Whether you always host the family get-togethers, you’re tasked with bringing a lil’ something for the office pot-luck party or everyone is stopping by your house on the way to the movies, it’s good to have some great quality ingredients and staples in the cupboard. They help you come across as a accomplished chef, even if you’re not! I was happy to be hosted by Sonoma Farm to try out some interesting things and here’s the scoop on some of them . . . Sonoma Farm is a farm- to- bottle company, using local to them farmed produce, as well as from California and Italy, making small-batch gourmet items.
Can you believe that Smoky Bacon Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil is all natural, but doesn’t have ANY pork or meat in it? I can tell you, it certainly tastes like the real thing. It has a deep, natural smoky nose, not from fake salts. The flavor is wood-smoked charcuterie, rich but mild olive oil. Listen, I used this to make the absolutely best wilted spinach salad I ever had! Take a bag of spinach. In a pan, gently warm some oil and a pack of gourmet, sliced mushrooms. Hopefully, your pack has some oyster mushrooms — they’re meaty and good. If you happen to have blade mace (the other part of the nutmeg plant), crumble a little in. In a big bowl, season the spinach with a little sea salt or if you have it, smoked salt. You could put a touch of Dijon mustard in there for extra bite. Dump the oil and mushrooms onto the spinach, toss with a little tangy apple cider vinegar. Shave some sweet onion into it — I used locally grown Candy Onion. Grind some fresh pepper on top. Mmmm!
If you’re having trouble making authentic-tasting Mexican or Southeast Asian food, maybe you’re forgetting the fresh lime flavor. Lime Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a candied lime nose which turns to fresh lime. It’s a medium rich oil with lime zest flavor. Use it on fish and Mexican salads!
I was able to successfully grow a jalapeno plant this year, so I have to concur with their pronouncement that the Jalapeno Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil tastes like oil and the fresh real thing. It has a fresh, vegetal nose. It’s a rich oil that ends up with a good bit of heat. I would suggest it for pasta, potatoes, finishing a steak, making a spicy aioli. They suggest it for eggs, omelets, steamed and sautéed vegetables, stir fry, grilled salmon, fish, fajitas and chicken.
I have really been enjoying sauteing with Butter Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It definitely has that fresh, farm butter, lactic nose, but has the higher smoking point of oil! This is an affordable, extremely healthy and tasty meal a law school classmate taught me to make: spinach (or other greens) rice cakes. Take some leftover rice, can be any kind — including brown. Set it aside. In a saute pan, crisp up any greens with a good pour of oil. I had recently made beets and could not see myself throwing out the gorgeous red and green leaves. I sauteed them, using a good amount of seasoning salt. Take the greens out of the pan, let cool. In a bowl, whip up an egg. Add your rice, the greens, more seasoning salt, a squeeze of lemon juice, cream cheese or grated cheese if you have it, plus a handful of panko crumbs. Mix together with a spoon and set in the fridge for at least a half hour. Then, pat into hamburger type patties, saute in the pan with a bit of oil, cooking each side for 2-3 minutes. This is what they say about their oil:
Use on fish and in baking.
Used: seafood, pasta, rice and mashed potatoes. Drizzle it on top of your toast, corn, baked potato, or popcorn instead of using butter. It is one small way you can cut back on saturated fats, sodium and cholesterol in your diet without sacrificing the flavor.
Substituting Olive Oil for Butter
Butter Oil Butter
1 teaspoon ¾ teaspoon
1 tablespoon 2 ¼ teaspoons
¼ cup 3 tablespoons
1/3 cup ¼ cup
½ cup ¼ cup 2 tablespoons
2/3 cup ½ cup
¾ cup ½ cup
1 cup 3/4 cup
I imagine it would be wonderful with a classic Italian olive oil cake.
Rosemary Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a bright piney/fir/rosemary nose. It’s a smooth oil, with bright, super peppery rosemary flavors. This will be your friend for easy, authentic tasting focaccia, Italian pork dishes, as well as Bistecca alla Fiorentina. Get yourself a nice Tomahawk cut steak for that! They suggest it for salads, chicken. roasted potatoes, panini and grilled meats.
Rosemary & Basil Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil first piqued my interest with their recipe of strawberry basil bread. It’s crazy simple, you just need 2 big bowls and a loaf pan and I can’t believe how good it is! I froze some, it freezes beautifully. In their recipe, I think they left out adding chopped fresh basil. I have 3 kinds in my garden: sweet Italian, spicy Thai and lemon basil. I added some of each, cut into a chiffonade. The cake is so moist and fruity. I also sprinkled some extra sugar on top before baking, for a coffee cake style crunch. The oil itself has a spicy floral nose with sweet basil. It’s a very buttery oil with the minty quality of fresh basil and piney rosemary. Use this for Spring lamb dishes!
Italiano Dipping Oil is made from first-pressed extra virgin olive oil — the good stuff! It’s infused with garlic and basil, with flakes of basil and oregano. It has a garlicky nose! This is your shortcut to restaurant quality sub sandwiches, croutons and bread courses.
Like a clear, emerald-cut diamond, sometimes simple works the best. Extra Virgin Olive Oil Cold Pressed get that first, fresh squeezed oil out of the olive fruit. The early harvest aspect gets that tangy, fruity flavor. The nose is very fruity and peppery, with a little butter. It has a silky body, with a teeny touch of pepper bite. Use it where classic olive oil flavor counts: salad Caprese, drizzle on Italian Wedding Soup. I have the easiest recipe! In a big pot, pour in 2 boxes of chicken broth. Add any Parmesan ends and rinds you have on hand, along with a peeled garlic clove. Bring to a boil. Then, put in a box or bag of frozen spinach, cook for a 1/2 hour. Then, add a bag of frozen meatballs, cook for an hour. Add a handful of orzo, cook 15 minutes. Serve with a grind of fresh pepper and a drizzle of the olive oil!
Owner Dominic has created a specialty line, Dominic’s Best. There are two different cheese dips: Garlic/Basil Parmesan Dip and Asiago/Parmesan Cheese Dip. Extra virgin olive oil is mixed with a bit of herbs and delicious cheese. You should use these as easily and frequently as seasoning salt! Any food that needs flavor help — I’m looking at you, ground turkey and cauliflower “rice”! — benefits from this. I’m a member of a number of budget meals groups online and I can testify that these dips really elevate even frozen and canned foods to tastiness. Pour a little on canned tomatoes for a gourmet side dish. Serve little dishes of it alongside your homemade (even English muffin) pizzas for that carryout experience at a tiny fraction of the price.