The Ultimate Olive Oil Guide + An Incredible Chimichurri Recipe

olive oil guide

Need some guidance when reaching for the bottle of olive oil? We’ve got you covered! Below is a comprehensive olive oil guide: the facts, the myths, the process of extraction, a brief look into the varieties of olive oil available, and of course, how to store and use extra virgin olive oil.

A great quality extra virgin olive oil is something that every modern (and not-so-modern) kitchen should have handy. It’s perfect to add easy flavor to dishes, great for dipping, to create sauces (see our Chimichurri recipe below) and also amazing for baking (try Food52′s amazing Olive Oil Cake recipe and you’ll be forever converted). It’s also great for our health, rich in antioxidants and monounsaturated fatty acids – healthy fats.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

This is the top quality, top grade of olive oils. Extra virgin olive oil has cero defects, plus the highest levels of antioxidants AND the best flavor. To qualify as Extra Virgin, it must pass a series of strict quality tests set forward by the International Olive Council, including rigorous taste tests that look for a specific flavor profile, like enough olive fruitiness.

Pure Olive Oil / Light Olive Oil

Pure olive oil is oil with flavor or aesthetic “defects”, and has been further refined to remove those flaws. It is sometimes blended with EVOO for flavor. It’s not actually light as in calories or fat, but rather in looks and taste. You can use this for high-temp cooking, but you won’t be getting that characteristic olive taste.

The Extra Virgin Olive Oil Process & The Myth of the “First Cold Press”

First cold press just means that the olive oil comes from one press, which is the standard nowadays. The term is a throwback to the early days of olive oil production, where the second press of the olives produced a lower quality oil that was used for other purposes – like oil lamps. Today, all olive oil is first pressed, but the term endures as a marketing label. In short: Extra Virgin Olive Oil is, by definition, always both first and cold pressed.

To extract the top quality olive oils, the olives are crushed at a mill, then the oil extracted by mechanical means – a centrifugal machine. Refined oils are extracted by using chemical means or heat, which can greatly affect the flavor of the oils. Extra virgin olive oil is NEVER refined.

Tasting Extra Virgin Olive Oil

To truly understand olive oil, you have to think of it like wine and consider three things: varietal, terroir and timing.

Olive Oil Varietals

 

olive oil guide: olive varietals

Photo: Steve Juvetson

There are many varietals (types) of olives, each with their different flavor profiles and characteristics, which will make for different kinds of olive oil. Some are bitterer, some are milder, and some even are sweet.There are hundreds of olive types from around the world, but only a few are used for olive oil productions. Below is handy olive oil guide to the most common ones:

Arbequina: originally from Catalonia, Spain, the flavor of this olive is delicate and very fruity. The olive oil it produces is great for pesto, baking, drizzled over meats. Arbequina olives are grown very successfully in California.

Frantoio: hailing from Tuscany, this olive makes for a strong, peppery olive oil with some bitterness.

Picual:  a type of olive from Andalusia, Spain, the olive oil from Picual olives is strong, robustly peppery with floral aromas.

Taggiasca: mild, fruity, sweet with no bitterness. Taggiasca olive oil is buttery and versatile.

Hojiblanca: Another great Spanish olive cultivar, Hojiblanco is fruity, lightly spicy and just mildly bitter. Health bonus: It has lower saturated fats than most other oils.

Arbosana: A Spanish olive, Arbosana is also grown predominantly in California. Arbosana olive oil is robust, complex, and a bit nutty

Olive Oil & Terroir

Terroir is a French word speaks of the character of the land and the region, and how that translates into anything that grows in it: the soil conditions, the air, the weather…all these factors make the terroir, and therefore how the oil will taste. An extra virgin olive oil from California will be different than one from Italy, even if it is from the same olive, much like a Pinot from Chile will be different than one from France.

TIMING THE HARVEST

How soon or how late the olives are harvested will also influence the flavor of the oil – an early harvest will produce a more herbaceous olive oil, while latter harvest will make for a mellower, more buttery olive oil.

STORING EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

We are so used to thinking about oil as a pantry item, because it needs no refrigerating, that we think: it must last forever, right? Wrong! Olives are after all fruit, and olive oil is really a kind of fruit juice, so to speak. So unlike vinegar, it won’t keep forever, and, unlike wine, it won’t get better with age. Here’s how to make the most of your green gold.

Shelf life of olive oil

Once it’s been bottled, olive oil has about a two-year shelf life. To maximize the flavor and benefits, try to use yours within 2 to 3 months of opening.

