Friday, March 13, 2009

Olive Oil Cookbooks, Tastings and Events

The New American Olive OilFran Gage's The New American Olive Oil includes profiles of artisan producers and 75 recipes, each using extra virgin olive oil. Having tried a selection of the recipes I wholeheartedly recommend the tangy Tabbouleh with Meyer lemon olive oil and the Almost flourless chocolate cake, it's a light and fluffy version as opposed to the heavy ones you sometimes get.

Fran Gage is a particularly wonderful baker, experienced in sensory analysis and is one of the members of the California Olive Oil Council tasting panel. She uses extra virgin olive oil in desserts like pound cake in place of butter and in recipes like rillettes where you would expect to find pork fat. Over the next few months there will be plenty of opportunities to attend a olive oil tasting and book signing event with Fran Gage.

Olive Oil DessertsAnother olive oil book I'm excited about is Micki Sannar's Olive Oil Desserts. Sannar was inspired to develop recipes using olive oil for health reasons, and her baked goods are delicious. I particularly like her lemon cookies, but everything I've tried of hers is good.

A sweet book in more ways than one, the recipes are interspersed with funny and heartwarming stories. While Gage uses all extra virgin olive oil, Sannar uses pure olive oil. This is to minimize olive oil flavor and maximize cost efficiency. Like all good cookbooks, this one is clearly a labor of love and I know Micki spent years and years working on it and perfecting her recipes.

Wine Country CookingA final book I have to mention is Joanne Weir's Wine Country Cooking, now out in paperback. Joanne is a terrific cooking teacher, which you undoubtedly know from her successful television shows. She is also a fledgling blogger and has always been utterly gracious to me. I was a big fan of hers, from the moment I reviewed her book From Tapas to Meze, several years ago. Wine Country Cooking, out in paperback, might as well have been subtitled "the extra virgin olive oil cookbook" because almost every recipe uses it. This mostly Mediterranean cookbook includes mouthwatering recipes like Pork and Artichoke Stew, Farmer's Market Risotto with Zucchini and their Blossoms, Warm Olive and Caramelized Onion Tart and Braised Fennel with Orange. You'll want to make everything in it!

Joanne Weir will be signing books and offering samples of her recipes at the newly renovated McEvoy Ranch shop at the Ferry Building. RSVP and take home a bottle of McEvoy Traditional Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil with your cookbook purchase on March 19th from 6 - 8 pm. See you there?