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May 03, 2005

Tips on Olive Oil:

Extra-virgin olive oil is a real treat, but you have to know that only the first pressing is really worth the money. One of the best for the money is Colavita. Of course there are better if you want to “pop” for the $$.

Like all other oils, don’t refrigerate it. Won’t go bad for months . . . or years!

But: if you are going to cook it at skillet temperatures you destroy the flavor altogether, so don’t waste your money. Olive oil is desirable for a lot of reasons (right kind of fat, higher smoking temperature, etc.), but skillet cooking with the expensive stuff is a total waste. If you want to enhance something, add a little E.V.O.O. after the cooking is done. For instance, if cooking a pasta dish, use just enough of the cheap stuff to keep it from sticking, and when you are thru, add the good stuff. But don’t cook it any more. Using it at roasting temperatures (350 degrees or less) is another story, but it doesn’t brown as well as a thin coat of butter.

If you want to prepare some really great E.V.O.O. as an accompaniment for bread served with the meal, purchase a bottle of good stuff (or, if you’re like me, use Colavita—it’s up to the job), uncap it, pull the pour spout, and add “a bunch” of seasonings: 2-3 cloves of garlic, quartered; ¼ tsp of several spices like tarragon, marjoram or the like, and a sprig of fresh (or 1/2 tsp dry) rosemary. Sliced, sun-dried tomatoes are good, too. Experiment . . . it’s fun, and a hell of a lot cheaper than buying prepared stuff at a gourmet store!

I have a special, clear bottle the size of a wine bottle. I add the stuff and pour in the E.V.O.O. That way you can enjoy it visually as well as its taste. When you do this, let it stand (at room temperature) for at least a couple of weeks, and tip it around to mix every day or so. You can “keep it going” by adding a little fresh oil each time you use it, and shake it up a little.

If you use a lot for one meal--or after some months--start another bottle, use up the first, and discard the “left-over” seasonings in the first bottle.

Not incidentally, as a side dish, pasta dressed with nothing but this oil is a treat. Great on microwaved veges, too.

Posted by The Curmudgeon at May 3, 2005 02:58 PM