Storing olive oil

Store olive oil away from direct light and high temperature. A dark, cool cabinet is best.

Olive oil is typically bottled in dark, opaque bottles to minimize the exposure to UV rays but try to keep it away from the stove or oven or the window.

 

Loved our olive oil guide and ready to shop? We have a great selection of premium olive oils! Shop > 

 

The Ultimate Olive Oil Guide + An Incredible Chimichurri Recipe

The Ultimate Olive Oil Guide + An  Incredible Chimichurri Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup fresh oregano leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup of brine (1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup coarse salt)

Instructions

  1. 1. With a mortar and pestle crush ingredients together until it forms a coarse, chunky paste.
  2. Alternatively, place parsley, oregano and garlic in a food processor and pulse mode until
  3. ingredients are coarsely chopped. Whisk in the rest of the ingredients until incorporated.
http://www.gourmetfoodworld.com/gourmet-food-blog/the-ultimate-olive-oil-guide-an-incredible-chimichurri-recipe/

 

10 Cinco de Mayo Recipes by Bloggers We Love

Cinco de Mayo Menu

 

Cinco de Mayo is coming up rapido, and we’re ready to put on our sombreros and get our fiesta on!

Americans have warmly embraced this Mexican celebration, which celebrates the defeat of the French army in Puebla on May 5th of 1862. We’re all about fighting oppression, of course, but above all, we’re all about two things: delicious foods and copious amounts of tequila and cerveza. 

To celebrate this Cinco de Mayo, we’ve brought together some of the most incredible food ideas from  our favorite food bloggers. We have 10 amazing Cinco de Mayo recipes to share with you, so grab your amigos, a bottle of tequila, your most colorful serve-ware, and viva Mexico!

- – -

It’s all about fresh ingredients, lots of cheese, and a good amount of spice for this Cinco de Mayo menu. We chose two different types of tacos  – classic Tacos Al Pastor recipe and a healthier Fish Tacos option.  For sides, we went with fresh Cilantro Lime Rice and some mouthwatering Beer Battered Bean and Cheese Stuffed Poblano Chiles. 

You’ll need some traditional salsas, like a classic Pico de Gallo and Salsa Verde, and it wouldn’t be a true fiesta without nachos and guac, so we found you an amazing Sriracha Guacamole recipe and Pulled Pork Nachos that will leave you thanking Dios.  Melted cheese with tequila? Si, por favor! This Queso Fundido With Poblano Chorizo and Tequila recipe has it all.  Finally, a great Margarita recipe to wash it all down! Happy Cinco!

 SRIRACHA GUACAMOLE

Sriracha Guacamole by Damn Delicious.

Sriracha Guacamole by Damn Delicious.

PULLED PORK NACHOS

Pulled Pork Nachos by Simply Gloria.

Pulled Pork Nachos by Simply Gloria.

 BEER-BATTERED BEAN AND CHEESE STUFFED POBLANO PEPPERS

Beer-battered Bean and Cheese Stuffed Poblano Chiles by Girl Versus Dough

Beer-battered Bean and Cheese Stuffed Poblano Chiles by Girl Versus Dough

 TACOS AL PASTOR

Tacos Al Pastor by Spicie Foodie

Tacos Al Pastor by Spicie Foodie.

 GRILLED FISH TACOS

Fish Tacos by Aggie's Kitchen

Grilled Green Fish Tacos by Aggie’s Kitchen

 CILANTRO LIME RICE

Cilantro Lime Rice by Big Flavors From A Tiny Kitchen

Cilantro Lime Rice by Big Flavors From A Tiny Kitchen

 PICO DE GALLO

Pico de Gallo by The Wicked Noodle

Pico de Gallo by The Wicked Noodle

 SALSA VERDE

Salsa Verde by Eat.Drink.Love

Salsa Verde by Eat.Drink.Love

 QUESO FUNDIDO WITH POBLANO CHORIZO AND TEQUILA

Classic Queso Fundido with Poblano, Chorizo and Tequila by Cooking For Keeps

Classic Queso Fundido with Poblano, Chorizo and Tequila by Cooking For Keeps

 GREEN MARGARITA

Green Margarita by Gimme Some Oven

Easy Green Margarita by Gimme Some Oven

 

Love the Cinco de Mayo recipes? Shop for the ingredients here!

