Results tagged olive oil from David Lebovitz

8 Tips for Choosing and Using Olive Oil

Olive Oil Tasting

A recent post on Marinated Feta elicited some interesting comments and questions about olive oil. Here’s a few tips that I follow when buying, using, and storing oil:

1. Keep olive oil out of the light.

I know you’ve spent a lot of money on your oil and you want to look at all those pretty labels lined up on your countertop. But too bad; it’s one of the absolute worst things you can do to oil. Light destroys olive oil, and other specialty oils as well, so stow it away. Nothing destroys olive oil faster than light. Except heat.

2. Keep olive oil away from heat.

That means don’t store your olive oil on that shelf above your stove, even though that’s where it’s handy. Keep it away from sunlight as well. It’s best not to store olive oil in the refrigerator. If you do, when you take it out the condensation can dilute the oil and cause it to spoil quicker.

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Marinated Feta Recipe

There’s lots of feta-like cheese out there, but only cheese made in Greece is considered true feta nowadays and you can’t call it feta anymore unless it was produced there. Like Champagne, which has to be made in Champagne or Brie de Meaux which has to be made is Meaux, it isn’t feta unless it’s made where it’s supposed to be made—in Greece.

Although I’m not much of a font of knowledge about a lot of things, if it’s food-related, I’ll do in a pinch. If you want to make something that’s impressive and incredibly simple to put together, maybe I can help you out there as well. This is a favorite around here and once you make it, you’ll be rewarded in the days following with salty chunks of cheese infused in a sublime bath of fruity olive oil scented with summery herbs.

Feta

Start with a clean jar of any size and add chunks of feta. I like to keep them large, around 2-inches (6cm) max is good. You can also use rounds of semi-firm chèvre too, and I bought a big chunk of sheep’s milk cheese today at my favorite Arab grocer that may or may not have been true feta, but was not-too-dry and I knew would be just perfect.

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Tapenade Recipe

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Way back when, after I arrived in France, I wanted to be all Provençal like we thought we were in Berkeley (except you’d need to force me into a beret only at gunpoint)…but I did go off on the lookout in Paris for a large, sturdy mortar and pestle. I didn’t know what they were called in French at the time, so I went into cookware shops, made a fist around some imaginary cylindrical object in front of me, and shook it up and down maniacally and with great vigor to get across the idea of what I was looking for.

Suffice it to say, I got plenty of odd looks—I’m still not exactly sure why, but no one was able to figure out exactly what it was that I was after.

Eventually I got with the program and did find a few pretty little numbers, mortars and pestles usually made of glass or something equally fragile. But for all the pounding in Paris that I planned to do, I needed something that’s going to take it like a man time-after-time and needed to be a bit more rough-and-tumble.

Acting on a tip, finally I arrived home one day with a manly-sized, rock-hard specimen from Chinatown (made of granite) and afterward, I sought a hand from my olive guy who was glad to help out a friend in need and wrapped me up more olives de Nyons than you can shake a stick (or whatever) at, each week at the market.

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Sonoma County

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Just a short drive across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, Sonoma County is a gorgeous winemaking region about an hour north (unless you’re me and have a horrible sense of direction and get lost…then it will take longer.)
But once you arrive, you’ll find that Sonoma boasts world-class cheesemakers like Ig Vella who makes Sonoma Dry Jack, a hard grating cheese whose exterior is rubbed with cocoa powder for ripening. There’s Craig Ponsford’s Artisan Bakery too, which won the Best Baguette in, gulp, Paris…of all places.
As you can imagine, that was quite an upset!

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The last of the persimmons, barely hanging on the tree.

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It isn’t California without Caesar Salad. But bread and butter alongside? Trés americain!

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This is ‘French’?
I’ve never seen taffy in France…or a goofy mug like that either.

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Just-harvested olives, to be pressed into California extra-virgin olive oil.

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Lucky plants…
Even they get chocolate too!

Preserved Tomatoes Recipe (Confit of tomatoes)

tomato plate

Recently the proliferation of heirloom tomatoes at greenmarkets harkens back to the days of yore, when tomatoes were beautiful and irregular and presumably so full of flavor that after one bite you could boast about how good it was for the remainder of your life and try to make everyone feel like you know something that they don’t know and how much richer your life is than theirs because you’ve had this amazing tomato experience and they haven’t.

Tomatoes

Nowadays the marketers and growers have gotten smart. It’s fairly easy to come across tomatoes sold ‘on-the-vine’ that look old-fashioned. But when you get them home and slice them open, they taste negligibly better than any of the other tomatoes at the supermarket…and cost twice as much. They just have a redder color and come with their stems attached.

campari tomatoes

Here’s an excellent recipe for encouraging flavor and sweetness from any tomatoes, even ones that are less-than-ideal, using a technique called making a confit. The slow roasting with olive oil concentrates and sweetens flavors, making ordinary tomatoes boast-worthy.

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Confit of Tomatoes

Adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris

1. Buy some tomatoes, just about any variety will do. 2 pounds (1 kg) is a nice amount.

2. Wash and dry them, then slice them in half. Pour enough decent-quality olive oil in a baking dish so that it just covers the bottom of the dish, somewhere between 1/4 cup (60 ml) and 1/3 cup (80 ml) should do.

3. Sprinkle in coarse salt and freshly-ground black pepper, add a few branches of fresh thyme and/or a few sprigs of rosemary. Then line the bottom of the baking dish with the tomatoes, sliced-side down. Don’t be bashful; it’s okay to really pack them in.

4. Peel and slice 3 or 4 garlic cloves, slice them in half lengthwise and tuck them in the gaps between the tomatoes. Sprinkle the tomatoes with a bit more salt and a small sprinkling of sugar (less than 1 teaspoon) and add a few bay leaves.

5. Bake the tomatoes in a 350 F (180 C) oven until they are soft and cooked throughout (a paring knife should pierce them easily), which should take at least 45 minutes.

6. Once they’re soft, remove them from the oven and let stand until room temperature. You can scrape the tomatoes and juices and herbs into a container and refrigerate them for up to 4 to 5 days or use them right away. They will actually improve as they sit.

Use them to toss into pasta, slightly chopped, or warm them and spoon them whole onto hot garlic toasts, perhaps with a few filets of good anchovies, and shower them with lots of fresh herbs. They’re also nice served alongside a summer salad with some goat cheese, all drizzled with a bit of the tasty olive oil and juices.


Related Links and Posts

Canning Tomatoes (NCHFP)

Panzanella: Tomato & Bread Salad

Seville Orange Marmalade

Summer Tomato Salad

Cabbagetown Hummus