Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Part 10 of Italian (Antipasto) Cooking

Nora's New Car
As you can see in the photo, my "blog assistant" has a NEW car.  OMG, she is only one year old (ha!ha!).  I was 21 when I got my first car (and it was used-really used).  My first NEW car was at the age of 23.  She is really enjoying it and already knows where the horn is and how to use it.  I wonder if I tell her parents what I need if I'll get one?  She's teaching the old guy some new things too.  I hope I'm a quick learner.

Just a reminder that I'm having a book signing coming up this Saturday.  That is Saturday, June 22nd, at "County Seat Coffeehouse" in Mantorville, Minnesota.  The address is 1 5th W Street and I'll be there between 1:00 and 3:00 PM.  If you, family and/or friends are in the area, please stop in and see me.  Mantorville is just a little west of Rochester in case you're not familiar with the area.  Also help spread the word for me.  Thanks.

Now let's talk "Italian."  The week it's "Antipasto" and what that means in Italian cooking.  Antipasto literally means "Before the Meal."  In Italian culture, it would be the first course, an appetizer or the beginning of the feast.

It can  be almost anything in the line of food but generally follows a few basic rules.  Antipasto dishes are usually easy to make, use fresh ingredients that are in season and don't require difficult cooking techniques.  One of these dishes maybe a salad, vegetables (usually pickled or roasted), fish or seafood, cold meats, cheeses and/or breads.  They can be an individual dish or a platter of assorted items.

The best thing about it, these dishes are usually light and healthy (or at least somewhat) because of the fresh ingredients being used.  Also there are marinades and olive oil instead of heavy dressings when needed for a dish.  It's all about flavor and color too.

Even though "Antipasto" is suppose to be the first course, many of the recipes can be used as side dishes or even a main course.  It can make for a light and refreshing dinner.

Many other cultures have something similar to the Italians.  In Spain, there are "Tapas" although they are a little more involved in cooking processes and many just make them their meal.  The USA has it's onion rings, artichoke dips, etc. too.  But it is just a little more defined in the Italian culture.

So try to take advantage of the many "Antipasto" dishes and try eating and making them.

Tenuta's in Kenosha, WI
I have two easy recipes this week.  Both have to do with olives.  So on my recent visit to Tenuta's (my favorite Italian grocery store and deli) in Kenosha, Wisconsin, I took a photo of their olive offerings in the deli case.  If you have not tried all the varieties of olives available at many local grocery stores, please do so.  There are some great ones out there besides just the green and black ones many of us are used to eating.  Have an adventure and see what other olives you may like as much or even more.

The first is for "Hot Spiced Olives" and is made at least a week before you need them.  They will last a few months in the refrigerator (assuming they are hidden because they will be eaten quickly).  You can adjust the heat level and mix and match olives.  The olives can be pitted or not.  However, the unpitted are better for this dish.  Just have a bowl for the pits.

The second recipe this week is for "Olive Crostini" and works well for parties too.  Now many may go "icky" because this recipe calls for "Anchovies."  They are chopped up in your food processor so you will never see them in the spread.  However, they give great flavor to the dish.  Actually, that goes for any dish that calls for them.  Please give them a try.  You'll be surprised at the result.

Enjoy the olive recipes and "Happy Cooking"  until next week.

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