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Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Archive for the Category 'Cooking Tips'

Olive Oil And Italian Pasta

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Making Rustichella d’Abruzzo Pasta With Olive Oil


In a large pot, pour four and one half quarts of water and bring to a boil. Sprinkle one tablespoon of sea salt, and put one package of Rustichella d’Abruzzo pasta in the pot.

Cook for 15 minutes while continuing to stir intermittently. This will help prevent uneven cooking and the pasta sticking to the pot.

Beings that pasta can easily be overcooked, you may want to treat yourself early and sample the pasta as you cook it. It is hard to believe but true that pasta also continues to cook for a minute after it is drained.

When it is al dente, and you drain it, always remember never to rinse it, just drain the water.

Using an olive oil cruet, drizzle olive oil over the pasta and blend with your favorite sauce.

Pasta Red Sauce With Basil, Olive Oil, And Balsamic Vinegar

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

What is it about the winter that makes us crave pasta in red sauce? Maybe it is the chill in the air, not really sure but something about this time of year begs for this dish and it brings that homey feeling to your kitchen. Good pasta is lets us stare all those anti-carb diets in the face with defiance. Opening up your door after a day digging the car out from a foot of snow or shoveling your payment goes from tired and weary to smile and appreciation when you get a whiff of that incredible red sauce. Here is a recipe for a base sauce, you can adjust it to taste or allergies as you like.

You will need the following ingredients for this dish:

  • Salt
  • Pepper, fresh ground
  • Two cans peeled tomato product, unseasoned and large
  • Garlic, one full head, peeled
  • 2 white onions, chopped or diced, try a Walla Walla sweet
  • Parsley, oregano, basil, (fresh thyme rosemary or oregano if you like)
  • 1 bunch fresh basil torn or diced leaves
  • 8 oz chopped mushrooms
  • 1 C red wine, DO NOT USE COOKING WINE
  • 1/2 C balsamic vinegar
  • 2 pounds chunk or ground meat, you can use beef, veal or pork
  • 3 T olive oil or butter
  • 1 C stock: parmesan, beef or chicken broth (recipe to follow, you can also use water if necessary, 1 parmesan rind (if you have it)

You are also going to need a large lidded pot, cutting board and knife, and something to stir with (a rubber spatula or wooden spoon is preferred).


Keeping ingredients separate, cut down to small portions. Over medium heat, warm the pot and then add your oil or butter. When that has been brought up to temp, add meat and constantly stir until it is well browned. (Ground meat may cause fats to be gathered in dish so you will want to strain them off before going forward.)

Put onions in pan and combine with meat.

Continue stirring until the onions turn to a golden brown color and then add some garlic. Continue stirring until the garlic is browned and then put mushrooms in. Stir everything together and then place lid on the pot. As the mushrooms are cooking, they will purge their natural water, continue cooking until pan gets dry again. At this time, you can add the tomatoes.

Upon emptying cans, rinse them with the broth (or water) so you get the remains of any tomato that was left behind in the can. Add the rest of the garlic, herbs (both fresh and dried), wine and parmesan rind.

Lower the heat to a simmer and allow to cook while periodically stirring.

Allow to cook for as long as possible up to about 5 hours. The longer it cooks, the more flavor you will get. On occasion, return to stir and taste. Ideally, you want it to taste better than store bought sauce and that is achieved after about one hour. For best results, you will want it to cook from 2-5 hours, anything longer tends to be too much.

If you find that the sauce is thickening to the point of sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning, thin it out with more red wine, water or your stock.

If you did use fresh herbs and a parmesan rind, remove them and then season to taste. This dish will serve well on the cooking day (season with fresh basil) or will hold well for many days. The longer you hold this sauce, the more the flavors will blend together. Many people believe that the sauce is so much better the second day that they let it sit overnight before serving.

 red pasta sauce


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Cauliflower With Drizzled Olive Oil

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

The trick in serving cauliflower is all in the preparation. If you overcook it, it is just plain disgusting or if you serve it plain, it is very drab and boring. However, you will see this vegetable featured in soups, gratins, curries, risotto, pastas and salads from India to deep in the Mediterranean. When you go to the produce section in the winter, it is all but bare save for Cauliflower, which is actually at its peak.

