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Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Archive for March, 2008

Olive Oil and the food it goes with

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

Pairing Olive Oil with Food

The quality of any extra-virgin olive oil is dependant on several factors; namely the climate, variety of olive, method of harvesting and production process. Extra-virgin olive oils come in many different varieties and the aroma,  taste and color of each varies from region to region.

Generally speaking, the Liguria and Lake Garda regions in Veneto produce some of the lightest Italian olive oils while Tuscan and Umbrian olive oils are richer and fruitier and Sicilian, Sardinian and Calabrian oils are lighter but fuller. Oils from the same region can differ widely in terms of taste and flavor. Conditions such as the type of processing method used and the time at which the olives are harvested all contribute to the eventual flavor of the final product. Tasting the various olive oils available in the market and deciding which one would suit your cooking best is always a fun activity. There are, however, some general guidelines that you should follow in order to ensure good results when you use olive oil to cook or as a dressing.

You should treat olive oil in the same manner as you treat wine. Using low grade wine in cooking would give food an unpleasant taste. The same applies to olive oil. Also, you must make sure that the taste and flavor of the olive oil you choose is suitable for the type of food that you are preparing. The three flavor classifications – mild, fruity and fruity-spicy – are each suitable for certain  types of food. Mild olive oil goes well with delicate preparations that do not contain garlic. Pasta sauces with garlic, herbs, spices and salads all taste excellent when paired with fruity olive oils. Fruity-spicy olive oils work best with grilled meats and roasts, dishes containing generous amounts of garlic and spices and aged cheeses. Before you decide to cook with it, you should always taste the olive oil in order to determine what sort of food will be best served with it. Always remember that the taste of olive oil is most intense when it is used raw.

Remember, cooking and serving quality ingredients offer the best results of your food preparation, especially so with olive oil. 

olive oil with food

 

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Olive Oil Tasting

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

Tasting Olive Oil The rule is to finding a good extra-virgin olive oil is simple  – simply sample various olive oils and choose whichever one you like the most. If, however, you wish to e more discerning about your choice of olive oils, then you must think like an Italian would. There are three basic classes of extra-virgin olive oil and you must know them intimately, for each one goes best with certain specific dishes and methods of preparation. The three classes are:

• Mild – Mild olive oils are light and taste sweet, and complement dishes such as steamed or grilled fish, both raw or cooked vegetables, meats, soups and pasta sauces. It is also an excellent companion for cheeses of all types. Most children have a preference for this particular class of olive oil.

 • Fruity – The richer, more fruity taste of olive oils in this class is perfect when paired with grilled meat, cooked vegetables, and pastas or rice cooked in mild sauces. It also tastes great with garlic sauces or light cheeses.

 • Fruity-Spicy – Olive oils in this class have a strong flavor that complements the cruder tastes of traditional dishes such as the panzanella, the Tuscan bread and tomato salad, and ribollita, the Tuscan vegetable soup.

In order to be able to distinguish between the different classes of olive oil, you will need to train your sense of taste by experimenting with and tasting as many different types of olive oil as you can get your hands on. You should also ensure that your tasting sessions are carried in controlled surroundings, alone, and with at least an hour separating your tasting sessions and your last meal.

At the beginning, you should start by getting a feel for the differences in taste between an expensive, high quality extra -virgin olive oil and a much cheaper one.

Tasting Steps

• Place a maximum amount of roughly 15ml of oil in a cup, then cover it until your are ready to conduct the taste test.

• Warm the olive oil by holding the cup in both hands for a minute or two. This will cause some of the oil to evaporate, releasing the aroma of the oil.

• Examine the color of the oil.

 • Empty your lungs, then remove the cover from the cup and breathe in the aroma of the oil. This olfactory evaluation will allow you to form your first impressions of the oil. Then replace the cover and repeat this process.

• Dip your bottom lip into the oil slightly, then use your tongue to examine the oil.

 • Sip a small amount of the oil and roll it around your mouth. Try to identify which class it belongs to. You can ascertain this by determining how spicy it seems. Pay special attention to the degree of spiciness you experience along the ides of your tongue. 

• Determine the texture and flavor of the oil (see Technical Terms, below).

• Conduct this taste test twice for each type of oil, making sure to drink some clean water and eat some fruit or bread between each test to cleanse your palate. 

 • Finally, decide if each oil is to your liking.

Technical Terms

• Appearance – clear, shiny, green, yellow, brown

• Texture – smooth, thick, sticky, pungent

 • Aroma and flavor – grassy, fruity, rancid, peppery, bitter, earthy,
nutty.

olive oil tasting, taste olive oil

 

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Bread Dipping, Old World Hors D’oeuvres

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

dipping dishesOld World Mediterranean cuisine has long been loved by people from many different cultures. One Old World Mediterranean favorite is bread dipping. This simple, yet satisfying tradition has been making a come-back over the past few years not only because of its health value but also because of its flavor.

