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Archive for Oil/Vinegar/Dressing

TIP OF THE DAY & Gift Of The Day: Seasoned Olive Oil As Dipping Oil

Dipping Oil EVOO

Balsamic Dipping Oil

Bagna Cauda

[1] You can buy dipping oil, or make your own for pennies! Nice bottles like this one from A&A Alta Cucina Italia are welcome foodie gifts (photo courtesy Local Market South). [2] Another American tradition: Add a splash of balsamic to the oil (here’s the recipe from Lemony Thyme). [3] Bagna cauda, a hot dipping oil for crudités, is a popular holiday dish in Italy (photo James Carrier | Sunset | All Recipes).

 

Around 1990, an Italian restaurant in San Francisco began to substitute extra virgin olive oil for the butter served with bread (source).

While not an authentic Italian practice, it was a revelation to non-Italian Americans, raised on butter.

Other restaurants followed, and the idea spread nationwide.

At the same time, news of the heart-healthy benefits of olive oil gained traction, and many Americans looked forward to EVOO with their bread basket.

Some continued the practice at home, especially for entertaining. A product known as “dipping oil” or “bread dippers” emerged, to be placed in a dish and served with crusty breads and crostini (small toasted slices) and crudités.

Bread dipping sets appeared, with seasonings plus shallow dishes for the olive oil. “Dipping dishes” could be shallow white saucer shapes, or elaborate designs with olive clusters.

The commercial dipping oils were typically seasoned with Italian herbs. Then, home cooks realized they could:

  • Season their own olive oil with their favorite herbs, for pennies.
  • Use a flavored oil for dipping: basil, chile, garlic, truffle, etc., ditto, served plain or with extra seasonings
  •  
    In addition to dipping bread, the seasoned oil can be used:

  • As a pasta sauce: Toss it with spaghetti to create the Roman staple Pasta Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino, spaghetti (or other pasta) with olive oil, minced garlic and red chile flakes.
  • Drizzle onto grilled fish/seafood and meats, vegetables and starches (potatoes, rice and other grains) on veggies, steaks, chicken, and other grilled meats.
  •  
    MAKE YOUR OWN DIPPING OIL

    Use fresh or dried herbs. NOTE: Make only what you’re going to use at a given time (within a few days). When manufacturers add seasonings to oil, the product is pasteurized, stopping any growth of any bacteria from the add-ins.

    So don’t make a whole jar of infused oil to give as gifts, or keep on the shelf. Keep the oil in the fridge; and if you aren’t using it fast enough as a dipper, use it to sauté, dress salads, etc.

  • Citrus zest
  • Herbs: minced basil, dill, garlic, oregano, parsley, thyme, etc.
  • Spices: celery seeds, coriander, cumin, dill seed, fennel, red chile flakes, etc.
  • Optional: splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Optional: salt or flavored salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil or flavor-infused olive oil
  • Optional: balsamic vinegar
  •  
    Plus

  • Sliced crusty bread, regular or lightly toasted
  • Crudités (raw vegetables)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. POUR the olive oil into a ramekin or shallow dish. Top with the desired amount of seasonings and stir lightly.

    2. PLACE on a serving plate with the bread and/or crudités.

     
    A RELATED IDEA: BAUGNA CAUDA, HOT DIPPING OIL

    Bagna càuda, pronounced BON-ya COW-da, is a variation of the French concept of crudités with dip (photo #3). Bagna caôda is an alternative spelling.

    The name means “hot bath”; the dip comprises olive oil and butter, seasoned with garlic and anchovies and served hot.

    A specialty of Italy’s Piedmont region, bagna càuda is served during the autumn and winter months, often as part of the Christmas Eve Feast of The Seven Fishes or other Christmas Eve menu.

