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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Oil/Vinegar/Dressing

TIP OF THE DAY: Use More Olive Oil

Olive oil. Photo courtesy De Medici Imports.

 

Isn’t it wonderful when good-tasting food is good for you?

Take olive oil. Some cooking oils are relatively flavorless, but good olive oil has rich flavor (see the different flavor profiles).

As you’ve no doubt heard many times, olive oil is heart-healthy. Why do you hear that over and over again?

Because cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in America. It takes more than 600,000 lives yearly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The good news is that making small changes in your lifestyle and diet can add up to big results over time. So why not make the switch to heart-healthy olive oil?

Start by changing just two habits. The results will be just as delicious, if not more so.

 

  • Make your own salad dressing. Avoid bottled salad dressings, which typically use less expensive oils. A vinaigrette is simply 3 tablespoons of oil to 1 tablespoon of vinegar or other acid, such as citrus juice, whisked or shaken with a pinch of salt. If you like creamy dressings, there are recipes galore—just make them with olive oil.
  • Cook eggs and sauté foods in olive oil instead of butter. Not only do you get the benefit of olive oil, but you avoid the cholesterol—an enemy of heart healthiness—in butter.
  •  
    Here’s a third habit that we practice:

  • Drink two tablespoons of olive oil each day. The FDA has reviewed the research and opines that two tablespoons of olive oil a day will help keep the doctor away; or at least, will help keep your ticker ticking longer.
  •  
    If it sounds strange to you, be assured that a fine olive oil is delicious.

    Five Health Benefits Of Using Olive Oil

    1. Anti-inflammatories. Along with having healthy properties that help reduce inflammation in the body, olive oil has heart-beneficial anti-clotting properties.

    2. Antioxidants. Olive oil contains powerful antioxidants called polyphenols. The polyphenols slow the progression of atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries, which occurs when fat, cholesterol and other substances build up in the walls of arteries and form plaque. More about antioxidants.

    3. DHPEA-EDA. This is one of the most important polyphenols found in olive oil. Researchers have found that it protects red blood cells from damage.

    4. Monounsaturated Fatty Acids. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, which helps to control a person’s LDL (bad) cholesterol, while helping to raise HDL (good, heart-healthy) cholesterol.

    5. Secoiridoids. This category of polyphenols, found in olive oil, is being researched for its anti-cancer properties. It is believed to provide the digestive tract with some protection.

    Additional research suggests that olive oil has beneficial properties for bone health, cognitive function, and anti-cancer benefits. Additional research is being conducted to discover additional ways that olive oil can be beneficial to our health.

    So check the cupboard. If you haven’t used the olive oil in a while, give it a sniff. If musty, use it to condition your hair if you like, but pick up some fresh olive oil at your earliest convenience.

    MORE

  • Olive Oil & Health: Details
  • The Flavors & Aromas Of Olive Oil
  • How To Taste & Evaluate Olive Oil
  • Olive Oil Glossary: Everything You Need To Know
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fry, Don’t Burn

    A deep fryer from Hamilton Beach, with
    temperature controls to prevent burning.

     

    If you’re wary of frying foods because you’ve burned them, you may simply need to switch your oil—or use a cooking thermometer (you need a candy and deep fry thermometer) or deep fryer.

    Proper frying, says chef Louis Eguaras, takes place between 350° and 375°F.

    Monitor the temperature of the oil with the thermometer:

  • If the fat is too hot, you will both burn the food and ruin the oil.
  • If the temperature is too low, the food will take too long to cook and will absorb too much oil, making it greasy.
  •  
    While frying can use any number of oils, deep frying specifically needs a high smoke point oil, such as canola, grapeseed, peanut, safflower and soybean oils. (See the smoke points of the different fats.)

