Cooking with olive oil is more than salad dressing and a dab in the pan
I recently picked up a new cookbook called Cooking Techniques and Recipes with Olive Oil, by Mary Platis and Laura Rashar. This book shows the versatility of olive oil as an ingredient and a cooking medium. You can poach, braise, marinate, infuse, and bake with olive oil. Olive oil is much more than a lube.
Cookbook Layout and Recipes
I liked the layout of the cookbook and enjoyed how it was organized by cooking method, for example braising, poaching, and marinating. The recipes with olive oil were easy to follow and also included great tips nested into the recipes.
The method that was new to me was poaching seafood with olive oil. This is an old French technique that makes fish soft and silky. Good news is that you can reuse some of the olive oil for more poaching, just be sure to strain and refrigerate it.
I recently tried out some of the recipes with olive oil during the cookbook signing at Melissa’s Produce. Below are the recipes that I tried.
Mediterranean Vegetables in Olive Oil (pg. 69)
Baby Beets and Brussels Sprouts Salad (pg. 87)
Chicken Kakobs (pg. 67)
Roasted Baby Carrots with Thyme (pg. 120)
Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cupcakes with Strawberries (pg. 101)
The book also provides in depth information on selecting olive oil and demystifies some of the misconceptions about olive oil including, “How do you choose a great olive oil? Does the color of olive oil infer its quality?” Here is a sneak preview of some of the tips from the book
Selecting Olive Oil
Although rancid olive oil will not kill you, the flavor is drastically changed after time and health benfits will be lost. The typical American consumer is exposed to so much expired olive oil, the flavor of rancid olive oil is now the standard for olive oil flavor. According to Platis and Bashar, up 50% of the American supply of olive oil is rancid. When shopping for olive oil, look at the harvest date on the bottle. Olive oil should be consumed preferably one year from harvest and up to two years. If the bottle does not have a Harvest Date, then do not buy it.
How can you tell if an olive oil is rancid? First look at the harvest date. Second, do a sniff and taste test. Rancid extra virgin olive oil may smell like elmers glue or crayons. Rancid olive oil will not have any fruit flavors, bitterness and a greasy mouth feel.
Seasonality of Olive Oil Affects Flavor
Olive trees yield one crop per year, although when the olives are harvested will determine the flavor and color. Winter presses are the most raw and spring presses are the most ripe. The riper the olive, the sweeter the oil will become. A good olive oil will show what season the olives were harvested.
Spring olive oils are the most ripe, resulting in a dark color and a smooth buttery flavor. Spring olive oil is great for baking. A winter harvest is grassy with hints of artichoke.
Fall olive oil is stronger with robust flavors and the characteristic burn going down the throat. Fall olive oil is perfect for dipping breads, salads and imparting flavors into vegetables and meat.
My Final Thoughts about the Cooking Techniques and Recipes with Olive Oil cookbook.
I really like a cookbook dedicated to just olive oil and some of the techniques have made me rethink my use of olive oil in cooking. More importantly the tips and knowledge in the book has made me rethink how I purchase and store my olive oil.