    Want to make your own hot bath with garlic? Here’s a recipe.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Buy Better Olive Oil

    Some 10 years ago, the Food and Drug Administration allowed a qualified health claim on food labels of olive oil. The claim states that daily consumption of 2 tablespoons, or 23 grams of olive oil, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. The decision to allow the claim was made after the FDA found sufficient evidence to conclude that monounsaturated fatty acids, naturally present in olive oil, may prevent heart disease.

    This spurred the consumption of olive oil in the U.S. So if your healthier eating plans for the new year include those two tablespoons, here are tips for buying olive oil from an expert: David Neuman, CEO of Gaea US and a certified master panel taster trained at ONAOO, the Organizzazione Nazionale Assaggiatori Olio di Oliva (National Organization For The Tasters Of Olive Oil).

    While American olive oils tend to be well monitored, that’s not so with some imports. The industry has long been fraught with fake and doctored oils, fooling even good retailers.

    For your money and your heart-healthiness, here are some tips to help you find the real deal.
     
    TIPS TO BUYING QUALITY EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

    1. Look & Taste

    Color is not necessarily an indicator of quality. The color has a lot to do with the variety of olive being crushed, the stage of the harvest the olives were picked and the time and temperature of the malaxation† process. And if the oil is filtered or not. Not to mention, many olive oils are sold in dark glass bottles which help preserve the oil, but make it impossible to see the color before you buy.

    Neuman prefers robust oils of a premium nature that are early harvested and quickly malaxed using olives that are prone to being more green. However, he says, there are wonderful oils such as from Sicily that are yellow and have a very intense fruity taste accented by bitterness and pungency. They are of excellent quality, but not dark green in color.

    There are also different styles, which appeal to different plates. Some examples:

  • Fruity, a factor affected by variety, maturity, processing and growing conditions.
  • Bitter, a feature of good, young olive oil, the intensity of which depends on the olive variety and ripeness, as well as on the milling technique.
  • Pungent (chemesthesis), throat-catching and/or mouth-hot, a characteristic of Tuscan olive oils.
  •  
    2. Aroma

    Neuman thinks that a much more precise indicator of the quality of an olive oil is the aroma. A quality EVOO should taste fresh, green, peppery and grassy.

    While you first have to purchase the bottle, Neuman recommends the sniff test, which is also the way to judge how an opened bottle of olive oil is holding up.

  • When you open the bottle it should smell green and grassy, or even ripe and tropical (depending on variety, ripeness, milling, etc. etc. etc.). It should smell good.
  • Look out for fustiness or rancidity, two common defects in olive oil. If you are reminded of a gym locker, sweaty socks, stinky football pads, feet, cheese, crayons, old peanuts, or a compost heap that is too wet, that oil has not been made with fresh, healthy olives. Return it to the retailer!
  • Rancidity doesn’t show up in the aroma until it’s fairly advanced, but you will can smell it immediately and taste it as soon as the oil is in your mouth: It will have a greasy, fatty mouthfeel. If you get an impression of crayons, wax, window putty, old linseed oil or oil paint, rancid walnuts or peanuts, “cat piss” or a wet compost heap: That’s rancidity.
  •  
    Here’s more on the flavors and aromas of olive oil.
    _________________________________
    *Olive oil should be used to replace, and not add to, the other fats present in your diet. Here’s more on the recommendations.

    †Malaxation is the churning or mixing of milled olives for 20 to 40 minutes. This allows the smaller droplets of oil released by the milling process to aggregate and be more easily separated. Here’s more about malaxation.

     

    Harvested Olives

    Gaea Olive Oil

    Green-Hued Olive Oil

    Coratina Olive Oil

    The color of olive oil is based on various factors, and is not necessarily indicative of quality. Top: Just-harvested olives at O Olive Oil. Second: A green-hued olive oil from DeMedici. Third: A yellow-hued premium olive oil from Gaea. Bottom: If you butter your bread, switch to an olive oil dipper. You can add herbs, chili flakes, or enjoy it plain, like this Coratina olive oil from Murrays.com.

