Tag Archives: olive oil

Cauliflower Soup… Simple and Delicious

29 Jul

Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that is frequently over looked. Not only can it be a bit intimidating to cook, it can also stir up memories of bitter, soggy, over cooked nightmares from your childhood. Well my friends, cauliflower is no longer the white villain of yesterday. It’s actually very delicate, sweet and tasty!

One of my favorite ways to prepare cauliflower is to roast it. This is simpler than you might think:

Roasted Cauliflower
1 head cauliflower, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt 
Toss the cauliflower with the oil and salt and roast in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Turn the pieces and then cook for another 5 minutes. Serve as desired.

What can you do with this cauliflower once you have have it roasted? Well, eat it for 1 but I like to make soup. The cauliflower creates a delicate flavor that needs minimal enhancements. You can garnish the soup with toasted walnuts, pesto, sour cream, or even plumped raisins, but I like to keep it simple with olive oil, cracked pepper and a few snipped chives. The recipe is below.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup
1 head of cauliflower prepared as directed above
2 cloves of garlic
3-4 cups prepared chicken stock
1/2-1 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

Puree all the ingredients in a Vitamix blender or in a food processor until smooth. Pour the pureed mixture into a saucepan and reheat to desired temperature. Garnish as desired and enjoy.

Try this recipe with grilled or smoked cauliflower as well. It will stay on the top of your go to list for awhile. It also freezes well and reheats like a dream. And, if you are feeling hot… try it chilled with a fresh herb garnish and drizzle of really good olive oil. Oh, and a perfectly chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc 🙂

Always thinking about the next meal

-Katie

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Confit… con? or fit?

2 Jun

Confit: [kohn-FEE, kon-FEE]

This specialty of Gascony, France, is derived from an ancient method of preserving meat (usually goose, duck or pork) whereby it is salted and slowly cooked in its own fat. The cooked meat is then packed into a crock or pot and covered with its cooking fat, which acts as a seal and preservative. Confit  can be refrigerated up to 6 months. Confit d’oie and confit de canard are preserved goose and preserved duck, respectively.

© Copyright Barron’s Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on THE FOOD LOVER’S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/tools/fooddictionary/entry?id=2028#ixzz1OA1VZ100

Confit, as defined above is reserved for slowly cooking poultry in their own fats for preservation reasons. But, lately, it seems as though you can “confit” anything. I’ve seen recipes for tomato confit, garlic confit, lemon confit and most recently, chickpea confit. Personally, I feel that confit is turning into one of those culinary terms like carpaccio. You see anything sliced paper thin is a carpaccio of “fill in the blank.” Granted anything salted and slowly cooked in fat sounds delicious to me, but is it really a confit?

It’s an interesting thought really. Why not just poach these items in oil. They certainly done have their own fat to bring to the party. But what’s the different between oil poaching and confit? Mostly, when you poach something in oil, you are removing the item from the cooking liquid whereas with a confit it is being stored in the fat. Still, doesn’t tomato confit sound so much more luxurious than tomato dip or even preserved tomatoes. And an oil poached tomato kinda sounds like a greasy mess.

Confit or not, I made my version of chickpea confit. The bottom line is that this is a dip or spread. It’s similar to hummus but with infinitely more flavor and texture. Plus it sounds so elegant for a dip. Here’s the recipe:Chickpea Confit

Chickpea Confit
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 large garlic cloves
1 sprig rosemary
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup canola oil

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over low for 45 mins-1 hour. Let the mixture cool slightly and mash with a fork. Serve chilled with fresh baguette or crackers.

So what is my final verdict on the proper nomenclature? Well, I think that whenever something sounds exotic and exciting it makes me want to eat it more. I’m still not convinced that radish carpaccio should be allowed… but the idea of elevating a simple vegetable to new heights by cooking as if it was as special as duck or goose, can only be a good thing.

Always thinking of the next meal

-Katie

Olive Oil, another thrilling school paper

28 Dec

Found this paper while cleaning out some old files. Not exactly thrilling (as promised by the title) but informative none the less. Enjoy. I promise more posts and recipes in the new year 🙂

Extra virgin olive oil is perhaps one of the most well known ingredients in cooking. As paint is the artist’s medium, extra virgin olive oil allows the chef the creation of well-balanced, beautiful dishes.  Extra virgin olive oil is used by chefs in everything from   flavor bases in vinaigrettes to finishers in soups. With flavor profiles ranging from mild and fruity to deep and peppery, the versatility of extra virgin olive oil is amazing. Discussed here will be the history, evolution, processing, and chacateristics of this culinary giant.