While most of us are used to the plain white cauliflower, there are many varieties currently available today: purples, light green and pale oranges are examples. They all have similar tastes so you can liven up your recipes by substituting them for each other at any time.

Cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family which feature phytonutrients and enzymes, in fact, it is loaded with them. These will help neutralize damaging toxins that can hurt your bodies cells. Cauliflower is also loaded with other beneficial properties such as the vitamins, B5, B6, C, and K. It is also rich in folate and dietary fiber along with being a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and manganese. This is more than enough reason to make sure that you include it in your diet plan.

If your children are like most and grimace when you put a big bowl of steaming cauliflower on the table, try serving it raw. For whatever reason, the kids who scream the most about eating veggies will actually gobble up raw cauliflower.


Goat Cheese Topped Cauliflower Gratin

This is a great vegetarian dish and super easy to make.

  • 2 pounds of cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 3 T olive oil, extra-virgin
  • Salt
  • Pepper, Fresh ground
  • 6 oz goat cheese, fresh
  • 1 garlic clove, shoot removed and cut in half
  • 5 T milk, low fat
  • 1 t thyme leaves, fresh (you may use a ½ of dried if fresh is not available)
  • 1/4 C breadcrumbs, dried

1. Get a 2 qt gratin dish and oil it up while pre-heating oven to 450 degrees.

2. Bring water to boil and place cauliflower in steaming basket about one inch above the waterline. Place cover over basket and allow to steam for one minute. After one minute, allow steam to escape for 15 seconds by lifting the lid. Replace cover and stead for an additional 6-8 minutes, cauliflower will be tender. Remove from steaming dish and run under cold water, pat dry with paper towels and then place in gratin dish.

3. Add an ample amount of salt and pepper and then toss with half of the thyme and 2T of olive oil. Evenly spread in dish.

4. In a mortar, place garlic and 1/4t of salt, use pestle to mash into paste. Move over to food processor and combine with goat cheese and milk and blend until smooth. Combine remainder of thyme and pepper to taste. When complete, spread mixture evenly across the top of the cauliflower.

5. When you are ready to place gratin in the over, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and then drizzle the remainder of the olive oil on top. Place in over and bake for 15-20 minutes. You should see a light brown color and dish should be sizzling. Serve immediately.  Yield: Serves 4


Vinaigrette To Shake Or Whisk

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Vinaigrette And Simple Whisking

While shaking your vinaigrette mixture in a jar isn’t necessarily wrong to do (many folks use this method), whisking your vinaigrette is a much better option. When whisking, make sure you’re using a good wire whisk and a bowl or container that is wide enough to accommodate all the whisking action that will be happening, and deep enough to keep the vinaigrette inside as you whirl it around. It’s also recommended that you use a clear bowl, so as to have a better visual of the proportions you’ve put into your mixture. This way, it will be easy for you to adjust and eyeball the situation better.

Preparing your vinaigrette this way is very simple. The first step will be to whisk your vinegar and all the seasonings you’ve decided to use in the bowl. The flavors of the seasonings will develop as you whisk along, so don’t forget to taste your mixture every so often. If you feel like your dressing is a lacking salt, then by all means add. If it’s turned out to be too salty, then add a little vinegar to balance things off. When you’re finally satisfied with the way your initial mixture tastes, whisk in some oil by drizzling it slowly into your bowl. Keep in mind, though, that the olive oil tames some of the flavors so just adjust depending on your taste.

The key to this procedure? Taste as you go along. If you’re tasting, you’re adjusting and you’ll be able to achieve the flavor that you want. Once you’ve reached your desired flavor, it’s never a bad idea to take a leaf of lettuce and sample your dressing. Dip the leaf in the dressing to see how it is going to taste with the salad itself.