     
    3. Price

    Price typically is a solid indicator of quality. The more the oil costs, the better the quality. But there’s a catch: A high-priced oil can sit on the shelves for years and be completely rancid. Check for “best before” dates, or at least harvest dates. You can check online for the shelf life of the particular oil.

  • Bottle dating is voluntary, and this type of transparency is not yet universal on bottles from all producers in countries. But you can let it be a deciding factor in your purchase.
  • Watch out for bargains. If the price is so low and seems too good to be true, it probably is. Expect to spend more than $10 for a 17-ounce bottle of EVOO.
  • Look for extra virgin olive oils that are from a single source. This can range from a single estate to a single Protected Designation of Origin (PDO—these regional designations are policed well by the EU) to a particular region or country.
  • The worst sign is a label that says, “May contain olive oils from Spain, Italy, Greece, Tunisia, Turkey, Argentina and Australia” (i.e., more than one country) or “Mediterranean blend.” This means that the oil is from an industrial packer that sells bulk not quality, and not a conscientious olive oil producer.
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    FINAL TIPS

  • Beware of “extra light” olive oil. Neuman warns that an “extra light” label does not indicate an olive oil that is light in calories. Rather, it is a refined olive oil blend, made with olive oil that has been heavily refined so that it has no color, aroma or flavor. It is blended with about 10% Extra Virgin or Virgin grade for flavor and color, and is the lowest-quality olive oil sold to consumers. Avoid it!
  • Study up before you buy. Check out our Olive Oil Glossary, what you need to know about extra virgin olive oil, and how to taste olive oil.
  • Olive oil sensory wheel: How to learn the flavors and aromas of olive oil.
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Oils To Use, And Not To Use

    What cooking oils are in your pantry?

    Here’s what you should know from Chef Gerard Viverito, a culinary instructor and Director of Culinary Education for Passionfish, an NGO non-profit organization dedicated to educating people around the globe on issues of sustainability in the seas.

    THE 12 COOKING OILS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT

    In your mother’s kitchen, the only cooking oil may have been all-purpose vegetable oil, a blend of inexpensive oils. Then came the Mediterranean Diet and the attention paid to its heart-healthy olive oil.

    Today, there are more than a dozen options for cooking oil. Don’t be stuck with mom’s ingredients. Use Chef Gerard’s handy guide to determine which cooking oils you need to add to your collection.

    EVERYDAY HEALTHY COOKING FATS

    Each of these healthy fats deserves a place in your pantry, says Chef Gerard.

  • Butter. There’s no need to avoid this tasty fat (it isn’t an oil, but we’re giving it a pass). The myth about saturated fat has been busted. Butter is fine to use in moderation for adding flavor to veggies or potatoes.
  •    

    Olive Oil & Olives

    Heart-healthy olive oil has become a staple in American kitchens. Photo courtesy Flavor-Your-Life.com, a great resource for olive oil lovers.

  • Coconut oil. A tropical oil that is gaining in popularity, coconut oil’s medium chain fatty acids (also found in grass-fed butter and palm oil) are easily utilized as body fuel, which may help with weight management. Coconut oil’s natural sweetness makes it a great choice for baking.
  • Malaysian palm oil. This up-and-coming healthy tropical oil is a popular replacement for harmful trans fat. This non-GMO, balanced and ultra-nutritious oil can already be found in many of your favorite packaged foods. It tolerates heat extremely well, so it’s an ideal all-purpose cooking oil. All palm oil isn’t the same. Look for Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil; if it isn’t in your supermarket, check the nearest health food store. The Malaysian palm industry adheres to the 3Ps sustainability model.
  • Olive oil. Rich in monounsaturated fat, this oil is great for a healthy heart and healthy skin. Use it for salad dressings and drizzling over breads, but don’t use for high-temperature applications. This healthy oil starts to degrade before you hit 400°F. (Tip: Have at least two tablespoons a day, whether in salad dressing or straight from the spoon.)
  •  
    SPECIAL OCCASION COOKING OILS

    These oils have more limited uses, and often come with a higher price.

