Tag Archives: olive oil

Carrot Tahini Muffins

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I have a carrot fan in my house. Ever since his teeth came in, my son has been obsessed with carrots. We visited Rome, Italy when he was just over a year old and tried to introduce him to McDonald’s french fries. Much to my husband’s display the fry was discarded in favor of a carrot. A year later on an epic road trip he ate so many carrots that crunching became the soundtrack for our trip and I began to see an orange tinge on his skin. (Maybe it was my imagination but given the amount of carrots he consumed I’m not so sure). At school he is known as the kid who loves carrots and will opt for the crunchy orange vegetable over a sweet treat any day. And carrots have become a staple on my weekly trip to the market; not having them in the house can cause chaos to ensue. But really, I’m not complaining because what mom doesn’t want her children to like healthy foods.

So in my quest to keep things fresh on the carrot front I’m always on the lookout for new recipes that include this favored vegetable. So when I came across this SmittenKitchen recipe for carrot muffins, I knew I had to give them a shot. I loved the fact that they aren’t filled with a lot of sugar and butter, instead relying on olive oil, buttermilk and a tahini for their moistness and flavor. Yes, tahini; the sesame paste most often associated with hummus and other Middle Eastern treats. Plus the afore mentioned carrots.

And the results? Absolutely delicious. They were a hit in my house and will be making regular appearances on my breakfast menus.

CARROT TAHINI MUFFINS
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup tahini
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cup packed coarsely grated carrots

Sesame seeds, for garnish

  • Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Whisk the olive oil, tahini and brown sugar together in the bottom of a large bowl.
  • Whisk in the eggs, then the buttermilk and vanilla.
  • Whisk in baking powder, baking soda and salt, then switch to a spoon or flexible spatula and stir in flour, then carrots, mixing just until combined.
  • Coat a standard sized 12-cup muffin tin  with a nonstick spray.
  • Fill each about 3/4 of the way with batter then sprinkle the tops with sesame seeds.
  • Bake muffins for 14 to 16 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of each comes out batter-free.
  • Let them cool in pan for 5 minutes on a rack before transferring them to the cooling rack to cool completely.

Yields: 12 muffins

Crispy Smashed Roasted Potatoes

I’ve been trying to make more interesting side dishes to accompany my entrees.  While I will spend hours perfecting the perfect main course, by the time I get to the side dishes, I seem to run out of momentum.  This recipe for a ridiculously easy potato dish is courtesy of Fine Cooking Magazine.  With only three ingredients and a little prior planning this dish comes together quickly.  (Plus smashing the potatoes is a lot of fun!). I served the potatoes with sour cream and chives to go along with grilled chicken.  I’m now thinking that I could easily dress the potatoes up for a more formal dinner or even serve them with a dipping sauce as a part of a buffet table.  Regardless of how I make them in the future, this dish is a keeper.

CRISPY SMASHED ROASTED POTATOES
 
 
12 to 15 baby red potatoes
2 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
Boil the potatoes:
  • Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with at least one inch of water.  Add 2 teaspoons of salt to the water.  Bring the water to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, and cook the potatoes until they are completely tender and can easily be pierced with a skewer.  Make sure they are cooked through but don’t over cook.  The total cooking time will be 30-35 minutes.
  • While the potatoes are cooking, set up a double layer of clean dish towels on the counter top.  As the potatoes finish cooking, remove them individually from the water, and let them drain and sit for just a minute or two on the dishtowels.
Flatten and cool the potatoes:
 
  • Fold another dishtowel into quarters, and using it as a cover, gently press down on one potato with the palm of your hand to flatten it a thickness of about 1/2 inch.  Repeat with all of the potatoes. Don’t worry if some break apart a bit; you can still use them.
  • Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; place a piece of parchment on top of the foil.  Transfer the flattened potatoes to the baking sheet and let them cool completely to room temperature.
Roast the potatoes:
 
  • Heat the oven to 450 degrees.  Sprinkle the potatoes with about 3/4 teaspoon of salt and pour the olive oil over them.  Lift the potatoes gently to make sure some of the oil goes underneath them and they are well coated on both sides.  Roast the potatoes until they are crispy and deep brown around the edges, about 30 to 40 minutes, turning over once gently with a spatula half way through cooking.
  • Serve hot.

