Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Make Infused Olive Oil

Goodness is in the details. 

As we're returning from our summer vacation,  I'm realising that there are still some springtime things that we're enjoying right now that I want to share with you, too.  Thank you, dear lavender. It was you who reminded me of our last trip to Provence, while we were working with you making our wild weavings | here |. Like many families, creativity crosses through the kitchen in a variety of ways and when we have infused olive oil on hand, it often comes with a story... or leads to one. Infusing olive oil has a very personal history to us but, it is a really fun family project to put together and then, to enjoy later -- whether it's at your own table or as a gift for someone else.  This is an "any one can" project! Just click before for how-to:

This year, our olive oil supply came from the robust foothills in Provence and we have olive oil that is pressed from the actual trees that my husband climbed and enjoyed as a boy.  The way he shares stories -- many revolving around food -- from his summers with Grandmere always hypnotise me (and also, make me realise that it would be very difficult for us to truly be a gluten free famly!) When we enjoy our olive oil now, it comes with a story, making it all the more delectable. Take our trail with us through our olive grove walk and make this recipe -- then, add a story your own. 
Olive groves are like dandelions in the south of France, although prized and in need of care. You'll see both tended and wild groves everywhere and if you're lucky, take a small road to find a producer with a pressing of their own -- and often a story to share! Hair pin curves in this region mean it's helpful to have a side kick to better spy small signs for olives (and honey) but, I can't imagine this region without exploration of the countryside.  If you're in the south of France, take time to go on the backroads.

If you take a walk, notice the bushes that are flowering and you might realise that you're passing thyme or bushy rosemary. Note above, I snapped a picture of how it grows; rosemary even sprouts through old walls.  The air is scented like a basket of herbs!

This simple, simple, infusion always bring me something big: bite sized spoonfuls of an entire region.  (It also reminds me of my dear friend Cori and that first pizza we shared forever ago!) Whether you've traveled to France or not; follow a special diet or not, almost everyone has a place for just a little, little, dash of olive oil  -- whether it's added to dressings, sauces, marinade, hot peppery oil drizzled over pasta, sprinkled over pizza, used for bread dipping or something else, this is a essential in our home.  
How to make Infused Olive Oil: 

You will need: 1 clean bottle neck jar, herbs (rosemary, thyme and or peppers are my favourites), extra virgin olive oil. 

1/2 cup olive oil
3 fresh rosemary sprigs (but other flavours that are typical are rosemary, thyme and or peppers)

To start, find a bottle with a good seal. It should be canning quality and cleaned at a temperature of 180F before using. Washed and dried. It is very important to begin with a sanitised bottle.

To make the infused oil, bruise your herbs gently to start to expose their oils and put them in your olive oil jar. Place your spices, pepper or herbs into the jar then, fill and cover completely with olive oil, let these sit for 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator.* The oil will slowly infuse.

You don't have always have to travel far away to bring far away closer. Bon Appétit!

* I like to make small quantities of this so that we use it up quickly. Instructions always say that this can be kept for a month in the refrigerator, but, if the olive oil shows any signs of spoilage, toss and discard it all immediately to avoid the risk of food poisoning. To be safe, I really make small quantities that can be used within a week or two and in fact, sometimes, just put it together for a one day only experience.  I don't like to take chances with the risks and if this is a real concern for you, then you may want to simply make a flash infusion, like I often do: prepare a bottle the day before a party, refrigerate and serve the next days. Swerving this is a conversation piece and there will be a small scent which adds something special. 

Something you might like: (not pictured, just click)
Gâteau des Rois (this was my very first post ever, ever)

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