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Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Archive for October, 2008

Italian Pasta Chitarra ai Profumi

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Chitarra ai Profumi Italian Pasta

This Italian pasta sauce is typical of the simple home made pasta dishes served throughout Italy.

1 package of chitarra pasta, (1 lb.)
(Note: chitarra pasta is a flat pasta, typically made with eggs, and has a shape somewhat similar to fettuccine)
½ cup Italian extra virgin olive oil
1 small stalk of celery, chopped fine
2 red ripe tomatoes peeled, seeded, and diced
1 handful of Italian parsley, chopped
A small handful of basil, chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
1 small sweet onion, diced

Method:

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add 1 heaping tablespoon of sea salt. After water has came to a boil, carefully add the pasta and cook until al dente.

While you are waiting for water to boil, you can prepare the sauce. Mix together the celery, tomatoes, parsley, basil, garlic, and onion. Heat the olive oil over a low heat and add the vegetable mixture. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes, the cover and let rest. Drain the pasta as soon as it is done and toss with the heated sauce. Serve immediately. Will make 4-6 servings.

You can serve this pasta dish along with a bread dipping appetizer of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, with herbs and spices.

Italian pasta recipe, authentic Italian pasta sauce, chitarra pasta sauce

 

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A perfect Vinaigrette

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Getting the Perfect Vinaigrette

It never changes – the two basic elements of vinaigrette will always be oil and vinegar. This is why it is so surprising that for some people, making the perfect vinaigrette is such a trial and error procedure.

The creation of the perfectly balanced vinaigrette is heavily dependent on the other ingredients that come into play: balancing the hints of Dijon mustard with the just the right amount of garlic and touching up with dashes of pepper. Making these ingredients work together requires that the one preparing the vinaigrette understands the importance of each ingredient, and how it contributes to the overall taste of the finished product

A Vinaigrette that tastes excellent doesn’t follow a formula, nor is it a procedure governed by strict rules. The key to making the perfect vinaigrette is one easy rule: taste as you go. Who knows, on certain days, your ingredients may not be at their best tastes, and following a formula could mean life or death for the success of your dressing. Adjust with your taste as you go along, that’s the key.

The preparation of a fine vinaigrette, like we said, follows no rules. Yes, there are a set of guidelines, and suggestions, but generally, everything can be adjusted to suit each one’s preferences. For example, it is not a strict rule that the ratio would be one part vinegar for every three parts oil; it may be recommended, but nowadays, with most people cutting back on fatty intake, this ratio has definitely adjusted. Although from some professional chefs, vinaigrette follows a one to one proportion, most individuals are happy with a one to two mix.

Vinaigrette making is only limited to how far you are willing to go and experiment. There are a wide variety of vinegars and oils out in the market all ready for the taking. Experiment with rice wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar. Rice vinegar gives a more delicate flavor, whilst the balsamic kind, having been aged, is milder than the other. These vinegars carry flavors that are strong on the senses, so although they are exciting alternatives, go easy on them as using too much might overpower the dressing.

Just like vinegar, olive oils come in a plethora of flavors, strengths, and blends. There are so many variations to olive oil nowadays; there are those infused with garlic, chilies, herbs, fruits, and even nuts. Just remember to proceed with caution if using flavored oils as they also carry flavors that hit the senses heavily, and the thing to achieve is just the right balance of things. Also take into account, for  both olive oil and vinegar, you get what you pay for. For excellent results, choose a quality extra virgin olive oil, and an authentic Italian balsamic vinegar.

vinaigrette, vinaigrette dressing, oil and vinegar, olive oil dressing

 

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Oil and Vinegar Nicoise Salad

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Nicoise Salad

This wonderful vegetable salad yields about 4 servings and is excellent as a main course.

You will need:

  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon green onion or reconstituted onion flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon white sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound medium red potatoes, not peeled and cut into thick slices, or an equal amount of canned potatoes
  • 1 head lettuce, if available
  • 8 ounces canned French-style green beans or regular green beans
  • 12 cherry tomatoes (if available), each piece cut in half
  • 1 (12 ounce) can tuna packed in water, drained and flaked
  • 2 large hard cooked eggs, each peeled and cut into quarters
  • ½ cup olives

Prepare your dressing first; for the dressing, mix in a small bowl the vinegar, lemon juice, green onion or onion flakes, mustard, sugar, and pepper until everything is well blended. Boil the potatoes in a pot over high heat, or use drained canned potatoes to save you from the trouble.

