Category Archives: Olive Oil

Rosemary Olive Oil Crackers

Rosemary olive oil crackers, what a fun recipe to make and serve with a salad or as part of a cheese course for a party. They are simple to make, the only thing you need to know is that the dough is fairly stiff to roll out but very forgiving, once you make your first batch of crackers you’ll be hooked! I like to eat them plain or with strawberry jam.

I think it’s going to rain again this weekend. It’s good for the garden and we need the water but I think we’re all ready for some sunshine, what a change from last year when everything was so dry. I’m looking forward to taking a digital photography class tomorrow morning, I hope to improve my picture taking skills and especially to learn more about lighting for photography. If it doesn’t rain I may go to the farmers market and look for herbs!

Ingredients and Directions
adapted from ‘The Herb Farm Cookbook’ by Jerry Traunfeld

2 cups European-style artisan flour from King Arthur Flour, or 1 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour plus 1/2 cup rye, barley or white whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus extra for sprinkling on top of crackers
4 tablespoons fruity extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup cold water, more if needed
1/2 teaspoon Fleur de sel, for sprinkling on top of crackers

Preheat the oven to 425°F

In a medium mixing bowl stir together the artisan flour or flours with the salt and rosemary.Stir in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and rub the mixture together between your fingers breaking up any lumps until the mixture is the texture of coarse cornmeal. Sir in the milk and the water to form a medium stiff dough, if it is too dry add more water a little bit at a time.

Line a baking sheet( about 16×12) with parchment paper, remove the parchment paper and set aside. Roll the dough into a rectangle the same size as the pan. Roll it up on the rolling pin and unroll it on the parchment. With a pastry or pizza cutter, cut the dough into crackers, 6×4 grid for 24 crackers. Brush the tops of the crackers with olive oil, sprinkle with rosemary and the Fleur de sel. Place the parchment paper back into the baking sheet.

Bake the crackers until they are browned around the edges and in spots through out the crackers. Slide the crackers on to a rack to cool. If the crackers in the middle of the pan are not done enough, return them to the oven for 3-4 more minutes. I brushed the tops with a little more olive oil while they were cooling. Let cool for 30 minutes before serving. Store for up to one week in an airtight container.

Makes 24 crackers

Sage and Goat Cheese Corn Bread


I was checking on my herb garden when I saw the sage flowering and I knew it was the perfect time to try this corn bread recipe. Another excellent recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, ‘The Herbal Kitchen’ by Jerry Traunfeld. The sun came out this afternoon and I hope it’s here to stay for awhile, maybe for the rest of spring and summer, wouldn’t that be nice?

I got lucky when I took this picture of the sage leaves on my deck, the sun just appeared for a few minutes before it went behind a cloud! It kind of reminded me that summer is right around the corner and I’m ready for it. Baking this sage and goat cheese cornbread made the house smell so good. I’m going to serve it for dinner tonight with a green salad with tomatoes, avocados, cucumbers, peppers, shallots and a homemade vinaigrette with more fresh herbs. I want to do more savory baking and continue trying all the incredible recipes I’ve been collecting.

Ingredients and Directions
Preheat the oven to 375°F

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened for the pan
18-20 large sage leaves
3/4 cup stone-ground cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons organic cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup olive oil
4 ounces, 1 cup, crumbled goat cheese

Smear the butter all over the inside of a 9-inch glass Pyrex pie plate. Press the sage leaves into the butter in a circular pattern, saving 8-9 for the sides.

Stir in the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together with a wire whisk in a medium size bowl. Whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and olive oil in a second bowl. Stir the liquid into the dry ingredients until the lumps smooth out. Stir in the cheese.


Carefully spoon the batter over the sage leaves in the pan and smooth out with a spatula. Bake for 25 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned and the bread springs back in the middle when you press on it. Let it cool for 15-20 minutes in the pan. Carefully loosen the sides with a small knife, then flip the corn bread onto a serving plate with the sage leaves on top. Serve while warm to savor the warm goat cheese and sage leaves.


Serves 8

Green Bean, Basil and Radish Salad

Why has everything gone wacko? Who knows? All I know is that after a couple of weeks of vacation followed by a baking spree that left the people around me rolling their eyes in disbelief and a weekend of wedding festivities topped off by eating a piece of red velvet wedding cake, I had a hankering for my old friends, healthy vegetables. I was so into my piece of wedding cake and I kept looking at my husband’s slice, then I started eying a tray of wedding cake slices on plates that was left on a table next to me and I seriously started thinking, how tacky is that to nab another slice of wedding cake, I mean how often do you even see red velvet cake and it was so good! Plus I did dance quite a bit and must have burned a few calories, yeah right. Anyway, I was left with that sensation of desire for more red velvet cake that I usually satisfy by making the darn thing and eating it! Only this time I’m really feeling the effects of all my indulgences in my enlarging waistline which I couldn’t believe the skirt I just bought 6 weeks ago was tight, yuck! So, it’s back to my good buddies in the vegetable section of my local market. I’m really lucky that I love vegetables because many people don’t like them, my friend Margaret who was told by her doctor to eat more veggies is struggling to eat salads. I don’t have that problem, I just really have a sweet tooth, as we say. I come from a long line of Danish butter loving people, that I really identify with, and for the next while I need to break with that tradition and try not to put sour cream on my beets and things like that. The other thing that’s gone wacko is I can’t get my camera to focus, go figure so I used my husband’s camera and I can’t get that to focus either, must be a problem that’s going around! So, I’m posting this recipe with the most focused photo of the bunch, I will persevere and get to the bottom of this focus problem, I think it’s called get new glasses!