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For years, hosts and hostesses have been serving chips & dip, cheese & crackers, vegetable & deli trays, and other common party foods to their guests. These hors d’oeuvres get eaten of course, but why not try something new? Imagine how satisfied party guests would be if they were served a slice of warm bread along with their choice of a variety of delicious olive oil bread dipping sauces.

The average host or hostess may think that this sounds too good to be true. Surprisingly, though, this appetizer is quite simple to prepare and, when you consider the price of quality potato chips, pre-cut vegetables, and other party foods, it is not very costly, either. Depending on the size of your party, all that you will need is two or three of the baguette loaves that you can purchase fresh at most grocery stores, a bottle of extra virgin olive oil, and some Italian herbs and spices. When you are shopping for your ingredients, remember that the quality of the olive oil you choose will make or break your bread dip. The higher the quality of your olive oil and other ingredients, the better your hors d’oeuvres will be.

To prepare your bread dip the first thing that you will need to do is re-hydrate any dried herbs and spices that you will use in the recipe. To do this, just soak them in a shallow plate of water for about 15 minutes. This will bring back their flavor and they will taste as if they were still fresh. Once the herbs and spices are done rehydrating, drain the water and add them to some extra virgin olive oil. For a unique flair, you can also add other ingredients such as sun-dried tomatoes, grated parmesan cheese, flavored vinegars, or lemon juice. If you use the time that your spices are re-hydrating to slice or cube the bread, then in less than half an hour you will have a mouth-watering appetizer that most guests will love.

Food presentation also plays a significant role in a fun and successful party. The use of a bread dipping dish instead of a plate or serving platter will provide a good foundation for the arrangement of your bread dips. Also, if you are using balsamic vinegar in any of the dips, you can create designs in the dip instead of just mixing them together. The breads can be either cubed or sliced and served on a platter that complements the bread dipping dish. If you wish to slice the bread, be sure to slice it at an angle for an attractive detail.

For some variety, you can serve a veggie tray along with your bread slices. Fresh, steamed, and grilled vegetables all go great with olive oil bread dips. Guests will also appreciate a variety of breads to choose form. Focaccia, sourdough, Italian, French, and other fresh-baked breads all work well for bread dipping. Another variation is to use the bread dips at dinner parties. They can be used as salad dressings, they can be drizzled over vegetable and pasta dishes, or they can also be used to marinade meats.

Make your guests happy by bringing a taste of the Old World to your next party. Bread dipping is healthy, fast, and appetizing so it is sure to please a wide array of guests.

bread dipping, bread dipping appetizer

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Olive Oil a healthy flavor

Saturday, March 01st, 2008

Getting the right olive oil flavor. Salad dressing, bread dipping sauces, grilled fish and vegetables – these healthy foods all have one thing in common. Until recently, the use of this one thing in everyday cooking was quite a taboo; but, scientists and doctors have realized the health-benefits that it can have. Now, what is it? You may have guessed, olive oil! Unlike some of the more unhealthy fat products, olive oil is very healthy and even nutritious since it offers cancer-fighting antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It is a monounsaturated
fat, which explains its healthy traits. The fact that it can actually lower bad cholesterol in the body makes it a heart-healthy food.
Olive oil is sold in three different varieties – extra virgin olive oil, virgin olive oil, and olive oil. For the average consumer shopping in the grocery store, the only obvious differences between these three varieties is color and flavor. These differences, though, are caused by several things.

The first is the method in which the oil is extracted from the olives. The two most natural olive oils are the extra virgin and virgin varieties since no modifications are made to the oil during or after its extraction. When
you buy plain “olive oil” in the store it is often times made from a combination of natural and refined olive oils. The International Olive Oil Council (www.internationaloliveoil.org) is responsible for making sure that the different types of olive oil are labeled correctly after they are bottled so that consumers can make an educated decision on the olive oils that they choose to purchase.

Along with extraction methods, the location of the crop and the season that it is harvested both have an effect on olive oil flavor. The last olive oil flavor factor is the amount of fatty acids in the oil. Extra virgin olive oil has the highest percentage of the three types of olive oil when it comes to fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and other flavor-enhancing characteristics.

Because of this, extra virgin olive oil is the most expensive and is generally only used when the olive oil flavor is important to the recipe. If you want a less discrete olive oil flavor then virgin olive oil is the right choice for you. Regular olive oil is best for cooking when the flavor of the oil is not important since it has the least amount of flavor and also costs the least.

Since olive oil tends to be one of the most costly oils, it is best to make sure that the olive oil flavor lasts. Even though olive oil that has lost it’s flavor or gone bad is still edible, it is best to store olive oil in a cool, dark place so that it will last as long as possible. Buying olive oil that comes in bottles with dark glass is also helpful. Olive oil is not usually stored in the refrigerator. It is best kept in a cool pantry or kitchen cabinet.

Olive oil flavor is one of the best for light cooking and heart-healthy snacks. Thank goodness olive oil was given a chance to prove its nutritional value.

olive oil flavor

 

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