Rosemary Olive Oil Cake w/ Chocolate Ganache

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This is another tasty cake courtesy of From Away, my latest, go-to food blog.  The combination of olive oil, rosemary, and chocolate is intriguing and surprisingly good.  The cake comes together quickly making it a perfect ending to a weeknight dinner where dessert is a necessity.  The ingredients are also staples in my kitchen and combined with our rosemary bushes in the garden, I will never have an excuse for not making the cake.   I cautiously served the cake at our dinner last night—I am always hesitant to try out a new recipe on guests— but it was a hit.  Even the children ate it; it probably helped that they ate it so quickly that they didn’t have time to see the little green flecks in the cake!

ROSEMARY OLIVE OIL CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE GANACHE

4 eggs

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, very finely chopped

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

  •  Prepare an 8-inch cake pan with cooking spray.  Pre heat an oven to 325 degrees.
  •   In the bowl of a stand mixer thoroughly beat the eggs, add the sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy.  Slowly pour in the olive oil.
  •   Fold in the rosemary with a spatula.  
  •   In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the egg  mixture and stir until just combined.
  •   Pour into the prepared pan and bake, 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack.
  •  In a double boiler, slowly melt the chocolate over medium heat.
  •  In a small saucepan, warm the cream over medium low heat.  Stir the cream into the melted chocolate until the mixture is thick and shiny.
  •  When the cake is completely cooled, pour the ganache over the cake and smooth with a spatula. 

Crispy Smashed Roasted Potatoes

I’ve been trying to make more interesting side dishes to accompany my entrees.  While I will spend hours perfecting the perfect main course, by the time I get to the side dishes, I seem to run out of momentum.  This recipe for a ridiculously easy potato dish is courtesy of Fine Cooking Magazine.  With only three ingredients and a little prior planning this dish comes together quickly.  (Plus smashing the potatoes is a lot of fun!). I served the potatoes with sour cream and chives to go along with grilled chicken.  I’m now thinking that I could easily dress the potatoes up for a more formal dinner or even serve them with a dipping sauce as a part of a buffet table.  Regardless of how I make them in the future, this dish is a keeper.

CRISPY SMASHED ROASTED POTATOES
 
 
12 to 15 baby red potatoes
2 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
Boil the potatoes:
 
  •  Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with at least one inch of water.  Add 2 teaspoons of salt to the water.
  • Bring the water to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, and cook the potatoes until they are completely tender and can easily be pierced with a skewer.  Make sure they are cooked through but don’t over cook.  The total cooking time will be 30-35 minutes.
  •  While the potatoes are cooking, set up a double layer of clean dish towels on the counter top.
  •  As the potatoes finish cooking, remove them individually from the water, and let them drain and sit for just a minute or two on the dishtowels.
Flatten and cool the potatoes:
 
  •   Fold another dishtowel into quarters, and using it as a cover, gently press down on one potato with the palm of your hand to flatten it a thickness of about 1/2 inch.  Repeat with all of the potatoes. Don’t worry if some break apart a bit; you can still use them.
  •  Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; place a piece of parchment on top of the foil.  Transfer the flattened potatoes to the baking sheet and let them cool completely to room temperature.
Roast the potatoes:
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Sprinkle the potatoes with about 3/4 teaspoon of salt and pour the olive oil over them.  Lift the potatoes gently to make sure some of the oil goes underneath them and they are well coated on both sides.
  • Roast the potatoes until they are crispy and deep brown around the edges, about 30 to 40 minutes, turning over once gently with a spatula half way through cooking.

Serves 4

Pesto

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Pesto is my favorite way to use fresh basil.  Because it can be made in a matter of minutes there is no reason to buy it pre-made.  Simply puree all of the ingredients together in a food processor and you have a sauce that can dress up pasta or be served as a spread on a sandwich or as a marinade for chicken, pork, or fish.  The quantities are only recommendations and you can adjust them to match your preferences.  You can add more or less garlic depending on what you like and walnuts can be substituted for the  more pricy pine nuts if you prefer.  If the sauce it too thick for your liking add additional olive oil to the mixture.

This pesto can be used immediately or stored in a sterile container in the refrigerator for up to one month.  Whenever fresh basil is available I like to have a batch of pesto sitting in the refrigerator ready to use.  It can turn a boring box of pasta into a colorful and flavorful dinner in no time.