Top row, left to right: Mexican Chorizo, Dried Chipotle Chiles, Arbol Chiles, Sriracha Sauce, Ancho Chile.
Bottom row, left to right: Cumin Seeds, Ground Cilantro, Jalapeño Powder, Red Pepper Flakes, Ground Cumin.

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Spring Entertaining: Warm Goat Cheese & Honey Crostini Salad

Warm Goat Cheese Crostini

Warm Goat Cheese Crostini

Easy but sophisticated, this delicious goat cheese crostini is ready in 15 minutes.  Serve it over a bed of greens with sweet dried fruit, crunchy roasted pumpkin seeds, and drizzled with an accompanying vinaigrette for a light, delicious lunch.  It’s also equally great by itself as an easy appetizer for when friends drop by. Pair it with a chilled grass of Sancerre (or your favorite white wine), and enjoy all season long.

Spring Entertaining: Warm Goat Cheese & Honey Crostini Salad

Spring Entertaining: Warm Goat Cheese &   Honey Crostini Salad

Ingredients

  • For Crostini
  • 4 slices whole-grain bread
  • 4 slices fresh goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup caramelized walnuts (for garnish)
  • Honey (for garnish)
  • For Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
  • 2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tsp. whole grain mustard
  • For Salad
  • 2 cups mixed baby greens
  • 1/4 cup yellow raisins
  • 1/8 cup dried apricots
  • 1/8 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup oven-roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup carrots, shredded

Instructions

  1. 1. In a large bowl, mix in cranberries, apricots, raisins, pumpkin seeds, greens and shredded lettuce. Set aside.
  2. 2. For the dressing, mix the vinegar, olive oil, mustard and honey in a small bowl, and whisk until the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is smooth. This can be made in advance and refrigerated until use.
  3. 3. In a large baking sheet, arrange the bread slices, and top with a 1/2-inch slice of goat cheese. Bake for about 5 minutes, until the cheese starts to bubble and just starts to brown.
  4. 4. While it bakes, mix the salad greens with the dressing. Serve the goat cheese crostini right warm, drizzled with honey and garnished with a couple of caramelized walnuts, over the bed of dressed greens.
http://www.gourmetfoodworld.com/gourmet-food-blog/spring-entertaining-warm-goat-cheese-honey-crostini-salad/

A Festive Side Dish! Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

20 days till Christmas! Around here, our holiday preparations include going down the Pinterest rabbit hole while looking for pretty crafts, listening to All I Want For Christmas on a loop, and searching for fab outfits to wear throughout the party season. But, most importantly, Christmas is all about FOOD for us. Great dishes, gourmet ingredients, and impeccable presentation, perfectly exemplified in our featured recipe today, Bacon Wrapped Green Beans by Ashley of The Pike Place Kitchen.

 Bacon Wrapped Green Beans Recipe

A mouthwatering Christmas side dish! Bacon Wrapped Green Beans. Ph: Samantha at The Pike Place Kitchen.

If the picture above didn’t get your mouth watering, you’re stronger than we are. We weren’t able to resist the perfect combination of ingredients: tender and nutritious green beans, wrapped in BACON -crispy, buttery, mouthwatering bacon. We’re pretty much obsessed with bacon around here (so is Samantha, her hysterically funny blog post reads like an ode to the crispy ham). It was unanimous around our office: Bacon Wrapped Green Beans are the perfect side for a Christmas dinner.

The presentation is genius, much more modern and elegant than, say, a green bean casserole. The crispy green beans are offset by the silkiness of the bacon oils. Size-wise, it gives you a taste without overwhelming the plate or the palate, or the main dish. Plus, can we talk about how pretty it looks? The festive green beans are perfectly bundled up with the deep rose bacon. It just add such a lovely note to a dish, without trying to hard to be “Christmas-y”.

Bacon Wrapped Green Beans Recipe

Pretty in (bacon) pink: green beans bundled up in crispy bacon. Ph: Samantha at The Pike Place Kitchen.

If you want to up the ante (and you know you do!), you can use Pancetta or Tamworth CuredBacon. The latter is cured with sea salt, Rosemary and black pepper.  Samantha chose garlic salt to season them, but we think a great sea salt would give it a glamorous touch (try Maldon Sea Salt from England, included in the New York Times 2013 Holiday Gift Guide).

GREEN BEAN TIPS

Green beans are available year-round, but sometimes can be hard to find fresh. If you’re using fresh green beans, don’t buy the whole package, buy them loose so you can make sure to pick out good ones – firm, crisp, and bright green. Avoid anything that looks droopy or brownish.