After all that, you’re finally ready to toss up your salad. Always remember to toss it just before serving. Whisk through your vinaigrette one last time, and then drizzle some dressing over your salad. Toss to coat each leaf thoroughly, but do this gently as you don’t want to bruise the leaves. Remember, the quality of the ingredients, specifically the olive oil and the vinegar will translate directly to how good your vinaigrette turns out.

Veal with Marsala

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Veal with Marsala Scaloppine Alla Marsala


1 lb. thin Veal Cutlets
1 sliced Lemon
½ cup Flour
½ cup Marsala (sweet sherry)
3 tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Have veal cutlets flattened and cut into 4-inch pieces. Roll veal in flour. Heat skillet; add olive oil; brown cutlets quickly. Add marsala. Cover; simmer over low flame about 5 minutes or until meat is tender. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve very hot with lemon slices. Serves 4. 

veal marsala, veal cutlets, olive oil cooking


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Whisking the vinaigrette

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

Dressing It Up Simply

Anywhere you go, the basic ingredients behind the vinaigrette salad dressing is something acidic, and an oil. Some of the most popular acids used in vinaigrette are vinegar and citrus juice, mixed with olive, nut, or neutral flavored oils.

In preparing the dressing, all you have to do is to briskly whisk the oil and vinegar together in order for their flavors to mesh together. When your dressings are not emulsified, the mixture of the oil and vinegar always separate afterwards, which is why whisking the ingredients before using them is always a good idea. If you want to keep the two substances together, an emulsifier is needed. Some of the most common emulsifiers being used are Dijon mustard. For a successful emulsion, the trick is to mix the emulsifier and the acid together before gradually whisking in the oil. Adding the oil too quickly will only result in the separation of the two ingredients – or a kitchen “break”. Similarly, adding the mustard to an acid oil mixture will only result in the clumping of the mustard.

One of the best tricks in whisking involves the use of a kitchen towel. This simple yet effective method helps the process of whisking. If your bowl is jostling around, take a kitchen towel and twist it until taut. Form the towel into a ring and set your bowl atop your towel ring. This helps to stabilize your bowl and facilitate the whisking.

vinaigrette, simple dressing, oil and vinegar


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Cooking with Olive Oil

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

How to Sautee, Deep Fry, and Bake with Olive Oil

There is one hard-and-fast rule to Mediterranean cooking: extra-virgin olive oil. You can add a Mediterranean touch to every meal by using extra-virgin olive oil in place of other types of fats, lards, and oils while you are sautéing, marinating, braising, basting, brushing, grilling, drizzling, some frying, and even baking. This is not only quite tasty, but healthy as well.

Uncooked Olive Oil

There are two things to remember when using olive oil as a dressing, a sauce, or a condiment. The first is that the higher the quality of the oil, the better the taste. Second, if you want to maintain the natural olive oil flavor, it is best to use it raw since heating can change its flavor and scent. It is easy to use raw olive oil as a salad dressing or as a bread sauce, so anyone can enjoy olive oil in its natural state. You can also offer raw olive oil as a condiment at the dinner table so that your family or guests can drizzle it on soups and pastas in order to add more depth and flavor to the dish.

Sautéing with Olive Oil

Sometimes it is hard to cook the inside of your food without burning the outside. This is where sautéing comes in. In order to sauté Mediterranean-style, all that you have to do is pour some olive oil into a skillet or wok, add some minced garlic, and allow the oil to heat up until a drop of water sizzles in the pan. After the oil is heated, carefully pour thinly sliced meats and vegetables into the oil mixture and then stir it until it is cooked through. By stirring it almost constantly you are keeping it from burning on the outside. After just a few minutes of stirring, check the meats to make sure that they are cooked through. Once they are, you have a yummy meat and vegetable mixture that can top salads, pastas, bread slices, or that can be enjoyed alone.

