The Worlds Best Olive Oil and a Give Away!

On a weekend outing recently I had the honor to meet an inspiring , charming Greek man whose family owns olive groves in Greece.

The family produces some of the best olive oil I have ever tasted. Pure, green, fruity, this oil is unlike anything you have ever tried.

The olive tree, one of the bases of Greek agri...

The oil is extra virgin, undiluted. This means this oil is from the first cold pressing of ripe olives. The category of extra virgin olive oil is required to have an acidity of .o8%. Theros  Undiluted Extra Virgin Olive Oil is .045%.

If you are lucky, you will get a bit of the denser oil that filters to the bottom of the barrels. There is a very small amount of this because most of the oil is drained off and bottled in the clear state. Because the oil is undiluted, more of the ‘solids’ will fall to the bottom of your bottle. Shake it up if you like or save it for an ultimate treat near the end of your oil.

Theros also produces and sells unfiltered olive oil.

When we were children, we lived in Seville, Spain for a few years. My mom would slather us kids in olive oil and tell us to go play outside for a while. After we would come in, bathe and go to bed. Our skin and hair were so smooth and lovely. I remember the distinct aroma of the rich olive oil on my skin. I loved it.

When I smelled Theros oil, my memories of Spain came flooding back, the rich ripe aroma of olive oil. I wanted to slather it and go play. Amazing, we were brown as berries but we never worried about sunscreen then, and didn’t get sunburned. Mostly anyway.

The trend lately is to know where your food comes from, buying local, sustainable, etc.  I find it limiting  to say “we only use food from 100 miles of where we are.”

Why be so limited when the world has become so accessible?

Here is a way to extend the boundaries of local to include the world. In this case Greece. Who can say no to Greece?

Taken by Nick Fraser in 2005. The fruit of an ...

Taken by Nick Fraser in 2005. The fruit of an Olive Tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Greek economy is in pretty bad shape now. In a small way, buying olive oil helps support the families who grow and harvest the olives. In small ways, each purchase can help the Greek economy. Small yes, but it is something.

By using our purchasing power, and choosing to buy authentic Greek olive oil, authentic Greek Feta cheese, and authentic Greek Yogurt is our own small ways we can contribute positively to support Greek economy so they can begin the recovery they need as the break away from the European Union and the Euro takes place. (In my opinion, it is a matter of when, not if.)

The Italians have had such a world-wide demand on their olive oil, most of what you find in common supermarkets can no longer be trusted to be quality olive oil of any grade.

Italy exports so much olive oil the country itself is left to buy olive oil from Spain and Greece to grace their tables. If you are buying olive oil in a market in the US, chances are rare you will see

Simple meze of feta cheese and olives: charact...

Simple meze of feta cheese and olives: characteristic Greek flavours. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

olive oil from anywhere else but Italy.

However, with the olive oil awareness and a more sophisticated demand by consumers, your chances are improving that you will find other countries of origin.

A few days ago I tested this theory in my local grocery and was pleasantly surprised to find 1 brand of Greek olive oil and 1 brand of Spanish – the rest were Italian.

Greece is ranked second in the European Union for their production of olives – 147,500 tonnes in 2010. I do not know how much was pressed into varying grades of olive oil vs being brined to eat as olives.

It would be extremely interesting to take a sabbatical from work and go harvest olives in Greece, take the olives to be pressed and learn about brining olives to make them palatable. Then to France to harvest grapes.

What a fall that would be!

Give Away Time!

Theros Olive Oil has agreed to give away 6 bottles of

Theros Undiluted Extra Virgin Olive Oil

To win one here’s what you have to do:

  1. Follow Spoon Feast on WordPress
  2. Like Theros Olive oil on Face Book and check out the amazing photos of the process
  3. Leave a comment on their Facebook page about why you like olive oil and ways you use it
  4. Leave a comment on this Spoon Feast post about why you like olive oil and ways you use it

6 winners will be chosen based upon meeting all 4 criteria above.

We will choose the most creative and delicious ways you use olive oil.

Winners will be chosen by a panel of Spoon Feast advisers.

All domestic and international shipping arrangements will be made directly with Theros Olive Oil.

You will have until Friday, June 15th to participate!

Winners will be announced on Sunday, June 17th.

