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Set a Place for Olive Oil from Spain at Your Holiday Table.

Olive Oil from Spain Enhances Any Dish - Savory or Sweet

NEW YORK, Oct. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Holidays are a time for welcoming guests to the table. This year, make a place for olive oil from Spain at your gathering -- be it a casual buffet, multi-course dinner, or simple get-together for small bites. Spain's olive oils provide smooth, vibrant and bold tastes that enhance the flavor of any dish -- from appetizers to desserts.

Olive oil from Spain is a favorite choice of leading chefs around the world, including award-winning chef Jose Andres. The chef-owner of seven highly-acclaimed restaurants in the Washington D.C. area and author of Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America (Random House) recommends elevating the flavor of any holiday meal by using olive oil from Spain in recipes that call simply for oil.

"The unique flavor of olive oil from Spain adds depth and richness to any holiday dish, whether it's savory or sweet," Andres said. "Of course it's great for sauteing, roasting or finishing dishes, but also try substituting olive oil for vegetable oil or butter when baking holiday cakes and cookies," he said.

Setting the Table with Olive Oil from Spain

Ready to make olive oil from Spain a part of your holiday table? Chef Andres has created a multi-course menu of dishes that are easy to prepare and sure to win praise from family and friends this holiday season. (Holiday recipes follow.)

"The confit of Piquillo peppers made with Spanish extra-virgin olive oil (Pimientos del piquillo confitados) is an unbelievable, easy recipe that can be enjoyed alone on a plate, on a slice of bread or as a garnish with fish or meat," Andres said. "They are very traditional in the steakhouses of northern Spain." For the rack of lamb with honey allioli recipe (Costillas de cordero con allioli de miel), Andres notes that, "honey allioli is a traditional combination that goes perfectly with lamb, and even with its garlic flavor, this dish is incredibly popular with kids too."

Discovering the Delights of Olive Oil from Spain

Spain is the leading producer of olives and the world's leading producer of olive oil. It produces on average one million tons of olive oil annually. Spain's more than 300 million olive trees cover more than 8,800 square miles - an area comparable to the size of Massachusetts.

Intrigued, but not sure where to begin? Experiment and discover what types of olive oil suit your tastes. The simple guidelines below get you started and explain the range of olive oil from Spain.
 -- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: The strongest olive flavor of the four
 varieties of olive oil. Best used for drizzling, salad dressings,
 marinades, sauces, stews, soups.
 -- Virgin Olive Oil: Shares extra virgin olive oil's strong flavor, but
 slightly more mild. Best used for grilling, sauteing, drizzling,
 salad dressings, marinades, stews, soups.
 -- Olive Oil: Much milder and better suited for cooking. Best used for
 baking, frying, grilling, sauteing.
 -- Light Olive Oil: The most mild of the four. Best used for baking,
 frying, grilling, sauteing.

For baking, simply substitute equal amounts of olive oil for vegetable oil and follow the conversion guidelines below* for substituting olive oil for butter.
 Butter/Margarine Olive Oil from Spain
 1 Teaspoon 3/4 Teaspoon
 1 Tablespoon 2 1/2 Teaspoons
 2 Tablespoons 1 1/2 Tablespoons
 1/4 Cup 3 Tablespoons
 1/3 Cup 1/4 Cup
 1/2 Cup 1/4 Cup + 2 tablespoons
 2/3 Cup 1/2 Cup
 3/4 Cup 1/2 Cup + 1 tablespoon
 1 Cup 3/4 Cup

The olive may be small, but it carries with it a rich history of victorious athletes and stately monarchs. Its branch commemorates peace, and its oil is referenced in holy books and considered to be the "king" of all oils. To make sure you're stocking your pantry with quality oil made from Spain's famous olives, look for the "Olive Oil from Spain" label -- or check the back of the bottle for the country of origin -- to ensure that you're getting quality oil made from the world's most famous olives.

For more information, recipes and facts about Olive Oil from Spain, visit .
 * Guidelines provided by Olive Oil from Spain

 Setas al ajillo
 Wild mushrooms with garlic and parsley

 1/4 cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
 1 pound seasonal wild mushrooms, washed and whole
 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
 1 sprig fresh thyme
 4 tablespoons Spanish brandy
 Salt to taste
 White pepper to taste
 1 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over a medium flame. Add the mushrooms and leave them in the pan for 1 minute until they brown on one side. Then shake the pan to turn over the mushrooms and brown again for another minute. Repeat two or three times until the mushrooms are brown all over. The mushrooms will release some water, but don't worry. If your pan is hot enough, the water evaporates.

If the pan seems dry, pour in another 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the garlic and thyme. Keep moving the garlic with a wooden spoon until it is light brown, about 30 seconds. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

Pour in the brandy and watch it almost completely evaporate. At this point the pan will have a nice brown sauce of reduced brandy and mushroom juices. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately in the pan with the parsley sprinkled on top.
 Serves 4

 Costillas de cordero con allioli de miel
 Rack of lamb with honey allioli

Allioli is the national sauce in Catalonia that accompanies practically any grilled meat. Catalans also have a sweet tooth, and you often find traditional recipes like codfish with honey, or meats cooked with fruits. Honey allioli is a traditional combination that goes perfectly with lamb. Even with its garlic flavor, you'll find this dish is incredibly popular with kids too.

~ Chef Jose Andres, author of Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America (Random House)
 1 rack lamb, around 1 pound
 1 sprig fresh rosemary
 2 tablespoons Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
 1/2 cup Allioli a la Moderna (see accompanying recipe)
 2 tablespoons lavender honey (or any honey you like)
 Salt to taste

 Heat the oven to 250 degrees.

