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Mediterranean food for energetic entrepreneurs

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Elena Fernandez 

The Yummy Bull had the opportunity to host a Mediterranean dinner last Friday for Euro Seattle Startup Weekend, as I was representing Spain in the Organization Committee.

Startup Weekend is a global movement of active entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. Anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. The top ideas will work during the whole weekend creating a business model as a beginning of a new venture.

I´d never prepared food for 100 people but this is what life is all about, about pushing your own boundaries. Right?

Luckily I counted with the sponsorship of Culinary Collective, one the most important and respected Spanish gourmet importers in the US who donated all the Spanish food for the meal. Making good food with amazing ingredients is always easy…

I was alone and tight in time to prepare the catering, so I conceptualized a realistic, diverse and healthy menu. I chose to prepare a “bonito del Norte”, a variety of tuna from the Cantabrian sea, and piquillo peppers salad (see recipe below).

Foto cena 7I wanted to feature an array of Mediterranean countries in my dinner so I decided to showcase French endives too.  I love their bitter flavor, not so common in the Pacific NW, because fits perfectly with smoked salmon and  blue cheese. I couldn´t find best dressing that salt, Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Pedro Ximénez Reserva vinegar.

Brie and blue cheese combined with grapes and Spanish Marcona almonds, the “Ferrari of the almonds” in experts opinion, and Italian delis rounded the meal for meat and cheese lovers.  More veggies and hummus, coming from the other side from the Mediterranean, made things easy for the vegetarians.

I wanted to add a light, colorful and healthy dessert so I decided to bring Greece to the table too adding yogurt with berries and pomegranate to the ecuation. And for the sweet tooth authentic Seville tortas de aceite and catalonian milk and dark chocolate.

A diverse Mediterranean dinner for a diverse and energetic bunch of entrepreneurs who worked hard all weekend long to bring their best ideas into life.

I`m proud to say that we received a lot of compliments about all  the meals that we served during the weekend. You know we, Europeans, take food business really seriously.

Where You can find Culinary Collective products in the Seattle area:

Metropolitan Market, DeLaurenti, The Spanish Table

 

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Bonito del Norte and Piquillo Peppers salad

 1 can of Piquillo Peppers or Roasted Peppers

17 oz Bonito del Norte

1 sweet onion

5 Extra Virgin olive oil tablespoons

Parsley

For the dressing

5 Extra Virgin Olive Oil tablespoons

2 Sherry Vinegar tablespoons

Cumin

Grounded black pepper

Salt

Slice the onion and poach it at slow heat for 10 minutes in the Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Drain it and put into a flat tray with the sliced peppers. Pour the dressing and add the bonito and parsley as decoration.

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Mediterranean diet decalogue: more than a lifestyle

ImagenThe Mediterranean diet is a well to protect. Like this it understood it the UNESCO when it declared it Immaterial Heritage of the Mankind in 2010, thanks to the initiative of four communities of Spain (Soria), Italy, Morocco and Greece. It is considered like one of the healthiest of the world, and no only by the use and combination of ingredients, but also by a series of traditional practices related with the feeding.

The UNESCO considers that in the nutritional model of this diet, that has remained constant through the time and of the space, the main ingredients are the oil of olive, the cereals, the fruits and cool or dry vegetables, a moderate proportion of meat, fish and dairy products, and abundant condiments and spices, whose consumption in the table accompanies of wine or infusions, respecting always the beliefs of each community. The Mediterranean diet –whose name comes of the Greek word diaita, that wants to say way of life– does not comprise only the feeding, since it is a cultural element that favourable the social interaction; that’s explains that the foods in common are an angular stone of the social habits and of the celebration of festive events.

tomates

“To the trilogy wheat, vineyard and olivo, to the legumbres, to the vegetables, to the fruits, to the fish, to the cheeses or the yoghourt, to the nuts it is necessary to add an essential condiment, perhaps a basic ingredient: the sociability”, signals Lluís Serra, President of the Foundation Mediterranean Diet, in the book: ‘Ánima Mediterránea’, by Bernd H. Knöller And Xavier Mollà.

The experts think that the prevailing globalization is changing our alimentary habits and is putting in danger the survival of a diet that sinks his roots in the history.

