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Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Archive for the Category 'Breads'

Oil and Vinegar unique Gifts

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

Holiday Season gourmet gifts

With the approaching holidays comes food, dispensing of condiments, and then even more food. The Grape cluster oil and vinegar glass Cruet provides an elegant unique gourmet gift idea that fits well on any table. Unlike most holiday items, this is one that can be used again and again, after the holidays are over. Each Grape Cruet is hand-blown by glass artisans in Europe.

We offer an exquisite line of Gourmet oil and vinegar Cruets throughout the year to suit Birthdays, Anniversaries, Weddings, or Corporate gifts.

This year we added some outstanding items to our product line: Balsamic Vinegars direct from Italy. Also an elegantly custom designed set of matched Drizzle Cruets that has already started to receive rave reviews from users. Our newest addition to is a beautifully designed Bread Dipping Dish which can be purchased separately or in a Bread Dipping Gift Set. Bread dipping is known to be very healthy and flavorsome, especially when used with our new Bread Dipping Herbs and Spices. Why not provide your dinner guests with a unique taste experience?

Having a stylish bread dipping dish can make all the difference to the table presentation. Our Bread Dipping Dishes are designed so that when olive oil is added to the dish, different hues of color can be seen, providing an artistically appetizing focal point to the table setting. As Gourmet gifts, each of our new unique products make excellent and affordable gift selections that will fit well in any kitchen.

gourmet gift, oil and vinegar gifts 


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French Baguette

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Bread itself dates back as long as written history takes us. However, what we commonly know as French bread today, the baguette, was brought about in the early twentieth century out of necessity. True French bread is thousands of years old. The truth is that the baguette is not even French. The baguette is a derivative of bread made in Vienna after steam ovens were put to use.

The baguette is a crispy long loaf of bread. It is typically about five centimeters wide and about 3 centimeters thick with a length of about two feet long. The baguette has a crispy crust on the outside with a white pitted crumb on the inside. The irregular holes can be fairly large and are characteristic of the baguette. In the mid 19th century, the steam oven brought about the French bread we know today.

It has been said that Napoleon is responsible for the invention of the baguette. However, the order to make long thin loaves that could easily be carried down the pant legs of soldiers, was not likely ever given. Napoleon’s armies carried portable ovens with them in their travels. The need for bread that would fit down the pant legs of his soldiers would not have been necessary. Napoleon did influence the production of bread by establishing standards for baking bread but had nothing to do with the invention of the baguette.

In 1920, French laws prohibited bakers from beginning work before four o’clock in the morning. This created a dilemma. How were they to have fresh bread ready in time for breakfast. Here is where the baguette was born. The long thin loaves of bread could be fully fermented, baked, and ready to eat by the time the early morning customers were ready to enjoy breakfast from their local bakery. Some English and French bakers still call the baguette “Vienna” bread. Most English people associate the words “French bread” with a long, golden baguette. The crust being crispy and sweet with surface cuts in the shape of a leaf. Never actually setting foot in France, they are unaware that traditional French bread was round and much fuller than the baguette.

We often serve sliced baguettes with some form of spread or cheese. Baguettes are also ideal for making sandwiches. The popularity of the baguette in France is obvious everywhere you go. It is not uncommon to see a baguette or two being carried by in the arms or backpack of the French pedestrian. Baguettes are enjoyed throughout France with jam, butter, cheese, or just plain.

French bakers loved the baguette due to the ease and speed of processing. Not to mention the fact that the baguette begins to stale within an hour of being baked making frequent trips to the bakery necessary. However, traditional French bread has regained popularity because of its longer shelf life. Traditional French bread will stay fresh up to two or three days.

To look in an American cookbook from the nineteenth or twentieth century, you would likely find recipes for French bread but a recipe for the baguette would not be found. It would seem as though the production of the baguette was limited to professional bakers.

French Baguette


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French and Vienna Breads

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

It is not uncommon to find Vienna bread in a bakery that is far from being authentic. The production method of Vienna bread varies from shop to shop. Some bakeries use the Straight method while others use the sponge-dough method. Authentic Vienna bread needs a tight dough and needs more fermentation time than bread made in a pan. The Vienna baker made his loaves famous through much care and detail along with using quality ingredients.