Bacon Wrapped Green Beans Recipe

Festive greens: It all starts with perfectly crisp, bright green beans. Ph: Samantha at The Pike Place Kitchen.

Now let’s get cooking! Samantha was super generous to share her recipe with us. For more great recipes and laugh-out-loud ramblings, make sure to visit her blog at The Pike Place Kitchen.

Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

 Bacon Wrapped Green   Beans

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb Green Beans
  • Cracked Black Pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Salt
  • 1 tsp Minced Onion Pieces
  • 3 Slices of Bacon (cut in half)
  • Olive Oil Spray

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray olive oil onto a baking sheet.
  2. Trim the green beans and blanch for three minutes. After blanching, dry the beans on a paper towel. (To blanch: submerge the green beans in boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove from boiling water, and submerge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.)
  3. Divide the green beans into 6 even piles. Wrap each pile in a half-slice of bacon.
  4. Place each bundle, seam side down, on the baking sheet and lightly spray tops with olive oil. Season the tops with garlic salt, minced onion pieces, and cracked black pepper.
  5. Bake for approximately 12-15 minutes, and serve.
http://www.gourmetfoodworld.com/gourmet-food-blog/a-festive-side-dish-bacon-wrapped-green-beans/

Thanksgiving Dessert: Easy As Pecan Pie Recipe

Pie Perfect: Pecan Pie For Thanksgiving Dessert

Pie Perfect: Pecan Pie For Thanksgiving Dessert. Photos (left to right): Angela at Unexpected Elegance, Gourmet Food World.

When you talk about Thanksgiving dessert, the first thing that comes to mind is pie. Pumpkin pie, of course, and apple pie, sure. We’re a bit pumpkin-ed out after Halloween, and apple pie seems a bit, well, boring! But a crunchy, sweet and meaty pecan pie recipe, now that’s something that gets our culinary gears churning. This Southern classic is always delicious, but we were astounded to find out that pecans are also really nutritious! Read on!

Delicious anyway you slice it! Pecan Pie.

Delicious anyway you slice it! Pecan Pie by Angela . Photo by: Angela at Unexpected Elegance

Pecans are yummy, yes, but they’re also heart healthy, rich in Omega 6 fatty acids and a good source of protein and unsaturated fats. Studies even show that eating pecans may delay age-related muscle degeneration. So this Thanksgiving you can have your pecan pie and eat it.  Your heart will also be thankful.

Pecan Pie Recipe Tips & Trips

  • For choosing pecans with shells: look for clean shells with no blemishes or cracks
  • If you shake it and it rattles, then roll. It shouldn’t rattle!
  • Pecans have more moisture and spoil more easily, so double-bag any leftover and store in the fridge (3 months) or freezer (6 months)
  • For toasted pecans, bake in the oven at 350F for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Make ahead: bake your pecan pie fully and freeze, up to a week. Then thaw at room temperature when you’re ready to serve
  • Pretty as pecan pie: decorate the crust by marking the edge with a fork using a crosshatch pattern

Want to give pecan pie a try? To help you out, we’re sharing a delicious (and easy!) Pecan Pie recipe by Angela of Unexpected Elegance. For this Texas native, raised amongst pecan trees, Pecan Pie is as American (if not more!) than apple pie. Her recipe (below), is delicious and easy to follow, which leaves you with more time to spend with your family. Visit Angela’s blog for her full Pecan Pie post, plus more recipes, fun diy home projects and crafty lifestyle tricks. Thanks Angela!

Easy as pecan pie recipe

A generous amount of meaty chopped pecans is the secret to equally delicious slices. Photo by: Angela at Unexpected Elegance.

Thanksgiving Dessert: Easy As Pecan Pie Recipe

Thanksgiving Dessert: Easy As Pecan Pie   Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2/3 Cup of Sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 Cup Light Karo
  • Chopped Pecans
  • pie crust (pre-made works just fine) or try Martha Stewart's Basic Pie Dough Recipe

Instructions

  1. Form the crust into the pie dish
  2. Fill the bottom with chopped pecans. You can have as much or as little as you would like.
  3. Melt butter and whisk in the remaining ingredients: sugar, vanilla, Light Karo, eggs.
  4. Pour the liquid over the pecans, and the pecans will slowly rise to the surface.
  5. Use some foil or crust cover around the edges of the crust during most of the baking so the crust doesn’t get too brown.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for around 45 minutes.
  7. Notes
  8. A lot of pecan pie recipes call for the dark syrup, but make sure to get the light for this one!!
http://www.gourmetfoodworld.com/gourmet-food-blog/thanksgiving-dessert-easy-as-pecan-pie-recipe/

Halloween Pie Recipe: Spooky Spiderweb Pie

Halloween pie recipe: Easy Spiderweb Pie!