I’m going to try a few new recipes from ‘The Herbal Kitchen’ by Jerry Traunfeld, this is one of my favorite cookbooks that is of the healthier variety in my collection. I’m starting with this salad recipe and I’m sure they will get progressively less healthy as I go along.

Ingredients and Directions

6 servings, I ate almost the whole thing myself, do you think there’s a problem?

1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 pound fresh green beans
1 bunch radishes, cut into wedges, about 2 cups
1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup thin shavings Parmigiano-Reggiano

Stir the shallots and vinegar together in a large mixing bowl and let them sit for awhile to mellow the flavor of the shallots.

Boil the beans in a large pot of salted water until crisp tender, about 2-3 minutes, depending on the size of the beans. Drain the beans and plunge in a bowl of ice water, drain again and dry off.

Add the beans to the shallots and toss in the radishes, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper. Put on a platter and top with the shaved cheese.

Think red radishes and not red cake! Just be sure to use tender green beans and you will be happy with this combination of colorful vegetables. You can also try different herbs in place of the basil, like tarragon or dill. Goat cheese might be a nice switch from the Parmesan.

Grilled Asparagus with Buffalo Mozzarella, Picholine Olives and Cherry Tomatoes


Early spring vegetables are perfect grilled, especially asparagus when the stalks are thin and tender. There is no need to blanch them before grilling and that makes this appetizer recipe even simpler to prepare. I can’t eat enough asparagus this time of year so when I fell in love with a grilled asparagus appetizer with Buffalo mozzarella at Palio d’asti in San Francisco’s Financial District, I naturally began to think about how I could make it at home. The original recipe had marinated sun dried tomatoes but the first time I tried to make it the flavors of the tomatoes overpowered the rest of the ingredients, not like at the restaurant, where they were perfect! So, rather then bang my head against the proverbial kitchen wall, I opted for the fresh cherry tomatoes which are from Arizona, where it’s hot enough to grow tomatoes this time of year, lucky people. We enjoyed this grilled asparagus appetizer last night before a dinner of roasted chicken, potatoes and a green salad.

Ingredients

1 small bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed
1/2 Buffalo mozzarella, cut in 2-3 slices
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/8 cup Picholine olives
2 tablespoons olive oil, for grilling and finishing
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
Sprinkle of fleur de Sel
Sea salt to taste, for grilling asparagus

Directions

Heat up the grill pan, brush the asparagus with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and grill over medium high heat until tender with nice grill marks. Transfer to heat proof plate and set aside.

Preheat the broiler

Slice the cherry tomatoes and green olives, set aside.

Slice the mozzarella, place on top of the asparagus and put under the broiler for just a few minutes until cheese softens and slightly melts over the asparagus, don’t let it brown. Carefully remove from oven, salt the mozzarella with the fleur de sel, sprinkle with the olives, cherry tomatoes, lemon zest and olive oil.

Serves 2 for an appetizer

Black Olive Roast Chicken

I make a lot of roast chicken so finding a good new simple recipe after perusing my cookbooks is a much appreciated thing around my house before dinner time. I found this recipe in ‘The Herbal Kitchen’ by Jerry Traunfeld and adapted it using vegetables that I had on hand from my veggie box. Roasting a chicken on top of vegetables is an easy way to serve dinner in one large baking dish. Tonight I added celery, kale and spring onions from my Betty’s Organics box. In this roast chicken recipe the extra steps are cutting the backbone out of the chicken to position it over the vegetables and placing an herbed black olive paste under the skin. After I picked out my chicken from the butcher, I paid a visit to the olive bar at Whole Foods and found Moroccan oil-cured olives for the paste. I don’t know what it is about the olive bar but even if I’m not buying any olives, I still check it out. So, you’re probably wondering how the kale that I tossed in with the other veggies came out??


It came out really good! I just gave it a rough chop, the kale that was under the bird steamed and was very tender and the kale that was around the outside of the bird, mixed with the other veggies, was crisp and delicious. Just make sure you salt the bird and the veggies before placing in the oven.