The dough for Vienna bread were molded and then placed on boards that were covered in cloth with the smooth side of the dough down. The dough was then fermented until the size had doubled. It was baked with a good supply of low pressure steam if possible. Otherwise the dough would have to be washed with water before cutting the dough into loaves. Some bakers bump loaves on boards after dusting them with fine bread crumbs or corn flour placing them far enough apart so they would not stick together while fermenting. When this method was used, the dough had to be placed smooth side up. Traditional French bread can be made in much the same way only a softer dough is needed. Both Vienna and French bread dough can be used to make quality hard crust rolls.

Americans tend to have a fascination with foreign cuisine. This seems to be the case with the baguette and other types of French bread. We romanticize the French and their cuisine. French bakeries have captivated Americans and motivated bakers in America to create breads of the like. It is no surprise that the baguette has gained popularity in America and can now be purchased at any bakery or supermarket. Boulangeries have become recognizable in cities all over the world.

Bakeries today capitalize on the ancient recipes of the Old World which have gained undying popularity around the world. Long, slender baguettes, buttery croissants, loaves of crusty Italian bread, ciabatta, and French boules are all favorites that adorn the shelves of modern American bakeries taking advantage of America’s love for foreign cuisine.

The delicious flavors brought to the United States by immigrants have survived the ever changing tastes of the American people and regained popularity, as has the American fascination with foreign cultures. Even breads that are thought to be American, such as sourdough, have their roots in other civilizations.

Gains in technology have changed the ancient methods of bread making to produce bread that is more consistent and quicker to make. The marketing of yeast has ensured bakers everywhere that every batch of dough will rise and provided with recipes that will consistently make the same bread each time you make it. The invention of the steam oven made production of baguettes possible even when French laws prohibited bakers from working before four o’clock in the morning. Techniques that mechanically knead dough have reduced the production time of bread and now bread machines are available for use in homes everywhere.

White bread used to be consumed by the higher classes, as it was more expensive to produce, and bleached flour was not available to the poorer people. This has taken a recent turn as we realize the health benefits of whole grain products. White bread has become the cheaper, less nutritious product available for everyday consumption by those who can not afford or choose not to spend the extra dollars for more expensive whole grain bread. There are now even enriched varieties of white bread available for the consumption of children or others who prefer the flavor to darker breads.

french bread, vienna bread 


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Sourdough Bread

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Sourdough is a naturally leavened bread. It is started by cultivating the naturally occurring yeasts and allowing your dough to ferment. Once you have started your sourdough, enough dough is saved to start the next day’s batch of dough. Dough consisting of about 20 to 25 percent of the previous days dough provides sufficient leavening agent. The name “sourdough” comes from the somewhat sour taste created from the process.

Sourdough was made famous in the United States in California during the California Gold Rush. However, the process of making sourdough bread dates back to the Ancient Egyptians and was most likely the first form of leavening used. Sourdough was likely first created by accident when yeast from the air made it to a batch of dough and was allowed to ferment long enough for it to rise. The methods of making sourdough were developed over time by trial and error. The Egyptians also developed a starter batch for beer. Adding foam from a batch of beer to bread dough would also prove to be a successful leavening agent for bread. The use of this method of making leavened bread spread across the Old Country and was utilized as the most reliable way of sustaining yeast cultures until about a hundred years ago.

 According to legend, Columbus brought a starter batch of sourdough with him to North America. Sourdough was produced daily by inhabitants of the Old West every day. Used for pancakes, biscuits, bread, and cakes, sourdough was the biggest part of the diet to early pioneers. 

Even with the availability of commercial yeast and baking powder in the 19th century, sourdough was utilized by pioneers choosing to move away from the settlements and carried this tradition with them to the Old West. The year the Gold Rush began, the French Bakery opened up in San Francisco making this sourdough extremely popular in California and linking itself to the California Gold Rush. Even today, sourdough is still a specialty in San Francisco. The taste of sourdough can not be easily duplicated due to the long process involved. The distinct flavor of sourdough is a favorite among many, who even with the patent of a method of manufacturing powdered yeast in 1854, prefer to keep sourdough in their daily diet. 