After the potatoes have been cooked, your salad is now ready to be assembled. Pour half of the prepared dressing into a medium sized bowl and tossing the lettuce leaves in it, making sure to evenly coat each one. Line the dressed lettuce leaves on a platter. Arrange the other ingredients of the salad – potatoes, green beans, cherry tomatoes, tuna, eggs, and olives – in separate piles on top of the lettuce leaves. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the salad and serve.

olive oil, nicoise salad, nicoise recipe

 

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Pasta with tomatoes and basil

Monday, October 20th, 2008

A Healthy and Refreshing Pasta with Tomato and Basil

Pasta with a tomato basil sauce is one of the healthiest and most refreshing meals one can prepare. What’s more, it’s quick and easy to prepare. This pasta recipe yields about four servings and you will need the following ingredients:

12 ounces pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or about ½ teaspoon garlic powder, if fresh garlic is unavailable
5 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
About 2 tablespoons basil, finely chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried basil
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Cook the pasta according to its package directions. Heat a large skillet and once hot, add the olive oil. One the oil is hot enough, sauté the garlic for a few minutes, being careful not to brown it. Then, add the tomatoes and basil over medium heat and cook until the mixture has warmed through.

Place your cooked pasta in a large bowl or on individual plates. Top each serving with the tomato sauce and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

pasta, tomatoes and basil

 

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Heirloom Tomato Gourmet Salad

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

Delectable Heirloom Tomato Salad

The Heirloom tomato salad makes use of five different varieties of Heirloom tomatoes, all at room temperature. Additional ingredients for this recipe include the following:

½ oz fennel, shaved
1 oz Point Reyes blue cheese
2 oz extra virgin olive oil
1 oz aged balsamic vinegar
5 small basil leaves
Fleur de sal (salt) and fresh pepper to taste

Trim the ends of the tomatoes so that the core is approximately one and a half inches thick. Using a small round cookie cutter, cut the cylinders of the tomato and reserve them in a mixing bowl.

Next, trim your fennel so that you will have just the bulb left. Shave the fennel bulb thinly using a mandolin. Place the fennel in ice water and allow it to crisp.

The next step is to add the oil and vinegar to the mixing bowl with the tomatoes. Toss this mixture well in order to coat each tomato thoroughly and evenly and season with salt and pepper to taste. Reserve the resulting liquid after tossing, which will be used for the tossing the fennel later on. Arrange the tomatoes in a straight line in the center of a plate, about one inch apart.

Plate the crumbled cheese in the spaces between the tomatoes. Take your fennel from the ice water and drain it well. Add it to the liquid from the tomatoes. Toss the fennel in the liquid and place it on top of the tomatoes. Finish up your plate by garnishing each tomato with basil leaves.

heirloom tomato salad, garnished heirloon tomato

 

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Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

Vinaigrette Dressing: Adding A Touch of Zest to Any Salad

It’s definitely easy and fun to put together various fruits and vegetables to make an interesting and superb salad. But what is really mind boggling in the end is the dressing… what dressings go best with the salads we’ve put together.

Different dressings go best with different types of salad. For example, a mango and shrimp salad on Boston lettuce with avocado, red pepper, and cilantro would taste great with a dressing of olive oil, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, and jalapeño pepper. How about a salad of spinach, capers, and hard boiled eggs with onions and feta cheese? A blueberry dressing would provide the perfect accompaniment to this salad mix. A lemon dill dressing would be the perfect match to a salad of hard boiled eggs, beets, blanched green beans, cucumbers, and yellow and red tomatoes on green leaves. Finally, a romaine and strawberry salad goes really well with a sweet molasses dressing.

If we stretch our imagination and creativity a little, the dressings we make at home for our salads can become innovative and interesting. Salad dressing is easy to make, as most of them have oil and vinegar as their base ingredients, with salt and a little spice. A sweet ingredient is also often added to the mix to round off its flavor. Given this base, the possibilities for new dressings are endless.

 

Here are some dressings you may want to try at home.

Blue cheese dressings are great with loose-leaf lettuce, such as a Boston lettuce. For a blue cheese dressing, you will need:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup vegetable oil, or canola oil
  • 1/3 cup blue cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced

In a small pan, heat the olive oil over a medium flame (about 140 degrees). Next, mix the egg yolks and mustard in a blender for about 20 seconds. Add the salt and the lemon and blitz for another few seconds. Run the blender at a slow speed and slowly blend in the heated olive oil. One it has been fully incorporated into the mixture, add the canola or vegetable oil until it is well blended. Pour this mixture into a serving container and mix in the crumbled blue cheese and sage.