     

    The Difference Between Sautéing, Frying and Deep Frying

  • Sauté: Sautéing places the food atop a thin layer of fat in a shallow pan. Ingredients are often cut into pieces, thinly sliced or pounded flat to facilitate fast cooking over a relatively high heat, typically tossed for even cooking. Sautéing browns the food: When chicken, fish or meat is removed, the residue stuck to the pan can be deglazed* with wine or stock to make a sauce.
  • Pan Fry: Pan-frying is similar to sautéing, but with slightly more fat and a slightly lower temperature. It is used to cook larger pieces of meat or fish that need more time to cook through. The meat is often finished in the oven after its surface has been cooked to the desired degree. And, because of the size of the pieces, the food isn’t tossed.
  • Fry or Shallow Fry: This technique, used to prepare patties and portion-size cuts of meat and fish, submerges the food one-third to one-half deep in the fat. Battered foods such as fried chicken and fritters are made this way. Shallow frying is an oil-based cooking technique.
  • Deep Fry: The food is totally immersed in hot oil, in a deep frying pan or an even deeper pot called a deep fryer. Doughnuts and french fries are fried this way, and it’s an easy way to fry battered foods as well.
  • Stir-Fry: Like sautéing, stir frying uses a thin layer of fat; but the food is fried quickly in a wok at a very high temperature, with continuous stirring to prevent it from adhering to the wok and burning.
  •  
    *When a piece of meat is sautéed, pan fried or roasted, a deposit of caramelized sugars, carbohydrates, and/or proteins forms on the bottom of the pan. The French culinary terms for these deposits is fond (meaning “bottom”) or sucs (pronounced seuk), from the French word for sugar, sucre. To deglaze, the fat rendered from cooking is poured from the pan and a clear liquid† of choice is added and tossed with the fond.

    †Options include beer, brandy/Cognac, broth or stock (beef, chicken, fish, vegetable), fruit juice, vinegar, red or white wine.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Try Coconut Oil

    When Dr. Bronner’s asked us to take a look at their new virgin coconut oil, we turned to our chef, Johnny Gnall, for inspiration. Virgin coconut oil is a heart-healthy oil that improves blood cholesterol by increasing the ratio of HDL to LDL. Dr. Bronner’s produces two varieties: a whole kernel version, which has a more intense coconut flavor, and a white kernel version, which has a lighter coconut flavor. Here are Chef Johnny’s tips for how to use the coconut oil:

    When it comes to culinary oils, there are quite a few out there to choose from (see our Culinary Oils Glossary). Rice bran oil is ideal for frying or searing due to its high smoke point; sesame oil is used for its round, nutty flavor, particularly in Asian cuisine; in baking, many recipes recommend canola oil.

    Recently, I tried a fresh-pressed, unrefined coconut oil—an ingredient I don’t use very often.

    Dr. Bronner’s brand, well known for its natural personal care products and its commitment to sustainability and Fair Trade ingredients, recently began to produce a line of food products,* including Dr. Bronner’s Magic All-One! Fair Trade & Organic Fresh-Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil. Long name but good stuff.

     

    Dr. Bronner’s virgin coconut oils in whole kernel (brown label) and white kernel. Photo
    courtesy FairTradeHelps.org.

     

    *Coconut oil is also well known as a beauty product, for skin and hair.

    Foggy San Francisco must have had me yearning for the tropical, as I spent several days experimenting with the virgin coconut oil. I ended up with a handful of fresh (or maybe tried and true, in the tropics) ideas that turn up the sweet on some familiar foods.

    There are a couple of general points to bear in mind when you cook with coconut oil.

  • First, watch the heat. Coconut oil’s smoke point is only around 350°F, so it will burn if you turn the heat too high and don’t keep an eye on things. Medium heat is best: You can still get plenty of caramelization if you wish.
  • Second, different fats and oils emulsify in different ways. So if you decide to substitute coconut oil in a recipe that calls for your oil to be emulsified, it may behave differently than you expect, depending on what other ingredients you’re working with. It’s most likely still doable, but pay attention.
  •  
    I would be remiss if I didn’t pay tribute to what may be the best part of cooking with coconut oil: the heavenly aroma that wafts up to you as you cook. I could inhale it deeply all day!

    Your mouth will water as you breathe in the tropical perfume, perhaps conjuring hula girls and glorious sunsets in your head. What better way to whet guests’ appetites than by filling the house with the heavenly aroma of coconut?

    Try these applications as a jumping off point:

     

    Coconut oil makes a delicious glaze for
    salmon. Photo courtesy Vital Choice.

