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Flavored Oils For Cooking
Italian Olive Oil
How to Make a Flavored Oil.
It is no secret to anyone who loves cooking that oils flavored with herbs, fruit, garlic, etc add complexity to many dishes. I have seen it in the menus of many fancy restaurants offering Sauteed Shrimp with ginger oil, apple donughts in vanilla oil, and so on.
Discovering Infused Oils
Personally, I hadn't used many flavoured oils for cooking at home apart from the bottle of oilve oil infused with herbs and spices that you usually find in the Pizzerias and supermarkets It never really crossed my mind using flavoured oils for cooking, until one lazy afternoon when I was chatting with my French neighbour, over the garden fence, and she told me that instead of cooking her crepes with butter or ordinary oil she generally cooks them with a Vanilla infused oil to add aroma to her crepes and a at the same time perfume her whole house while cooking. Needless to say that curious as I am I had to ask her where does she buy Vanilla Infused Oil. I should have had guessed her answer... She makes it herself "bien sur".
When I asked her how does she infused oil with vanilla, she looked at me amazed, as if I had asked her how to make a cup of tea! After she recovered from her surprise, she proceeded to explain to me step by step that infused oils need to be made with good quality oils, in "two times and three steps" to allow the spices to deliver their flavours.
Making your flavored oil step by step:
You will need a good knife, a jar with an airtight top, a sieve and coffee filters. The first step only takes about 10 minutes if you have all the ingredients and a good knife. The second step actually just involves leaving the oil to macerate for about 3 weeks. The third step is simply using your oil in the next 6 months before the flavour starts to fade.
Don’t be fooled, there is not ONE recipe for flavoring oil. Every spice, herb and oil has its own recipe and use. Here are some that my patient neighbour was so kind to share with me.
Fresh Ginger Root
To make ginger oil you will need:
- 50cl of vegetable oil.
- 15gr of fresh ginger
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 slice of untreated lemon
To make the oil you peel the ginger and cut it very finely with your old heirloom knife (apparently every good cook has one!). Put the cut ginger in a previously boiled and dry airtight jar, add the garlic and the slice of lemon. Fill the jar with oil. Close hermetically and leave to macerate for about 3 weeks in a cool dark place.
After the three weeks have passed you can filter your oil to a bottle ready for use.
This oil is a perfect seasoning for fish and seafood. You can also sprinkle it over cooked broccoli to add zest to your greens. Also recommended to stir fry rice.
Apparently, daily doses of ginger in people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis also allays inflammation and painful symptoms. You can use it for seasoning your meals and you can also try this oil as a massage oil (avoid the garlic) to fight inflammation and relieve pain of arthritis and sore muscles.
To make this delicate aromatic oil, you will need:
- 60cl of olive oil
- 2 pods of vanilla
- 10 grains of black pepper
Now this is a very delicate operation. You need to cut the vanilla pods lengthwise (my neighbour showed me this operation as it is of the upmost importance that you get the right length and width and angle of your knife to get the flavours to perfume your oil properly) I haven’t tried this alone, but I wonder if I would have the same effect if I just unceremoniously cut my vanilla pods?
Anyway, once you have worked the magic cuts on your vanilla pods, you must put them in an airtight previously boiled and dry jar. Add the pepper and cover with the oil. Close the jar hermetically and leave to macerate for about 3 weeks in a cool dry place. Once ready, filter and put in a bottle ready to use.
This delicate oil is used with fine fish like turbot or Saint Pierre. Vanilla oil can also be used for adding perfume to green salads or for a gazpacho. It is also a great seasoning for roasted vegetables specially for roasted sweet potatoes with toasted almonds.
How to Use a Vanilla Pod
Vanilla Infused Oil Variation
For a more versatile Vanilla Oil, you can replace Olive Oil with Grapeseed oil which is a pretty light tasting oil. This way you can use your Vanilla oil for all your sweet recipes that require oil or use it instead of butter for cooking crepes and pancakes. Your desserts will benefit from an extra vanilla aroma.
Rosemary Infused Oil
Rosemary Infused Olive Oil
For this strong flavoured oil you will need patience, olive oil and rosemary. Start carefully washing and drying 6 branches of rosemary. I prefer to use fresh Rosemary from my garden as I am sure it is 100% organic. Once the Rosemary has been washed and dried take the pins off one by one and spread them over a dry dish. Leave to dry for about 24 hours in a cool dry place. After the 24 hours have passed, you can put the rosemary in a previously boiled dry jar, cover with 50cl olive oil and leave to macerate for about 3 weeks.
This oil awakens the taste and gives life to all type of lamb dishes and barbecues. The rosemary leaves add a bitter, astringent taste to the olive oil and it smells highly aromatic.
You can follow the same instructions to make basilic oil which is best to accompany tomatoes, pasta and soups.
Flavored Oils: 50 Recipes for Cooking with Infused Oils
simple and clear recipes (the Garlic Smashed Potatoes are particularly tempting) in which plain olive oil can be substituted for the jazzier variations.
Why Make your own Flavoured Oils.
If you make your own flavoured oils you are sure that you are using the best quality oils available. Prefereably use oils with a low amount of saturated fats, and higher levels of unsaturated (preferably monounsaturated) fats like olive oil, avocado, corn and sunflower, which are generally healthier.
Flavored oils make healthful alternatives to mayonnaises and sauces in everything from marinades and vinaigrettes to appetizers and entrees.