Windowpane PotatoesWell we're home from the Foodbuzz Festival in San Francisco. Before I can tell you all about it it's time for our monthly get together!!! So glad you could join us once again!!!! This month our Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club chose the theme TAPAS, APPETIZERS & SMALL PLATES in honour of the looming holiday. Check out this month's menu where we share our ideas for a cocktail party that will knock your socks off...and just in time for the holiday season!!!!!!! We love to share these ideas with you each month by putting together a delicious meal for each other through our Virtual Supper Club. The idea is simple because we all share a common interest in cooking and all things "foodie". This is a team effort where we get together virtually once a month and combine what Cooking Light readers like best...good food with great company!!! Why don't you join in by visiting us at their blog Test Kitchen Secrets. Bring your own dish and join the party!!!!!
Ultimately this is what has brought myself Val of More Than Burnt Toast, Helene of La Cuisine d'Helene, Shelby of The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch, Jamie of Mom's Cooking Club and Aggie of Aggie's Kitchen together to share their love of food, blogging and their commitment to a health conscious lifestyle to create the very 1st ever Virtual Supper Club sponsored by Cooking Light magazine!!! We all share a love for Cooking Light magazine which has an emphasis on healthy eating and living. Each issue covers light cuisine and included more than 70 delicious and flavourful recipes. It also explores food and nutrition news as well as fitness, health and beauty.
Now what about those appetizers!!!! Appetizer recipes come in all shapes and sizes and from all 4 corners of the world. The French refer to them as hors d'œuvres or in the case of a one-bite appetizer they are called an amuse-bouche. Antipasto is the Italian equivalent of hors d'oeuvres, meaning “before the meal" typically consisting of savory cold foods such as cheeses and raw or marinated vegetables, as well as cold cuts and cured meats such as prosciutto. These tasty little morsels of food, no matter what you want to call them, can be as simple as a slice of mild cheese with a cracker to a hearty soup of onions and French bread. An appetizer refers to a small portion of food served before a meal, but it can also refer to the first course of a meal. As the years have gone by appetizers have evolved into a whole new meaning and with international influence can become a meal in itself.
They are referred to as "orektika" in Greece but are outshadowed by the more popular mezes table which can be an array or appetizers or little plates. The little plates are shared by everyone at the table, which provides a wonderful variety of flavour and texture sensations for each guest. Mezes is usually translated from Greek to English as "appetizer's", but, this translation does not do justice to the fundamental role mezes play in Greek tradition. Zorbas the Greek sums up the essence of Mezes the best....
"On the coast I felt for the first time what a pleasant thing it could be to have a meal. We started eating and drinking, the conversation became animated. I at last realized that eating was a spiritual function and the meat, bread, and wine were the raw materials from which the soul is made."
Similar to mezes, Spanish tapas can be practically anything from a chunk of tuna, cocktail onion and an olive skewered on a long toothpick to meat with sauce served piping hot in a miniature clay dish. They are served day in and day out in every bar and café in Spain. So much a part of the culture and social scene that the Spanish people invented the verb "tapear" which means to go and eat tapas! Here tapas have evolved into an entire cuisine where we hit the tapas restaurants and order as many different tapas we feel we can eat and combine them to make a full meal. Just like in Greek tradition the serving of tapas is designed to encourage conversation because people are not so focused upon eating an entire meal that is set before them. When last in San Francisco we discovered a fabulous Catalan tapas place run by a food blogger Brett Emerson called Contigo. He chronicled the birth of his new Spanish restaurant on his blog In Praise of Sardines.
According to The Joy of Cooking, the original tapas were the slices of bread or meat which sherry drinkers in Andalusian taverns used to cover their glasses between sips. This was a practical measure meant to prevent fruit flies from hovering over the sweet sherry. The meat used to cover the sherry was normally ham or chorizo, which are both very salty and activate thirst. Because of this, bartenders and restaurant owners began creating a variety of snacks to serve with sherry, thus increasing their alcohol sales. The tapas eventually became as important as the sherry.
Sliders with Shallot-Dijon RelishDistance prevents the 5 ladies of our Virtual Supper Club from gathering as a group in each others homes but we have enjoyed getting to know one another and have developed an international appetizer bar from the pages of Cooking Light magazine that is sure to bring smiles when your family and friends visit your home this holiday season. See us on their blog Test Kitchen Secrets!!! What better way to enjoy each others company virtually as well as begin the holiday season than with tapas and appetizers.
For our virtual feast I was delighted with these see-through Windowpane Potato Chips. Fresh herbs were sandwiched together between 2 paper-thin slices of potato. Very impressive for your guests and a sure-fire conversation starter. I continued on with another delicious appetizer Sliders with Shallot-Dijon Relish. These were perfect tiny tidbits and it was hard to stop at just one. Helene brought spicy Grilled Pepper Poppers which had our taste buds hopping here. Shelby really enjoyed this challenge. She outdid herself with tiny flavourful bites of Harvest Sweet Potato Pecan Pie Tarts....so good!!!!Aggie delighted us with Mini Frittatas with Ham and Cheese. These were quick to make and were devoured even quicker. Her West Indies Shrimp rounded out our cocktail party with finesse!!! Jamie WOWED us with her Warm Cranberry-Walnut Brie . She says this brie was unbelievable! So simple to make but OMG delicious. She also treated us to some amazing seafood Mini Crab Cakes with Herbed Aioli . Check out each of our blogs for photos and links and enjoy the party!!!!