Monday, December 3, 2012

Glazed for the holidays

 A different kind of glaze for the holidays
I haven’t had butter in my house for the better part of a year. It’s olive oil I turn to daily. Two of the fussiest cooks know are Bertolli fans. My mom buys the biggest bottle available, which is doorstop sized. My friend probably uses a cup a day over giant, crispy salads, etc., etc. Remember that Bertolli Extra Light can be used for baking, sautéing and frying and the Extra Virgin is a favorite for dressings and dips.
This friend send me home with a crust of artisan bread her husband used for “sopping.” I decided to toast mine with the darker oil and garlic, but this is the something new I tried: a squeeze from a little bottle of Bertolli Italian Glaze, balsamic vinegar of Modena. It’s a thick syrup just right for topping meats, fish and vegetables. The label challenges users to be creative with the sweet, tangy taste and top gelatos, ice creams, fruits and other sumptuous desserts.
Bottled salad dressings are something else I don’t normally buy. I could eat variations of vinaigrette every day for a year, and Bertolli’s Balsamic Vinegar of Modena with the Extra Virgin is a blend that’s good to go. If you’ve got some rosemary in your kitchen garden, toss in a few needles.
I hope I don’t have to tell you how very good olive oil is for your health. You’ve been reading the stats for years. But go ahead and try this olive oil baking thing. Visit for recipes like the following, from of Fabio Viviani, owner and executive chef of Cafe Firenze in Moorpark, California and Firenze Osteria Italian Restaurant and Martini Bar in Toluca Lake, California.
Chocolate Glazed Brownies
2/3 cup Bertolli® Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
4 cups semisweet chocolate morsels, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, beaten
1 cup toasted, chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Combine Bertolli® Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil, sugar and water in a large saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Add 2 cups of the chocolate morsels and the vanilla extract; stir until smooth. Let cool 15 minutes. Add flour, baking soda and salt to cooled chocolate mixture. Stir in eggs and pecans, if desired. Spread brownie batter into a lightly oiled, floured 9- by 13-inch baking pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Sprinkle remaining 2 cups chocolate morsels evenly over warm brownies. Let stand 5 minutes to soften and then spread over brownies. Cool brownies completely on wire rack.

“Tortillas to the Rescue” by Jessica Harlan
Southeast Texans already play with their tortillas. One of my favorites is in the book: turning that tiny round into your personal pizza with cheese and pepperoni. Maybe you already gather the kids with healthy toppings that turn carrots shreds into hair and broccoli into beards for tortilla faces. PB&J quesadillas sounds like an intriguing breakfast. Harlan goes gourmet with those corn and flour discs that are so easy to stock. Keep them on hand for quick dinners like enchilada bake and wraps. Plan ahead with them, too, for “tux-worthy” treats like fig and goat cheese pinwheels or duck quesadilla with avocado dip. This book would make a great gift packaged with a variety of fresh tortillas. Here’s a tip that’s dangerous to know: Nutella pairs well with flour tortillas. Try this dip:
Avocado-yogurt dip
1 medium ripe avocado
¼ cup plain, low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juic
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
The author combines the contents with an immersion blender and covers with plastic wrap pressed against the surface. Refrigerate until serving.

“Dadgum That’s Good, Too!” by John McLemore
The photo of a smoked cabbage looked rather like a Bundt cake in this book on smoking, grilling and frying with family and friends. Turns out, it’s easier than that. From the angle of the picture, I couldn’t tell the cabbage was whole. Just hallow it out, season the hole and smoke it. It joins tempting offerings such as Smokin’ Hot Stuffed Pork Chops, Nancy’s Smoked Mac & Cheese, Coconut-Marinated Chicken Kebobs, Fried Scallops in Bacon, Banana Wontons, Grilled Peaches and Plums with Honey-Citrus Sauce.
Southerners love pimento cheese. You can make it smoked or fried, thanks to McLemore. Paula Deen wrote the foreward and notes she’s tickled pink McLemore wrote this book. Of course the food is mouth-watering. My favorite part is stories his family members share and old photos telling how his dad created Masterbuilt cooking appliances named to give glory to “the Master.” This family has roots in Georgia and Tonya, his wife,  shares how they became a couple. I feel right at home, only, their home has a lot better cooking going on. Guess I better read up and get cooking.

Smoked Cabbage
1 whole cabbage
3 chicken or beef boullion cubes
½ cup butter or margarine
1 tablespoon steak seasoning or rub
¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat smoker to 450 degrees
Remove core from cabbage. Place boullion cubes and butter in center of cabbage. Season cabbage with steak seasoning and salt.
Wrap cabbage in foil, leaving an opening at the top. Smoke for3 to 4 hours until tender.

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