Extra virgin is the king of the olive oils. In fact, the Greeks revered olive oil so much it was used as sacrifices to the Goddess Athena. Ancient cultures used it in medicine, religion, and purification. Although the exact origins of olive oil are not completely known yet, it is believed that it originated in the Mediterranean, most likely near modern day Turkey. The olive trees were transported throughout Europe where it remains largely exported from Italy, France and other countries.

The variety of olives used for extra virgin olive oil, is as varied as the grapes used for wine. All olives start out green and slowly turn to either a deep purple or black color. Because of this progression, the question of which color is used for olive oil is both. Most of the olives used are 2/3 the way to purple. This ensures that the olives are not too ripe for processing. Just as with grapes, the region in which the olives are grown affects the flavor of the final product. Some of the many regions in which olives are harvested include Italy, Spain, France, California, Morocco and Greece. All have unique flavors, colors and each country finds theirs to be the very best.

Before extra virgin olive oil can be applied for use in the kitchen, it has to be extracted from the olives. Typically, olives must be brined before they are pressed in order to get the fruit soft enough to be pressed. Originally this process was done by hand. The olives were crushed and placed in a salt-water bath. Over time the olives and oil would float to the top and the water would sink to the bottom. The first evolution of oil extraction is with a mechanical press. Traditionally the presses were made of two stones. The top stone fits into the lower stone and as the olives got pressed, the oil ran into a groove that was carved into the lower stone. There was a spout that allowed the oil to run out of the press and into a collection container. Today, with a few artisan exceptions, the presses are large industrial machines that press olives in the huge quantities. While the classification of first press originally meant that the oil that had been pressed was of a better quality, the machines of today press so many olives at once, this classification no longer has any bearing since there is only one press. The classification of extra virgin versus regular olive oil is now one of ph levels.

When no heat is applied during the pressing, the process is considered cold pressed. This results in a better quality product. All extra virgin olive oils are cold pressed.  Because of this,, other characteristics that help to define the quality between the good and the best are; filtration, whether or not it is organic, and acidity. Not filtering an olive oil causes the olive flavors to remain very prominent and gives the oil a slightly cloudy look. It also, actually decreases the shelve life in some cases.. The organic attribute simply implies that the olives that were used in the oil were grown in with the organic farming techniques. The acidity of extra virgin olive oil is another distinct characteristic. In order to classify as extra virgin, the oil must have an acidity level between  .8% and 3% so that the taste and quality are of the highest degree. It’s actually said that any oil higher than 3% is called “lamp oil” because the when it is compared with extra virgin olive oil, it is not worth cooking with. These characteristics also make extra virgin the most expensive of all the olive oils.

When choosing an extra virgin olive oil, there are some characteristics the need to be considered. A good quality extra virgin olive oil should not smell strongly of anything. It should smell lightly of fresh olives. When you taste it, there should not be an overwhelming feeling of fattiness coating your mouth, and there should also be a slight acidity that helps to break up any kind of coating that does remain on the palette. There should be a slight peppery taste as the flavor finishes, but nothing too strong. Personal taste is also a factor in choosing a good extra virgin olive oil, but by using the characteristics as described above, the decision should be much easier.

Extra virgin olive oil is one of nature’s greatest gifts to the kitchen. While the world will always debate where the best olive oil comes from, the idea that extra virgin olive oil is the king of oils will never be challenged. With a history of reverence and presence that is undeniable, it can be assured that extra virgin olive oil will continue to be a culinary staple for a long time.

Always thinking of the next meal-

Katie

Works Cited

Olive Oil 17 August 2008. Wikipidia. 19 August 2008. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olive_oil>

The History of Olive Oil 6 April 2008. The Olive Oil Source. 19 August 2008. <http://www.oliveoilsource.com/history.htm>

Olive Oil Demystified 24 July 2008. DaVero Ingredienti, 1 September 2008.

<http://www.davero.com/faq.php>

Montague, Prosper, comps. and eds. Larousse Gastronmique. New York; Clarkson Potter 2001.

Herbst, Sharon Tyler, and Ron Herbst. Food Lover’s Companion. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. 2007.