A blueberry dressing works best with simple green salad without tomatoes. For blueberry dressing, you will need:

  • 1 cup frozen blueberries, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon mint, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Simply combine all the ingredients into a Mason jar, or similar container, and shake vigorously to combine.

A sweet and sour Dijon dressing would work great with a salad of shredded Brussell sprouts. You will need:

  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Salt and balck pepper to taste
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

Using a medium sized saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, lemon juice, and garlic. Bring this to a simmer for about two minutes to cook the garlic. Once simmered through and garlic has cooked, whisk in the mustard, salt and pepper, and olive oil. Transfer your dressing to a container and it is ready to serve.

 

 

 

Panzanella Italian Bread

Friday, October 17th, 2008

Panzanella: A Fabulous Italian Bread Dish

Tomatoes are one of the most versatile and flexible vegetables, and what you can do with them is only limited by your imagination. Below, you will find a recipe, which is one creative way of showing this delicious vegetable’s versatility.

In order to make Panzanella or Italian style bread appetizer, you will need the following ingredients:

6 cups day-old crusty peasant-style bread, cut or torn into bite size pieces
1/3 cup to ¼ cup olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 table spoons balsamic vinegar
4 medium tomatoes diced
¾ cup red onion, sliced
10 fresh basil leaves, shredded
½ cup pitted green olives, halved
1 cup mozzarella cheese (marinated, if desired), cut into bite size pieces

Before anything else, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Toss the bread in 1/3 cup olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and garlic. When everything is fully coated, lay the bread on a baking sheet and toast in the preheated oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the bread has turned into a golden brown color.

Remove the bread from the oven and cool slightly. In a separate bowl, whisk together ¼ cup olive oil and vinegar. Stir the toasted bread with the rest of the ingredients. Finally, add the vinaigrette. Let stand for about 20 minutes before serving, in order for the flavors to be fully absorbed and blended.

panzanella, Italian bread, bread appetizer

 

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Chicken with Mushrooms

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Italian Chicken with Mushrooms

Pollo Con Funghi

Ingredients:

1 broiler chicken (3-4 lbs.)
1 lb. fresh mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
1 large onion, sliced
6 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. butter
½ cup sherry
Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

Cut chicken into serving pieces; wash and dry thoroughly. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Heat butter in skillet; add garlic and 4 tablespoons of oil. Brown chicken on both sides about 10 minutes. Lower flame; cover; continue cooking for 25 minutes.

Sauté sliced onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in separate saucepan for 5 minutes. Add cleaned, sliced mushrooms and 2 tablespoons of water. Simmer 15 minutes; add to chicken. Cover. Simmer chicken and mushrooms. 15 minutes longer. Pour in ½ cup sherry; boil up quickly for 1 minute. Serve very hot. Serves 4.

chicken with mushrooms, Italian food

 

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Pork Chops and Cabbage

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Pork Chops and Cabbage Costatelle Di Maiale Con Cavolo

Ingredients:

2 lbs. pork chops
2 chopped unions
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 can tomatoes
1 lb. shredded cabbage
4 tbs. olive oil
1 cup burgundy
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Saute onions in hot olive oil for about 3 minutes or until soft. Remove onions; add garlic and pork chops.Turn up flame. Brown chops quickly on both sides about 6 minutes. Transfer chops, garlic, and onions to a deep pot. Add cabbage, tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste; cover tightly; cook slowly for 30 minutes. Add burgundy; continue cooking about 10 minutes, very slowly, or until cabbage and chops are tender. Serve very hot. Serves 6.

pork chops and cabbage, pork chops stovetop

 

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Beefsteak Milanese

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Beefsteak Milanese Bistecca Milanese

Ingredients:

1 sirloin steak (about 3 lbs.)
1 clove garlic, peeled and grated
3 tbs. butter
2 tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Sprinkle steak with pepper. Heat skillet. Melt butter; add olive oil. Brown garlic about 1 minute; remove garlic from pan. Brown steak on each side about 5 minutes over high flame in rare steak is desired, or 7 to 10 minutes for medium rare. Remove from fire. Sprinkle with salt to taste; pour pan gravy over steak while sizzling hot. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Beefsteak Milanese

 

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