Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lemon Shortbread

Shortbread has got to be one of the easiest cookies to put together. A lot of recipes call for lots of ingredients, baking sodas, salt, extracts of every kind.... All that is just filler. Good shortbread is just flour, sugar and butter.

Or in this case, olive oil and butter.

Lemon Shortbread

1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 cup Meyer Lemon Olive Oil
1/2 cup butter, softened

Preheat your oven to 300degrees.

Cream the oil, butter and sugar together until well blended. Mix in the flour until combined.

This dough works best when rolled out into a sheet and cut into bars. You can cut it before or after. Before baking, poke the cookies with a fork all over.

Bake for 35-40 minutes.

This should make around 3 dozen small cookies.

There cookies are delicate and buttery without being overly sweet. If you use more olive oil and less butter, these become very crumbly, so I do suggest doing this half with butter and half with olive oil. This works well with any of the fruit flavored olive oils. You can also add in a tablespoon of cocoa powder. But if you do, you need an extra tablespoon of oil too.

(Like these!)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Emergency Pasta

While cooking at my mom's house this week, I suddenly realized that I had nothing to eat for lunch. I could snack on green beans, but that's a good way to run out of green beans. I found a bag of pasta in the cabinet, but no sauce! What to do?

I grabbed a can of fire roasted tomatoes and some Basil Oil and got to work.

Emergency Pasta and Sauce

1 can fire roasted tomatoes
3 tbsp - 1/4 cup Basil Olive Oil
1 tsp Italian Table Blend Spices
Himalayan Pink Mineral Salt*
Cooked Pasta

In a pan over medium heat, empty your can of tomatoes. If you want the sauce to be very thick, drain some of the water from the can first. Add in the spices and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes.

Grab a potato masher and go to work. Add the olive oil a little at a time until you like the consistency. 

Spoon over the pasta and go.

*Salts coming to the internet soon!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Toasted Crostini with Eggplant and Mushroom Appetizer

I served this at Christmas with the appetizers. It's so simple, I think I'm bringing it to a New Years party too.

Toasted Crostini

1 long baguette
1/4 cup Olive Oil
    I like Zesty Onion* with this, or just Italian Herb
1-2 tbsp Italian Table Blend spices

Slice the baguette into thin slices. Heat the oven to 350degrees. Arrange the slices on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil and sprinkle with the spices.

Bake about 7 minutes. But watch them, mine took about 6 minutes. My sister-in-law made these, but her oven took almost 10 minutes. They should be golden brown.

Serve with the Mushroom and Eggplant* appetizer.

*Available in stores or by phone right now. The olive oil will be up soon.

Cranberry Tart

Cranberry Tart

1 prebaked tart shell (10 1/2 inches)
3/4 cup cranberries
3/4 cup raspberries
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/8 - 1/4 cup raw sugar for garnish
3 tbsp Raspberry Balsamic

If you have a prebaked tart shell, good. If not graham cracker crusts are good for this, or the Vanilla Pie Crust from Thanksgiving's Pumpkin Pie would be perfect here.

Press your crust into the pan and bake at 350 for no more than 10 minutes. Crust should be starting to brown.

Heat a pan to medium high. Use a non-stick or give the pan a light wipe with olive oil. For flavor, I'd prefer Vanilla, Meyer Lemon or Blood Orange. Add in the cranberries, raspberries, brown sugar and balsamic. Cook, stirring well, for around 5-7 minutes. Pour immediately into your prebaked shell and sprinkle with the raw sugar.

Finish this off in the oven. 5 - 10 minutes should be fine. Just watch the crust for burning. It only took 6 minutes for the raw sugar to caramelize in my oven.

Christmas Dinner!

Christmas dinner was a success! We all had a good time and ate too much. Which says good things for my cooking! The only thing that didn't turn out was the mashed potatoes. I forgot about them until very late and burned them badly. (We didn't really miss them though) The caramelized onions and sauteed porcini mushrooms from that recipe made their way into the gravy, where everyone enjoyed them anyway.

Here are your pictures. I have updated the recipes to include these too now. And I'll get the Cranberry Tart up soonest. The Fruity Bundt Cake also never made it. Good thing too. Everyone was much too stuffed. I'll save that for New Year's too.