  • Avocado oil. Avocado oil is rich in nutrients, because it is extracted from the fruit’s flesh. This process is similar to olive oil and palm oil production. Avocado oil tolerates heat up to 500°F, which makes it great for broiling. You can also find flavored olive oils, delicious on salads and other vegetables, potatoes, and grains.
  • Flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil is a nutritious yet delicate oil. While many nutrition-focused people want to eat more of it, it begins breaking down at just 225°F so can’t be exposed to heat. The oil is extremely rich in heart-healthy omega-3, but unfortunately, many people find its flavor unappealing. Consider adding a teaspoon of flaxseed oil to your next smoothie to reap its health benefits.
  • Macadamia nut oil. Although more commonly used as a beauty aid, this sweet and buttery oil is good for your health, too. It contains a 1:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Why is this important? Many health experts believe the Western diet contains too many inflammatory omega-6s. Try macadamia nut oil in salads.
  •  
    If you currently use sunflower oil, consider this:

  • Sunflower oil. Sunflower oil is rich in skin-, brain- and heart-healthy vitamin E tocotrienols. Unfortunately, it’s also high in inflammatory compounds, so instead of cooking with it, it’s better to rub some on your cuticles or use it to smooth your hair. Instead of sunflower oil, get your tocotrienols from Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil, nature’s richest source.
  •  

    Macadamia Nut Oil

    Macadamia and avocado oils are both made in Australia. For the best flavor, look for first cold pressed oils. Photo courtesy Brookfarm.

     

    GENETICALLY MODIFIED OILS

    If you’re trying to avoid genetically modified foods (GMOs), put these oils on your “do not buy” list. More than 90% of these crops are grown using genetically modified seeds.

  • Canola oil
  • Corn oil
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Soybean oil
  •  
    Give all of your current oils the “sniff test.” If they smell musty, they’re ready the recycling bin.

    Replace them with “good oils.”
     
    ALL OF THE COOKING OILS

    There are more cooking oils, including the pricey-but-delicious hazelnut, pistachio and walnut oils; and powerful dark sesame oil, which is delicious when used in moderation. Take a look at the different cooking oils in our Culinary Oils Glossary.

     

    And check to see if your oil should be kept in the fridge. Some are very hardy and stay well on the shelf for two years; others, less so.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Duck Fat

    Duck fat has long been a staple in the kitchens of top chefs. Like bacon fat, duck fat enhances the flavor of anything it touches.

    One of the finest animal fats for cooking, it actually is low in saturated fat. As an ingredient, it has a silky mouth feel, subtle flavor and a high smoke point, which makes it valuable for high-heat cooking like French fries or pan searing.

    Other benefits include deep browning and the ability to re-use the fat after cooking with it (strain it into a container).

    DUCK FAT WITHOUT GUILT

    Recent studies on duck fat show that it is low in saturated fat and high in unsaturated fat, making it one of healthiest animal fats you can eat.

  • Duck fat contains only 33% saturated fat; 62% is unsaturated fat (13.7% of which is polyunsaturated fat, containing Omega-6 and Omega-3 essential oils).
  • Duck fat is closer nutritionally to olive oil, with 75% monounsaturated fat, 13% saturated fat, 10% omega-6 linoleic acid and 2% omega-3 linoleic acid, than it is to other animal fats.
  • It’s high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that actually helps keep cholesterol numbers in check (it’s the same fat that makes olive oil heart-healthy).
  • Most of the saturated fat is stearic acid, which is generally considered to be heart friendly.
  •    

    Duck Fat Uses

    TOP PHOTO: Duck Fat-Potato Galette with Caraway and Sweet Onions from Bon Appetit. Here’s the recipe. BOTTOM PHOTO: A French classic: confit leg of duck in cassoulet, with duck bacon. Photo courtesy Payard | NYC.

