Daily Archives: December 28, 2014

  • Recipe: Greek Salad Bites with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    I’m always looking for easy appetizers to throw together for an impromptu gathering. Inspired by these scrumptious caprese skewers, I decided it was time to test out a Greek salad skewer.

    All it takes is a bit of chopping of ingredients, and in about 20 minutes, I had a plate full of these delectable bites. The key is to make sure you have the right portion of each component – you don’t want to overdo it with the briny Feta and olives.

    A quick drizzle of olive oil and voilà, the easiest, freshest, and most flavorful app ever.

    Ingredients

    1/4 English cucumber
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1/4 pound feta cheese, cut into 16 small cubes
    8 pitted kalamata olives, halved
    8 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

    Directions

    Cut four 1/2-inch-thick diagonal slices from the cucumber, and then quarter each slice. Season with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Top each with a piece of feta and then an olive half.

    Stab a toothpick through a tomato half, then thread through one of the cucumber stacks, pushing the toothpick down to secure it.

    Arrange on a platter, drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with some more black pepper, and serve.
    Information

    Category: Finger Foods, Appetizers

    Yield: Serves 4-6

    Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking source

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 3.6/10 (69 votes cast)
    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +6 (from 24 votes)
    I’m always looking for easy appetizers to throw together for an impromptu gathering. Inspired by these scrumptious caprese skewers, I decided it was time to test out a Greek salad skewer. All it takes is a bit of chopping of ingredients, and in about 20 minutes, I had... 
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  • Olive Oil Expertise from a Pro

    It was in an olive grove in Tuscany that Maia Hirschbein had an epiphany that would determine her future. Already a food lover, she had come to Italy in 2012 to study its food, culture and language, and with no other particular direction, she answered an ad asking for help with the olive harvest.

    “I took a train, not knowing where I was going, and met some guy who gave me a room and put me to work,” she said. “I’d wake up early and spend the day raking unripe Tuscan olives off the trees.”

    The olives were then brought to the mill, a modern production facility, “and I was able to watch the steps of seeing my fruit milled and transformed before my eyes,” Hirschbein said. “In 30 to 40 minutes, it had turned this bright neon green that smelled incredible, and I thought, ‘How have I never tasted this before? It’s so full of life.’ ”

    Hirschbein now works as a contractor for California Olive Ranch, a Chico, California-based company whose rectangular-shaped bottles are widely sold. Her job includes advocating for using locally produced olive oil and teaching people how to taste it, what vocabulary to use, how to cook with it, and what to look for when buying it.

    “In every country of the world, using a fat of some kind is a way to increase the deliciousness of your food,” she said, “and olive oil tends to be my personal favorite.”

    Hirschbein believes that even though she grew up in a food-centric Jewish family, hers was no different than most: “I grew up on rancid and low-quality olive oil, which is so common here in the U.S.,” she said.

    Not anymore. Hirschbein now has her mother, Kathy Beitscher, baking her “legendary challah” with olive oil. Originally from La Mesa, California, a suburb of San Diego, Hirschbein, 31, now lives in Oakland. She grew up in a Conservative Jewish family, attending Jewish day school through sixth grade. Her paternal grandparents were Polish Holocaust survivors and her grandmother made all the Jewish classics.

    Hirschbein says as a child she wouldn’t eat her grandmother’s chopped liver, but now chopped liver is one of her favorite foods.

    She fondly recalls large Shabbat dinners with her grandparents, and her parents growing a lot of produce in their backyard. Cooking meals and cleaning up the kitchen were major ways her family spent time together.

    Now that she is an oleologist (olive oil expert), Hirschbein appreciates how olive oil is a “vein that goes through all my interests, from food to Judaism.”

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 4.1/10 (22 votes cast)
    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +8 (from 14 votes)
    It was in an olive grove in Tuscany that Maia Hirschbein had an epiphany that would determine her future. Already a food lover, she had come to Italy in 2012 to study its food, culture and language, and with no other particular direction, she answered an ad asking for help with... 
    Read More →