Appetizer spread
zesty onion crostini

Bah, Humbug!

cherry peppers and mushroom/eggplant
tuna pastes

Honey Date Glazed Ham

Marinated mushrooms and acorn squash
Asparagus with Cranberries and Lemongrass

Black Walnut green beans
the stuffing
Mulled wine with Brandy
mashed sweet potatoes and butternut squash

The whole table
Cranberry Tart

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays everybody!

Expect pictures tomorrow. Lots of pictures.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Butternut Squash

I have some carrots too. I bought them to use with the salad, but I think I have too many. I'll put them in as optional and see what happens.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Butternut Squash

1 medium to large butternut squash
2-3 medium sweet potatoes
3-4 carrots (optional)
1/4 cup Persian Lime Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup vegetable broth (optional)
1 tbsp vegan 'butter'
Zest of one whole lime, divided

Heat the oven to 375degrees. Scrub, peel and dice the sweet potatoes and the carrots. Slice the squash in half, longways and scoop out the seeds. (I save all seeds!) Dice that too, and peel.

Toss the veggies with the oil and sprinkle with the ginger and salt and pepper. Roast in a single layer for about 30 minutes. Remove and let cool a little.

Once everything is cool enough to work with. Put everything in a large bowl or pan and mash. Add in the vegan butter and half of the lime zest, saving the rest for garnish. If you need it, add up to 1/4 cup of the vegetable broth. If you think it needs it, add a little more black pepper.

Garnish with the rest of the lime zest and serve.

Okay, this is the last post of the night folks. I'm cooking tomorrow and will post you some pictures on Christmas. The cranberry tart and the bundt cake recipes are going up on the 26th.

 Happy Holidays all!

Marinated Mushrooms and Squash

This recipe is mostly a make ahead recipe. A blessing on those crazy cooking times, like now. But it's also great as long as squash is in season.

Marinated Mushrooms and Squash

2 cups Meyer Lemon Olive Oil,
     or 1 cup Meyer Lemon Olive Oil, and 1 cup Varietal Oil
6 garlic cloves
1 lb mushrooms
2 tsp salt
Pinch of black pepper
1 acorn squash
Traditional Balsamic for drizzling

Heat your oven to 400degrees. Cut the acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Brush the insides with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, sprinkle with black pepper and score the insides in a diamond pattern. Roast in a pan for 1 hour. Make sure the pan has 1/4 inch of water in the bottom so the skin doesn't burn.

Once the squash is cool, scoop out the flesh. Toss squash, mushrooms and seasonings together in a large dish and let it marinate at least 6 hrs or overnight.

Heat your oven to 350degrees. Bring the mushroom squash mixture to room temperature before baking. Bake 5 minutes. Drizzle with Traditional Balsamic and return to the oven to bake for another 5-10 minutes.

Black Walnut Green Beans

Again, no Parmesan for the vegans!

Black Walnut Green Beans

1 1/2 lb green beans, ends trimmed
2 tbsp olive oil, varietal
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp onion flakes (or the fried onion bits)
2 tbsp Black Walnut Balsamic
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, for garnish
2-4 tbsp Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat the oven to 425degrees.

Stir all the ingredients for your sauce together in a large bowl. Add the green beans and toss to coat.

Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake, stirring once, halfway through. 12-15 minutes.

Sprinkle with the walnuts and Parmesan.

Mashed Potatoes with Porcini Mushrooms

If you need to make these vegan, like I do, there are a couple brands of vegan sour 'cream' that are really top-notch. My husband can't even tell the difference.

Mashed Potatoes with Porcini Mushrooms

5 lbs russet potatoes
1 cup parsley
1 onion, sliced thinly
5-8 cloves garlic, roasted and chopped
1 cup sour cream, or 'sour cream'
salt and pepper
4-8 Porcini mushrooms*
1/4 cup Butter Olive Oil, plus 2 tbsp
up to 1/4 cup white wine, or vegetable broth

Heat the oven to 475degrees.

Peel the potatoes and chop them into large chunks. Brush with 2 tbsp of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes.

Chop the porcini mushrooms and saute them in the white wine or broth for 5-10 minutes over medium heat. You want them to begin lightly browning, but nowhere near crunchy.