     

    Baking Trays: This trick is simple and subtle, but can yield exceptional results. Try greasing your baking trays with coconut oil. From muffin tins to cake pans, anything you plan on baking at 350°F can benefit from a a little tropical goodness. You may not notice it in bigger and bolder desserts, but when its subtle presence does register, you’ll have a new, delicious layer of flavor in your baked treats.

    Caramelized Onions: Simply caramelize onions as you normally would, but use coconut oil in place of butter or other oil. Just remember to adjust your heat accordingly, in order to keep the coconut oil from smoking.

    Chicken (with skin on): Whenever you cook skin-on chicken pieces, you should be starting them out by seasoning them well and searing them in a very hot pan. If you don’t, you’re missing out on the amazingness that is crispy chicken skin. It’s a little indulgent, sure; but eaten in moderation you have little to worry about. The next time you want to get your skin crispy, do it in coconut oil. You may never go back to your previous oil.

     

    Glaze/Sauce For Fish: In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, 1 tablespoon of butter, a teaspoon of rice vinegar, a tablespoon of sambal chili paste, the zest of an orange, the juice of half an orange and a tablespoon of black sesame seeds. Try it on salmon; you’ll be very happy you did.

    Grilled Corn: Save this tip for local summer corn. Slather the ear of corn in coconut oil, wrap it in foil and throw it on the grill. For added flavor intensity, remove the foil for the last few minutes. Summer corn just got even sweeter!

    Hearty Grains: From amaranth to barley to farro and even polenta (see our Grains Glossary for more ideas), cook the grains as you normally would. Then fold in coconut oil a tablespoon at a time, until you reach your desired flavor profile. A few drops of acid (citrus, vinegar or other favorite) for pop and the right amount of seasoning will make any grain prepared like this taste truly exceptional.

    Pad Thai: A couple tablespoons of peanut butter, a squeeze of lime juice, a teaspoon of sugar, a teaspoon of fish sauce and a tablespoon of coconut oil create a quick and and easy Pad Thai sauce. This is not a traditional recipe by any means, but it is on par and definitely delicious. Make the dish with your choice of noodles (I’m partial to wide rice noodles), protein (shrimp and egg for me, but chicken, pork and tofu will work), and garnish (mung bean sprouts, crushed peanuts, sliced green onions, more lime juice and a generous spoonful of sambal). There’s no need to go out for pad thai when it’s so easy to make at home.

    Popcorn: Use coconut oil to pop your corn, using the old-fashioned, sans-microwave method. Simply drop a tablespoon or two of coconut oil into the pot before the corn kernels, and you’ll end up with popcorn scented gently with that incredible coconut aroma. A little bit of salt and butter, and you’re good to go.

    Seared Mushrooms: If you can get your hands on some big King Trumpet mushrooms, they’re ideal for this application, cut into just 2 or 3 thick slices lengthwise to preserve the integrity of their shape. If not, standard white/button mushrooms are fine; slice them as you would the King Trumpets, into thick slices. Get the coconut oil to just before smoking point and drop in the mushrooms, taking care to get each piece against the pan and everything in a single layer. Then simply keep an eye on them and be patient. After 5 to 8 minutes, flip one piece over. If you see a luscious golden-brown coloring on one side, give the pan a shake to flip the rest. The coconut flavor gets infused into the meat of the mushroom and the resulting sweet umami treat is unique and incredible. Make sure to season with salt and pepper, but not until after you flip the mushrooms.

    Spinach & Other Greens You need nothing more than the greens, the coconut oil, salt and pepper. Sauté the greens until wilted and season to taste: Getting kids and resistant adults to eat their vegetables may become a whole lot easier. (One note: This doesn’t work well with collard greens. Collards are the one kind of hearty green that need more than a sauté to cook down to an edible pleasantness. You either have to braise them for a while, or at least blanch them prior to sautéing. Other greens like chard, kale and spinach wilt/break down more easily, and can therefore be easily sautéed).

    If you can’t find Dr. Bronner’s virgin coconut oils locally (try natural food and health food stores), both white kernel and whole kernel oils are available on Amazon.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fake Versus Real Balsamic Vinegar

    Spoiler alert: The majority of balsamic vinegar on the market is fake balsamic.