Halloween pie recipe: Easy Spiderweb Pie! Photo by: Easy Providence @ www.easyprovidence.com

Are you ready for Halloween?? Not really? We can relate. We’re usually so frazzled and hectic that by the time Halloween eve finally rolls by, we have to fashion the old “bed-sheet-as-toga” costume (and even then we can’t seem to find enough safety pins to keep the darn thing together!).

The code for this Halloween pie recipe is “spookily simple”. Really, it doesn’t even involve a recipe!

Pie + Whipped Cream + Chocolate Sauce = Halloween pie!

Cover your favorite pie (from your kitchen or from the store) with a healthy (and yummy) amount of whipped cream, and then create circles with chocolate sauce. A toothpick or spoon is all you need to turn the chocolate sauce into a fun spiderweb pattern! Add a few novelty spiders (or, try edible ones if you can find them!), and your easy-as-pie Halloween dessert is DONE. Whip this baby up, and you’ll have plenty of time to scavenge for safety pins!

Wishing you a ghoulishly good Halloween!

Halloween Pie Recipe: Spooky Spiderweb Pie

Halloween Pie Recipe: Spooky Spiderweb Pie

Ingredients

  • Your favorite pie (made or bought)
  • whipped cream
  • chocolate sauce
  • toothpick
  • novelty plastic spiders (or edible ones, if you can find them!)

Instructions

  1. 1. Get a pie. If you don’t want to make one, buy one.
  2. 2. Spread a thin layer of whipped cream over the top of your pie.
  3. 3. Take the chocolate sauce and make a circle pattern in your pie (like the one shown in the picture)
  4. 4. Take a toothpick or the back end of a spoon, and starting at the circle in the middle drag through all three lines until you reach the edge.
  5. 5. Repeat this until you’ve made dragged lines through your entire pie, a little bit apart.
  6. 6. Garnish with scary plastic spiders!
http://www.gourmetfoodworld.com/gourmet-food-blog/halloween-pie-recipe-spooky-spiderweb-pie/

Tartalicious Recipes! Sweet And Savory Mini Tart Shell Options

Entertaining a crowd is a breeze when you have a culinary trick or two up your sleeve. Or, in this case, a box full of them! One of our favorite items to have in the freezer are pre-made French pastry and tart shells. Not that we don’t appreciate a great handmade pastry dough, but it can be a bit messy and time-consuming to prepare it every single time, especially if you have guests coming and a flour explosion in the kitchen is not on the agenda.

Sweet (or Savory) Little Savers! Pre-made pastry tart shells.

Sweet (or Savory) Little Savers! Pre-made pastry tart shells. Photo: GourmetFoodWorld.com

Pretty in Pastry: The Beauty Of Pre-Made Tart Shells

We love the versatility of tarts shells, how they can be a great savory appetizer, a delicious lunch, or a sweet treat for dessert or with tea. Because we stock a really great variety of ready-made gourmet pastry and tart shells (we’ve done half the work for you, you’re welcome!), we thought we’d give you some delicious filling options to try out this weekend!

SHOP Pre-Made Pastry and Tart Shells >

So Cute You Could Eat Them Up…(and should!): Mini Raspberry & Chocolate Tarts

Our sweet selection comes from Naomi Robinson Bakersroyale.com. Guys, she made a NO BAKE dessert. We love her, just because of that! She started with pre-made tart shells, added chocolate, followed with a yummy layer of pureed raspberries, and topped it all off with decadent raspberry mousse. If you’re not drooling by now, take a look at the picture below. A touch of cassis liqueur make these utter perfection!

Mini Raspberry Tarts Recipe >

Sweet Somethings: Raspberry and Chocolate Mini Tarts in Pre-Made Shells.

Sweet Somethings: Raspberry and Chocolate Mini Tarts in Pre-Made Shells. Photo by: Naomi at BakersRoyale.com.

