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Citrus-Almond Loaf with Olive Oil


Olive oil gives this bread extra depth of flavor.

Here’s a quick bread recipe that is decidedly different, thanks to the combination of orange and lemon zest, almonds and olive oil.

“The bread doesn’t actually taste like olive oil at all, but the oil adds a depth of flavor that seems to go particularly well with the bright taste of the citrus,” writes SoNo Baking Co. owner John Barricelli in “The Seasonal Baker: Easy Recipes from My Home Kitchen to Make Year-Round” (Clarkson Potter, $35). “Flecked with bits of orange and lemon zest, and topped with crisp, sliced almonds, this tender all-season loaf is ultra-moist and perfect for breakfast, snack or teatime.”

Barricelli also makes this as big muffins in addition to loaves.

Try it with a robust Texas olive oil, such as the one produced at Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard.

Citrus-Almond Loaf with Olive Oil

2 tablespoons plus 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds
Sanding or coarse sugar (optional)

Set the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray and 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch bread pan with nonstick spray, or generously butter with softened butter. Pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into the pan and tilt the pan to coat the bottom evenly. Place the pan on a baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and the remaining 1 cup oil to blend. Whisk in the eggs, milk and grated zests. Slowly whisk in the dry ingredients until the flour is absorbed and the batter is smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the sliced almonds and the sanding sugar, if using. Bake, rotating the sheet about two-thirds of the way through the baking, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean and the top is mounded and golden brown, 55 to 65 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Turn the cake out and let cool on the rack.

Tip: Here’s a trick to prevent quick breads from doming unevenly. When the bread has been baking for 20 minutes, insert a knife about 1 inch deep into the batter, and run it down the length of the batter in the pan.

Makes 1 loaf.

From “The Seasonal Baker” by John Barricelli

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Olive Orchard Chef Shares Delicious Plans for Weeks Ahead


Chef Scott Grimmitt and his son, Salem.

W. Scott Grimmitt, the new chef at Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard, has some great things planned for visitors this summer, including a new series of lunches in July, which will be offered Wednesday-Saturday each week.

Working at Sandy Oaks has been good for the chef, who loves being able to use the wealth of ingredients grown and raised in the area in his cooking, including Sandy Oaks’ robust, aromatic olive oil.

In the video, he talks about his first Passport dinner, with an Australia theme, at Sandy Oaks, the setting and his plans for the future.

For the first dinner, he got some support from a chef-in-training, his son, Salem.

The next time you visit Sandy Oaks, 25195 Mathis Road, Elmendorf, you can check out the new gift shop as well as the array of olive plants for sale and the livestock, which include a new baby calf.

A young calf at Sandy Oak is curious about the camera, but not enough to stop drinking.

 

 

 

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Red Wine Adds Flavor to Lentil Soup


Lentils are the basis of this Greek soup.

“Like all starch-based soups, this one will thicken as it cools,” writes Michael Psilakis in “How to Roast a Lamb: New Classic Greek Cooking” (Little, Brown and Co., $35). “If you make it the day before, hold on to any reserved cooking liquid so you can thin the soup when you reheat, if it’s too thick. You can always use the liquid in another soup or a braise, as it’s really a lentil stock, full of flavor from all the vegetables and aromatics.”

Lentil Soup (Fakes)

2 smoked ham hocks
Water, as needed
2 tablespoons blended oil (90 percent canola, 10 percent extra-virgin olive)
2 Spanish or sweet onions, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 Idaho potato, peeled and finely chopped
2 large carrots, finely chopped
8 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
2 fresh bay leaves or 3 dried bay leaves
3 large sprigs fresh thyme
1 pound brown lentils
1 cup red wine
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Kosher salt, to taste
Cracked black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup grated kefalotiri cheese (or Parmesan, if you must) (see note)
2 scallions, green part only, sliced on the diagonal
Extra-virgin olive oil

In a large pot, cover the ham hocks with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside, discarding the water.

In a large pot, warm the blended oil over medium-high heat. Add all the vegetables, including the garlic, as well as the bay leaves and thyme, and cook 3 to 5 minutes to soften without browning. Add the lentils and stir for 1 minute, then deglaze the pot with the red wine and sherry vinegar. Simmer until the wine is completely evaporated; then add the ham hocks and enough water to cover everything by a good inch. Bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Drain the lentils and vegetables, reserving all the liquid in a large measuring jug. Return the solids to the empty cooking pot.

