepare your meals, visit my website @ We offer a selection of enamel coated pots, pans, and sets from respected brands like Rachel Ray, BergHOFF, Reston Lloyd, Lodge and Fancy Cook.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Appetizers Are Fun....and Delicious !!

Appetizers are fun, delicious and many are very easy to make. Impress friends ar your next party.

Some idea.....

A true Charcuterie Board is primarily all meat with some accompaniments...

Enjoy.....nice change from the "traditional" cheese board....

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

"How to" Wine & Cheese Party

In my previous blog, I suggested trying a wine and cheese party with friends and offered some pics to "tweak" your interest.

Now......"how to"...

Have fun !!!