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It pretty much goes without saying that the BTD was a new way of eating for just about all of us. With that new way of eating comes new flavors - and sometimes they’re not bad, but they’re not exactly what you had in mind either. For instance, I don’t like the “bite” of raw mustard greens. When I cook ‘em, they aren’t appealing to me at all. At a blog reader’s suggestion, I tried hiding ‘em in soup. That was a big improvement.
With the coming of warmer weather though, I am not as inclined to eat soup. I realize there is a variety of cool and cold soups that can be made. However, they don’t seem to be good matches for hiding mustard greens in. This week, I made the resolution to find a way to eat ‘em and I am happy to announce that I have found my solution.
Yesterday, I was in a hurry and just had time to make a simple salad. I put fresh mustard greens in a bowl, tossed in some plain, cold, baked, cod chunks and stood there and stared at the combo. It stared back at me. I stared at it some more hoping for inspiration. Then, it hit me!
I had flavored oils available to me. Specifically, I used a drizzle of lemon flavored extra virgin olive oil and a bit of sea salt. That was it. The oil was enough to hide the “bite” of the greens and had enough additional flavor from the lemon. The salad was so simple it seemed silly and it really tasted good. Then, I started thinking some more about flavored oils.
Before the BTD, I often used flavored vinegars, but vinegars are avoids for AB’s. Now, I use flavored oils and nut oils, but until yesterday, I had always assumed that they would be too heavy unless cut with an acid of some sort. So, what else can you do with flavored oils?
There is someone over on the bulletin boards part of this site that is partial to walnut oil. That particular type of oil I like to use warm. My favorite way is to drizzle it over a fruit salad made of grapes, apples, pears, and toasted pecans. If the salad isn’t going to be eaten immediately, I’ll add a bit of lemon juice to the fruit to keep it from discoloring. Later, I add the warm oil just before it is served.
Tarragon and thyme are two herb flavors that I really enjoy. When you work with herbs, the finished product is usually better tasting when you use fresh ones. When the fresh aren’t available, then the flavored oils can be nice instead of or in addition to the dried herbs. Garlic flavored oil is another one of my favorites to work with. Flavored oils are also nice as dips.
A really good quality extra virgin olive oil just by itself can be good, too. Do not cook with it. Why? When you heat olive oil, it loses a lot of its flavor. The high quality ones will have their flavor ruined if you cook with them.
They don’t have to be the really expensive ones imported from Italy. There are nice ones that are considerably cheaper than the Italian ones. One in particular that I am thinking of is from Spain. If you get lucky, your WFS may have a weekend where they will let you sample the various brands that they carry.
A word of warning now: If you chose to make your own flavored oils it is wise to only make as much as you will use immediately. If you make extra, it needs to be refrigerated and used within just a few days. This is especially true when you use raw garlic or shallots. Why?
Several forms of food poisoning (at least one of that can be deadly) can result if these two simple rules are not followed. As long as you follow the rules, then there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.
If this puts you off making your own, commercially infused oils are shelf stable. However, some of them are so delicate that they also need to be refrigerated after they have been opened to keep them from going rancid quickly.
One last bit that I can't figure a way to work into the rest of the text of this blog: my mother introduced me to a new green tea. It's called Monkey King and is done by Numi Tea. It's flavored with jasmine. Another one that I found is from The Tao of Tea and is called Jade Flower. I find it fun to watch the flower "bloom" in your cup or teapot.
Happy weekend everyone!