Deliciously Good (and good for you!): Pesto and Avocado Mini Tarts

For our savory tart, we sifted through a lot of heavy, cream-filled options, but we fell in love with this super healthy recipe from TalesofaKitchen.com. As great believers of a healthy approach to gourmet eating, we loved the mixture of gourmet ingredients in a good-for-you recipe. Chris made her own tart crust (which is vegan, by the way!), but we loved the idea that you could also just whip up the pesto and avocado filling and put it in pre-made savory tart shells.  You can serve these at any cocktail party, but feel good about yourself (and your diet) the next morning!

Pesto and Avocado Fresh Mini Tarts Recipe >

Pesto and Avocado Mini Tarts: Pretty (good for you)!

Pesto and Avocado Mini Tarts: Pretty (good for you)! Photo by: Chris, TalesofaKitchen.com.

Make sure you check out our contributors’ blogs for more of their great recipes and cooking tips! A big thank you to Chris from www.TalesofaKitchen.com and Naomi of www.BakersRoyale.com for sharing their amazing recipes with us!

Ode To Truffle Oil: 5 Reasons We Love It, Plus A Fabulous Recipe

Every May, the rain stops, the flowers bloom, and, around the country, moms gets ready to relax.  This is the one day of the year where the mop and dust pans are left in the closet and the alarm is shut off … Yes, this Sunday the 13th of May is Mother’s Day!

Time to tie on that apron, and get the eggs cracking, because this year we’re making Mom gourmet French Toast for a delicious breakfast in bed. Breakfast is probably the most rushed, hectic moment of the day for mom; she runs around making sure everyone is up and dressed, the coffee brewed, the toast/cereal/pancakes served, lunches packed… exhausting! This Mother’s Day, SHE rests, and YOU get to work. We searched high and low to bring you the best, most delicious French Toast recipes to make Mom for Mother’s Day 2013!

We selected two mouth-watering options to choose from: first, a perfect traditional French Toast with a twist for homey moms, and second, a more intricate recipe for more adventurous foodie moms. Either way, she’s guarantee to love it (especially since she didn’t have to make it)!

For… the traditional gourmet mom

Overnight French Toast Casserole Topped with Bananas Fosters by Gina’s Skinny Recipes

This recipe won us over from the word “bananas”, but there were several other reasons why it was a winner. One very practical one? You can make this ahead, and the casserole format suits a larger family. Gina soaks the bread for eight hours in a mixture of eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, sugar and rum (yum!), then bakes it to puffed golden, spongy perfection and tops it with bananas that she expertly caramelizes in light butter, rum, brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. If you’re afraid of packing on the pounds, don’t! The clincher is that that Gina’s recipes are all Weight-Watchers © friendly, so she lists all the calories and points information, so mom (and you) can enjoy it guilt-free.

View Full Recipe here

French Toast Casserole Topped with Bananas Fosters

Bananas Fosters Topped Overnight French Toast by Skinnytaste.com

Want to try this recipe? We can help with your shopping!

Vanilla Beans and Extract > Cinnamon (ground) > White Sugar > Gourmet Salt > Brown sugar >

For…the adventurous foodie mom

Pound Cake French Toast Stacks with Sweet Goat Cheese Mousse and Warm Balsamic Roasted Strawberries by Lorie’s Mississippi Kitchen

We just about died when we found this recipe by the Mississippi Kitchen blog run by the extraordinary Lorie Roach. This is no regular French toast, no sir! It pretty much combines just about everything we love so much about a dish: an unfussy dish made with top of the line gourmet ingredients and tons of culinary creativity.  The “toast” is actually pound cake dipped in the traditional French toast “batter” of eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, and milk, then heated until golden brown. She then proceeds to continue blowing our minds by whipping a delicious goat cheese mousse, where the tangy flavors and creamy texture pair perfectly with the sweet balsamic strawberries topping she roasts in a sauce of aged aceto balsamico and sugar. Extra serving idea by Lorie: put the ingredients in a mason jar for an alternate cute presentation.

View Full Recipe here

Pound Cake French Toast Stacks with Sweet Goat Cheese Mousse and Warm Balsamic Roasted Strawberries

Pound Cake French Toast Stacks with Sweet Goat Cheese Mousse and Warm Balsamic Roasted Strawberries by Lorie’s Mississippi Kitchen

Want to try this recipe? We can help with your shopping!

Vanilla Beans and Extract > Cinnamon (ground) >Powdered Sugar > Fresh Goat Cheese Log > Aged Balsamic Vinegar >

All that’s left is a wonderful flower bouquet, a heart-felt card, and lots of hugs and kisses for Mom!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Ode To Truffle Oil: 5 Reasons We Love It, Plus A Fabulous Recipe

Some culinary ingredients have the ability to pack amazingly complex, sophisticated flavor with just the lightest of touches. This is an homage to our beloved, dish-enhacing, culinary savior: truffle oil!