    Of course, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying fake balsamic. It’s just nowhere as glorious as the real thing, but it is a heck of a lot more affordable.

    The production of authentic balsamic vinegar is governed by two consortiums of producers in Modena, Italy, where it is produced. They supervise every aspect of production under the strictest controls, from the harvesting of the grapes to the packaging and labeling of the bottles. Even the shape of the bottle is mandated!

    AUTHENTIC BALSAMIC VINEGAR

    True aceto balsamico has an Italian government designation of D.O.C. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata, similar to the French A.O.C. designation), which means that everything from the grape varietals to aging time and the type of wood of the barrels adheres to exact standards.

  • The grapes must be of the Trebbiano and Lambrusco varietals (though a few others are allowed in small quantities), and entirely harvested from the vineyards of the region.
  •  

    A drizzle of authentic balsamic vinegar adds richness and flavor to many different dishes. Photo by Kelly Cline | IST.

  • Balsamic is not made from grape juice that is fermented into wine, like conventional wine vinegar. Instead, it is made from unfermented grape must (freshly-pressed juice), which is concentrated by simmering for hours until it becomes a thick, caramelized syrup. (Thus, authentic balsamic is not a wine vinegar.)
  • The syrup is then aged in a succession of barrels made from at least five different kinds of wood, each of which imparts its character to the vinegar. Ash, cherry, chestnut, juniper and mulberry are five of the specified woods. Each successive aging barrel is smaller than the last, as evaporation concentrates the balsamic.
  • Authentic balsamic vinegar must be aged for minimum of 12 years. The longer it ages, the more rich and concentrated it becomes.
  • The bottles are sealed with the authentic red wax seal of the consorzio, and numbered. (Don’t be misled by just any wax seal—some manufacturers of non-consorzio balsamic use one to make their products look like the real thing.)
  •  
    No wonder authentic balsamic is so costly—from $40 a bottle for 12-year balsamic to hundreds of dollars for 50- and 75-year old balsamics in tiny 3.5-ounce bottles. But it tastes like heaven, and can be used to garnish everything from appetizers, meat and fish to desserts—chocolate cake, ice cream, Parmigiano Reggiano and strawberries.

    FAKE, FAUX OR “SUPERMARKET” BALSAMIC VINEGAR

    Compare the minimum-12-year meticulous process that creates authentic balsamic vinegar to “supermarket balsamic,” much of which is ordinary red wine vinegar (perhaps made from Trebbiano grapes) colored with caramel to achieve the dark brown color of an authentic balsamic and sweetened to approximate a balsamic. It may or may not be aged for a short amount of time in large oak barrels or stainless steel barrels. It may be made in a factory in Modena, but at $3.99 a bottle, it’s not authentic balsamic vinegar. (There are “factory balsamics” made in Modena. Read more about them in a longer discussion of balsamic vinegar.)

    While traditional balsamic vinegar cooks down grape must into a concentrated, flavorful syrup prior to aging, white balsamic producers add cooked-down grape juice to ordinary white wine vinegar. It creates an amber color and a slightly sweet flavor.

     

    White balsamic vinegar isn’t real balsamic,
    but neither is much dark balsamic. This
    8.45-ounce bottle is less than $14 at
    Amazon.com.

     

    WHY WHITE BALSAMIC VINEGAR?

    While authentic balsamic vinegar dates back to 1046 C.E. (the first written record) or earlier, white balsamic vinegar was created in recent years for consumers who didn’t like the dark color imparted to their recipes by regular balsamic. It’s ideal to use with fish, chicken and pork; in light-color sauces; and in dessert recipes like custard and sabayon.

    White balsamic vinegar was first produced by Italian vinegar manufacturer Acetum; and a bottle retails for less than $15.00 (you can buy it online). Subsequently, other producers have created “white balsamic vinegar” for $5.00 a bottle and less.

    To make white balsamic, grape must is added to white wine vinegar; thus, white balsamic is a wine vinegar. The must is cooked at a low temperature to avoid darkening; it is not caramelized. Thus, white balsamic has a desired golden color rather than the dark one of conventional balsamic.