Using a sharp knife, remove the fat from the rack of lamb so the bones are clean but still attached to the loin.

Place the lamb, with the bones facing down, onto a roasting rack or pan. Break the sprig of rosemary into a few pieces and sprinkle over the lamb. Brush the lamb with a little olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes, or until the inside of the lamb reaches 140 degrees. As you check the lamb, baste the meat with a little oil from the pan once or twice.

Meanwhile, combine the allioli and the honey in a bowl. Use a fork to mix them together thoroughly.

Remove the lamb from the oven and allow it to rest for 3 or 4 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over a high flame. Place the whole rack of lamb in the pan and sear for 10 seconds on each side to brown it.

Cut the rack into pieces along the bones. Place a spoon of honey allioli at the bottom of each plate and top with a piece of lamb. Sprinkle with salt to taste and serve.
 Serves 4

 Chef Jose Andres' tips

We sear the lamb at the end, not the beginning, because we want to achieve the Maillard reaction, which is what happens every time we brown meats that are rich in sugar. The downside is that it loses a lot of the juice in the process. By roasting the lamb slowly, we lose much less juice than traditional roasting at high heats. And by searing it at the end, we can also conserve more of the lamb's succulent juices.
 Allioli a la Moderna
 Modern Garlic and Oil Sauce

Not everyone has the time to make allioli the traditional way, by hand, even though it's worth the effort. This is the modern version, made with a hand blender, in case you're rushed.

~ Chef Jose Andres, author of Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America (Random House)
 1 small egg
 1 cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil, divided
 1 garlic clove, peeled
 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar or fresh lemon juice
 Salt to taste

Break the egg into a small mixing bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the garlic clove, and the vinegar or lemon juice.

Using a hand-held electric mixer, mix at high speed until the garlic is fully pureed into a loose paste. Then, little by little, add the remaining olive oil as you continue blending at high speed. If the mixture appears too thick when you begin adding the oil, add 1 teaspoon water to loosen the sauce. Continue adding the oil and blending until you have a rich, creamy, allioli. The sauce will be a lovely yellow color. Salt to taste.
 Makes 1 cup

 Chef Jose Andres' tips

What happens if the oil and egg separate? Don't throw the sauce out. You can do two things: One is to whisk it and use it as a side sauce for fish or a vegetable. Or if you want to rescue the allioli, measure out 1 tablespoon lukewarm water and add it to the mix little by little. Blend it again until you have the creamy sauce you wanted.
 Espinacas a la Catalana
 Spinach, Catalan-style

Catalans love their dried fruits. One of the most popular desserts in Catalonia is the postre de musico, which is a glass of sweet wine like a Moscatel served next to a little plate of almonds, pine nuts, and raisins -- and any other dried fruit the musicians deserved. That was the way the traveling troubadors got paid. Here it's not paired with a dessert wine, but with a vegetable. This is a super-fast dish, and you'll be eating like a musician in no time.

~ Chef Jose Andres, author of Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America (Random House)
 10 ounces baby spinach, washed and whole
 1 golden delicious apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
 4 tablespoons seedless dark raisins
 4 tablespoons pine nuts
 2 tablespoons Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
 Salt to taste

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over a high flame. When the oil is very hot, add the apple cubes and cook until they are a little browned, which should be less than 1 minute. Add the pine nuts and cook until they are brown, about 20 seconds. Keep the pot moving so the nuts don't burn. Add the raisins and stir together.

Add the spinach, mix, and saute very fast until the spinach starts to wilt, then remove from the heat; it will continue to wilt off the flame. Add salt to taste and serve immediately.
 Serves 4

 Chef Jose Andres' tips

This is a very quick dish to cook -- so quick that you have to be careful not to burn anything. Be prepared beforehand, and be ready to serve immediately. To make it extra special, try preparing a quick pine nut praline to serve it with: toast additional pine nuts in a separate pan, then puree with a little olive oil to make a very fine paste, like a smooth peanut butter. Drizzle the praline on the base of the plate and top with the spinach.
 Pimientos del piquillo confitados
 Confit of piquillo peppers in their own juices

Piquillo peppers cooked this way are unbelievable. They're easy, fast, and can be enjoyed alone on a plate, on a slice of bread, or as a garnish with fish or meat. They are very traditional in the steakhouses of northern Spain.

~ Chef Jose Andres, author of Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America (Random House)
 1 12-ounce can piquillo peppers (Spanish wood-roasted sweet peppers)
 2 cloves garlic, peeled
 Salt to taste
 1 cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees. Place 5 of the peppers in a cup along with 2 tablespoons water. Use a hand blender to puree them well.

In a small terracotta casserole, place half of the remaining peppers in one layer. This works best when the peppers don't overlap. Spoon a layer of the pepper puree on top, and smooth out with the back of the spoon. Split open the garlic cloves by placing them on a chopping board and pressing down hard with the base of your hand or the flat side of a paring knife. Add the garlic and sprinkle with salt to taste. Make another layer of peppers, and cover with the remainder of the puree. Salt again.

Cover the peppers with the oil. Place in the oven for 1 hour, until they are completely tender. Remove, allow to cool to room temperature, and serve.
 Yields 1 cup

 Chef Jose Andres' tips

To cook this dish successfully you need more oil than you'll eat. Keep the leftover oil for dressings or sauteing another dish later. The oil becomes infused with the pepper, and the taste is wonderful.

CONTACT: Marisa Baile for Trade Commission of Spain, +1-312-988-2425,
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Date:Oct 23, 2006
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