Remove the mushrooms to a small bowl and set aside. In the same pan, add the onions and saute for 10-15 minutes. Their color should deepen to a mild amber and they should be very fragrant. Set aside with the mushrooms.

Remove the potatoes to a large bowl and mash roughly. Add in the sour cream, Olive Oil and garlic. Mash until you reach a consistency that you like. I like my potatoes a bit chunky.

Fold in the onions, mushrooms and the parsley. Serve nice and hot!

*these are available in store

Asparagus with Cranberries and Lemongrass

For some reason, it never occurred to me that cranberries and lemongrass might go well together. Its like mushrooms and pumpkin. So good.

Asparagus with Cranberries and Lemongrass

1 large bunch asparagus, trimmed
2 tbsp vegan butter
1 tbsp Cranberry Balsamic
1/4 cup cranberries, if using frozen, thaw
Salt and Pepper
1 tbsp lemongrass paste*

Melt butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the cranberries and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the asparagus, lemongrass paste and Cranberry Balsamic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 10minutes.

I will probably drizzle a little more Cranberry Balsamic before serving.

*Lemongrass paste is available at most grocery stores in the produce section. I find it easier to use than whole stalks. If you have to use the stalks, thinly slice 1 and add it at the beginning with the cranberries.

Ham with Honey Date Balsamic Glaze

Definitely not vegan. There is just no way to modify this one. That's what the squash dishes are for!

Ham with Honey Date Balsamic

This all depends on what size ham you have and if it is a pre-cooked or not. I got a pretty small 6 lb ham that was full cooked. If yours is not fully cooked, please follow the cooking directions on the package.

Remove your ham from the fridge so it comes to room temperature before you cook it. Preheat your oven to 320degrees. The estimate for cooking is 15-20 minutes per pound.

For my ham, I am rubbing about 1 tbsp of dry mustard powder over the ham and brushing the Honey Date Balsamic all over it.

It takes about an hour and 30 minutes to bake, brush more Honey Date on every 15 minutes.

The last 5 minutes are very important. (If you have a bigger ham, you might want to make this the last 10 minutes) Turn the heat up to 400degrees to caramelize the Balsamic.

I am warming up some more balsamic to serve on the side.

Last Minute Change-ups!

We have some more guests coming for Christmas this year. A couple neighbors didn't have any other plans so they are coming to spend time with us.

Only thing of them is vegan.

So I've been doing some switching up of the recipes and adding a few more in. Besides the Turkey and Ham, everything else should be vegan, including the desserts. So no Lemon Olive Oil Cake. I'll save that for New Years.

The green beans will now be made with the Black Walnut Balsamic instead of the Honey Date. They will also have some walnuts on them instead of almonds. The Honey Date will be the glaze on the ham.

There will also be:

Marinated Mushrooms and Squash
Butternut & Sweet Potato Mash
Asparagus with Cranberry and Lemongrass

And maybe something else. We'll find out.

I wanted to make the recipes ahead like I did for Thanksgiving, but I just don't have the time! Sorry all, you'll get some recipes before and a really big picture post on the 25th. But some of these recipes I'm still making up. Bear with me!

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Our newest varietal oil is from southern Sicily and is called Dedalo. It isn't on our flavor sheets yet, so I had a request to put this up here.

Only available in the store or by phone right now. It's really good.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Fig and Blueberry Chicken

The world didn't end and this recipe got a thumbs up from my grandfather at lunch! So far it's all going well. Even if I am wearing reindeer antlers with bells on them.

Fig and Blueberry Chicken

1/2 cup Fig Balsamic
1/4 - 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
4 tbsp honey (optional)
1/2 - 1 tbsp red pepper flakes (optional)
3 cups shredded cooked chicken or about one whole chicken, shredded
1 box couscous with pine nuts
Garlic Olive Oil

In a large, non-stick, saute pan on medium-low heat, slowly warm up the Fig Balsamic. When it warms through, add the blueberries. Increase the heat just to medium and cook, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add the honey, if using and cook another 10 minutes. The berries should be hot and ready to burst by now.

Stir in your chicken and mash to burst the blueberries. Add in the red pepper flakes and stir. Simmer and cover until everything is heated through. This shouldn't take more than 6 or 7 minutes.