In a food processor, combine about a third of the lentil mixture with 2 cups of the cooking liquid. Purée until completely smooth. Return this puréed mixture to the pot with the remaining lentils and mix. Add enough of the cooking liquid to get the desired consistency – again, I am partial to a hearty style, but you may prefer it with a little more liquid. Taste for seasoning.

Ladle into bowls and top with a big pinch of kefalotiri, some sliced scallion greens and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Optional variations:

  • If you want the meat from the ham hock in the soup, you’ll have to simmer it far longer than it takes the lentils to cook: Sauté a mirepoix of 1 carrot, 3 ribs celery, 1 large onion, 2 fresh bay leaves, and 6 smashed cloves of garlic until tender. Add the ham hocks, cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the meat is tender. Pull out the ham hocks. Strain the braising liquid, discarding the vegetables and bay leaves. Reserve the liquid and use for cooking the lentils, instead of the water. Pick off the meat from the ham hocks, discarding bones and tough cartilage. Add the meat with the puréed lentils.
  • Cook 1/2 cup of orzo according to the package instructions and stir in just before serving.
  • Serve with slices of day-old baguette, toasted and drizzled with olive oil.
  • Use any lentils of your choice; French green lentils and black beluga lentils will take a bit longer to cook.
  • Reduce the soup until it is very thick; then use it as a bed under a nice piece of fried fish. If you prefer it smooth rather than chunky, purée all the lentils. It will be almost like refried beans. Top this with a little strained Greek yogurt for coolness and tang; then throw on some torn fresh green herbs.
  • For extra pork flavor without cooking the ham hock ahead of time, as above, sauté a few ounces of finely diced smoked slab bacon with the mirepoix.

Note: Kefalotiri is a Greek cheese traditionally made from sheep’s or goat’s milk. It is hard and dry, and is occasionally referred to as the Greek Parmesan. It can be found at some ethnic markets and supermarkets with extensive cheese sections.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Adapted from “How to Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking” by Michael Psilakis

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New Shop Opens at Sandy Oaks


Do your holiday shopping at Sandy Oaks' new shop.

Just in time for your holiday shopping: Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard in Elmendorf is opening a new store today.

The new ship has plenty of space and natural light.

The large space will feature olive oil pressed on the property as well as numerous products made with from some form of the olive tree, including olive jelly, olive tea and olive wood boards.

Olive oil skin care products and soaps are available as are olive-themed books, apparel and linen goods.

Gift baskets with a lively variety of these products can also be had.

The upstairs of the new facility will house office space.

Owner Sandy Winokur has more than 11,000 olive trees planted on her 40-acre farm at 25195 Mathis Road. She also offers a number of olive trees for sale in various sizes and varieties. She and her staff can help you find the right plants for your property, if you want to add these silver-tinged beauties to your landscape.

With the weather being as balmy as it is, a trip down to the olive orchard is far more peaceful than braving the malls at the opening of the holiday season. So, you could do some shopping and enjoy a bucolic escape from the traffic and the hordes at the same time

For more information on Sandy Oaks, click here.

The new shop at Sandy Oaks in Elmendorf.

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Easy Appetizers: Stock up for the Holidays


FoodStillLife2The phone just rang. It was friends announcing they were going to drop by. You just got off work and haven’t a thing to serve them. Or so you think. The following are easy appetizers that you can create out of items you may have in your refrigerator or pantry that will make it seem as if you were expecting company.

Some items to keep on hand:

