Thursday, March 31, 2011

Richard Blais is Top Chef!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

One last ‘Top Chef’ cook-off before the finale

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Chicken Cacciatore, One Pot Dish!

Chicken Cacciatore:

Olive oil, as needed
1 (4 to 5-pound) chicken, cut into 8 to 10 pieces
Kosher salt
2 large onions, sliced
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
4 garlic cloves, smashed and finely chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 yellow pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 (28-ounce) cans Italian plum tomatoes, passed through the food mill or pureed
1 bundle thyme
3 bay leaves

Coat a large, wide pot with olive oil and put over high heat. Season the chicken with salt. To taste, and brown in the hot oil, working in batches, if needed. Once all the chicken is brown, remove it to a plate and discard most of the excess fat.

If needed to coat the bottom of the pan, add a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions and crushed red pepper, season with salt, to taste, and sweat over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sweat for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the peppers and cook until they are soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, season with salt, to taste, and cook until they are soft. Add the white wine and reduce by half.

Return the chicken to the pan and add the tomatoes; taste for seasoning. Add the thyme bundle and the bay leaves. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Check the level of the sauce periodically during the cooking process and replenish it with water as needed; the level of liquid should be about even with the chicken.

Remove the chicken from the pot and arrange it on a pretty serving platter. Taste the sauce for seasoning and adjust if needed. Skim the surface of the sauce if excessively greasy. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.
Saturday, March 26, 2011

Olive Tree Trivia

Tree sizes are about 10 to 60 feet in height depending on variety and pruning.

A single olive tree yield is reputed to have yielded as much as 800 kilos of olives.
Thursday, March 24, 2011

Olive Oil May Protect from Depression

By Elena Paravantes, RD
From Olive Oil Times

It is common knowledge that olive oil and the Mediterranean diet confer a multitude of health benefits. But what about emotional health benefits? According to Spanish researchers from the University of Navarra and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, a diet rich in olive oil can protect from mental illness. The study included 12,059 volunteers who were part of the SUN Project, a prospective study among Spanish university alumni, aimed to identify the dietary determinants of stroke, coronary disease and other disorders. The researchers followed these volunteers for over 6 years and gathered data on lifestyle factors such as diet as well as medical history. At the beginning of the study none of the volunteers
suffered from depression, and by the end of the study, 657 new cases were

ULPGC11 | Olive Oil TimesThe data that was gathered, revealed that volunteers that had a high intake of trans fats, a hydrogenated fat found mainly in processed foods, had up to 48 percent increased risk of depression compared to volunteers who did not consume these fats according to Almudena Sánchez-Villegas, Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and first author of the article. In addition, the researchers discovered that a higher intake of olive oil and polyunsaturated fats found in fatty fish and vegetable oils was associated with a lower risk of depression. According to the researchers these findings suggest that cardiovascular disease and depression may share some common mechanisms related to diet.

This is not the first time that olive oil and the Mediterranean diet are associated with lower rates of depression. In 2009, Spanish researchers once again discovered that individuals who followed a Mediterranean style diet rich in olive oil, vegetables, beans and fruit were 30 percent less likely to suffer from depression.

While the researchers point out certain limitations of the study, such as analyzing the diet only once (at the beginning of the study) they point out to several strengths such as a large sample size as well as multiple adjustments for potential confounders. They add that the findings need to be confirmed by further prospective studies and by trials.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Researchers found diet was associated with improved blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

 The Mediterranean diet, long known to be heart-healthy, also reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that boost the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, according to a new review.

Researchers from Greece and Italy reviewed the results of 50 published studies with a total of more than 500,000 participants as part of a meta-analysis -- a statistical analysis of the findings of similar studies -- on the Mediterranean diet.

Among their findings: the natural foods-based diet is associated with a lower risk of hikes in blood pressure, blood sugar and triglycerides, as well as a reduced risk of a drop in good cholesterol -- all of which are risk factors in metabolic syndrome.

