Saturday, February 20, 2010

Friday feeling

It was a bit of a disjointed day yesterday. 

All the sun had gone and dark wintery clouds were back, and we all thought the snow fall would start again, but by the afternoon it had brightened up and the sun was peeking through the clouds, but the temperatures were below freezing.

Started the day with trying to get somethings sorted in the UK. Everyone I phoned seemed to have started the weekend early and I managed to get precisely nothing sorted - very disappointing and it means that I have to do it all over again next week when people are back in the office.

When I got back from work I was starving and went to grab some salad and found that my vinigrette bottle was empty, as was my chilli oil, so that at least gave me my project for the afternoon.

I bottle all of my own oils and salad dressings, just buying in virgin olive oil as the base.  I love to have them all on the shelf ready to use. 

I keep any bottles, reuse them and also ask for donations from friends and clients.  Make sure all your bottles are sterilised before you add the contents - either boil them or put them in an oven - and don't forget to do the bottle tops too.  For flavoured oils I use approx 250ml bottles or smaller.

In fact most people now seem to have a 'Monika' box where they put their jars, yoghurt pots, toilet rolls, corks, and bottles.

Pizza Oil - tablespoon whole peppercorns, fresh or dried oregano or marjoram stalks, 3 garlic cloves, and a fresh or dried chilli, pour over olive oil and leave in a cool dark place to mature for at least a month.

Mustard vinigrette - 2 tablespoons of whole grain mustard (I make my own from whole mustard seed but you can use shop bought) fill bottle 3/4 with white vinegar, add a decent splash of balsamic and top the bottle with oilve oil.

Chilli Oil - crush 3 dried chillies or finely chop fresh chillies, add some finely chopped garlic cloves, I use at least 4 large cloves, pour over oil and leave to mature in a cool dark place.  This is my favourite for pouring over tomato and mozzarella salads.

Tomato vinigrette - cut a handful of cherry tomatoes in half and drop into a bottle, cut a red onion into slices that just fit through the neck of the bottle, 1/4 balsamic vinegar, 2/4 white vinegar and 1/4 olive oil.

I know the balsamic turns everything a bit brown but it is worth it for the taste, especially with tomatoes, but it is too expensive to fill a bottle alone, so dilute with some clear white vinegar.

I also preserve my herbs under oil, which gives you herbs to use in dishes and some lovely flavoured oils too. 

For this I use small sterilised jam jars. 

Pack stalks of rosemary, thyme, tarragon, oregano or whichever herb you want to use, tightly into the jar, pour over the oil and leave to mature in a cool dark place for at least a month.  Once opened they will keep for a number of weeks in the fridge, just pull out the herb for your recipe, or fry with the oil to add flavour.

For example if I am making roast lamb, I stud the lamb with the rosemary stalks, then to add flavour to my boiled potatoes I heat some of the oil in a large shallow pan, add the potatoes and turn them gently in the oil before serving, or I use some of the rosemary flavoured oil to make roast potatoes in.

My shelves are now groaning with full bottles, just the way I like it.

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