  • Chips and salsa. This is San Antonio. Any questions? You can liven up the usual mix with a jar of black bean dip, but even that’s not necessary if your salsa and your chips are good.
  • Tins of anchovies, sardines, smoked oysters and other seafood favorites, as well as canned pâté, that some guests will enjoy.
  • Several types of crackers, including soda crackers, Wheat Thins and Triscuit, so guests have a choice.
  • Three or four distinctly different cheeses. These can range from a soft cheese, like a triple crème, to a harder cheese, such as Manchego. They don’t have to fancy, either. Aged cheddar, a smoky Gouda, a spreadable goat cheese from Texas, a block of Swiss, Colby and Monterey Jack all have their fans.
  • Sliced salami of various types, from pepperoni to Genoa to spicy Hungarian styles, and prosciutto or ham are great to have on hand. Also stock up on a couple of mustards you can offer to dip them into.
  • Bread of some sort: Cocktail rye slices, pumpernickel, pita bread, flour tortillas and baguette are among the easier styles to serve at a moment’s notice.
  • Popcorn. Try seasoning your popcorn with various flavors, from black truffle to Cajun spice to Parmesan cheese and pepper. It takes only minutes to pop a fresh batch in a Dutch oven, which tastes so much better than the stuff that comes out of the microwave.
  • Jars of pickled or preserved vegetables and fruits. Roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, cornichons, giardinara and even pickled brussels sprouts are at most area supermarkets. The olive bar is a great place for easy snacks. Ethnic stores offer an even wider variety, including baby eggplants, grilled zucchini and radish.
  • A piece of ripe fruit to go with the cheeses. Pears, apples and oranges are all in season now and full of flavor.
  • Dark chocolates. Have a bar of 70 percent dark chocolate, another of 85 percent and a third with some sort of flavor. Break off a few pieces of each for a comparison tasting. Serve with dried cranberries, raisins or nuts on the side.
  • Good olive oil, good balsamic vinegar.
  • Dried fruit and nuts. Mix them together with a touch of coconut or serve them separately.
  • Chex Mix. Some snacks are classics for a reason. With this party mix, it’s the irresistible combination of Worcestershire sauce, butter and garlic powder on top of cereal, nuts and pretzels that make it so appealing.
  • Keep a bottle of white wine or sparkling wine in the refrigerator or a six-pack of beer, so you are ready with drinks. Reds are easier to have ready since they should be served at around 65 degrees or so; if the bottle is a little warm, pop in the refrigerator for a few minutes before opening.

Here are some quick appetizer ideas:

  • Wrap a radish with an anchovy. Skewer with a toothpick.
  • Drain assorted olives, rinse and warm in the oven with a little olive oil, your favorite spices, some citrus zest and a skewer of fresh rosemary.
  • Take slices of sour dough rye, layer with feta, then ripe tomatoes and fresh herbs. Drizzle a little olive oil on top and some freshly cracked black pepper. Or top the cheese with slices of pear and black pepper.
  • Top slices of cocktail rye or pumpernickel with butter, Swiss cheese and slivers of radish.
  • Roll and slice of prosciutto or black forest ham around a tender raw stalk of asparagus. The ham also works wrapped around a crunchy dill pickle.
  • Offer slivers of smoked salmon and cream cheese on cocktail rye or pumpernickel. Serve with diced onion or chopped hard-cooked egg and a touch of fresh dill.
  • Top toasted slices of baguette with hummus and crown with strips of roasted red bell pepper, herbs, toasted pine nuts, olive slices or a touch of spice, such as sumac or Chilean merkén.
  • Nachos, fresh from the broiler, are always welcome.
  • Baked brie in puff pastry is easy to assemble and always welcome. Just follow the directions on the package of brie. Serve with crackers and fruit. Or, just heat the brie up, either in the oven or microwave until it’s warm and softened and starting to ooze out of its casing. Top with a big handful of thinly sliced scallion.
  • Boil your own shrimp, which taste so much better than those processed shrimp rings, and serve with a homemade cocktail sauce that has just enough horseradish and lemon to give it a kick.
  • Another appetizer that can be made in a minute flat is to open up an 8-ounce package of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, mound on top of it as much fresh jumbo lump crabmeat as you can afford, then empty a jar of good (cold) cocktail sauce over the crab. Very good with crackers.
  • Bagna cauda is a quick-and-easy Italian butter dip that’s great with vegetables. Click here for a recipe.
  • Make bagel pizzas. Slice the bagel in half, top with your favorite pizza sauce and garnish with shredded mozzarella cheese. Pop under the broiler until the cheese melts, 2 or 3 minutes. Add pepperoni, bell pepper or mushrooms, to taste.
  • Make a dip mixing equal parts 8 ounces each of salsa and cream cheese at room temperature. Whip together until full incorporated. Top with a confetti of diced red onion and green and red bell pepper. Serve with bagel chips.
  • Make quick quesadillas by using shredded cheese between two flour tortillas and your choice of filling. Add cooked beef fajitas or grilled shrimp, and it’s so much the better.
  • If you have any leftover Holiday Cran-Raspberry Sauce or sweet-spicy jelly, pour it over cream cheese.
  • This recipe for crab dip comes from my late sister-in-law, Jeanne Servais: Clean 7 ounces crab meat, mix it with 8 ounces cream cheese softened at room temperature, 1 tablespoon sour cream, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce and1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce. Mix well and bake in a greased, oven-proof dish at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.
  • If you want to use your slow cooker, then here’s a good one to mix together. Grease the dish first, then add 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese softened at room temperature, 1 cup milk,2 1/4 ounces sliced dried beef and1 tablespoon dry mustard. Mix well. Heat on low for several hours until melted together. Serve with cubes of good bread on fondue sticks or wooden skewers as well as vegetable sticks.
  • If your guests like a mix of sweet and salty, then place individual butter pretzels (the little square kind)  on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Then place a single unwrapped Rolo candy on each pretzel. Top each candy with pecan half. Bake at 250 degrees until the candy is melted.  Allow to cool or refrigerate before serving.
  • Don’t forget one of the simplest of all appetizers: A shallow bowl of extra-good, extra virgin olive oil, seasoned as you like it, with kosher salt and cracked pepper, herbs, a few hot pepper flakes. And, have slices of very fresh baguette to dip into it.