Treat yourself, Check out Theros Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil!

English: Olives in olive oil.

Olives in olive oil. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Grill Is On! Grilled Vegetable Salad

This weekend turn the grill on and have some tasty treats. Aside from the typical dogs and burgers, I am going to suggest a grilled vegetable salad perfect for a weekend.

  • Zucchini
  • Yellow Squash
  • Eggplant – sliced and sprinkled with salt. Allow to sit and drain for 10-15 minutes. Rinse and marinade.
  • Red Peppers
  • Asparagus
  • Onions
  • Portobello Mushrooms
  • Grape  or cherry tomatoes

Slice all the vegetables; keep them separate in zip lock bags.

Add enough vinaigrette of your choice (my suggested recipe follows) to coat each slice evenly. They do not have to swim in the marinade.

Each vegetable has different cooking times so we want to place each kind of veg on the grill at the same time. This will help prevent you going bonkers while grilling if they were all mixed up.

Grill the vegetables, like items together.

Grill about 5 minutes or until each slice has a nice grill mark.

Remove from the grill and place into a large bowl. If the veg needs to be sliced after grilling, set those aside so you can cut them before combining the vegetables.

Portobello, red peppers and eggplant  and asparagus will need to be cut into bite sized pieces after grilling.

Saute tomatoes; they are too small to grill

Cherry tomatoes are too small to grill so give them a quick saute in a hot saute pan with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Blister them and they are good to go.

Toss all the grilled vegetables in a large bowl. Add additional dressing if necessary.

Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

This salad can be served either warm or cold or room temperature.

Just don’t let it sit out longer than 4 hours.

 Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • * 1 clove garlic, minced fine
  • 1 shallot or sweet onion, minced fine
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar of good quality, can be white or dark
  • 2/3-cup olive oil
  • 1/3-cup vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients except oils. Slowly add oils while whisking to emulsify.

The dressing will separate and will need a whisk or two before serving.

If you blend the oil in with a food processor or blender, the dressing will be more stable and will not separate.

*Garlic is optional. Dried minced garlic is alright to use as long as you give it time to re-hydrate

Grilled Watermelon

Uh huh, you heard that, Grilled watermelon.

Get your grill hot, really hot.

Slice watermelon about finger width or thicker slices.

Ingredients for Grilled Watermelon

Drizzle the melon with a high quality Greek olive oil such as Theros unfiltered extra virgin.

Sprinkle Herbs de Provence. Fleur de Sel (or kosher or sea salt) and grind some fresh black pepper over the oiled slices.

Place the watermelon on the hot grill for 3-4 minutes. Once grill marks appear, flip and grill the other side.

5 minutes is all it takes once you have a really hot grill. You want the melon to have some chars on it.

The flavor and texture totally changes and is a refreshing, wonderful treat!

Try it.

Smack your lips and say “Hallelujah!”

Your friends and neighbors will think you crazy at first, but they will soon be grilling their own watermelon and smacking their lips too.

Do you think Grilled Watermelon will be as popular as deep-fried turkey?

{Try it before you answer!}

Stay tuned! Find out how YOU can win a bottle of Theros Unfiltered Greek Olive Oil.

Details coming soon

Grilled Watermelon

The Bread Show

We had a wonderful weekend in the North Carolina mountains visiting friends. This post is to provide a quick link to the bread show we did on Charlotte Cooks not too long ago.

In my mind, the show was a comedy of errors with too hot lights, dough rising way too fast in response to the too hot lights. . . Sometimes, you just have to laugh!

If you want to make m “No-Knead Sourdough Bread“, here is the visual.

Spero, this one’s for you!

SPOILER ALERT!
I am working on a post about some amazing Greek olive oil I discovered this weekend.
Watch for the next post for a chance to try some too!

Arugula and Pickled Beet Salad

Today’s shared bounty is some lovely arugula (aka rocket). The added bonus of this shared bounty is roots! After washing what we would eat, I choose some to plant and grow more.

Thanks Adria!

Washed and refreshed, arugula is ready for a terrific, quick and easy salad from things created over the last few days for posts on Spoon Feast.

Picking some fresh red-leaf lettuce from the garden, combining it with arugula, garnishing with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, steamed artichokes, pickled beets and hard-boiled eggs.