  • Duck fat has less saturated fat than butter, (which has 51%).
  • High use of duck fat equals lower heart disease. In the southwest of France, where duck is the go-to cooking fat, the incidence of cardiovascular disease is about half that of the rest of France—which, per the French paradox, is already less than half that of the U.S.
  •  
    While the USDA may never declare duck fat to be heart-healthy like olive oil, you can use it without guilt. You have plenty of time to try it: It keeps frozen for six months or longer.
     
    HOW TO USE DUCK FAT

    Use duck fat as you would any other animal fat, in the same quantity and manner (melted vs. solid, cold vs. room temperature, for example) as the fat you’re replacing.

  • In place of a stick of butter, use a half cup of duck fat.
  • For a drizzle of oil, use a drizzle of slightly warmed duck fat.
  • When using duck fat for deep frying, gently melt the solid fat over medium-high heat until it completely liquefies; then raise the temperature to high to bring the fat up to the proper frying temperature.
  •  
    Use Duck Fat At Breakfast

  • Eggs: fried or scrambled eggs, omelets, frittatas, etc. cooked in duck fat.
  • Potatoes: hash browns cooked in duck fat.
  •  
    Use Duck Fat At Lunch & Dinner

  • Biscuits and popovers.
  • Classic French dishes such as cassoulet, confit de canard and rillettes.
  • Potatoes: French fries, galettes and roasted potatoes will be even crisper. Use it instead of butter in mashed potatoes.
  • Poultry: Instead of rubbing the bird with butter or oil before roasting, use duck fat for crisper skin. Rub some softened duck fat under the skin of the breasts and inside the cavity; massage it into the skin; then seasoning and roast in a hot oven.
  • Salad dressing: Substitute heated (liquid) duck fat for the oil, and pair with a fruity vinegar. Serve immediately after tossing with greens.
  • Searing: Give fish and seafood, meats and poultry, fish and shellfish an evenly browned, flavorful crust.
  • Vegetables: Sautéed or roasted, a little duck fat goes a long way in adding richness and facilitating caramelization.
  • Savory pie crusts: pot pie and quiche.
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    D'artgnan Duck Fat

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    You can buy duck fat from companies that specialize in pates and charcuterie, like D’Artagnan and Aux Delices. Photos courtesy Dartagnan.com.

     

    Use Duck Fat To Make Desserts & Snacks

  • Donuts: Fry them in duck fat—really! It adds a depth of flavor.
  • Popcorn: Pop the corn in it duck fat.
  • Pastry: It makes crisp, golden puffed pastry, tender, flaky pâté brisée and short crust pastry. Use a 50:50 duck fat:butter blend for most baking recipes. If using it as a replacement for lard, use an equal measure.
  •  

    WHERE TO FIND DUCK FAT

  • Gourmet/specialty food stores.
  • Your local butcher or anywhere raw or cooked duck* is sold.
  • Your local poultry farmer.
  • Online: from D’artagnan.
  •  
    *Gourmet take-out shops that sell rotisserie duck should have lots of it.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 25+ Uses For Bacon Fat, Bacon Grease, Drippings Or Whatever You Call It

    Our mom loved to cook bacon: She loved the aroma. She also had a great exhaust hood, a kitchen with pocket doors to prevent the aroma from escaping to the rest of the house, and a window and a back door to let in fresh air.

    She bought thick-cut bacon and cooked it slowly over medium-low heat in a stainless steel skillet big enough to hold the entire pound of strips without crowding. At a lower heat, all the fat renders (melts into liquid) while the bacon crisps. Once, we recall, she received a block of slab bacon in a gourmet gift basket, cut it in a small dice and cooked it the same way.

    Call it bacon fat, bacon grease or bacon drippings: She strained it and stored the fat in a jar in the fridge, where it turned a creamy beige. She used it for pie crusts, for cooking eggs and a number of the uses below. And she always advised us never to pour it down the drain, or it would congeal and clog.

