Archive | November 28th, 2009

Olio Nuovo and Lemon Cookies

Olio Nuovo and Lemon Cookies

OliveOilCookiesA cookie recipe that calls for no butter or vegetable shortening?

This one uses olive oil, specifically new olive oil. While you might not be able to get brand new, freshly cold-pressed olive oil, extra-virgin cold-pressed will work.

The cookies are reminiscent of Mexican Wedding Cookies or Russian Tea Cakes, and were created by owners of the McEvoy Ranch in Northern California. The ranch produces organic olive oil. The recipe was published in “The Olive Harvest Cookbook,” (Chronicle Books, $35) by Gerald Gass and Jacqueline Mallorca.

I made a couple of slight adaptations to the printed recipe. I added salt—I think cookies taste better with just a pinch or so of salt to put a little edge on all that sugar. Also, I added a small amount of sugar for sprinkling on the cookies before baking.

We kept these cookies in a covered container for the few days it took to consume them, and they seemed to taste better every day. You can taste the olive oil in the cookies, but it is a subtle, nicely balanced flavor.

Olio Nuovo and Lemon Cookies

2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup olio nuovo (fresh-pressed new olive oil) OR extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
1/8 teaspoon pure lemon oil, such as Boyajian bran
4 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with baking parchment or silicone baking sheets.

Sift together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda into medium-sized bowl. In another small bowl, stir together the olive oil, lemon oil, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, then stir until mixture comes together in a uniform mass. Using your hands, roll dough into balls 1-inch in diameter.  Sprinkle on a little sugar and roll the cookie balls gently in your hands to distribute it. You don’t want a heavily coated cookie, just enough sugar to give them a little sparkle. Place them on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart.

Bake cookies 1 sheet at a time until they are just cooked through, the bottoms lightly browned, between 12-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let them cool completely. Pack them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Makes about 18 cookies.

Adapted from “The Olive Harvest Cookbook”

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Ask a Foodie: Is White Part of Orange Peel Nutritious?

Ask a Foodie: Is White Part of Orange Peel Nutritious?

NavelOranges (1)Q. I’ve heard that the white part of an orange peel has nutritional value. Is that true?

A. From sources I’ve checked, the white part of the orange, technically called the pericarp, has almost as much vitamin C as does the orange fruit.  The pericarp includes the white, thready material that is called the pith. The seeds are called pips.

While looking up information on this everyday fruit, I remembered my second grade teacher, Mrs. McKinney, telling us that before oranges were widely grown in the United States, they were a very special, sought-after treat at Christmas. Children looked forward to finding oranges dropped into the toes of their  Christmas stockings.

More interesting facts about oranges:

  • The fruit of the orange tree, as are all fruits in the genus Citrus, is considered a berry. That is because it contains seeds enclosed in soft, fleshy fruit, and come from a single ovary.
  • What about the seedless orange, the navel orange? This orange came about as a mutation from a single tree in an orchard at a Brazilian monastery in 1820.  It is called “navel” because on one end, where a small “twin” orange begins to grow inside the peel, the protrusion looks a bit like a belly button.
  • Because this orange was seedless, the only way to propagate it was to take cuttings from this single tree and graft them onto other trees. According to Wikipedia, all navel oranges are basically clones, having the same genetic makeup as the fruits from that original tree.

If your curiousity about this fruit is piqued, pick up a copy of John McPhee’s fascinating book, “Oranges,”  first published in 1967 but reprinted in paperback form since. McPhee, a longtime staff writer at the New Yorker and a Pulitzer Prize-winner, began writing about oranges for a magazine article. But, he found such a wealth of interesting material that it grew into a book. I’d recommend it not simply for the information, but for absorbing, entertaining reading.

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