    White balsamic vinegar emulates the flavor profile of conventional balsamic—gentle and smooth with well-balanced flavor. It is milder and less sweet (more tart) than regular balsamic vinegar, but is sweeter than white wine vinegar and thus delicious on salad greens.

     

    For $4.99 a bottle, you’re not getting an aged, artisan-produced bottle of vinegar. For $30 a bottle, some producers do age a Trebbiano-based white balsamic for four years or so, in small oak barrels.

    Similar to buying a bottle of wine, if your palate can detect the difference, it’s worth it to pay extra for the better ingredient.

  • The history of balsamic vinegar.
  • How the consorzios work.
  • The different types of balsamic vinegar.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Emulsify Salad Dressing & Champagne Vinaigrette Recipe

    Chef Johnny Gnall shares a professional tip for making the best salad dressings: Emulsify them! The oil and vinegar won’t separate—at least, not for a while.

    “A velvety, fully emulsified dressing can really make a big difference when it comes to presenting a salad,” says Chef Johnny. “Its creamy texture and body cling better to the salad ingredients, making each bite that much more flavorful. Even the look is nicer: Emulsified dressings have a really lovely sheen that is nothing short of sexy.

    “But most people don’t bother to create emulsified dressings at home. Perhaps there is simply a lack of familiarity with the process; or maybe people just don’t know what they’re missing.

    “At any rate, there’s no need to whisk your arms to exhaustion when you make vinaigrettes. Simply grab the blender!”

    Here’s the easy process from Chef Johnny, including four salad dressing recipes. Two of them—Champagne Vinaigrette and Truffle Vinaigrette—are just right for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner.

     

    This vinaigrette was not emulsified, and
    has separated into two layers. Photo by
    Elena Thewise | IST.

     

    CHAMPAGNE VINAIGRETTE RECIPE

    The biggest factor in getting a dressing or vinaigrette to emulsify (and stay that way) is some patience early in the process. It’s all about incorporating the oil and vinegar together gradually. Here’s an example, using champagne vinegar and champagne (or other sparkling wine) to make a glamorous champagne vinaigrette:

  • Start by combining 1/4 cup of champagne vinegar and 1/8 cup of champagne into a blender on medium speed.
  • Slowly drizzle the oil into the vinegar as it spins, creating as thin and consistent a stream as possible (use a measuring cup with a lip). Start with a couple of tablespoons at a time. The more oil you incorporate into your vinaigrette, the more stable it will become, and the more quickly you can incorporate the rest of the oil.
  • When everything is mixed, season with salt and pepper (while still spinning in the blender). The result should be a smooth, unified dressing with a nice, velvety mouthfeel. Without any stabilizers (chemicals like xanthan gum, which professional chefs often use), it will not stay emulsified forever; so for best results, you should wait until close to serving time to emulsify the dressing.
  • Use this recipe as a template for any vinaigrette. Substitute balsamic vinegar for the Champagne vinegar, use cider or wine vinegar with a half teaspoon of Dijon mustard, or the variations below.
     
    MORE GOURMET VINAIGRETTE RECIPES

    For more salad flourish, try these gourmet vinaigrette recipes from Chef Johnny.

  • Cherry Vinaigrette: Bring 1 cup of dried cherries to a boil in 1 cup of pomegranate juice. Steep for ten minutes, then cool. Blend cherries until smooth (use only as much juice as you need to facilitate puréeing the cherries) with 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar, then drizzle in 1-1/2 cups of olive oil. Season with salt & pepper.
  • Honey Lime Vinaigrette: Add 1/4 cup lime juice and 1/8 cup honey to a blender and mix. Slowly drizzle in 3/4 cup of olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, plus chile powder or cayenne, as desired.
  • Truffle Vinaigrette: Reduce half a bottle of champagne to high viscosity (about 1/2 to 1/4 of original volume). Blend with an equal amount of champagne or white wine vinegar (altogether you should have about 2 cups of liquid in the blender). Add 1/4 cup of canned truffle peelings, then drizzle in 3 cups of “truffled” oil (1 cup of truffle oil blended with 2 cups of olive or canola oil). Season with salt, pepper and lime juice, as desired.
  •  
    THE PROPORTION OF OIL TO VINEGAR

    The traditional vinaigrette ratio is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar; the recipes above are written as such. But the important thing to keep in mind is that you are the only one who knows exactly how acidic and how viscous you want your dressing to be.

