cooking with olive oil

Holiday Goose

by admin on November 15, 2013

Although the notion of shopping with the seasons is hardly new, and many of us adhere to the practice with a near religious vigor, most people apply the philosophy to, say, spring (onions, garlic, fava beans, and peas); summer (tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers), fall (figs, pears, apples) or winter (squash and bitter greens). But wild fish (Dungeness crab, sand dab, halibut, soft shell crab) are also seasonal, and, while the thought may strike many as weird, so are meat & poultry.

I believe this thinking will soon become the norm, especially for those of us who do most of our food shopping at farmers’ markets. After all, the theory is hardly new. Europeans have traditionally eaten lamb in spring, beef in summer & fall, and pork in fall and winter. Many small poultry farms have a chicken season that runs from April to November, and move on to fattier birds such as duck, turkey, and geese during cold weather months.

Goose, of course, is a traditional treat in many parts of the world, but not so much here in the States where turkey seems to be the perennial holiday bird of choice. To my way of thinking, turkey is fine and dandy  but once you’ve roasted a goose for Christmas there’s no turning back.

Slow-Roasted Goose with Root Vegetables on a Bed of Farro
The idea for slow-roasting the goose was inspired by the Union Square Café’s Second Helpings cookbook. I’ve settled on a simplified version of the recipe, have added a twist using SHOlive Oil Company’s new Cranberry Balsamic Vinegar, and also carve the bird and serve it over a bed of mint and tarragon flecked farro, the traditional Italian grain from the Abruzzo region. The result is fantastic. The dark, slightly gamey meat, crisp golden bits of skin, toothsome farro, a rich, but not too rich sauce, and the underlying brightness provided by the herbs.

8 – 10 pound Goose (preferably fresh, not frozen)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, pealed and chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 apple, cored and chopped
8 sage leaves
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup hard apple cider

4 tablespoons 2013 OLIO NUOVO

2 cups farro
1 sprig mint leaves, chopped
1 sprig tarragon leaves, chopped

24 – 48 hours before cooking, cut off the wingtips and set aside with the giblets. Pre-salt the goose inside and out with ORGANIC GREY SEA SALT and refrigerate, loosely wrapped in plastic.

Remove goose from fridge an hour before roasting and bring to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 250°.

Stuff the goose with a mixture of the root vegetables, apple, sage, and bay leaf. In a large roasting pan, place the bird breast-side down on roasting a rack and cover the entire pan with aluminum foil. Roast for 4 hours at 250°.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven, remove the foil, and pour off and save the rendered fat for another use (such as roasting potatoes). Raise the heat to 350°, and continue cooking for another hour.

Remove the pan from the oven, pour off and save any remaining fat, flip the goose to breast-side up, scatter the wingtips and giblets around the roasting pan, and cook for one more hour at 350°.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the farro.

When it’s done, remove the goose from the pan and set aside to rest for 15 – 20 minutes. Remove the vegetable, apple, and herb mix from the cavity, add it to the giblets and wingtips along with the chicken stock, hard cider, and Cranberry BALSAMIC VINEGAR, and cook over medium heat, slowly reducing the liquids into a sauce.

Carve the goose meat completely off the bone (it will be so tender that it will essentially fall off). Slice or tear the meat into fork-sized shreds.

Layer the farro onto a serving platter, and liberally scatter the chopped mint and tarragon leaves over the top. Arrange the goose flesh and pieces of crispy skin over the farro, ladle over the sauce, and serve.

— serves 8 to 10


Hailing from the western hillside of the Napa Valley, our Epstein Family Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil is sourced from a small family farm inspired by Frances Mayes, “Under the Tuscan Sun”.

A rare Napa Valley single Spanish varietal—Manzanillo—this is a bolder style oil, offering aromas of black pepper and wind swept grasses, with hints of lemon and fennel. Its rich mouthfeel is pungent and peppery, and makes for a beautiful finishing oil.

As an homage to the passing of summer, we have selected two recipes this oil complements beautifully, drawing out and balancing flavors. One is a classic caprese salad; the other is a simple dish of grilled sardines that we like to serve with a salad of butter lettuce and avocado.

All recipes make 4 servings
Caprese Salad
While this classic epitomizes the Italian spirit of keeping things simple by focusing on the ingredients, it is the quality of the ingredients that spells the difference between something good…and something truly sublime.

Note: While this salad normally calls for ground black pepper, we’ve omitted it here to allow the peppery nature of the oil to shine through.