All food gathered from a walk to the farmers market Saturday and shared bounty from friends and colleagues. Oh, add salmon, wild caught, from Alaska.

We tossed the salad with a chive blossom vinaigrette to bring it all together then added croutons and slabs of fresh bread and a few shavings of cheese.

You could use the beet juice from the pickling jar and drizzle a bit of olive oil for the dressing.

I drank champagne; Robert, Stella Artois.

We got to eat the duck, kale and white bean soup earlier

This is how we get to use up a weekend of playing in the kitchen. I don’t just write about recipes and food, we live it. Every day, every meal.

Only a small percentage of what I really cook ever gets written about. I call that “cooking without documentation.”

I cook and create food every single day for as many meals as I can. Sounds like we would be fat porkers, but we aren’t.

Eat responsibly is the key. Love and enjoy food but don’t overdo it.

Robert loves the results. I must admit, it sure is fun to finish with all the cooking and writing and photography; go take a bath and fall asleep. The next day go down to the kitchen and enjoy all the tasty things there are to eat over the next couple of days.

It leads to more posts, more food and photographs.

Robert does not like his food photographed.

Arugula and Pickled Beet Salad with Salmon

So, I make a plate to shoot before we eat. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t like his food photographed, he wants to eat first.

I try not to waste food by eating what is photographed. Sometimes it is necessary to dedicate a plate to the shoot. Others, the plate gets consumed as soon as the camera lights fade.

This time of year is my favorite as there is so much produce, fruit, and flowers available to play with.

I encourage you to try using arugula/rocket in a salad. It is great to top a pizza or drop into soup.

Use arugula/rocket just as you would spinach, raw and cooked. The home-grown varieties  seem to have more peppery flavor than commercial products.

Let me know how you like this crazy green.

Roasted Duck, Kale and White Bean Soup

Since it is cold and raining outside, making a soup from roasted duck, kale and white beans sound good. It is time to use up what is in the refrigerator.

Roasted Duck, Kale and White Bean Soup

You will need

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced small
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1 small russet potato, peeled and diced small
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 cup leftover roasted duck meat, diced small
  • 1 cup cooked or 1-15 oz. can of white beans, drained
  • 1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded and diced OR 1-15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups roughly chopped and stemmed fresh kale
  • Salt and pepper to taste (Start with 1 tablespoon and adjust to suit your taste)
Carrots of many colors.

Carrots of many colors. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Saute the onions and carrots in oil for 3 minutes, add the garlic, potatoes and thyme, stir.

When the onions are translucent, add the stock and bring to a boil.

Add the duck and the white beans, bring to a simmer.

Add the tomatoes, simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in the kale and simmer for 5 minutes more.

When the carrots and potatoes are done, adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

Serve with good bread and crispy kale chips.

Baked Crispy Kale Chips

If you love potato chips, you will probably love baked crispy kale chips too.

They are so simple to make, quick and nutritious, and you can’t stop eating them!

The shared bounty this week was baby kale.

ImageHere is how you make the baked crispy kale chips.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet pan with parchment. Do not use an insulated baking sheet pan.

You will need:

  • 1 bunch fresh kale
  • olive oil
  • sea or kosher salt (do not used iodized table salt)

Prepare the kale.

To make the chips, remove the leaves from the kale stems. Do this by holding the leaf and pulling the stem off from the back side of the leaf. This removes the stringy stem all the way down the leaf.

ImageImage

Tear the leaves into bite size pieces, but not too small. Wash and spin dry in a salad spinner. Place the kale in a bowl, season with a light drizzle of olive oil and a light sprinkle of salt.Image

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Spread the kale on the baking sheet and place in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes. The younger and more tender the kale, the less time it takes to crisp.

When the chips are crispy and slightly brown on the edges, remove from the oven and serve.

If you live in a humid area, the chips may need re-crisping by simply placing them in a warm oven for a few minutes.

They have a lovely earthy flavor that complements many dishes. The chips make a great snack and are something different to put out at your next party.

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Spread the kale on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes

When taking a chefs certification once, I used the kale chip to compliment a dish of Lobster and Israeli Couscous with Grapefruit Emulsion. It was the perfect compliment as it brought  warm earthy “umami” flavors which really made the dish pop.