(Photo: Zsuzsanna Kilian)

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Sandy Oaks a Picturesque Setting for Mezze Treats


Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard chef Cathryn Tarasovic has taken the tapas concept to a delicious new level with her plate of Mediterranean-influenced appetizers called “mezze.”

Really, both “mezze” and”tapas” small plates, or little snacks, are similar. “Mezze” is a Middle Eastern or Arabic term; “tapas” is Spanish.

Mezze at Sandy Oaks include hummus, a red-pepper muhammara and the lively flavors of Spanish Chorizo and Chicken in a Sherry Cider Vinaigrette.

But it’s not about words when you go out for a pleasant Saturday afternoon at this working ranch near Elmendorf. It’s about the flavors, and we were treated to a palate-pleasing array of them.

Sandy Oaks is owned by Saundra Winokur, who is one of the state’s pioneering olive tree growers. The orchard, which comprises some 11,000 trees planted on a 40-acre tract, supplies oil and olives that go into products sold at the ranch.

Ranch artisans also make lotions, herbal salves and other skin care products based on the rich healthful oil.  These, along with olive leaf tea, aroma oils, olive wood cookware, gift baskets, books and growing manuals and more are offered at the orchard gift shop. Some of Sandy Oaks’ products also are offered at the Pearl Farmers Market on Saturdays.

Those who are interested in seeing how this relatively new Texas agricultural product is grown also can take a Saturday tour regularly scheduled at 11 a.m., or make arrangements for private tours. The orchard is holistically managed, with an emphasis on organic fertilizers and natural pest control.

These days, the sounds of construction are commonplace as well, as a new, two-story building that will house the gift shop and office space nears completion. Separate kitchens for the cooking and catering operation, and the product-making activity, are housed in a spacious barn across the parking lot from the current gift shop and office.

The food program at Sandy Oaks also includes classes, as well as an upcoming new series of international dinners, the first being a Passport Adventure to Italy, June 24.

On Father’s Day, June 18, there will be tours as well as complimentary tapas. (Check these out at www.sandyoaks.com.)

Cathryn Tarasovic is executive chef at Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard.

Tarsovic holds the Diplome Superieur from L’Ecole de Cuisine Française Sabine de Mirbeck and is a member of the culinary professional organization Les Dames d’Escoffier International.

Mezze Day Delights, which is occasionally added to the schedule (check the Sandy Oaks’ website for these) features chef-made artisan breads accompanying an array of appealing snacks.

The dried Fruit and Pecan-crusted Goat Cheese combined the suppleness of the creamy cheese with tart dried cherries and crunchy nuts. Pine nuts gave the crunch to the silky Kalamata Olive Hummus, while red peppers formed the base for the Mediterannean spread called Muhammara.