    More oil will mute flavors but add body and mouthfeel; more acidity can be helpful if the salad ingredients have stronger flavor (think chicories or heartier greens).

    Just pay attention to the dressing as you work and add ingredients in small increments at first. Once you become comfortable with the process, you’ll get the feel of exactly how much of each component you want.
     
    Find more recipes and our favorite oils and vinegars.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Spicy Salad Recipe, The Natural Way

    When most people search for “spicy salad,” they’re looking for something to which chile heat has been added—like Thai beef salad or spicy cucumber salad.

    Building on yesterday’s tip, mustard greens, you can create a spicy salad with no “outside heat” whatsoever.

    Just use the spiciest salad ingredients: arugula, mustard greens, radishes and red onions. Even with a plain or a lime vinaigrette* dressing, your salad will be spicy.

    You can spice it up even more with:

  • A Colman’s mustard vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • Sliced or diced fresh jalapeños (or other chiles—remove the white ribs and seeds unless you like super-hot food)
  • Crushed (dried) jalapeño (you can buy it online if you can’t find it locally)
  •  

    A spicy salad: no chiles required! Photo
    courtesy the Fat Radish restaurant | NYC.

     
    Round out the hot flavors with some fresh parsley and “cool” cucumber slices or matchsticks.

    If you’ve got family members who don’t like salad but love their heat, see if this changes their tune.

    The bright red radishes and emerald green leaves also make for a nice holiday-themed side dish.

    SPICY VINAIGRETTE DRESSING RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon Colman’s dry mustard
  • Sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. Whisk together vinegar and mustard. Add oil.
    2. Whisk until fully combined. Taste and add salt and pepper.
    3. Allow flavors to blend for 15 minutes or longer. Whisk again before serving.
    4. Pour over salad, toss and serve.

    Find more of our favorite salad recipes.

    *Substitute fresh-squeezed lime juice for the vinegar in a 1:3 proportion with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Or, split the acid 50% lime juice, 50% wine vinegar, and zest the lime into the emulsion (best to zest before you squeeze the juice).

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Basil-Infused Olive Oil

    Of all the infused and flavored olive oils, basil olive oil is the best seller in the U.S.

    We love all infused olive oils, but can find ways to use versatile basil oil every day.

    Ways To Use Basil Olive Oil

  • Eggs. Cook eggs in basil olive oil. It’s an easy way to liven up eggs with fresh herb flavor.
  • Caprese Salad. Amp up the fresh basil flavor on a Caprese salad (sliced tomatoes and mozzarella di bufala with fresh basil and olive oil) by using basil oil instead of plain olive oil. Try it in this Caprese pasta salad recipe.
  • Pesto Sauce. Make a large batch of pesto sauce. Freeze in ice cube trays for later use. After the cubes are frozen, transfer them to a heavy duty plastic freezer bag or a plastic container.
  • Pasta Sauce. Use it as a simple pasta topping, just as you would plain olive oil. Drizzle over pasta and toss.
  • Baked Potatoes. Instead of butter, drizzle basil olive oil into baked potatoes and add some fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Bread Dipper. Make an easy bread dipper to serve with slices of warm, crusty baguette or crudités.
  • Fruit Salad. Drizzle over fruit salad. Add a chiffonade of fresh basil.
  • Vinaigrette. Mix with your favorite vinegar.
  • Pizza. Drizzle on a pizza before serving.
  •  

    Basil olive oil is a versatile condiment.
    Photo courtesy Calivirgin.com.

     

  • Meat & Fish. Add to marinades; rub onto meat and fish before grilling.
  • Hor’s d’Oeuvre & Snacks. Brush onto toasted baguette slices and top with ricotta cheese. Garnish with some color: half a grape tomato or a strip of roasted pepper, for example.
  • Fresh Basil Substitute. If you find yourself without fresh basil for a recipe, add a bit of basil olive oil.
  •  
    What Is Infused Olive Oil?