Deep-Frying with Olive Oil

Deep-frying with olive oil is a somewhat controversial subject because there are some safety concerns and economic worries. Olive oil reaches the smoke-point at a much lower temperature than other oils which means that it may begin smoking before it is hot enough to deep-fry breaded items. Also, it is much more expensive than other oils and since 2 or more cups of oil are usually needed when deep-frying.

If you do wish to deep-fry using olive oil, consider using only regular or virgin olive oils since extra-virgin oils are more expensive than their lower-quality counterparts. The quality of the oil does not matter as much when frying because you will not be savoring the raw flavor and aroma of the oil.

No matter which oil you choose, though, there are some important things to keep in mind when deep-frying. The first is that you should only use the oil once. This is because the foods, especially if they are breaded, leave particles in the oil after they have been removed from the pan. If you reuse the oil, the particles will burn the next time they are cooked and this will leave your new dish covered in tiny burnt particles which will lead to a burnt taste. Also, remember to batter or bread the foods right before the oil is ready. If you do this too early, the foods will get soggy and gooey before you are able to fry them.

Baking with Olive Oil

Believe it or not, extra-virgin olive oil is actually a staple when it comes to Mediterranean baking. Many Italian desserts, such as castagnaccio, along with pastries, cookies, and other tasty dishes are made with extra-virgin olive oil instead of other fats, such as butter or shortening. Olive oil is not only important in achieving the proper texture and flavor, but it is also much healthier than other types of fats traditionally used in baking.

olive oil, cooking with olive oil


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Oil and vinegar together

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Oil and vinegar work supremely well in cooking together because of the strength of their individual flavours. Many rich dishes, in French cuisine, rely on the use of butter, cream, rich meat stock as the base and wine or vinegar to balance the fat content. Oil and vinegar work in much the same way by taking on the rich flavours but alleviating the fat content.

Dishes that usually include oil and vinegar have similar ingredients. Oil and vinegar bring both flavour and a sweet acidity respectively. The acidity of sherry vinegar can be substituted for rice wine and produces the appropriate flavour in the recipe for Chinese hot and sour chicken. To create the heat in this dish a little oil flavoured with chilli is added at the end.

Both oil and vinegar can assimilate the flavour of the ingredients they come into contact with. Vinegar can enhance the natural flavour of whatever food it is combined because of its acidity, and vegetable oil carries and takes on the individual flavours of food. A very good example of how vinegar enforces another ingredients natural flavour is the recipe for beets with fennel and fromage blanc. In this case beets are marinated in champagne vinegar and then tossed in walnut oil. The bitterness of the oil complements the sweet flavours of the fruit and by adding some toasted walnuts the nut flavour of the oil is accentuated. The action of the vinegar neutralizes some of the natural sweetness of the beets whilst bringing out the other flavours which were previously overwhelmed.

By using oil and vinegar in your cooking you are getting all the flavour but none of the harmful saturated fat. This is excellent news for those who have health issues relating to high blood pressure and cholesterol. Most fats are rich in saturated fats which have a detrimental effect on people that suffer from high cholesterol. Vegetable oils, on the other hand, make an ideal alternative as they contain less saturated and more polyunsaturated fats than oil derived from animals. If high cholesterol is a health issue for you it may be time to substitute animal oils and dairy products such as butter for the wonderful flavour of extra virgin olive oil. If creating a sauce that usually requires butter, for example a beurre blanc for salmon, try instead a fat free alternative by creating a chicken and balsamic vinegar reduction. This sauce works perfectly with the richness of the fish and the fruit flavour of the balsamic based sauce.

When cooking pork chops you may like to consider brine made from apple cider vinegar. This dish is very simple to make and the brine from the vinegar ensures that the pork remains very moist. To prepare this dish you only have to broil the pork chops. To finish, serve with a little olive oil and delicious juicy apples. You may have a wealth of condiments, herbs and spices in your pantry cupboards but a superior quality oil or vinegar can make their use redundant in some recipes and very little else is called for to add flavour.

