Thursday, January 20, 2011

Making the Most of Olive Oil in the Kitchen

Original article by Slate Stone

Olive oil is considered to be healthy. It is a monounsaturated fat, which means it helps lower bad cholesterol. But even better than that is how wonderful olive oil tastes and how it can be used so many ways in the kitchen to create marvelous meals, salads, dipping sauces, marinades, baked goods and so much more. Olive oil has been a key and favorite ingredient of bakers and bread makers for centuries. If you have ever visited one of the Mediterranean countries, you will see how every kitchen has olive oil in its pantry and large bottles. In fact, here in the United States, we have so many oils to choose from you wouldn't know what household uses which oil or oils for cooking, but in the Mediterranean countries, most home cooks use olive oil, and that's it. It keeps life simple and simplicity can be a good thing, especially when olive oil can be so good for you. Olive oil is versatile and flavorful and that's why it's a European favorite from frying fish to dressing vegetables to dipping crusty breads to creating tantalizing pasta dishes and so much more.

Let's take a look at tips to making the most of Olive Oil in your kitchen.
1. Olive oil is not just for baking in bread recipes, it can be used for most baked good recipes that call for oil. You don't have to worry about having a strong olive oil taste in baked sweets and treats if you use Light olive oil. Light olive oil is perfect for baking cakes and sweet rolls and flavored breads.
2. Use olive oil in your marinade recipes for meat, fish, and poultry. The texture and flavor it adds is pleasant and healthy.
3. You can reduce fat in baking by using olive oil instead of butter A general rule is to use about 25 % less when replacing butter with olive oil. So, for example, if a cake recipe calls for 1 cup of butter, use 3/4 cup of Light Olive oil instead. If a recipe calls for 1/3 cup of butter use 1/4 cup of Light Olive oil instead.
4. Use olive oil for roasting vegetables. You can add seasonings you like and cover in foil. The vegetables are enhanced and retain their natural juices.
5. Olive oil drizzled over a whole bulb of garlic, then roasted in foil with some ground black pepper makes for a great spread over hot bread and garlic bread. You can sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the soft garlic spread for even more kick.
6. Store olive oil upright and in a cool, dark place. Although it can be refrigerated, it is better not to. Containers should be sealed tightly. It is better not to transfer the olive oil into plastic or metal jars or decanters because it transforms the oil and breaks down some of the flavor as well as its shelf life. Unused olive oil should be kept in its original jar, and olive oil you use to make salad dressings should be kept in glass jars with tightly fitting lids. Use your olive oil within a year of purchase.
7. Toss steamed vegetables with a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder and ground black pepper or crushed red pepper for great flavored vegetables.
8. Brush olive oil over grilled meat, poultry, or seafood right before serving. They will be tender and delicious.
9. Buy olive oil in the largest bottle you can afford, consistent with your usage. The olive oil in the larger bottles ages slower because there is less oxygen per ounce of liquid.
10. Olive oil heated and mixed with sun-dried tomatoes and Parmesan cheese makes an excellent simple, tasty and healthy dressing for cooked pasta.
11. Tossing cooked pasta with just a teaspoon of olive oil right after the pasta is drained, not only enhances the flavor, but it prevents pasta from clumping.
12. Extra Virgin Olive oil makes great dipping oil for hot crusty Italian bread or other hearty artisan breads. It can be used plain or you can create your own exotic flavor by blending some of your favorite spices and herbs.
13. A little olive oil added to butter in the frying pan, helps prevent the butter from burning.
14. Using olive oil with red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar and a dash of black pepper and garlic powder makes a great salad dressing over salad greens. You can also make a tasty and nutritious marinated cold vegetable salad, such as three-bean salad, or mushroom chickpea salad, by blending vegetables and beans with some olive oil and red vinegar and salt and black pepper.
15. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over thinly sliced ripe tomatoes and mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with fresh basil and ground black pepper for a light and tasty Italian salad.
16. Olive oil is great for frying. It can take high temperatures and doesn't break down and form toxic compounds like other oils used for frying. As a result, olive oil can be re-used for frying up to four times if you filter it.
17. If you are sensitive to spicy foods, then adding extra virgin olive oil to food that is too spice will help make the flavor milder.
18. Extra virgin and virgin olive oil which is more expensive than just "olive oil" makes for better finishing oils - - the oil you use to drizzle over salad or pasta or bread.
19. Try using olive oil instead of butter on baked potatoes and mashed potatoes. It is healthy and makes for a silky texture.
20. Make your own Tabouli by using couscous and adding olive oil, chopped tomatoes, black pepper, lemon juice and scallions. Tabouli is a Middle Eastern salad dish eaten cold and often sold in the deli department of your grocery store or natural food store. But you can save money by making this simple dish at home. For a couple of versions of easy Tabouli visit these links for recipes:
http://www.hiebertweb.net/recipe_library/couscous.html
http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcrecipes.nsf/pages/Tabouli?opendocument
http://www.cyber-kitchen.com/ubbs/archive/BEANSandGRAINS/Couscous_Tabouli_with_Raisins.html
To learn more about olive oil visit these links
http://www.oliveuniversity.org/
http://whatscookingamerica.net/OliveOil.htm
http://www.italiancookingandliving.com/olive_oil/buy_oil.html



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