bits and bites at an olive oil tasting

More entwine (Pinot grigio and Merlot), with a sampler and dipping set in the background
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Flavored Olive Orchard oils and lots of bread for dipping
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Farm market finds: cherry tomatoes, red peppers, grapes
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Toothpick happy! Mozzarella pearls drizzled with hot pepper oil and two kinds of olives
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Toast with homemade ricotta drizzled with lemon oil
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Toast with homemade ricotta drizzled with basil oil and cracked pepper (this was the runaway hit of the day)
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Red white and blue cupcakes (Ina’s recipe) in remembrance of 9-11
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If you’d like to host a tasting, let me know. It’s a perfect excuse to stand around and eat bread :) And of course, hostesses always get free or discounted Olive Orchard oils. mmmmmm

Chickpeas and olive oil

This is basically hummus stripped of everything but these two ingredients. You can always add them back in (1/4 sesame seeds, juice of 1/2 a lemon, and 1/2 clove garlic is where I would start), but there’s something about the simplicity of this version that I like. It tastes best served with toasted pitas, warm from the oven.

Chickpeas and olive oil

  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil, use something really nice here, like Olive Orchard
  • 1/2 t salt

Put chickpeas and salt into food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped. Drizzle in olive oil through the feed tube with the motor running until it’s nice and smooth. Taste and add salt if needed.

Mahi Mahi in parchment

Hubs and I recently committed to eating more fish, which for us means any. We’ve gone one step farther by declaring Monday Fish Night at our house. It doesn’t always happen, but I made this a few Mondays ago with much success.

Mahi Mahi in parchment

  • 3 Mahi Mahi fillets (I bought the frozen ones from Trader Joe’s – very good and inexpensive)
  • 2 bell peppers (I had one green and one orange), seeded and sliced
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 375. Divide peppers and onions between 3 pieces of parchment paperĀ  (12X12″ squares). Place one fillet on top of each pile, then drizzle with lemon juice, olive oil, and sprinkle over garlic. Form a packet, place on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 9-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fillets.

Tomato Party – Bruschetta

I’m sure that most people already have a version of this in their repertoire. I’ve certainly eaten gallons of it throughout the summers of my recent past. It’s just so good and easy. It makes a perfect appetizer, delicious lunch, and even a savory breakfast. This is more of a “throw in whatever you have” kind of a thing, but here’s my basic version to get you started.

Bruschetta

  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely*
  • 2 – 3 T fresh oregano, chopped**
  • salt to taste
  • olive oil to taste (like 3 T or so)

Mix everything together in a bowl. Serve over toast (or crostini if you want to be fancy). It will get all soupy from the tomato juice and I like to use really dry toast to soak up all those garlicky juices.

*You can also add some chopped onion if you like

**Most any herb would work well here. Basil is especially good. I just have ten tons of oregano in my garden.

Summer Squash fritters

I love these made with zucchini or crookneck yellow squash, or any soft summer squash. They are perfect for lunch.

Summer Squash Fritters

  • 1 medium zucchini or 1 large yellow crookneck squash
  • 1/4 flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 clove of garlic, pressed
  • 2 T chopped parsley (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (or I like red pepper flakes instead of regular pepper)
  • 2-3 T of olive oil for frying

Grate your zuke/squash on the large holes of a box grater. This sounds like an extreme PIA, but really, it only takes 2 minutes (I timed myself today). Squeeze out the excess liquid from your grated squash. I do this one handful at a time, but you could wrap all of it in a dishtowel at once and twist it up. Put that, and the rest of your ingredients, into a mixing bowl and stir well. If it seems too thin, add a bit more flour. We don’t want a thin batter or it will run away from your grated squash and be hard to flip. Heat up your oil in a skillet over high heat. Place a few spoonfuls of batter in the pan making pancakes about the size of your palm. Fry until golden and set on one side, then flip and repeat. Fry all the batter in this way. You should get about 5-6 fritters out of it. Drain them on paper towels, sprinkle with salt, and enjoy. If you want to be really decadent, dip them in a little high grade olive oil while you eat them. I like Greek Organic from the Olive Orchard.

Pizza, pizza! Not quite

A new Little Caesar’s just opened up down the street from our house. While I feel that a $5 pizza likely has some of the most disgusting, lowest quality ingredients available, my husband and children don’t share this reservation. They love eating there, especially the Crazy Bread. My son, who rarely eats much of anything, killed an entire order of Crazy Bread by himself last week.

So when I decided to make pizza yesterday, I thought that I’d leave one of the crusts completely bare, with the exception of a little olive oil. Instant Crazy Bread, right? Not so much.

My 4 year old took a bite, and instantly warned her brother, “It’s not Crazy Bread! Don’t eat it!”

My son said that it “just didn’t feel good” in his mouth.

I try to be a patient parent, but seriously people – who refuses bread for dinner?! Showcasing my maturity level (ahem), I told them they were ingrates and I was tired of making them food they wouldn’t eat and that I didn’t care if they ate anything for dinner or not. Not my finest moment.

A few minutes later, my son excused himself from the table.

“Thanks for the food, Mom,” he told me, patting my back. “And nice try on the Crazy Bread.”

Here is my pizza crust recipe, which makes two fabulous pizza crusts, but apparently is not so good for recreating a home version of crazy bread.

Pizza Crust

  • 1 envelope dry yeast
  • 1 C warm water
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 T oil*
  • 2 1/2 C flour (I like to use 1 C whole wheat and the rest all purpose)

Preheat oven to 425. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in remaining ingredients. Beat vigorously, 20 strokes. Let dough rest at least 5 minutes. Divide into two parts. Flatten each part into a pizza. Top as desired. Bake 20 minutes.

*I usually use olive oil, but inspired by Nigella Lawson, I tried Racconto Garlic and Basil infused olive oil. It was ok, but I like the plain stuff better.

A note on pizza cheese – I think that shredded fontina makes the best topping for pizza. Much more flavor than mozarella, but melts just as nicely.