TV chef and author Lyndey Milan continues her series on olive oil here by explaining which oil is best for each style of cooking.
Different styles of oil are suited for different styles of cooking – light, classic, robust
This is not so much about the variety of olive, as when it is harvested and processed which will ultimately determine the flavour. I applaud the fact that many oils are now labelled according to intensity of flavour. In the same way many wines have back labels which indicate where they are on the flavour spectrum. So think about weight and flavour of your food and also your oil. It’s rather like wine matching. Match the weight, flavour, texture & intensity of the food with the weight, flavour, texture and intensity of the oil.
So a mild-flavoured oil is best for making cakes, biscuits, pastry desserts, greasing tins or whenever you want very little olive flavour.
Transform a plain bowl of steamed vegies with a fruity oil.
Conversely, call me crazy but I love a robust EVOO with a curry! I also use it when I make pilaf rice. It works well with most Asian cuisines. Even try it drizzled on sashimi with some sea salt flakes.
When I was in Portugal many years ago we were served fresh oranges with EVOO it was amazing! Since I have given up bread, oranges are a great base for tasting oils.
For green salads, I prefer a mild or fruit oil.
Try slaw with olive oil instead of a creamy dressing. It is lighter and fresher. If it is an Asian slaw add a few drops of sesame oil as well as your EVOO.
Or try this one using brussels sprouts instead of cabbage with EVOO and lemon juice.
Talking Asian, this is a recipe I created in 1995 inspired by Tetsuya
Using EVOO with mirin, ginger, garlic and parsley
With oranges or strawberries I would go for a fruity olive oil. Or even an infused oil like lemon as a flavour enhancer.
Speaking of infused oils, my latest favourite is smoked oil. I just love the umami hit it gives and it can be used to give that ethereal smokiness to vegetables and things NOT cooked on the BBQ. However, here again a word of warning. The Quality of the oil is important and I have sadly tasted some infused oils which are rancid. This also reminds me of an unpleasant experience when I was judging the marinated class in the Australian Association of Specialist Cheesemakers show and many of them were rancid or had that distinct canola flavour and cloying texture.
But EVOO is an excellent preservative and flavour enhancer for home-made labna.
BAKING WITH EVOO
Baking generally requires an oil which can safely go to 200’C. Step up Australian EVOO. More importantly, it can streamline preparation, removing the need to rub butter into flour. I always use olive oil in damper. It’s a dream for pizza dough and bread.
There is a Conversion Chart for those wishing to substitute main course dishes where margarine or butter is used for frying or sautéing. Of course, olive oil and butter are often used together for flavour from the butter but the olive oil prevents it burning.
The conversion chart is appropriate for most cake and pastry recipes where quantities are critical. But it is not always a wise to use liquid shortening (olive oil/vegetable oil) instead of solid shortening (butter/margarine) e.g. an icing must stay solid at room temperature.
Butter/Margarine Olive Oil
1 teaspoon 3/4 teaspoon
1 tablespoon 2 ¼ teaspoons
2 tablespoons 1 ½ tablespoons
1/4 cup 3 tablespoons say 2 1/2
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
Note you use less.
Olive oil also has some fantastic characteristics – you can use it to emulsify a sauce, even without eggs.
Quick Ways with EVOO
- Drizzle soup with a little extra virgin olive oil to add flavour and aroma. The more robust the soup, the more robust the oil.
- Add a little olive oil to mashed potatoes – a perfect accompaniment to a robust slow-cooked meat dish.
- Fry fresh sage, basil and parsley leaves in olive oil for a few seconds to garnish savoury dishes. Pat the herbs dry before frying and be careful as the oil will bubble fiercely. The remaining oil will be infused with the herb flavour.
- Pour olive oil in a thin film over the surface of tomato paste to prevent mould forming.
- The EV olive oil used in jars of vegetables, olives and feta cheese can be used again in salads or cooking. Keep it refrigerated. It may solidify or become cloudy but will liquefy at room temperature.
Olive oil is having a major mixology moment at some of the world’s best bars writes Kara Newman in Wine Enthusiast Magazine “bartenders are using it to add flavour and a silky texture to cocktails. Mouthfeel is a major force for olive oil’s emergence behind the stick. Texture in drinks came on strong a few years back with fat-washing, which uses animal fat from, say, cooked bacon, and blends it with the booze, providing a pleasing, palate-coating sensation to your sip. But unlike fat-washing, olive oil has been shown to actually improve heart health. Barkeeps also say it has more flavour nuances than one-dimensional—albeit tasty—artery-clogging animal fats.
“I admit olive oil is a strange cocktail ingredient,” says Pip Hanson, head bartender at Marvel Bar in Minneapolis, who started the trend with his gin fizz-like Oliveto cocktail, which uses a fruity and peppery olive oil from Spain. “Still, it’s amazing how it adds a fuller, richer texture to a drink.”
Gin Fizz: Olive oil and egg white in the same cocktail shaker, opposing forces (what with fat being the number one inhibitor of an egg white’s innate desire to foam) coming together in an emulsion to embellish a simple combination of gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. It’s the world’s simplest, most classic cocktail recipe gilded in all the right ways, and the result is spectacular. Bright and sweet, tangy and creamy, complex and silky smooth.
Extra virgin olive oil desserts
I think EVOO really comes into its own in desserts. While I don’t like extra light olive oil, which is so highly refined it has the least olive oil benefits, the lighter in flavour ones are fantastic for desserts.
I think many of us have made the amazingly silky, decadent and beautiful olive oil chocolate mousse (dairy and gluten-free) and even ice cream.
It makes fantastic ganache.
When it comes to baking cakes, again using olive oil makes it easy too with no need for creaming butter and sugar. Also, the oil content helps make the cakes stay fresh longer.