Among our favorites on this colorful mezze plate was  the chef’s Spanish Chorizo and Chicken in a Sherry Cider Vinaigrette.  The title doesn’t mention the dish’s cool, sweet surprise of green grapes — a perfect contrast to the tangy sherry sauce and spicy chorizo. The chorizo, too is an artisanal product from Boerne, produced by Leslie Horne under the brand name, Aurelia’s Chorizo.

Diners enjoy the shaded patio that overlooks the nursery at Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard in Elmendorf.

Every bit of the mid-afternoon lunch, under umbrellas on the breezy patio, accompanied by George Gaytan playing Spanish guitar, was, as promised, a delight. A glass of icy sangria gave the meal a perfect Spanish accent.

Mezze Day Delights is also nicely priced, at $10 per person. The next Mezze event will be 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. July 9. Sandy Oaks is at 25195 Mathis Road, near Elmendorf.  210-621-0044.

Recipe: Spanish Chorizo and Chicken in a Sherry Cider Vinaigrette

Photographs by Bonnie Walker

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Tyler Florence’s Pork Loin Seasoning Rub


CrownRoastCloseupThis rub is from celebrity chef Tyler Florence. I adapted it somewhat by adding dried thyme and sage to the fresh, as I had little fresh sage on hand. Also it’s hard to know what he means by a “bunch” of sage or thyme. I think that by a “bunch” he means the amount you get in a fresh herb packet in the produce section.

Pork Loin Seasoning Rub

1/2 bunch thyme, leaves only
1/2 bunch fresh sage, leaves only
1 teaspoon dried ground thyme
1 teaspoon rubbed dry sage
2 fat cloves garlic, mashed and minced
1/2 – 3/4  cup olive oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

In a mortar and pestle or electric mini-chopped, combine all of the ingredients. If doing this by hand, grind the garlic up with herbs, salt and pepper and olive oil.  Rub this mixture on the outside of the pork loin and up toward the ribs before putting the roast in the oven.

Makes enough rub for one 8-10-pound roast.

From Tyler Florence

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Butter and Oil Merge Beautifully in Bagna Cauda


oliveoilBagna Cauda

This classic dish comes from the Piedmont region of Italy and the name means “hot bath.” Some like to put more garlic into the sauce, so you can play with the ingredients and shape the dish to your tastes.

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 (2-ounce) can anchovy fillets packed in olive oil, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until soft but not browned, 3 to 4 minutes.

[amazon-product]0811822001[/amazon-product]Stir the anchovies into the garlic, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil and blend well. Reduce the heat to keep the mixture barely simmering and cook, stirring frequently, until the oil is well flavored, 10 t0 15 minutes; do not allow to brown or burn.

To serve, transfer the hot dip to a heatproof serving dish placed on a warming tray. Serve with raw and/or steamed vegetables as well as pieces of crusty Italian bread.

Makes 8 servings.

Adapted from “The Sutter Home Napa Valley Cookbook” by James McNair

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This Week: Texas Gold, Enchiladas and More


Green3RuthsChrisKids2Enchiladas1

This past week, SavorSA has treated you to a host of stories ranging from the new liquid gold pouring forth in Texas, olive oil, to news ways to prepare red and green enchiladas.

Here’s a quick look at what was posted. Click on the headline to read a story you may have missed.

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What’s Hot: Learning to Cook With Olives, Olive Oil


CookingWithOliveOilLearn to cook recipes containing delicious and healthful olives, as well as olive oil, at a new lineup of classes beginning soon at Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard near Elmendorf (about 20 minutes drive south of San Antonio).

The first class is 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Sept. 26. The class begins with a tour, at which time you can look at the plantings and nursery, the olive press, orchard and other facilities at this beautiful working ranch. Class begins after the tour, as Saundra Winokur and her staff teach, prepare and serve a multi-course lunch. The class will feature information on the health and diet benefits of olives and olive oil. The meal will focus on Spanish and Spanish-style dishes, and be served with wine.

The cost is $35. Students will receive written recipes and also have a chance to visit the Sandy Oaks gift shop after class. To sign up for the class call Sandy Oaks at (210) 621-0044. Sandy Oaks is at 26195 Mathis Road. For more information and directions, go to www.sandyoaks.com.

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