Monthly Archives: April 2013

strawberry-olive oil muffins recipe

By the time I remembered to go strawberry picking in 2012, it was almost too late. We spent two hours scouring a picked-over field to collect a basket of microscopic berries. This year, I vowed, I would go early. We did, and it was so worth it.

Xavier picking berries

Xavier picking berries

There were so many ripe red strawberries in that field! You can see them in the photo. Our challenge this year wasn’t finding enough berries to fill a bucket. It was stopping! After we’d picked enough, we had to walk back through the rows towards the farm stand. It was literally impossible not to pause, lean over, and pluck a perfect ripe berry.

strawberry_plant

Strawberries in various stages

We managed to stop after each of us had filled much of a large bucket.

strawberry_buckets

Buckets of strawberries

photo 4

Fifteen pounds of strawberries

We picked about fifteen pounds total, and that left me with a dilemma: what to do with three people and fifteen pounds of fruit?

Well, quite a few were eaten plain. The rest were rinsed, hulled, and put to good use.

cleaned strawberries

There was a strawberry tart (with chocolate ganache and creme patisserie). There was jam. And then there were muffins.

You may remember from my last post that 37 Cooks is doing a challenge with Sciabica Oil of the Olive this month: I wrote about the awesome hash browns that I made with their jalapeno oil. Well, flavored oils aren’t all that this company makes. They have some awesome seasonal varietals of “plain” olive oils – and I use quotations because their oil is anything but plain. Although their fall-harvest selections were intriguing and promised bold flavors, I chose their buttery spring variety because… well, it’s spring right now. Since strawberries are almost the official fruit of spring, and the oil is mild, I thought it would be perfect to bake with these two ingredients. And what’s better than muffins?

The olive oil really adds an incredible flavor to these, so I’d recommend using it if you can. I made a batch on Sunday. They were delicious and gone almost immediately – a rarity in my household, because we’re usually very slow to eat baked goods. I made another batch on Monday using canola oil in place of the olive. Big mistake. The difference in taste is obvious and disappointing.

Strawberry-Olive Oil Muffins

Strawberry-Olive Oil Muffins

Strawberry-Olive Oil Muffins

8 ounces flour
4 ounces sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 ounces Sciabica Mission Spring Harvest olive oil
2 large eggs
8 ounces milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup strawberries, chopped
Small handful coarse sugar (such as Turbinado), to taste (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. In another bowl, whisk together the olive oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and whisk until just barely moistened. Stir in the strawberries. Dollop the batter into a greased muffin tin. If you’re using coarse sugar, sprinkle it on now. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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triple-pepper hash browns recipe

As I realize that I haven’t blogged here in over a month, I can’t help but wish there were more hours in a day. There just isn’t enough time to do all the things I want! I wake up, go to work, and get home between 5 and 6. If I try to sleep by midnight, that gives me six hours to do… well, everything. It’s just not enough. I’d like four hours to study for the GRE, three to cook something awesome and clean up afterwards, two for practicing guitar, two for a workout and shower, and maybe another few to spend hanging out with my boyfriend.

With everything going on right now, it’s really nice to be a member of 37 Cooks. In the midst of mayhem, I can schedule a little time to do what I love: cook, photograph, and eat. Right now, we’re doing an olive oil challenge. It’s sponsored by Sciabica’s. We’re crazy for flavored oils in my household, so it was tough to decide on jalapeno (they also had lemon! garlic! basil!) – but I’m glad I did. If you try this recipe, you’ll see why.

The jalapeno oil was a perfect addition to hash browns – my favorite! I wouldn’t use it in the pan during the actual cooking process. Olive oil has a low smoke point to begin with, and this particular oil has a very delicate flavor because it is cold-pressed. But as a finishing drizzle on top of crispy potatoes, it cannot be beaten. I usually enjoy my hash browns with an equivalent volume of ketchup. But with a sunny-side up egg lending its yolk to the plate, no additional condiment was needed.

Triple-Pepper Hash Browns

Triple-Pepper Hash Browns
2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil, such as canola
1 shallot, sliced
1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
3 cups shredded potato (fresh or frozen will work)
Fresh-ground black pepper
Salt to taste
Sciabica Jalapeno Olive Oil

Heat a well-seasoned cast-iron pan, or a large nonstick one, over medium-high heat. When hot, add the neutral oil and shallot. Let it cook without stirring for a couple of minutes, until just beginning to brown, and then add the chopped pepper. Stir everything together and sprinkle with salt and pepper. After the peppers are beginning to soften, add the shredded potato and stir everything together again.

Now, leave the mixture alone and let it cook for a few minutes. You’re looking for the bottom to achieve a crispy crust. When it’s starting to brown, sprinkle a little more canola oil on the top side and use a large spatula to flip it over in as few pieces as possible. Let the other side brown. Remove from the heat and sprinkle liberally with jalapeno olive oil.

I would recommend serving this with a sunny-side-up egg on top. It’s even better when the yolk breaks over everything!