One of the impulsores from Spain of the candidature of the Mediterranean diet to Immaterial Heritage of the Mankind, the doctor Juan Manuel Ruiz Liso, elaborated the fundamental decalogue to follow this type of feeding:

1.- You will take oil of virgin olive all the days of your life

2.- You won´t forget bread and cereals in any meal

3.- The fruit will accompany you every day

4.- You will eat salad daily 

5.-You will abuse from Vegetables and legumes 

6.- You won´t live without fish

7.- Daily milk you will drink

8.- You will not exceed the consumption of saturated fats

9.- Working and leisure will go together

10.- You will eat with company as often as possible

On the Foundation of the Mediterranean Diet web can find interesting medical articles on the health benefits of this diet, plus weekly menus and recipes as described below:

Vegetables (Pisto) with eggs

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Ingredients for four people:

2 medium red or green peppers

2 medium tomatoes

2 medium eggplants

4 garlic cloves

4 medium eggs

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp paprika

Salt

Pepper

How to do:

Wash pepper, remove seeds and cut into strips. Peel the tomatoes and garlic and finely chop separately. Wash eggplants, remove the ends and cut into cubes.

Heat olive oil in a saucepan and cook to heat the peppers for 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and eggplant and continue cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes. Finally, add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Grind salt, make some holes among the vegetables and drop the raw eggs in them. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the egg white curd. Lightly salt and pepper the eggs and serve the dish with bread.

Olive oil: the Spanish “liquid gold”

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The Spanish Ministry of Agriculture has launched a new edition of “The Spainish Award for Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil Campaign 2013-2014″ . Participants have until December 17 to deliver the samples and participate in the contest . The objective is to give recognition to the great work of Spanish companies, as well as promoting the Spanish virgin olive oils with high organoleptic quality.

The extra virgin olive oil is one of the fundamental ingredients of the Mediterranean Diet and its healthy properties, have been amply demonstrated by several researchers. Spanish olive oils are a high quality product, thanks to its olive variety, the harvesting techniques and the care taken in its preparation. Spain is also the largest producer of olive oil in the world. Do you want to learn more about the varieties that produced what we call the “liquid gold”?

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Some of the olive varieties used to produce Spanish olive oil

Spain has more than 260 olive varieties, which can offer a wide range and diversity of flavors in their olive oils, unmatched by any other country. Here are some of the olive varieties used in the oil’s production  (source ASOLIVA, Spanish Asociation of Oil’s Producers and Exporters):

Picual: The Picual variety is the most important and represents 50% of the olives used in Spain. The main producing region is Andalusia, in particular the regions of Jaén, Córdoba and Granada. The oil produced from this variety is excellent for its high monounsaturated oleic acid content –which is essential for the prevention of cardiovascular disease–, and its high content of polyphenols –natural antioxidant. From a sensory point of view, Picual varieties are cultivated in plain areas, these make a full-body oil, usually bitter, with a woody flavor, while the olives cultivated in mountain areas tend to be sweeter, with a pleasant and fresh flavour.

Cornicabra: is the second variety in cultivation area and third in production. Its grown in Castilla-La Mancha, especially Toledo and Ciudad Real. The oil made by Cornicabra has a golden yellow color with light green hues. The oils obtained are fruity, very smooth with a velvety texture and a balanced composition of essential fatty acids.

Hojiblanca: cultivated in Andalusia, especially in the east area of Seville, southern Córdoba and northern Málaga. It is used for oil production but also for the production of table olives “Californian” style. From the sensory point of view, presents a wide range of flavors: sweet at the begining, and also fresh grass, slightly bitter green fruit and nutty aftertaste.

Arbequina: is a native variety of the Lleida’s region, but is also cultivated in Aragón (Zaragoza and Huesca) and Tarragona (Catalonia) . With this variety we have fruity oils with an exotic flavour. They are fresh and very delicate in regard to oxidation, so you have to keep it in the dark at low temperatures to ensure its quality.

Lechín of Seville: is cultivated in the regions of Seville, Córdoba, Cádiz , Málaga and Huelva (Andalusia). These oils have a flavour of grass and they are very balanced, with a slightly bitter aftertaste like green almond.

Verdial: under this name, we know different local varieties whose cultivation is spread over the South and Southwest areas of the Iberian Peninsula, as Verdial of Badajoz (cultivated in Extremadura) or Verdial of Vélez- Málaga (cultivated in Málaga) . This variety of oils are fruity with a sweet and pleasant flavour. Verdial is often mixed with the Hojiblanca variety and the result is a very tasty oil.

Empeltre: characteristic of the Aragon area (mostly Zaragoza), it produces pale yellow oils with a very pleasant fruity aftertaste.

Picudo: cutivated in the areas of Córdoba, Granada, Málaga and Jaén (Andalusia). This variety is so sweet that when the fruits are ripe, the birds tend to peck at them. The oil is very balanced and sweet, with very light and fluid flavors and a slight hint of exotic fruits.

Now, you know a little bit better the Spanish raw material of olive oil’s. Soon you will be able to read about the transformation processes that make Spanish virgin olive oil so special in the kitchen.