"It is one of the first times in the literature, maybe the first, that someone looks through a meta-analysis at the cardiovascular disease risk factors and not only the hard outcome" of heart disease and other conditions, said Dr. Demosthenes Panagiotakos, an associate professor at Harokopio University of Athens in Greece.

The study is published in the March 15 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The Mediterranean diet is a pattern marked by daily consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grain cereals, and low-fat dairy products; weekly consumption of fish, poultry, tree nuts, and legumes; high consumption of monounsaturated fatty acids, primarily from olives and olive oils; and a moderate daily consumption of wine or other alcoholic beverages, normally with meals. Red meat intake and processed foods are kept to a minimum.

Metabolic syndrome -- increasingly common in the United States -- occurs if someone has three or more of the following five conditions: blood pressure equal to or higher than 130/85, fasting blood glucose equal to or higher than 100 mg/dL, a waist measuring 35 inches or more in women and 40 inches or more in men, a HDL ("good") cholesterol under 40 in men and under 50 in women, triglycerides equal to or higher than 150 mg/dL.

In the review, Panagiotakos and his team found the Mediterranean diet "is strongly associated with decreased metabolic syndrome risk," declining to pinpoint an exact percentage because the data would not fully support it.

The research team also noted that further study was needed, as a few of the studies reviewed also included interventions such as physical activity and smoking cessation.

The findings come as no surprise, said Dr. Ronald Goldberg, professor of medicine at the Diabetes Research Institute, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, who reviewed the findings. Since many studies have confirmed the role of the Mediterranean diet on reducing heart disease, he noted, it makes sense that the diet would also reduce the risks that lead up to heart disease.

But since Americans are fond of processed and fast foods, how willing would they be to adopt the diet? "Not particularly," Goldberg acknowledged. But, he added, nutrition experts, recognizing that reluctance, have recently begun efforts to adapt the diet to different cultures -- for example, including many traditional Hispanic foods into a Mediterranean diet adapted for those of Hispanic descent.

By doing so, the diet not only provides the same nutrients as the Mediterranean diet, but the familiar food of one's ethnicity, Goldberg said.

Panagiotakos says even U.S. fast-food-lovers can eat more like Mediterranean's. "Even in fast-food, we can introduce healthy eating, like salads, fruits and vegetables, cereals and legumes, and use good sources of fat. We can replace burgers with all these products -- it is a matter of nutrition education."

More information

To learn more about metabolic syndrome visit the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

SOURCES: Ronald B. Goldberg, M.D., professor, medicine, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; Demosthenes Panagiotakos, M.D., associate professor, biostatistics-epidemiology of nutrition, Harokopio University of Athens, Greece; March 15, 2011, Journal of the American College of Cardiology
Friday, March 18, 2011

Swordfish & Fennel Skewers with Arugula-Caper Pistou


5 oz package baby arugula, or 2 1/2 cups packed arugula leaves, well dried
2 Tbsp lemon juice, divided
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, packed
2 Tbsp feathery tops from fennel bulb
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup STAR Capers
3/4 - 1 cup STAR Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 1/2 lb swordfish steaks, cut into 1 1/4 inch chunks
1/2 - 1 tsp crushed dried red peppers
1 large fennel bulb, cut in 6-8 wedges
8-10 STAR Spanish Green Olives
2 large lemons, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 baguette, sliced diagonally, 1/2 inch thick, grilled or toasted


In food processor or blender, chop arugula with 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice, mint, fennel tops, garlic, pine nuts and capers. With machine running, slowly pour in about 3/4 cup olive oil until mixture becomes a smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper. Scrape into bowl.

Place swordfish in a shallow dish. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, remaining lemon juice and crushed pepper. Toss with 1/4 cup Pistou, until evenly coated. Marinate in refrigerator 1-2 hours.

Heat oiled grill to medium-hot. Brush fennel wedges with oil. Thread fish onto skewers alternating with olives, fennel and lemon slices. Grill over direct, medium-high heat about 6-8 minutes, turning once or twice, until fish is char-marked and no longer pink in the middle.