    Infused olive oil is extra virgin olive oil into which a flavoring has been infused—a fruit (citrus, for example), herb (basil, oregano, rosemary) or spice (garlic). When an oil is infused, the flavoring is crushed and added to the vat of fresh-pressed olive oil, or it is crushed along with the olives. It is the superior technique for producing flavored oil.

    You can also find “flavored” olive oil, a less expensive preparation. Instead of using fresh fruit, herbs and spices, an alcohol-based flavor extract or essence is stirred into the pressed olive oil. It can taste good or it can taste artificial, depending on the producer.
     
    Some delicious products, like Sonoma Farm Infused Olive Oil, use essence because it enables them to bottle smaller batches and send a fresher product when retailers order. Calivirgin, on the other hand, crushes fresh basil leaves together with the olives.
     
    Check out Calivirgin’s recipes using basil olive oil.

    Infuse your own basil olive oil with this easy recipe.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 26 Uses For Distilled White Vinegar

    In the U.S., distilled white vinegar is typically
    made from corn. Photo courtesy H. J. Heinz.

     

    Man has made vinegar for more than 2,500 years. After wine was discovered—by accident, from fermenting fruit—the oxidizing of wine led to the accidental discovery of vinegar.

    Vinegar is more than a condiment or a recipe ingredient: It’s a health and wellness aid and a versatile household cleanser as well.

    There are hundreds of uses for vinegar. Today we’re focusing on just two: vinegar as a cooking helper and as a kitchen cleaner.

    Great-grandma and her ancestors relied on distilled white vinegar, for making perfect meringues and cleaning the ice box.

    Here are 26 kitchen uses for distilled white vinegar—which is what you should call it to differentiate it from white wine vinegar and white balsamic vinegar.

    Read the full article about distilled white vinegar.

  • The History Of Vinegar
  • How To Make Vinegar
  • Types Of Vinegar
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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Yuzu Juice

    Yuzu juice is squeezed from the fresh yuzu citrus, in season in the U.S. from September to December. (It is grown in California. Fresh yuzu can’t be imported per USDA restrictions.)

    The small, round citrus fruit has become very popular with fine chefs, thanks to the availability of imported yuzu juice used by Japanese restaurants. (You can find it at Asian markets, online, and sometimes at specialty retailers.)

    We’re certain that yuzu would become mainstream if only lovers of fine food knew about it—and picked up a bottle of its aromatic and flavorful juice.

    Once tasted, yuzu—a refreshing combination of grapefruit and tangerine flavors and aromas—cannot be forgotten. We alternate yuzu vinaigrette with balsamic vinaigrette in our dinner salads, and substitute it anywhere we’d use lemon or lime juice.

    Read the full review, which includes more things to do with yuzu juice.

    Find more of our favorite fruits and salad dressings, including recipes.

     

    Yuzu: a refreshing tart citrus juice and zest
    that add wonderful flavor to many dishes.
    Photo © Tuzumi | Fotlia.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Warm Salad Dressing

    Here’s an easy idea to perk up salads: warm the vinaigrette salad dressing.

    Warm salad dressing works any time of year. Just microwave the dressing for 5 to 10 seconds or so (test to see what works best with your microwave—you want warm, not hot). Then add the warm dressing to the salad and toss right before serving.

    The classic warm dressing salad is a spinach salad with onions, mushrooms, bacon, hard-boiled egg slices and a warm bacon vinaigrette made from the bacon fat (recipe below). You can also add crumbled or cubed feta and/or croutons.

    But the concept works with any salad. Last night we had a salad of baby greens, sliced sweet onion, goat cheese and croutons, tossed with a warm balsamic vinaigrette.

    Try it!

     

    Try warming your salad dressing before
    tossing the salad. Photo courtesy
    McCormick.com

     

    WARM VINAIGRETTE RECIPE
    For A Bacon Vinaigrette
    1. Cook 8 pieces of thick-sliced bacon (to crumble in the salad).
    2. Pour bacon fat into a small saucepan. Whisk in tablespoons 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard.
    3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    4. Microwave for 5 to 10 seconds immediately prior to tossing and serving the salad.

    For A Standard Warm Vinaigrette
    1. Substitute salad oil for bacon fat.
    2. Use your vinegar of choice—wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar.
    3. Follow the remaining steps above.

  • Find more of our favorite salad recipes.
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