A study in delicious contrast:  black truffle oil and white truffle oil.

A study in delicious contrast: black truffle oil and white truffle oil.

If you’re reading this blog, you most likely need no introduction to the world of truffles.  However, a bit of a refresher: truffles are mushrooms that grow under the soil by oak (and other) trees, harvested by super-smelling

dogs

every winter in Italy and France.

Waiting for the real deal? Fresh truffle season will start soon! Sign up for the Fresh Truffle Notice while you wait

Waiting for the real deal? Fresh truffle season will start soon! Sign up for the Fresh Truffle Notice while you wait

The two main species of truffles are white and black, each with their own distinct and delicious flavor profile. Because truffles cannot be “planted”, but grow as and where they wish, they’re highly coveted, hard to find, and can be extremely pricey.  Which leads us to…

Top 5 Reasons Why We Love Truffle Oil!

1. It’s Wallet Friendly

Truffle oils are usually a combination of high-quality extra virgin olive with either truffle extract or aroma. This translates into a lot of truffle flavor and aroma, at a highly discounted price.

2. A Little Goes A Long Way

Think of truffle oil as the spritz of perfume you put on as you leave the house. Just a few drops of truffle oil concentrate, or the lightest drizzle of truffle oil over a salad, omelet or pasta dish is enough to transform a dish from drab to fab. Which leads us to reason number 3…

3. It’s Simple In Its Complexity

Truffle oil is not a complicated ingredient; it’s actually one of the easiest things you can use in the kitchen! You add it to the finishing of a dish, so there’s no cooking or even preparation involved. Just uncap the bottle, drizzle and done! But don’t be misled, the flavor and smell it imparts to the dish is heady, complex, earthy and superbly aromatic, anything BUT simple!

4. It’s Oh-So Versatile

Some ingredients and seasonings gather dust in our shelves, used only for rare-occasion recipes. Truffle oil, on the other hand, you can use on almost anything! Really, if you love the taste of truffles, oil is a great conduit to add flavor to your dishes. One easy rule to remember is that it goes great with white foods: pasta, rice, eggs and potatoes. Of course, truffle oil is also fabulous with salads, meats,

games

and stews, so never mind the rules! Do try: drizzling it on mashed potatoes, omelets and a plate of pasta with grated Parmigiano Romano cheese.

5. It’s Culinary Inspiration!

Truffle oil might be simple to use, but it inspires amazing recipes. Our search for the ultimate truffle oil recipe led us to the Land Down Under, Sydney, Australia. Our featured recipe this week is by Aussie blogger, Phoodie, of Phoodie.com.au. Her Spaghetti with Truffle Oil , Parmesan and Egg recipe was an instant winner with us. All the ingredients are perfect to translate and transport the flavor of the truffle oil, from the al-dente pasta, to the creamy cheese, and the perfectly-cooked sunny-side-up egg.  The presentation is sophisticated, the flavor divine, and the dish, in one  word, brilliant! We give you Phoodie’s full recipe below, and make sure to visit her website www.phoodie.com.au for other great recipes and culinary ideas.

Ode To Truffle Oil: 5 Reasons We Love It, Plus A Fabulous Recipe

Ode To Truffle Oil: 5 Reasons We Love It, Plus A Fabulous Recipe

Ingredients

  • 12 oz spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon truffle oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 and a half cups grated parmesan (I used shaved as that’s what I had but grated is ideal)
  • Topping per dish: 1 teaspoon butter, 1 egg, 1/4 cup grated/shaved parmesan

Instructions

  1. Cook your spaghetti, add butter, oil ,salt, pepper and parmesan and mix. Place the lid on top to keep it hot.
  2. Heat a teaspoon of butter on medium and when heated, add egg, ensuring to keep yolk in tact.
  3. AS SOON as edges of egg start to go crispy (they should not turn brown, it’s the second BEFORE they turn brown) take it off, place it straight on top of a bowl of pasta.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and place the additional parmesan on top.
  5. Serve immediately, ensuring to toss the egg through the pasta so that the pasta’s residual heat cooks the yolk somewhat.
http://www.gourmetfoodworld.com/gourmet-food-blog/olive-oil-guide/

How To Choose Beef: A Primer On Cuts of Meat, Beef Marbling & More

We started our summer blog series with a “How To Grill The Perfect Steak” guide, full of great tips and tricks on how to get that perfect crust, succulent texture and juiciness, every time.  Now, get your knives sharpened, because we’re continuing our series with an essential meat primer. Today: “How To Choose Beef”. Discover all there is to know about different cuts of beef, marbling, texture and more!