Follow the instructions on your box of couscous. I like to sub in chicken broth for the water and the Garlic Olive Oil for any basic oil. It really gives this it a richer flavor. If you are feeling really adventurous, you could add some blueberries and almonds in as well.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Menu

My parents wanted to go out to eat on Christmas day. I said NO WAY!

I love the thought that someone else will clean up all the dishes for me, but I really prefer cooking my own food whenever possible. So I volunteered to cook the whole thing.

What did I get myself into?! I had a few requests for recipe reprisals from Thanksgiving. The stuffing and the cranberry chutney went over particularly well. I am also making the pumpkin pie again, but I am bumping it up with a couple extra desserts too.

The menu is going to run something like this:

Olives with Olive Oils and traditional balsamic
Toasted crostini and mushroom/pepper/eggplant appetizer
Green beans with almonds and Honey Date Balsamic
Mashed potatoes with roasted garlic chunks, porcini mushrooms, caramelized onions,
Stuffing (same from Thanksgiving)
Cranberry Chutney (also the same from Thanksgiving)
Ham w/ glaze (TBD)
Cranberry Tart
Fruity Bundt Cake
Lemon Olive Oil cake
Pumpkin Pie (same from Thanksgiving as well)
Mulled Wine and Brandy with our Mulling Spices

Am I making too much? Or do I need more vegetables? Maybe Lemon Roasted Asparagus?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

African Groundnut Stew

While this hearty stew is traditionally made with peanuts, I love to use cashews with it. Sorry I couldn't get this up yesterday. This is one of my favorite winter foods. And I got to use our newest oil!

It is also very easy to make this vegetarian. Use more sweet potatoes, throw in some carrots and use a veggie broth instead of chicken broth and it's still the best comfort food around!

African Groundnut Stew
Inspired by Simply Recipes

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
4 Chicken Thighs
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into medium pieces
2 tbsp Zesty Onion Olive Oil *
2 tbsp Citrus Habanero Olive Oil
1 28oz can tomatoes
2 small onions, diced
1 cup cashew butter
1 cup roasted cashews
1 3inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
6-8 cloves garlic, rough chopped
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper, at least
Salt and Black Pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, for serving

In a large soup pot, heat the Citrus Habanero Olive Oil to medium high heat. Rinse the chicken and sprinkle with salt. Add to the pan, skin side down and cook about 10 minutes, flipping once to brown all sides. Pull them from the pan and set aside for later.

Add the rest of the oil to the pan and saute the onions for 2-4 minutes. Add in the garlic and the ginger and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Stir often to make sure nothing is sticking. Add in the sweet potatoes and stir to coat everything well.

Add in the chicken, broth, tomatoes, cashew butter and coriander. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Taste for salt. Simmer about 45 minutes. Add in the cashews. Simmer another 30-45 minutes. The chicken should be falling apart.

Remove the chicken to another bowl and shred the meat. Discard the bones and skin. Add the meat back into the stew along with the cayenne and a few tablespoons of black pepper.

This stew should be spicy and thick, warming from the inside out. The best kind of food for winter.

* Our new Zesty Onion Olive Oil isn't on our website yet. Available in store or by phone only right now!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sticky Balsamic Chicken

I was craving fried chicken wings this week. I decided to be healthier and make this. It's pretty awesome and solved my craving. Yay chicken!

Sticky Balsamic Chicken

10 chicken drumsticks
3 tbsp Olive Oil*
1/4 cup Vanilla Balsamic
1/4 cup molassas
2 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp ginger paste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Arrange your chicken in a large casserole pan. Brush the olive oil over them and bake 20 minutes. *I like to use the Jalapeno or Chipotle for this one. Gives it an extra zing!

Whisk all the sauce ingredients together in a large bowl. Remove the chicken from the oven and pour the sauce over top. Turn them to coat and return to the oven for another 30 minutes. Turning once while cooking.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cookies from my Swap Partners

Thanks to Michelle at Amour Beurre for these great cookies with Pomegranate frosting!

Thanks to Alyssa from Everyday Mavens for these great Whole Wheat Gingerbread Biscotti!

This was a great Swap and I hope to do it again next year!

