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Posts Tagged ‘olive oil’

Caponata

 

As I’ve said more than a few times in my ramblings, Steve, my husband, does not much care for eggplant so I always have to hide it under other flavors and textures. For a tasty side dish to serve along with a flank steak marinated in olive oil and rosemary, I combined the eggplant with zucchini and tomato to make a sort-of caponata. Thought I made enough to serve throughout the week, but our guests liked it so much there was nothing left to stretch out meals during the week. Here’s what I did:

 

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil plus more to taste

1 sweet onion, peeled and diced

1 head fresh green garlic, chopped (had just picked a bunch up at the greenmarket, but a couple of

cloves of garlic would work just as well)

Salt

2 small eggplant, trimmed and diced

2 large zucchini, trimmed and diced

One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with their juice

A handful of basil leaves

About 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Chili flakes as many or as few as you want – I tend to be heavy-handed

Ground black pepper

 

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until the onions have softened a bit. Stir in the eggplant and continue to cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes or until the eggplant has absorbed some of the oil and begun to soften. Add the zucchini and tomatoes along with the basil and oregano. Season with chile flakes and pepper, cover, and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and cook at a bare simmer for about an hour or until the vegetables are soft and the flavors are nicely blended. You may want to add more olive oil along the way; I like the fruitiness of it so often add more than I probably should.

Remove from the heat and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

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butter_DSC_3591

 

We don’t eat much butter only because the doc says we shouldn’t.  We dip our bread in olive oil, fry with olive oil, drizzle with olive oil — well, you get it.  BUT when I cheat and want butter, I want great butter.  I try every artisanal one that I find; sometimes loving, but often just giving up an “uuuhm.”  My last purchase was Vermont Cultured Butter, European Style with Sea Salt Crystals from Vermont Creamery (www.vermontcreamery.com) which I bought at Murray’s Cheese (www.murrayscheese.com) in the Grand Central Station food market.  Although the butter I grew up with didn’t have sea salt added, it was churned at the local farm and I tell you this butter brought childhood memories back in one taste.  Could I give any better recommendation?

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I love olives!  In our many specialty food stores around Manhattan you can peruse tubs of multi-colored, multi-cultural flavorful cured olives – Greek, Italian, Tunisian, Spanish, and California.  None of them have even the faintest resemblance to the soft, almost-tasteless canned variety of my childhood, Thankfully!  I often buy pitted black kalamata olives and then doctor them up at home which can also do with the pedestrian canned.  They are terrific to always have on hand for a cocktail tidbit or to add a little bit of zip to a salad.  The other night I made a vinaigrette based on some pancetta that I had fried to a crisp, added a bit of orange juice and herb vinegar to the frying pan and then finished it off with some nice green olive oil.  Tossed it into a mix of frisee, watercress, olives, and orange segments for a refreshing first course for an informal get-together.

4 cups Greek or Italian black or green olives – pitted or not, as you like
2 tablespoons red chile flakes
2 tablespoons minced garlic or roasted garlic
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon dried fines herbes
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Approximately 2 cups extra virgin olive oil

Combine the olives with the chile flakes, garlic, orange zest, rosemary, and fines herbes in a mixing bowl.  Whisk the vinegar into the olive oil in another bowl.  Pack the olives into a clean container,  pour the olive oil mix over the top, cover, and store, refrigerated, for up to 2 months.  It is a good idea to let the olives marinate for a day or two before serving.

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Here we are enjoying the evening with a bottle of pinot and a tray of cheese and salami and, of course, some olive oil and bread.  I can’t remember the cheeses except that the bright orange is one of my favorites – mimolette.  The salami was from one of the young artisanal charcuterie makers – again, can’t remember which one.  Perhaps the wine made me forget, but I expect I simply was enjoying it too much to put much thought into the provenance of my eats and drink!

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Traditional Italian focaccia is based on a centuries old Roman flat bread.  It is usually flavored with olive oil and frequently has herbs either in the dough or sprinkled on top.  It can also be topped with cheese, anything from the onion family, dried meats, or vegetables – in fact, anything the baker likes`.  It is, however, classically done with only olive oil, rosemary, and a sprinkling of coarse salt over the top.

However, for some time I have had in my mind that I had to make fruit focaccia.  I love the dried fruit focaccia at Balthazar Bakery on Spring Street in Manhattan

(www.balthazarbakery.com) but I had in mind to do a fresh fruit one, a soft, spongy slightly salty bread studded with sweet luscious Bing cherries or tiny juicy plums that grow wild in upstate New York.  I was psyched.

So, I made the dough – my first try – but in my excitement I forgot to buy the necessary fruit at the farmers market and since we were in the country I didn’t feel like making the 45 minute trip to the supermarket so instead of fruit focaccia, I made a traditional one.  (This will go down in the recipe log like my Chicken Fried Rice Without Chicken!)  Using cherry tomatoes we had on hand and some rosemary from the pots outside the kitchen door, my first attempt came out so well that it was all eaten before Steve could photograph it.  So, instead we give you our in-house artist Steve Kolyer’s rendition.

9 cups sifted bread flour

Two ¼ ounce packets active-dry yeast

1 tablespoon salt

3 ¾ cups water

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

Olive oil for greasing pans

 

Combine the bread flour with the yeast and salt in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the hook.  Add the water and mix on low speed until blended.

Raise the speed to medium and continue to mix until the dough is smooth and shiny. Mix in the olive oil and beat until fully incorporated.

Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment paper.  Lightly coat both sides of the paper with olive oil. Lightly flour a clean, flat work surface.

Scrape the dough onto the floured surface and then divide it into two equal pieces. Place a piece of dough into the center of each of the prepared sheet pans, gently rounding the edges. Cover with plastic film and set aside to ferment for 3 hours.

Working with one piece at a time, uncover and carefully stretch the dough out to cover the entire pan. Using your fingertips, gently dot the top of the dough with shallow holes (In professional bread making this is called dimpling and it serves to create little pockets to hold the olive oil and keep the bread moist and soft).  Drizzle the top with extra virgin olive oil, coarse salt, herbs, or any thing you like, such as whole cherry tomatoes, anchovies, chopped onions, or garlic.  Cover with plastic film and let rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Uncover the dough and transfer the pans to the preheated oven.  Bake for 25 minutes or until the crust is golden-brown.

Remove from the oven and transfer to wire racks to cool.

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