[tag] oil and vinegar, classic oil and vinegar flavor[/tag[


Classic oil and vinegar combination

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

To most chefs the combination of oil and vinegar is synonymous with vinaigrette, a classic salad dressing. However, there are a myriad of uses for this combination which include use in marinades, sauces, stir frys and brines. Of course the quality of the ingredients can vary from epicurean vinegar to a gourmet extra virgin olive oil. Whatever varieties you have in store, it is good to remember that they can be used in so many different ways, either exotic or simple. An oil and vinegar salad dressing, for example, the classic vinaigrette, is prepared by combining the two ingredients together until an emulsification is formed, and the result is perfectly balanced and though not too acidic, enhances the fresh flavours of the salad. Even if these ingredients are used on their own, they can bring out the natural flavour of whatever food you apply them to. Flavoured vinegars, such as those made from fruits, have a sweet and acid element that can be used with wonderful results. Some olive oils have a similar effect and their richness complements rather than overwhelms many dishes that they are added to. For a perfect combination of oil and vinegar the correct balance is vital.

In the Far East and some European countries the use of oil and vinegar is commonplace, but in Mediterranean countries the uses of oil are endless and are ever present in every aspect of the cuisine. Not only is it used for cooking but it is poured over bread, drizzled over vegetables and added to tapenades and pesto for a richer flavour. In countries where Chinese cooking is popular it is unusual for sesame oil to be used in many different ways. It adds a wonderful mild flavour to stir frys and is often added to the finishing touches of a soup almost as a garnish. An ingredient that has historical origins and has been used for cooking for many generations is vinegar. The word vinegar is from the French vin aigre, meaning literally sharp wine. Vinegar is the product of wine being exposed to oxygen and bacteria. Gourmet vinegars are produced from excellent quality wine and then aged in casks to complete the process. Other superior vinegars are those that are made from the juice of fruits and aged in the same way.

oil and vinegar facts


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Italian Cooking Basic Terms

Thursday, April 03rd, 2008

Some basic Italian cooking terms you should know

Most recipes are written in a simple form. From time to time there are words and phrases that you should become familiar with.

Al dente: You will see this term in practically every pasta dish or recipe. The literal meaning is, “to the tooth”. Al dente means that the pasta is done to a chewy perfection. There are many cooks that tend to overcook pasta, so that when the pasta sauce is added, the whole mixture turns to a mush. In the old country one way to see if the pasta is ready is by taking a strand of the pasta such as spaghetti, and throwing it against the wall. It sticks to the wall the pasta is ready. If you really don’t care for this method, just bite a single piece of pasta to see if it is cooked to the consistency that you like.

Julienne: Some folks think that this is a fancy Italian name for Julian, its not. It’s just the gourmet word for saying “cut into very thin strips”. Even though this word is from French origin is often used in Italian cooking.

Reduce: Creams, sauces, or soups are often reduced by allowing to boil until the stock is condensed in thickness. Boiling off or reducing is an inexact measurement. Don’t burn your pan and use discretion when a recipe calls for, “reduce by half” as this simply means, boil until the liquid is about half of what you started with.

Deglaze: A recipe may call for a pan to be deglazed. When meat is cooked in a pan or skillet in the oven there is residue from the cooking that coats the inside of the pan. Deglazing means to add some liquid, either water or wine, to the pan to help scrape up the brown morsels and drippings that remain in the pan. Normally you will remove the pan from the burner so that it does not burn or catch fire.

Marinara: In the old country, wives of fishermen would make a tomato sauce in a quick manner that would be served with the catch of the day. Today, marinara refers to various forms of tomato sauces that are made without meat. Tomatoes, herbs, and spices are the only additions that are normally used to make a tomato sauce called marinara.

Ragu: A meat sauce sometimes referred to as Bolognese, usually includes some vegetables like celery, minced onions, and diced carrots. One or all three veggie ingredients can be used. Sometimes a small amount of cream is added as well.

Dolce: This is a term that is generally referred to for a desert. The word actually means sweet.

Italian cooking basic terms

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