We will be back to our regularly scheduled recipes in the next day or two.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Great cookie swap!

I got my spatula ready and whipped up some cookies for the Blogger Cookie Swap this year. I think these turned out great! I hope my swap partners enjoy them as much as I did! Thank you to Alyssa Brantley of Everyday Maven and Michelle of Amour Beurre for being my swap partners. Your cookies were amazing! Posting pictures of them tomorrow. Thanks to everyone, it was a great swap! 

These cookies are based on a Dutch South African favorite spice cookie called soetkoekies. 

Spiced Wine Cookies

1/2 cup chilled Olive Oil, I used Vanilla
2 cups flour, whole wheat
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup port wine
1 tbsp almond meal or slivered almonds

Cinnamon Pear Frosting
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup cinnamon pear balsamic

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease your cookie sheet.
Sift your dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add olive oil and cut together.
Add the eggs and wine. Mix until the dough starts to come together into a ball. Dough will be sticky.
Roll dough into walnut-sized balls and place on a cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Flatten lightly.
Bake 12-15 minutes. They should be lightly browned. Cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting:
Stir the balsamic and confectioner's sugar together. It will be very thick and sticky. Frost and allow to set before putting in tins.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pizza for lunch!

I have been so busy this past weekend that I haven't gotten to make anything new. Which is also awful because it left me with nothing for lunch!

Thankfully, we have lots of amazing restaurants in the area. I called our neighbor Villa Vito's and got a pizza for lunch. They make the best pizza.

I got a pizza with no cheese, peppers and onions.

I drizzled it with our newest Sicilian olive oil and some Toasted Onion salt. Mmmmmm.....

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Robin's Eggplant

Customer Robin sent in an idea for roasting eggplant. Sorry I didn't get to make this one. It sounds great! Thank you Robin!

Robin's Eggplant

Slice eggplants (don't peel).

Spray with olive oil, plain. Brush each slice front and back with Pear Balsamic.

Bake at 350degrees until crispy but not burnt.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pasta a la Gypsy

Big thanks to Joumana of Taste of Beirut for this amazing recipe. I'm sorry for not following it more closely, but I just can't make things easy for myself. What can I say? I'm just too impatient.

Pasta a la Gypsy
adapted from Taste of Beirut

1 eggplant
1 16oz can tomatoes, chopped or crushed
2 onions
2 anchovies*
1/2 cup milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp red pepper paste*
4 tbsp fresh parsley
1 bag Maesti Pastai Penne*
1/4 cup Garlic Olive Oil

Peel and cut the eggplant into small chunks. Toss with salt and let sit in a colander about 30 minutes.

Chop the onions thinly and saute in the Olive Oil over medium heat until they start to soften. Rinse the eggplant and shake dry. Add to the onions and add to the pan. Saute for another 5-10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and simmer about 15 minutes.

Mash the anchovies and stir in the milk. Add the mixture and the parsley into the pan and simmer another 10-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta to al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water or use 1/2 cup of chicken broth. Stir the pasta and water or broth into the eggplant sauce. Mix well and serve warm.

*All starred items can be found in out store or ordered by phone.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mulling Spices

Our newest spice blend is a Mulling Spice blend. I am very excited about it. Besides smelling absolutely amazing, they are just so pretty. I am a big fan of star anise.

We had a cider tasting this weekend at the store witch was a big success. Everyone loved it. And at the end of the weekend, we still had a little left and I have to say it's great cold too.

My favorite thing is the small bags we got to go with it! Small muslin bags you can put the spices in so you don't have to fish them out later. And you can reuse them too. So it's a win-win.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Customer Recipe: Steamed Edamame with Balsamic Vinegar

We recently got a very nice email from one of our customers. They sent us a recipe for steamed edamame with balsamic vinegar too. 

Thank you Chris and Jaime! 

Here is a picture of the edamame that we made tonight. Basically, just steam up a fresh batch of edamame, and place it in a bowl. Drizzle with your favorite balsamic, Chocolate Mandarin in this case, add fresh ground salt and pepper to taste, then a quick toss with a pair of tongs. Absolutely delicious! 

Thank you for bringing these great flavors into our home! 

-Chris and Jaime