1 lb. fresh cow or buffalo mozzarella (sliced ¼-inch thick)
1 lb. mixed tomatoes (sliced ¼-inch thick, cherries left whole or sliced in half)
1 sprig basil or a drizzle of our Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Epstein Family Estate extra virgin olive oil
Fleur de sel

Arrange the mozzarella and tomato slices on a plate, in an overlapping pattern: tomato, mozzarella, etc. Using kitchen scissors, cut several basil leaves in irregular sections right over the salad. Drizzle down the center with a healthy glug of the olive oil—but don’t overdo it! Finish with a sprinkle of fleur de sel.

Grilled Sardines
8 fresh sardines
1 lemon
1 teaspoon paprika
1 small sprig cilantro
1 shallot
Grey sea salt

Gut and clean the sardines, rub off any stray scales, rinse under cold water, pat dry, and place in a shallow bowl. Zest the lemon, set the zest aside, cut the lemon in half and squeeze out the juice. Drizzle the lemon juice over the sardines, sprinkle them with the paprika, and slather all together.

Chop the cilantro and place in small bowl. Mince the shallot and zest and toss with the cilantro.

Grill the sardines over hardwood, mesquite, or a gas grill, or place under the broiler, approximately three to four minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Plate the sardines, top with the cilantro gremolata, give the whole thing a healthy drizzle of Epstein Family Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and crumble on grey sea salt to finish.

Butter Lettuce and Avocado Salad
1 head of nice leafy butter lettuce
1 avocado
1 shallot
¼ cup St. Helena Olive Oil Co Sparkling Wine Vinegar
¼ cup Epstein Family Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

Pour the vinegar in a salad bowl, add the shallots, a pinch of Pink Himalayan sea salt, and whisk in the olive oil (the above measurements are approximations, always taste and adjust to suit your personal taste).

Peel and slice the avocado into wedges. Clean and dry the lettuce, tear the leaves into strips, place in the bowl, and toss with the vinaigrette. Plate next to the sardines, and top the salad with the avocado wedges. An extra drizzle of olive oil is optional.

Note: While it may seem unusual to use shallots with both the sardines and salad, they have a lovely and subtle way of unifying the flavor elements of each dish, as does the dual use of the Epstein Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil.


Three Ideas for Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

by admin on January 15, 2013

A larder rich with choices not only makes for more creative cooking, it also comforts us with the knowledge that, should we not have the time to shop, or are rushed to prepare dinner, a deliciously satisfying meal can still be created on the spot.

In this spirit, we offer a series of flavorful sauces and condiments such as the butternut squash pasta sauce used in the following recipes. While this slightly chunky purée delivers the creamy sweetness we love in butternut squash, its natural ingredients list of roasted red bell peppers, onion, and garlic lends it a tangy counterbalance that makes for a wonderfully versatile flavor vehicle.

Butternut Squash Rigatoni
Here’s the ultimate in simplicity for those rushed evenings we all face now and then. While the entire dish takes only 20 minutes or so to make, the result is very satisfying —quick and nourishing comfort food for any time of the year.  Note that we like to finish this off with our Twin Sisters California Extra Virgin Olive Oil which enhances the flavors of the pasta sauce.

1 lb. rigatoni
1/2 cup (or more to suit your taste) Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
1 tablespoon Twin Sisters California Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Organic Grey Sea Salt
Parmesan Reggiano
Organic Fleur de Sel
Chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, chives, or parsley

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Toss in the sea salt, followed by the rigatoni. (Helpful hint: if you’re having trouble keeping the water at a healthy boil, place the lid on the pot to either fully or partially cover.) Stir occasionally. When the pasta is cooked through but still toothsome, drain while retaining roughly a cup or so of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot, and stir in the butternut squash sauce. You may now also add back in a ladleful or two of the hot pasta water, depending on your preference for the thickness of the sauce. Fold the sauce into the pasta, and scoop into bowls. To finish, grate fresh Parmesan over the pasta, drizzle with a generous gurgle of olive oil, a dusting of the chopped herbs, and a zing of organic fleur de sel.

Serves 2 – 4 as a main course, and 6 as a starter course

White Beans and Sausage
Here’s a terrific way to incorporate the sauce into another starch vehicle, while enhancing the flavor with sausages (optional, of course, for vegetarians).

1 cup Cannellini or other creamy white beans
1 small yellow or red onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 celery stock, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Epstein Family Napa Valley Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 high quality sausages (may we suggest Italian or Toulouse style from Oxbow Market’s The Fatted Calf)
½ cup Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
Organic Grey Sea Salt

Rinse the beans, place in a bowl, and soak, just covered with water for 6 hours. Heat the oil over medium heat, add the vegetables, and cook for approximately 3 – 5 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the beans, stir, and cover the mixture in one-inch of water. Turn the heat to high, and bring the water to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low, and simmer the beans for one to two hours, until soft but not mushy. Add a pinch of salt and stir.