How To Choose Beef: Grilling Steak Cuts

Succulent steak cuts! Clockwise from the top, NY Strip, Rib Eye and Filet Mignon. Photo: GourmetFoodWorld.com

There is an incredible selection of meat cuts to choose from nowadays, and new ones seem to be popping up every day. Choosing a steak cut can be intimidating, when the selection includes same-sounding items like sirloin, toploin or tenderloin. How do you choose beef and steak cuts?

We once again turned to our favorite all-around cooking expert, Gary Jones, otherwise known as “The Reluctant Gourmet”.  If anyone could steer us in the right direction of the meat section, it was him.

BOVINE REAL ESTATE

How To Choose Beef: Beef Chart

Cheat sheet: It’s easy to choose beef when you know your cuts of meat!

The Reluctant Gourmet’s secret for choosing the right cut of meat?  Location, location, location. Specifically, the location ON the cow. We’re talking premium cow real estate here!

In very broad strokes, the meat that is cut from the chuck, brisket, plate, round and shank will be much tougher than the meat cut from the rib, loin and flank sections,” says Gary, “this is because those cuts are comprised of muscles that work hard.”

Essentially, muscle is tough, and fat is tender. Fat is what causes that beautiful marbling, the white webbing on the meat. The more tender sections of the animal are, generally, in the middle, where there is less muscle and more fat. Once you get closer to the legs and head, that’s where you get the muscle. So that leaves you essentially with two categories of cuts, ones that require a lengthy cooking to “soften” them, and those that you can “flash-cook” by grilling. If you choose beef that is tender (usually more expensive), you’ll want to grill it.

So the first question you should ask yourself when you go out and choose beef is, “how do I want to cook it?”

CUTS OF MEAT FOR GRILLING

How To Choose Beef: New York StripLeft: New York Strip Ph: GourmetFoodWorld.com How To Choose Beef: Rib Eye Steak Right: Rib Eye Steak Ph: GourmetFoodWorld.com

If you’re going to be grilling, you’ll want a steak cut that has a good amount of fat and marbling, and that comes from the middle/center section of the cow, the Loin, Rib, Flank and the Plate. The steaks cut from this section are tender and have some or a lot of marbling. Steak cuts from the center area include therib eye, porterhouse, strip steak, tenderloin, sirloin, t-bone, top loin, tri-tip, filet mignon, flank, skirt, and hanger steak.  Any of these are tender (some more than others, of course), flavorful, and don’t require lengthy cooking.

Top Steak Cuts For Grilling:

  • Ribeye
  • NY Strip
  • Porterhouse
  • Strip steak
  • Tenderloin
  • Sirloin
  • T-bone
  • Top loin
  • Tri-tip
  • Filet mignon
  • Flank
  • Flatiron
  • Hanger (butcher’s) steak
  • Skirt

CUTS OF MEAT FOR ROASTING, BRAISING & OTHER SLOW COOKING

If you’re choosing beef for slow-cooked dishes like stews, roasts, chillis, or braising, you can use cuts that are very flavorful but tend to be too tough for grilling. These cuts benefit from the extended cooking time, which breaks down the tissue, tenderizes the meat and renders it soft and eminently chewable. For this style of cooking, you’ll want to choose beef cuts from the ends of the animal, like the Chuck, brisket, shank, rump, and blade.  They also are usually more inexpensive than center cuts. Look for anything that says rump, round or roast on the name. Of course, you can always use premium meat cuts as well, but it’ll end up costing you more. You can get similar results with the less expensive cuts.

MEAT BUYING TIPS

Things to looks for when choosing beef, according to Gary, are fat and marbling, “look for a steak that has marbling. It is the thin threads of fat running through the meat that makes it Prime and gives it that incredible flavor”. He also advises to, “ look for steaks with fine texture and firm to the touch; you want the color to be a light cherry red color, not deep red.

Our grilling expert: The Reluctant Gourmet is Gary Jones, a self-taught chef and stay-at-home dad from Philadelphia, attempting to overcome his own “reluctant” tendencies in the kitchen. You can find more great cooking info on his website, www.reluctantgourmet.com.

 

Products from this post:
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