A batch of sourdough can be used for and indefinite amount of time, so long as fresh water and flour are added daily. This method of passing the There are bakers in San Francisco who can trace their dough back to over a century ago. Every batch of sourdough has its own unique flavor and aroma that has been developed over time. Bakers will pass their dough down from generation to generation making it their best kept and guarded baker’s secret. 

sourdough bread


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Bruschetta and Garlic Bread

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Bruschetta is believed to have its start in the Tuscany region of Italy. Today, the recipe has evolved to meet the changing tastes of people and to take incorporate olive oil and take advantage of the health benefits of the oil. Bruschetta is now frequently brushed with olive oil and topped with tomatoes and sometimes onions. Bruschetta, in the past couple of decades, has become a popular appetizer in Italian restaurants across America replacing the once popular version, garlic bread. These simple slices of bread once only consumed by the poor have made their way into the finest of restaurants.

Bruschetta with drizzled olive oil

Bruschetta is basically a slice of toasted bread that is drizzled with olive oil and is a great way to resurrect a loaf of stale bread. Varieties of bruschetta can be rubbed with garlic or topped with tomatoes. The word “bruschetta” is derived from the Italian verb bruscare, which means to roast over coals.

Bruschetta was originally toasted bread rubbed with garlic, and soaked with oil by the poorer class. Garlic bread on the other hand was the evolved version that was enjoyed by those with a bit more stature. With time the tables have turned and the two have switched roles. Garlic bread has become the common food enjoyed by everyday people. Bruschetta has become the fancy alternative to garlic bread and is now served in upscale restaurants as the started to an Italian meal.

Bruschetta was probably originally the method dipping bread into freshly pressed olive oil to taste enjoy the flavors of the labor after producing olive oil. Country bread is now sometimes deep fried until saturated in olive oil or baked and then drizzled with olive oil. Both versions create a tasty treat.

bruschetta and garlic bread


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Pita bread

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Pita, a slightly leavened bread, is perhaps the oldest bread we know of. Pita is a word derived from the Greek verb pessein, which means cooked or baked. Oriental pancakes are the Asian equivalent of pita. This flat bread is usually cut open forming a pocket which can be filled with your chosen ingredients. The versatility of pita landed it a place on supermarket shelves toward the end of the twentieth century in the United States.

Pita has been the basis for many of the foods we enjoy today, to include pizza, but is typically Pita is also popular as a flat sandwich bread which is often filled with salads such as tuna or chicken salad. The portability of pita has made it a popular addition to many fast food chains in the United States in the recent past.


Olive oil is ideal for any bread, even bread dipping. Dipping bread in olive oil is a very healthy and gourmet appetizer. Olive oil dipping dishes were made for this purpose. stocks Bread Dipping Dishes made of the highest quality and the most elegant style available.

“Wraps” filled with chicken and vegetables and topped with some sort of dressing or condiment are on the menu of almost any fast food place you walk in to. Flatbreads are often offered as a healthy alternative to the usual deep fried foods.

Pita or Pizza

The basic translation of pita is “cooked in ashes.” Pita is a slightly leavened flatbread of wheat flour, that was originally cooked in brick ovens. Flatbreads date back to prehistoric times and are probably the earliest breads created. The production of flatbreads did not require utensils or even an oven. In early times, flatbreads served the purpose of a serving platter for the daily meal.

The size of pita varies depending on who is making it and what it will be used for.  Pita replaced the word “plakous” of Greek origin that’s meaning had changed to be known as a thicker cake. The word pitta was used because pine pitch forms layers associated with breads and cakes.

Flatbreads were originally used as a serving dish for meats. This practice of topping flat bread with other foods for consumption could be where pizza got its start. The different dialects of Italy transformed the word “pita” to pizza. The act of topping a baked dough of grains and water and then topping it with a variety of ingredients has been around long before the pizza we now consume today.

pita bread


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Flat bread varieties

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008


Flatbreads date back to prehistoric times and still hold a place in today’s cultural cuisines. These breads can be quickly produced and are small enough to be taken anywhere. Flatbreads can be sliced open and stuffed with fillings of your choice or wrapped around meats and cheese to create a portable sandwich.

There are several varieties of flatbread. Italian flat bread is the most popular and well known. Arepa is a Venezuelan flatbread made of cormneal. Chapati is an Indian flatbread made of wheat flour. Lavash is a large Middle Eastern flatbread that can be hard or soft.

With the versatility of these nifty little bread pockets and wraps, it is no wonder how readily available they have become. You can walk into any supermarket and purchase these magnificent little pita pockets for a reasonable price. They are perfect for creating a quick snack or packing in a brown bag for lunch.

flat bread


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