    You can store bacon fat in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month. Use it instead of butter or oil—or in combination with them—to add hints of bacon flavor to your recipes.

    Then, when you’re ready to cook, you can:

  • Grease the pan with bacon fat.
  • Drizzle bacon fat over the ingredients.
  • Toss ingredients with bacon fat instead of oil.
  •  

    Bacon Cooking In Pan

    Cook the bacon, save the fat. Photo by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.

  • Mix melted bacon fat into the recipe instead of melted butter or oil.
  •  
    Before you comment on the consumption of bacon fat: Yes, we know that cardiologists don’t support the consumption of any component of bacon. But that doesn’t stop Americans from eating 18 pounds of pork bacon each, per year. [Source]

     

    Beer & Bacon Potato Salad

    bacon-grease-fancyfoodfancy.wordpress-230

    TOP PHOTO: Potato salad with bacon fat (recipe below). Photo courtesy Samuel Adams. BOTTOM PHOTO: See how Sandy of Fancy Food Fancy uses bacon fat in her pie crusts. Photo courtesy Fancy Food Fancy.

      BACON FAT AT BREAKFAST

  • Fry eggs, hash browns and pancakes.
  • Grease the cornbread pan.
  •  
    BACON FAT AT LUNCH

  • Bacon barbecue sauce (recipe)
  • Bacon mayonnaise or aïoli (recipe)
  • Caramelized onion dip (recipe)
  • French fries
  • Fried rice (recipe)
  • Grilled cheese and panini (instead of butter to pan-fry the
    sandwich)
  • Loaf breads (grease the pan)
  • Salad with warm bacon vinaigrette (recipe)
  •  
    BACON FAT AT DINNER

  • Baked potatoes: rub bacon fat instead of oil on the skins before baking.
  • Brussels sprouts and bacon (recipe)
  • Cocktails: bacon-infused bourbon or other spirit (recipe)
  • Pan-fried potatoes.
  • Potato pancakes, roasted potatoes
  • Sauté cabbage, greens, mushrooms, onions and other veggies.
  • Stir-frys
  • Wine and bacon pasta sauce (recipe)
  •  
    BACON FAT IN DESSERTS & SWEETS

  • Bacon-bourbon ice cream (recipe)
  • Bacon brownies (recipe)
  • Bacon caramel corn (recipe)
  • Bacon caramels (recipe)
  • Bacon milkshake (recipe).
  • Cookies: in chocolate chip or other cookies, substitute bacon fat for half the butter
  • Gingersnaps (recipe)
  • Pie crust (recipe)
  •  

    BEER & BACON POTATO SALAD

    People who love bacon may already have discovered German potato salad, also called Alsatian potato salad. It is typically mixed with a vinagrette and the grease from the cooked bacon, and served warm with grilled sausages. Here’s a recipe.

    This recipe is by chef Michele Ragussis for Samuel Adams.

    Ingredients For 6-8 Servings

  • 3 bottles Samuel Adams Boston Lager or equivalent
  • 3 pounds baby potatoes
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 package bacon
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • Half head celery, diced
  • 1 bunch scallions, finely sliced
  • ¼ bunch dill
  • 16 ounces mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 3 dashes red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Bring the beer to a boil in a large pot. Add the potatoes and boil in beer for about 15 minutes or until fork tender. Drain and let cool. Set aside.

    2. BRING a large pot of water to boil, and hard boil the eggs for about 12 minutes. Let the eggs cool, then peel and chop.

    3. COOK the bacon in a large sheet pan until crispy; then dice. Set aside.

    4. MIX the diced red onion, scallions, celery, bacon, eggs and dill in a large bowl.

    5. Once potatoes are cool, add to bowl of ingredients and smash together so they are half mashed.

    6. ADD all wet ingredients, salt and pepper and mix well. Add about a tablespoon of the bacon grease for flavor.

      

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