In the meanwhile, bring the sausages to room temperature. About twenty minutes before the beans are finished cooking, lightly prick and then broil the sausages for approximately five minutes on each side. Let rest for five minutes, and slice into 1-inch chunks.

Fold the butternut squash sauce into the beans, spoon the beans into bowls, and dot with the sausage meat. Serve with a salad of peppery dandelion greens or arugula.

Serves 4

Poached Eggs
This delightful dish can be served anytime of day, and makes a surprisingly intimate dinner for two.

4 farm fresh eggs
Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
Twin Sisters California Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Organic fleur de sel
~ Options ~

Poach eggs until cooked to your liking. Carefully place in a bowl. Spoon a few healthy dollops of butternut squash sauce over the eggs, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle over a pinch of fleur de sel. Embellish as you will with bacon, sausage, crostini, and/or greens.

Serves 2


Okay, I’ll admit it. As much as I advocate shopping locally and seasonally there are times when I crave ingredients that are simply not in season. That said, I’m not going to purchase hothouse tomatoes or Peruvian asparagus in the dead of winter (or anytime of the year, for that matter). And though I’ve canned my own tomatoes for nearly a decade, I don’t have time—much as I’d like to—to preserve much more than that, as my books on the subject continue to grow.

Here’s where my advocacy for a well-stocked larder kicks in again (as it did previously with St. Helena Olive Oil Co.’s Butternut Squash and Organic Spicy Heirloom pasta sauces). As our grandparents knew, having a good supply of preserved foods on hand makes life a lot more interesting, as well easier, while we await spring’s bounty.

Although artichokes are available in California in both spring and early fall, the latter season is shorter as well as typically less predictable when it comes to quality. As part of its commitment to offering the finest ingredients, St. Helena Olive Oil Co. stocks excellent jarred roasted artichoke hearts from Italy’s San Giuliano. These are terrific straight out of the jar as part of an antipasti platter, sliced into a salad, or chopped and incorporated into an omelette. They are also terrific in risotto.

Roasted Artichoke Risotto
Many people are intimidated by risotto, but once you’ve mastered the basics it’s really very simple, highly satisfying, and open to all sorts of ingredient variations. Also, forget those cookbooks that tell you that need to stir and stir and stir. The most important thing is steady cooking and liquid replacement, so the rice has enough to absorb as it creates a creamy, slightly soupy coating.

1 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
2 tablespoons Twin Sisters Extra Virgin Olive Oil Blade Press
1 small yellow onion, chopped (you want about a quarter cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme leaves
2 cups chicken broth (preferably homemade)
Splash of white wine or vermouth (approximately ¼ cup)
Pinch of Organic Grey Sea Salt
6 – 8 Roasted Artichokes, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon butter
Parmesan cheese
A handful of fresh mint or parsley leaves, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

Using a small pot, heat the chicken broth to a healthy simmer (but not a rolling boil).

Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or other large size pot. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme, and cook until just beginning to soften (2-3 minutes).

Raise the heat a notch and add the rice, stirring to coat with the vegetables and oil.

After 3 – 4 minutes, the rice will start becoming semi-translucent, and you should hear a low-level snap, crackle, and pop.

Add the wine or vermouth, turn the heat to high, and cook until the wine has evaporated.

Return the heat to normal, add a ladleful of hot chicken broth, stir once, and add a pinch of grey sea salt.

Continue to add broth as needed, which means just before the previous ladleful is completely absorbed (usually a few minutes between doses).

Cook for approximately 10 – 12 more minutes. Don’t worry if you run out of broth before the rice has finished cooking, you can always add a bit of water instead.

A few minutes before the rice is ready—you’ll know by the look and texture, which, like pasta, should be al dente, soft but toothsome—fold in the chopped artichokes and give the mixture a healthy stir (ideally this would be right before you add the final ladle of stock).

Once the rice has finished cooking, stir in the butter, remove from the heat, and let the risotto rest for a few minutes, covered.

Spoon into bowls, grate fresh Parmesan over the top (to your liking), sprinkle with the mint or parsley, and grind a little black over the top.

~ serves 4 to 6 as a first course, 2 as a stand-alone dish

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Pan Seared Scallops

by admin on December 29, 2010

The holidays are over—bummer, or a godsend, depending on your point of view—and life is slowly returning to normal. Time to slow down, but also time to eat simply, if very well after the Thanksgiving-to-New Year’s feast-a-thon.

