Below is the best article I have read on cooking with extra virgin olive oil. In essence, the phenolitic compounds found in high quality extra virgin olive oil protect the oil during the cooking process so it does not break down into harmful substances. Low quality olive oils do not have these compounds so it is actually more harmful, not less harmful, to cook with them. There are many other factors that make high quality extra virgin olive oil the best choice for cooking. I highly recommend reading the entire article.
The scientific truth on cooking with extra virgin olive oil
Below is a fun article on making flatbread with olive oil from the New York Times. It is amazing how versatile olive oil can be. I keep learning new ways to use it which encourages me to also conduct my own experiments.
Olive Oil Helps Produce a Classic Flatbread
Below is a link to a recent study done at Harvard University that found replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats may reduce your risk of heart disease by 20 percent more than just reducing fat intake. This is significant because it implies the low-fat craze is not the healthiest approach. Our body needs fats so why not consume healthy fats. Extra virgin olive oil has both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and is one of the healthiest fats around. One fun way of replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats is to replace butter with real extra virgin olive oil in desserts. We have a wonderful carrot cake recipe on our site that does exactly this and it is yummy. You can find the recipe here.
Read the article.
Below is a link to a recent study that is the first of its kind to investigate the effect of different components of the Mediterranean diet. They looked at large samples of people who loosely followed the Mediterranean diet but at the same time left out certain components of it. What they found is not surprising. The major benefit of the diet occurs when all elements are included. In other words it is very synergistic. Our modern tendency is to seek single ‘active ingredients’ and turn them into drugs. However this study suggests that a whole range of beneficial eating habits is what does the trick. The most important components were moderate intake of alcohol and a low consumption of meat, with a high intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, olive oil and legumes. Read the article.
I cooked the roasted cauliflower recipe mentioned below and it was very good. The rich nuttiness of the roasted cauliflower compliments very nicely the tangy caper dressing. I cooked it for an hour and the cauliflower was nicely browned so I took it out. It was very crisp, almost too much, so I think next time I will add a little water to the dish while it is baking to cook the cauliflower through a little bit more. After you take it out you kind of wonder how do you serve a whole head of cauliflower. Next time I will cut the cooked cauliflower in quarters then pour the dressing on to make sure each serving gets a lot of the tangy dressing. I will definitely do this again. It was very simple to cook but the flavor was very elegant. It turns a boring cauliflower into something special.
One of my favorite recipe sites is www.recipezaar.com. It has over 400,000 recipes that are searchable. The recipes range from the novice cook to the very experienced. In style they range from the typical American recipes to the exotic. There is something here for everybody.
Often at night I will go to the site and search for a few ingredients I have in my fridge or pantry. I invariably get many choices that are rated by other users along with reviews. I typically read at least ten of them along with the reviews of people who have actually cooked the recipe. I then generally print out the recipe that comes the closest to what I want to cook then add ideas from all the others I have read. I have rarely been disappointed. It also gives me a lot of ideas I would not have thought of myself.
The other night I was tired of my typical chicken thigh recipe so I found a new recipe from http://www.recipezaar.com that removes the skin, coats with spicy mustard and worchestershire sauce, then coats in seasoned breadcrumbs and bakes at 375 for 40 minutes. It was very simple and tasty. This is just one example of simple but tasty recipes on the site.
Happy recipe hunting!
We finished the hard but rewarding work of harvest in mid-December. The harvest went very smoothly and the resulting oils were excellent. After blending and bottling we should have the new oils available in mid to late March. To celebrate the occasion our assistant miller and olive farmer Juan Jose made his family’s traditional paella. What a treat! Gianni, Diana and their son Umberto joined Steve and his wife along with Juan and Eve at Steve’s home on a beautiful December Saturday. There was plenty of beer and wine flowing as we all gathered around the table and watched Juan Jo prepare his masterpiece.
It starts with a special large flat pan hooked directly to the propane. You first brown the meat (duck, chicken, turkey, and pork) in an excellent extra virgin olive oil, of course. Then move it to the side and add fresh green beans and assorted white beans. Then move that to the side and add organic tomatoes. Quite a colorful dish. Then add water and rice. This is the tricky part, you need to add the correct ratio of rice vs. water. You then let this simmer for around 18 minutes. During the simmering you can add fresh artichoke, just remove the prickly leaves.
And now the kicker, top with fresh rosemary from the garden as it simmers.
After the rice is done and the water evaporated bring the whole pan to the table. Each person then dips his fork into the delicious mixture and proceeds directly to his own mouth with no plates intervening. This is true family style dining at its best. At this point you might be wondering, “Hey where are all the measurements and ingredient lists.” Well this is how family recipes are cooked – by feel. And we all felt very good with a perfect end to a perfect harvest.