Ingredients

herbed olive paste

1/2 cup pitted oil-cured black olives
2 tablespoons thyme leaves
3 tablespoons rosemary leaves
1 lemon, grated and juiced
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2-3 tablespoons olive oil, recipe calls for 2 but I used more to make a smooth paste

vegetables

1 & 1/2 pounds potatoes, Yukon Gold or any variety, cut into 1-2 inch chunks
6 celery stalks, or 2 fennel bulbs, sliced thickly
3 carrots, thickly sliced
3 spring onions, thickly sliced
1 bunch dino kale, roughly chopped, remove thick stalks

1 roasting chicken, 4-5 pounds, rinsed and patted dry
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425°

Directions

1. Place all of the olive paste ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend, scraping down the bowl a few times, until they form a fairly smooth paste. I added closer to 3 tablespoons of olive oil to achieve a smoother paste.


2. Put the potatoes and the other vegetables in a roasting pan or large baking dish and spread a couple of tablespoons of the olive paste over everything.

3. Remove the backbone of the chicken with poultry shears, turn it over and spread it out flat. Loosen and pull the chicken skin, and taking a small amount at a time of the olive paste with your hand, stuff it under the skin, distributing it evenly between the breast, thighs and legs. Some of the olive paste will end up on the outside of the chicken, that’s fine.

4. Lay the chicken on top of the vegetables, positioning the knee joints inward. Sprinkle the skin and vegetables generously with salt and pepper.


5. Roast the chicken for about 60 minutes, longer for a bigger bird. The chicken should be deeply browned and show no sign of pink when you cut to look between the thigh and the lower breast. Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Fresh Pea and Fennel Soup with Mint

Finding English peas at my market inspired me to make this special springtime soup. I also found large spring scallions and fennel which are naturals with peas. I like the dark flecks of green from the chopped fresh mint that I added before pureeing the vegetables. I like this soup served warm and I like it thick and blended on the chunkier side. However, the soup can be thinned with more broth. Fresh pea soup is a nice starter for a spring dinner party featuring leg of lamb for the entrée or all by itself with fresh bread like, Italian Rosemary Buns. This is a simple soup to make with the only time consuming part being the shelling of the fresh peas and they can be substituted with frozen petite peas.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium shallots, sliced thin, I used my Cuisinart for all slicing
3 large spring scallions, sliced thin
2 medium fennel bulbs, sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups shelled fresh English peas ( about 3-4 pounds of peas in pods)
4-5 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Place olive oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat, add shallots, spring onions, fennel and garlic. Sauté for 6-8 minutes, until tender.
  2. Add the peas and stir for 1-2 minutes before adding the chicken stock. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook until peas are tender, about 5-6 minutes. Cool the soup before adding the fresh mint. Purée the soup in batches in a blender or with a stick blender in the soup pot. Thin the soup with additional chicken stock if you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. This soup can be made a day ahead and reheated before serving. Ladle into a soup tureen or individual bowls and garnish with mint.

Sweet Potato & Red Pepper Couscous Salad

This salad is beautiful to look at and healthy to eat with ingredients like sweet potatoes, red peppers, couscous, orange juice, olive oil, pumpkin seeds, scallions, garlic and chives. It tastes as good as it looks, especially the roasted sweet potatoes which taste like candy after being caramelized in a hot oven.

I brush slices of sweet potatoes with olive oil, a little sea salt and ground black pepper before roasting in a hot oven. I like to use parchment paper when I roast vegetables, it makes cleaning the pan a lot easier.

I also like to make roasted red peppers which I add to my couscous salad, they look great and are a flavorful compliment to the sweet potatoes. These are simple to prepare and can be made ahead before you roast the sweet potatoes.


I used the toasted Israeli couscous which is sold in the bins at the Oliver’s Market by my house in Santa Rosa. It’s also simple to prepare and is perfectly dressed with a mixture of olive oil, orange juice, garlic, scallions, chives, salt and pepper. The red peppers look great against the creamy light colored couscous.

Add the roasted sweet potatoes and stir together in a large bowl before serving with additional toasted pumpkin seeds and chives.


Ingredients

1 cup toasted Israeli couscous
1 & 1/4 cups water
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into bite size slices, about 1/4″ thick
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled and cut into small pieces
2 scallions, sliced
1/4 cup chives, minced, plus additional for sprinkling on top
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, plus additional for sprinkling on top
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for brushing on roasted sweet potatoes
1 orange, juiced
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 clove garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, for dressing and roasted sweet potatoes

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

Directions

1. In a medium saucepan bring lightly salted water to a boil and add the couscous, simmer on low heat for about 8-10 minutes until tender and all the water is absorbed. Transfer to large bowl and stir to cool slightly before adding olive oil, orange juice, zest, garlic, salt and pepper. Set couscous aside.

2. Place sweet potato slices on a parchment lined baking sheet, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for about 25 minutes, remove from oven and stir the slices, put back in the oven for about 5 more minutes. You want the slices to be browned but still chewy, not dried out. Let cool for 10 minutes.

3. Add the scallions, chives, pumpkin seeds, red pepper and sweet potatoes to the couscous and gently stir to combine. Serve with the additional chives and pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top.

Makes 4-6 servings

This salad also keeps well and makes a good picnic salad.