Monday, February 14, 2011

"7 Nights of Tapas" Recipe: Figgy Manchego Cheese and Jamon Toasts

Sweet and Salty. I never gave it much consideration past the occasional, 'Hmmm, cute granola bar marketing phrase'. I never thought myself, or 'my people' to have a predilection towards this combo. But, seeing that it seems to have not permeated the Czech boarders, I reckon that I, or we, must have such a distinct fondness.

I mean, really: peanut butter (equally at home with chocolate or atop a saltine), breakfast sausage tinged with maple syrup, or kettlecorn? I don't think one can stroll the American supermarket aisles without being bludgeoned with at least one irresistible 'Sweet n Salty' slogan.

It all changed when I met my Czech mate. It was literally a kitchen checkmate. My French toast has been forever referred to as 'French eggs' and taunted for being 'sweet eggs, when everyone knows eggs like salt.' Czech food likes to have salt on their salties, and sweet on their sweets. No mixing please. I can't win here. I'm simply outnumbered.

Being that it's Valentine's day, I'm trying to be extra considerate of my valentine today, by not unwittingly serving up nibbles that'll be politely declined for it's sweet/salty ratio. This includes all my favourite ways to snack on smoked or other meaty leftovers. Turkey and cranberries, chicken and mango chutney, sweet n spicy beef jerky, or dry cured ham with fig preserves. You name it, prosciutto, jamón serrano, or even German black forest ham. Whichever is available, paired with good bread, a fig (or quince) spread, and firm aged cheese makes for a fantastic no-cook spread.

And being Valentine's day, no-cook night nibbles can come in handy.

7 Nights of Tapas:
1. Garlic Shrimp
2. Garlic Mushrooms
3. Spiced Roasted Almonds
4. Garbanzo Beans with Chorizo
5. Marinated Black Olives
6. Figgy Manchego and Jamon Toasts
7. Spinach (Almost/Vegetarian) Empanadas

Continue for Recipe...
Figgy Manchego and Jamon Serrano Toasts
Serves as many as you see fit / 10 mins
Eat with a white Rioja

fig jam
nice bread (baguette or ciabatta)
jamon serrano ham
manchego (or other Spanish sheep cheese)

Toast the bread (slice into smaller crostini-sized slices if it's an appetizer for many). Mix half softened butter and half fig jam. Spread on the toasted bread, drape the thin meat slices over top along with slices of the cheese.

Note: This is my travelling round Europe and staying in hostels go-to-meal. Any dry cured ham and cheese works. Prosciutto and Parmesan is my Italian staple. In fact, the fig jam I'm using here was picked up during the last Italy run. If fig jam can't be found, I've heard of thin slices of dried figs working well. The fig jam is mixed with butter here so it's not too sweet, but being a sweet n salty girl, I usually just eat it full on, sans butter. But today we're being especially considerate to other taste buds in the home.

Dobrou Chut' / Enjoy!
-- Jo

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