Kitchen Must Have – “The Amazing Olive” Olive Oil and Vinegar

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I absolutely love flavored olive oil and flavored balsamic vinegar. They pack such a delicious punch and can really elevate your dish to something extra special. My favorite place to shop for these fine goods is at The Amazing Olive in downtown Port Jefferson, NY. Their store is beautiful and very well laid out with plenty of rustic charm and ambiance to go around. The best part is that you can sample ALL of the delicious oil and vinegar that they offer and with so many flavors to choose from, you might want to visit on an empty stomach!

A really good olive oil and balsamic vinegar are two staples in my home. My favorites are their Tuscan Seasoned Blend Olive Oil which is perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of garlic flavor and their 25 Star Balsamic Vinegar which is rich, thick and so complex in flavor. Both are incredible and are a “must have” in my kitchen. I love to use the olive oil for dipping and to add extra flavor to my Italian Tomato Sauce . Also, a little drizzle goes a long way in adding amazing flavor to my Italian Meatballs as well.

Some other notable favorites of mine are their Apricot Organic Balsamic Vinegar and Blood Orange Infused Olive Oil both of which are so light and fruity. They are the perfect addition to a fresh, crisp salad and so much more flavorful and better for you than store-bought bottled dressings. I have a vast selection of their oil and vinegar because it’s just too hard to choose one or two plus, they are so versatile so the more the better. You can use them to flavor meats, drizzle on fruits and veggies, add to sauces and stews or even bake with them! Check out their Butter Flavor Infused Olive Oil  for use in all of your baking.

Aside from their expansive selection of oil and vinegar The Amazing Olive also offers an array of other wonderful products such as unique salts and spice rubs, an assortment of jams and jellies, gift baskets and handmade bath products! If you’re a local, you can even host a Tasting Party for up to 12 of your friends at both the Port Jefferson and Patchogue locations. Click here for more details on scheduling! Lastly, gourmet oil and vinegar make fabulous gifts and party favors and The Amazing Olive will help to make your event more special and memorable with personalized bottles complete with your choice of sayings, dates and pictures. Check out all of these great offerings the next time you’re in town.

Don’t live on Long Island? No worries! All of their amazing products can be ordered online by clicking here . Enjoy!

Nothing Better Than Roasted Garlic

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I love garlic! Not only does it taste delicious but it’s REALLY good for you too! Garlic is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and it’s even been proven to lower cholesterol and combat heart disease! Let’s face it, everything tastes better with a little garlic and roasted garlic really ups the deliciousness quotient in spades!

Roasting garlic mellows out the bitterness that raw garlic usually has and after roasting it in the oven it develops a really nice deep, sweet flavor that is just amazing. You can use roasted garlic in almost anything such as: tomato based sauces, soups, vegetables, cooked pasta, salad dressings, meat dishes, and even spread on Italian bread. Pretty much any recipe that calls for garlic, roasted garlic can be used in its place.

This evening I am making braised short ribs for dinner and I thought homemade garlic mashed potatoes would be the perfect side dish. The roasted garlic was super simple to make and will definitely make my mashed potatoes sing!

To make the roasted garlic simply cut the top off of a head of garlic and remove as much of the papery skin as you can. Place the garlic heads in a tin foil “pouch” and drizzle them generously with a good olive oil. (I happen to LOVE the flavored oils from The Amazing Olive in Port Jefferson, NY) Sprinkle the garlic with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, seal the tin foil pouch, and bake in a 450 degree oven for about 40-45 minutes.

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When you remove the garlic from the oven, it should look nicely browned and roasted through.

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Let the garlic cool off for a few minutes and then very carefully lift one bulb at a time and squeeze from the bottom until all of the delicious roasted garlic is released. It should slide out VERY easily from its skin at this point.

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Give the roasted garlic a little stir to break everything up and then it’s ready to go! You can store the roasted garlic in the fridge for up to 2 weeks……………….if it lasts that long!

**Quick Suggestion** – Make your own compound butter for garlic bread! It’s so much better than the store bought version that is loaded with odd ingredients to preserve its flavor.

To make the compound butter – Soften a stick of unsalted butter and mix in a whole roasted head of garlic. Stir to combine and then scoop onto a piece of wax paper. Roll the compound butter mixture into a log shape, seal, and place in fridge until slightly firm. If you prefer a stronger garlic flavor, use 2 heads of roasted garlic.

To make the garlic bread – Slice a loaf of fresh Italian bread lengthwise through the middle. Spread each side generously with compound butter, sprinkle with a little grated cheese, salt and pepper and bake at 350 degrees until the bread is nicely browned and the cheese is slightly bubbly. Slice and serve hot.

 

Garlic Oil Pasta with Broccoli and Sausage

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This is my go to dinner when I need something quick and easy. It’s absolutely delicious, very versatile, and even my kids love it! The key to this dish is in the garlic preparation, you don’t want to just chop up raw garlic and toss it in or ((GASP)) use something like garlic powder. I always use fresh garlic and I cook it until is softens which allows it to take on a nice, mellow flavor that really enhances the flavor of the meal.

For every pound of pasta I use a full head of garlic however, if you like a more subtle or even stronger garlic flavor feel free to use less or more depending on your taste. You can also switch out the sausage for thinly sliced chicken or even mini meatballs.  Don’t like broccoli? Use spinach, zucchini, kale, or whatever produce you prefer.  I happen to love penne pasta but you can make this recipe with angel hair, spaghetti, rigatoni or any other pasta that suits you. You can really experiment and make this dish your own.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pasta, any
  • 1 lb sausage links (I like sweet sausage with fennel)
  • 1 head of garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 – 3/4 extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bag of broccoli florets (I like the Bird’s Eye Steam Bags)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves

Instructions

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente.

In the meantime, smash the garlic cloves with the back of a knife, give them a rough chop and add them to a small saucepan. Cover the garlic with the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and turn the stove to medium high heat. Once the oil starts to bubble bring the heat down to low and let the garlic cook until slightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the garlic infuse into the warmed oil.

Thinly slice the sausage or remove from the casings all together. Heat up a small pan on medium heat and drizzle a little olive oil in. Add the sausage and cook until nicely browned and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Set aside and reserve the cooking oil.

Remove the garlic from the oil and using kitchen sheers, mince up the softened garlic. Add the garlic back into the oil and then prepare the broccoli. Allow the broccoli to cool for a minute and then chop the stems and discard.

Drain the pasta and add to a large bowl. Tear a handful of basil leaves and toss them in along with the sausage, broccoli, grated cheese, and a pinch of red pepper. Drizzle in some of the oil from the sausage pan along with all of the garlic infused oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss until everything is evenly coated and combined. Adjust your seasonings, sprinkle with shaved Parmesan cheese, and serve hot.

**Note** – I always keep fresh basil on hand in my freezer. Buy a bunch of basil, tear off the leaves, wash, allow them to dry in between paper towels, and then toss them into a Ziploc bag and freeze. Whenever a recipe calls for fresh basil just grab what you need and crumble it right into whatever you’re cooking.

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