The Herb Companion Magazine

I just had my first article published in The Herb Companion magazine and I’m just thrilled with the outcome. I believe it is on newsstands now and can be picked up at large chain bookstores such as Barnes and Noble and Borders.

The piece is on no-cook sauces that make the most of summer’s bounty of fresh herbs. Besides an intro, there are four versatile recipes that can be used with grilled meat or fish, pasta, or bread and veggies.

Cross your fingers for more in 2011. Check out the story here.

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Outdora Showroom

I can’t believe it’s been a year since I was hired as a copywriter for Outdora. If you had told me back then that I would have produced hundreds of pages of content for this online shopping site, I never would have believed it. Being able to work from home has been wonderful, except that my only contact with my employer and those I work under was via email. This last weekend I had the opportunity to drive to the lovely town of Sonoma and attend a grand opening party for their newly opened showroom and finally meet my co-workers.

Outdora sells a huge variety of items for the home and garden. Just about any type of adornment for your home can be purchased from Outdora at a very competitive price. Products like amazing wind chimes, cupolas, address plaques, outdoor umbrellas, patio rugs, picnic baskets, and patio furniture are available here. They literally sell thousands of items. And I’ve had the pleasure of writing about many of them. For some people it might be difficult to learn about a product and become enthusiastic enough to “sell” it with words. Ultimately, not being able to obtain some of these items after doing the leg work and learning about their attributes, can be a drag. And yes, at times I do wish I had a wind chime that is tuned to orchestra pitch, but I’m just satisfied researching and shopping without making the investment.

The grills, though, that’s a tough one. I’ve written so much copy on so many amazing high end grills that I do envy those that have the opportunity to make that big purchase. Then again, if my copy is good enough to convince them to click that mouse, I should be satisfied with that. And I am. Besides meeting my co-workers, the best part of the party was eating the food that was prepared on these bad boys. Brilliant idea to put several of these babies to work grilling up some really delicious food. Viking, Twin Eagles, Lynx, and Big Green Egg were all on display for guests to admire. I can see why cooking demos at culinary showrooms are such an integral part to the shopper’s experience and ultimate purchase.

I wish Outdora and their new showroom much success and growth.

Olive Oil-Citrus Cake

As a follow up to my previous post on Olive Oil Gelato, I wanted to also provide the recipe to the olive oil cake I made. There are several different cake recipes out there on the internet and in various cookbooks. After reviewing many of them, I came up with my own variation. For this cake I used a local Paso Robles olive oil, golden in color and very fruity on the palate. Unlike the gelato, the olive oil flavor is very subtle and provides a very moist end result. In the future I would always turn to olive oil in a cake batter recipe that calls for another oil such as vegetable or canola oil, especially if the cake has added flavorings such as citrus.

Olive Oil-Citrus Cake

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

2 tsp. orange zest

2 tsp. lemon zest

1/4 cup whole milk

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; mix well and set aside.

2. In another bowl, add eggs and sugar and mix until fluffy and sugar is well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add zests, milk, and oil; continue to mix until well blended. Add flour mixture and combine until flour is incorporated; don’t overmix.

3. Pour batter into a buttered and floured 8- to 9-inch cake pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350°, or until center of cake springs back when touched and toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool and serve ,or cover with wrap and serve next day.

Olive Oil Gelato

I’ve been on an olive oil high as of late, writing articles for The Olive Oil Times, receiving generous samples from Cobram Estate, and generally consuming far too much of this golden elixir. But its good for me (and my skin) so until I see any adverse reactions, I’ll continue on course.

Last week I prepared an olive oil–centered meal for some friends and educated them about the extra virgin olive oil business, current terms and their meanings, and what to look for when shopping for the real deal. Most hadn’t given the topic of authentic extra virgin olive oil much thought so I felt I did my job as a food journalist (and friend).

There were olives and/or olive oil in several dishes I prepared, but the dish that received the most notice was the Olive Oil Gelato I served. Never having tried it before, I too was truly surprised by the depth of olive oil flavor and how it worked so well with the custard-like ingredients. If you have an ice cream maker, this should be at the top of your list the next time you pull it out of storage. In fact, keep it on your counter near your coffee maker because I promise you’ll be making it more often than you ever imagined.

Olive Oil Gelato

This really is just a basic custard recipe, with the addition of extra-virgin olive oil, chilled, and poured into an ice cream maker. Serve alone, with a dense chocolate ganache cake, or with an olive oil cake as I did. (See Olive Oil Cake post.)

3 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

6 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (Cobram Estate Fresh and Fruity or similarly fruity oil)

1. In a medium-size saucepan, combine milk and cream and slowly heat to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring often to avoid scorching.

2. While milk mixture is heating, place yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl and with a hand-held mixer, whip on high until yolks turn a light pale color and have doubled in size. While mixer is running, add olive oil in a steady stream and continue to mix until well incorporated.

3. Remove milk mixture from stove top and add a small amount to yolks, incorporating with mixer on low. Continue to temper yolks with another two additions of hot milk (about 1/4 cup each time), continuing to mix while adding. Once yolks have been tempered, pour yolk mixture into into pan with remaining milk and cook over medium heat until mixture reaches about 175° and coats the back of a spoon. Stir constantly and watch so that the yolks don’t cook. Once thickened and temperature is reached, remove from stove and stain if needed.

4. Chill custard, placing a piece of plastic wrap on top. Once custard has chilled, it can be poured in an ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions.