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Archive for February, 2011

Torta del Casar Cheese

The world of Spanish cheese is a wide and wonderful one. From the classic Manchego, and the assertive Covadonga blue to the conical Tetilla and the tangy Monte Enebro, there is something for everyone in Spain’s world of cheese.

Today we’re going to put a spotlight on one of our favorites, the Torta del Casar. This sheep’s milk cheese from the Extremadura region in Western Spain is unique both in flavor and form.  The flavor is full, intense and slightly salty. Some say the cheese has a smoky and somewhat rustic flavor. The cheese gets a subtle bitterness from the rennet  used to curdle the sheep’s milk when it is made, which is derived from the pistils of a wild thistle plant. All of these characteristics would make this cheese a unique one, but we haven’t even touched on the Torta del Casar’s shape and consistency.

Gooey and Gorgeous

Torta del Casar has a soft creamy texture and takes part of its name, Torta, from its cake-like shape. At room temperature, which is how this cheese should be served, the center has an almost liquid, melted quality. In Spain Torta del Casar is cut into slices or a hole is cut in the top and the cheese is scooped out with a spoon or a piece of bread or cracker. Serve this gooey delicacy along with caramelized onions or chutney.

Bocadillo of Veal with Peppers and Torta del Casar

Yes, serving the Torta del Casar opened at the top with a little crusty bread is certainly a traditional and classic way of serving this cheese. But there is more to this versatile cheese than meets the eye. Serve triangles of Torta del Casar with an accent of Spanish Sherry Syrup. Or serve it with pasta, atop onion soup, cooked into a sauce and drizzled over a steak, or fried and served with a raspberry syrup.

Follow the links below for these recipe ideas and more.  (Titles in Spanish link to recipes in Spanish)

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Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching. Whether you’re planning an elegant night out with your sweetheart or having a romantic dinner at home, tapas bring you the passion of Spain and are perfect for this special day. Tapas, can take many forms; cold dishes like patatas bravas or the Tortilla Espanola, and warm dishes like pulpo a la plancha or croquetas.

Here are some of our favorite picks for a tapas celebration in honor of Valentine’s Day and our special someone.

Piquillo Peppers stuffed with Bonito del Norte Tuna

The red color of these roasted Piquillo peppers make this dish perfect for Valentine’s Day.  Stuff these succulent, velvety red peppers with Bonito del Norte Tuna from the Cantabrian Sea. Stuffed Piquillo peppers are a perfect ambassador of Valentine’s Day.

Montaditos de Cantimpalo

The Montadito wears its heart on its sleeve. Montaditos are like little open faced sandwiches. Everything it has to offer your taste buds is right there in the open for all to see. The red color of a slice of Cantimpalo along with the white color of a slice of Montelarreina Sheep’s Milk cheese on top of a slice of crunchy bread make this version of the Montadito perfect for Valentine’s Day celebrations.

Marcona Almond Stuffed Gordal Olives

The Marcona almond is one of the finest available and this ancient nut is also one of the oldest known aphrodisiacs, arousing desire and fertility.  Stuff the beautiful, green Gordal olive with delicious Marcona almonds and you’ve got a bite sized treat. Just remember that a little aphrodisiac goes a long way.

Queso de Cabra al Horno

With a little creativity, this classic dish is perfect for Valentine’s Day. Instead of the typical round slice of creamy goat cheese, mold the cheese into a heart shape. Place the cheese in a cazuela, surround it with a pool of rich tomato sauce, then broil in the oven. The result is a molten symbol of love.

Which tapas do you think best represent Valentine’s Day?

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