PESTO

4 cups fresh basil leaves

8 cloves garlic

2/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Salt & pepper to taste

  • Place the pine nuts in a small saute pan.  Stirring constantly, heat over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes until toasted.  Set aside to cool.
  • Place the basil leaves in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until the leaves are finely minced.
  • Add the garlic cloves and pine nuts and continue to pulse until all of the ingredients are uniform in size and the mixture resembles a thick paste.
  • With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil and pulse to combine.
  • Transfer the basil mixture into a medium-sized bowl. Add the parmesan cheese and stir to combine.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Yield:  2 cups

 

Salted Olive Oil Brownies

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There is nothing like a rich chocolate brownie to solve all of your problems. And since brownies are so easy to make, they have become my go- to recipe for last minute desserts, snacks or bake sales. I have my favorite recipe but sometimes I want a brownie that is a bit different. So when that is the case, these brownies adapted from Savory Simple do the trick. They are dense and chewy, filled with chocolate and satisfy sweet, salty and chocolate cravings.

Wait, olive oil in baking? Why not? In fact, after living in an a Mediterranean country where olive oil is a culinary stamp and is more common than butter, I have become a convert to using it not only in my savory cooking but my sweet cooking as well. But the most important thing to remember is to use a good quality olive oil. One that is fruity and mild tasting will ensure that your sweet treats are moist, complex and flavorful. To increase the complexity of my brownies I like to use a combination of chocolates as well. Finally, top the brownies with a pinch of salt and you have a sweet, slightly salty and absolutely delicious treat. Enjoy!

SALTED OLIVE OIL BROWNIES

¼ cup fruity olive oil

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

3 ounces milk chocolate

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 eggs

¼ cup all purpose flour

1 tablespoon espresso powder

Fleur de Sel

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Line a 8×8 inch brownie pan with parchment paper, then coat the parchment paper with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • In the top of a double boiler, heat the olive oil and the chocolates together, stirring until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth and well blended.
  • Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla.
  • Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating until completely incorporated.
  • Stir in the flour and espresso powder then beat for one minute until the mixture is smooth, shiny and all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with the fleur de sel.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool completely before cutting.

Yields 16 small brownies

Orange Olive Oil Cake

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Olive oil has always been my oil of choice when it comes to cooking savory foods. I really fell in love with the oil during my time in Albania. In this tiny Mediterranean country where olive groves dotted most landscapes, good quality olive oil was plentiful. (In fact, my favorite Albanian experience of all time was wen we joined friends and pressed our own olive oil). Olive oil was so plentiful in fact, that most people never used butter and instead relied on oil for all aspects of their cooking–including baking. I quickly adopted the habits of my temporary home and gradually increased my use of olive oil while decreasing the amount of butter my family consumed. And soon, I too found myself using olive oil as part of my sweet dishes as well.

This cake, modified from a Food 52 recipe, is truly a Mediterranean experience that highlights two of the best ingredients from this part of the world; the afore mentioned olive oil and sweet and vibrant blood oranges. The olive oil ensures that the cake is rich and moist. Because you use a generous 1 1/3 cups and its flavor is prominent, be sure you use a good flavored oil. If the oil you start with doesn’t taste good, chances are your cake won’t either. Blood oranges are currently plentiful in my local markets so I’ve used their juice and zest here. Feel free to substitute a regular orange if you prefer but be sure to use fresh juice; bottled from concentrate juices won’t yield the same results.

ORANGE OLIVE OIL CAKE

cups all-purpose flour1 3/4 cups sugar1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt1/2 teaspoon baking soda1/2 teaspoon baking powder1 1/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil1 1/4 cups whole milk

large eggs

1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest

1/4 cup fresh blood orange juice

1/4 cup Grand Marnier

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350° F.
  • Lightly grease a 9-inch cake pan with non-stick cooking spray and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
  • In a medium sized bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, milk, eggs, orange zest, orange juice and Grand Marnier.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, whisking until just combined.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, until the top is golden and a cake tester comes out clean.
  • Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes.
  • Run a knife around the edge of the pan, invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely, 2 hours.

Serves 10-12

 

Balsamic Brushed Grilled Vegetables

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If you are anything like my family, you probably grill on a regular basis during the summer months. (We actually grill year around). After all, who wants to heat up the kitchen when the weather is already so hot? And with gardens and markets overflowing with vegetables right about now, grilled vegetables are the perfect accompaniment to any of the proteins you might be grilling. I love the slightly charred flavor that comes with grilled vegetables.