Remove skewers from grill and gloss with a little extra olive oil. Serve with baguette toasts spread with Pistou.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lemon Bunuelos


1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup whole milk
5 Tbsps. STAR Extra Light Olive Oil plus oil for deep frying
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. grated lemon peel
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs
Powdered sugar


In saucepan, bring lemon juice, milk, 5 Tbsps. olive oil, salt and lemon peel to a boil. With wooden spoon, vigorously stir in all the flour until dough forms a ball. Beat in eggs, one at a time, incorporating each completely. Set aside. Pour olive oil into large skillet to reach depth of 2”. Heat to 375ºF. Pinch off 1” pieces of dough and carefully lower into hot oil using slotted spoon. Fry until deep golden, about 1 minute. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Dust with sugar. Serve hot.


Monday, March 14, 2011

St Partick Day's Recipes

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lemon Shrimp with Pancetta Onion Jam & Rosemary Toasts


4 oz diced pancetta
2 cups STAR Cocktail Onions, drained and coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp STAR Balsamic Vinegar
2-4 Tbsp water
1/2 cup STAR Originale Olive Oil, divided
2 tsp crushed garlic, divided
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp grated lemon zest
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tbsp finely minced rosemary
1 loaf crusty Italian bread, thinly sliced


Onion Jam
In a large skillet, over medium heat, cook pancetta until almost crisp. Drain excess fat from pan and add cocktail onions. Sauté 6-8 minutes. Reduce heat and stir in honey and vinegar. Cover and simmer 8 minutes adding a bit of water if mixture dries out too quickly. When thick and jam-like, remove from heat.

Lemon Shrimp
Preheat oven to 450°. In a shallow casserole or pie plate, whisk 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tsp garlic, lemon juice and zest. Season with salt and pepper. Add the shrimp and toss to coat evenly. Roast in oven just until opaque and tightly curled, about 10 minutes.

Rosemary Toasts
Preheat grill or grill pan on stovetop to medium-high heat. While shrimp is roasting, mix remaining olive oil and garlic with the rosemary. Brush over the sliced bread and sprinkle with salt. Grill on pre-heated grill until crispy and charred in places, turning once.

Arrange shrimp and toasts on platter and serve with onion jam to spread on rosemary toasts and atop the shrimp, as desired.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How to Make a Tortilla Espanola

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mushrooms in Garlic


1 Lb Monterey White Mushrooms (Whole or Sliced)
6 Tbs. STAR® Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 or 2 chilli peppers (optional)
1 Tbs. parsley, chopped
2 Tbs. STAR® Red Wine Vinegar
Salt to taste
4 or 6 thick slices of french bread

If using whole mushrooms, trim the ends off the stalks. Heat olive oil, add garlic and chilli peppers.

Before they start to brown, add mushrooms, season with salt and saute over a strong flame.

Turn down the heat and stir in the vinegar and the parsley. Saute until the juices from the mushrooms have evaporated.

Remove the mushrooms from the pan and serve immediately by themselves or over bread.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Robert's Pan-Seared Sea Bass-Food Network

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Chicken with Almond Sauce

Looking for a different way to prepare cook chicken?

5 lbs chicken pieces
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tbs. STAR Originale Olive Oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
pinch saffron strands
1/2 cup slivered almonds
3 Tbs. minced parsley
2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
2 Tbs. STAR Capers


Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Heat olive oil in 1 very large or 2 medium skillets over medium-high heat. Add chicken and brown on all sides, about 3-5 minutes per side. Remove chicken and set aside. Pour off all but 2 Tbs. of pan drippings. In same pan, sauté onion and half of garlic until soft. Stir in flour to blend, then slowly stir in 1 cup broth, bay leaf and saffron. Return chicken to pan, cover and simmer over medium-low heat 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in blender, combine almonds, 2 Tbs. parsley, remaining garlic and broth. Process until almonds are finely ground. With tongs or slotted spoon, transfer chicken to platter. Turn heat to high and stir almond mixture into pan liquids. Bring to boil and boil 1-2 minutes, or until slightly thick. Pour sauce over chicken and sprinkle with eggs, capers and remaining parsley.

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