Shellfish is especially good this time of year, when the waters run cold and there is no risk from the “red tide” algae that can be toxic to humans (though, frankly, that risk is minimal pretty much any time of the year given today’s mostly aquaculture-sourced shellfish).

The following dish can either be used as the starter to a multi-course meal or enjoyed individually.

Very simple and very satisfying, this recipe takes just minutes to make and features Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil and our Pink Himalayan Salt.

6 sea scallops
2 tablespoons  our Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
12 fresh sage leaves
Pink Himalayan Salt
Lemon zest, in 1-inch strips

Bring the scallops to room temperature and pat dry. Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and just coat the surface of the pan with our Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

When the oil is sizzling but not smoking place the scallops in the pan, but do not crowd them (if making more than six scallops it is best to cook them in batches). Cook for approximately 3 – 4 minutes, until the underside is caramelized a deep golden brown. Using a thin metal spatula, carefully dislodge and turn over the scallops, add the sage leaves to the pan, drizzle the sage and scallops with Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and sprinkle over the Pink Himalayan Salt.

When the scallops are done plate with a few of the fried sage leaves, toss on a few slivers of lemon zest, and add an extra dash of the oil or salt to suit your taste.

— serves two as an appetizer

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Recession-era Truffle Solution

by admin on November 26, 2010

Good—really good—truffles are one of the great joys of the winter table. Only problem is, they cost a small fortune. Even “truffle shavings” can command nearly $100 per jar. So unless you’re among the lucky few not affected by our ongoing recession, enjoying these funky looking, ultra-fragrant tubers may be a forgotten luxury this year.

But there is an affordable solution. And while we’re not claiming that our imported Italian Truffle Salt from Rome’s Sabatino & Co. will make you swoon quite as dramatically as a whole specimen will, a small sprinkle of this highly aromatic mixture of sea salt and small chunks of black truffle can really perk up a dish, and add at least a hint of near illicit decadence to a meal.

This satisfying cold-weather recipe for mushroom sauce with Truffle Salt can used as pasta sauce, and also served over rice or polenta.

In the meantime, consider sprinkling a dash of Truffle Salt on tonight’s grilled ribeye steak, tomorrow morning’s scrambled eggs, or over popcorn next time you sit down with a favorite movie—say, Big Night or Julie & Julia?

Mushroom Sauce with Truffle Salt
½ pound mixed wild mushrooms (such as pioppini, chanterelle, yellow foot, or hedgehog), cleaned and roughly chopped
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, soaked, dried, and roughly chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped
6 canned plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup white wine

Soak the dried porcinis in lukewarm water for 30 minutes. Drain, rinse, and pat dry with paper towels. Warm the butter and olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, add the onions, garlic, and thyme and cook for about five minutes, or until the onions and garlic become translucent. Add the mushrooms and wine and cook for another five minutes. Add the tomatoes, lower the heat, and simmer for approximately 20 minutes.

In the meantime, cook your pasta, rice or polenta, fold in the sauce, and finish with a sprinkle of Truffle salt to taste.

— serves 4


Riffing on Organic Spicy Heirloom Pasta Sauce

November 20, 2010

Fight it as much as we might, this year’s tomato season is kaput. To be sure, supermarkets and even local farmers’ markets still have tomatoes to sell, but even the best examples from mid-November pale in aroma and flavor compared to those from the peak of the season. If you canned your own it’s time [...]

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Wild Salmon with Orange Extra Virgin Olive Oil

October 22, 2010

Our Orange Extra Virgin Olive Oil marries two of California’s most heavenly crops, Mission olives and Navel oranges, which are added to the press to create this bright, citrusy, and flavorful extra virgin oil. It’s great simply drizzled over fish, poultry, pasta, and other items, but gains complexity when used in conjunction with vinegar. These [...]

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A Focus on Rare Balsamic Vinegar

October 6, 2010

Balsamic vinegar is one of those products that, while exotic, appealing, and sometimes very pricey, many of us aren’t quite sure exactly what to do with. Here are two lovely Mediterranean-style recipes we’ve selected to showcase our rare 19-year-old balsamic vinegar, which we’ve sourced from a tiny artisan producer in Modena, Italy for the past [...]

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Ricotta Fritta (Fried Ricotta)

April 24, 2009

Elizabetta’s was a nice respite from the rain…..we bid our usual ciaos and I announced my hope for the evening…..I wanted to make Ricotta Fritta (Fried Ricotta). I had found a recipe as I always do but SO look forward to Elizabetta’s spin. Today, she had a perplexed look and said ah yes….we make this [...]

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