Plain grilled vegetables are nice but when brushed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar they are extra special. You can use any vegetables but the combination of peppers, eggplant, onions and mushrooms are my favorite. If you have a grill basket you can place the vegetables in them before cooking but I find it just as easy to place them directly on the grill. So pick your protein and pick your vegetables and fire up your grill tonight.

BALSAMIC BRUSHED GRILLED VEGETABLES

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch wedges

1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1 inch wedges

1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into 1 inch wedges

1 purple eggplant, sliced into 1/4 inch rings

1 large red onion, cut into 1/4 inch rings

1 large Portobello mushroom cap, sliced

  • Oil and pre-heat a grill to medium-high heat.
  • Combine the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Place the vegetables on a large platter and brush on both sides with the oil and vinegar mixture.
  • Place the vegetables on the grill and cook for 5-10 minutes, turning the vegetables over and brushing  with the oil and vinegar every 2-3 minutes. Cooking times will vary depending upon your personal preferences.

The vegetables can be served hot, at room temperature or cold.

Serves 4

Pesto

DSC_0174

Pesto is my favorite way to use fresh basil.  Because it can be made in a matter of minutes there is no reason to buy it pre-made.  Simply puree all of the ingredients together in a food processor and you have a sauce that can dress up pasta or be served as a spread on a sandwich or as a marinade for chicken, pork, or fish.  The quantities are only recommendations and you can adjust them to match your preferences.  You can add more or less garlic depending on what you like and walnuts can be substituted for the  more pricy pine nuts if you prefer.  If the sauce it too thick for your liking add additional olive oil to the mixture.

This pesto can be used immediately or stored in a sterile container in the refrigerator for up to one month.  Whenever fresh basil is available I like to have a batch of pesto sitting in the refrigerator ready to use.  It can turn a boring box of pasta into a colorful and flavorful dinner in no time.

PESTO

4 cups fresh basil leaves

8 cloves garlic

2/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Salt & pepper to taste

  • Place the pine nuts in a small saute pan.  Stirring constantly, heat over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes until toasted.  Set aside to cool.
  • Place the basil leaves in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until the leaves are finely minced.
  • Add the garlic cloves and pine nuts and continue to pulse until all of the ingredients are uniform in size and the mixture resembles a thick paste.
  • With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil and pulse to combine.
  • Transfer the basil mixture into a medium-sized bowl. Add the parmesan cheese and stir to combine.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Yield:  2 cups

Panzanella

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I ate my first panzanella salad while traveling through Tuscany with my mom several years ago.  We had rented a car in Pisa and were meandering our way through the rolling Italian hills covered with grape vines and olive groves when we realized that, even by European standards, it was long past lunch hour.  Restaurants were few and far between on this lonely stretch of road but we made a vow that we would stop at the every next place we came across and eat lunch.  Soon we came to the crest of a hill and saw a small stone restaurant literally perched on the edge of the road.  There was barely enough space to park our Fiat and with two wrought iron tables outside we wondered what we were getting into but we decided to try it anyway and we were so glad we did.  That simple lunch of panzanella salad and glasses of Chianti was the best meal we ate during our entire trip and I still think about it today.

Because panzanella has so few ingredients, it is important that they be of the freshest and best quality you can find.  Tomatoes and basil are in their prime here in the Mediterranean world during the summer so now is the perfect time to make this salad.  I’ve served it alongside grilled meats as a side dish but my favorite way to eat panzanella is the way I first experienced it:  as is with a glass of Chianti.

PANZANELLA

5 ripe tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 English cucumbers, peeled, sliced, and sliced thinly

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

3/4 cup olive oil, or more as needed

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Salt & pepper to taste

1 loaf Italian bread, or other crusty loaf; day old bread is preferable

  • Place the tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, and basil in a medium-sized bowl.  Add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper and toss to combine.
  • Cut the bread into bite-sized cubes.  Place half of the bread in a large shallow serving bowl.
  • Add half of the tomato mixture to the top of the bread then top with the remainder of the bread.
  • Layer the rest of the tomato mixture and all of the juices on top of the bread.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap then let sit in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
  • Toss the salad to combine all of the ingredients.  If the bread is still dry drizzle with additional olive oil.  Adjust the seasonings.

Serves:  8 as side salad or 4 as an entree

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