Now that the 3rd season of Downton is officially over, I have thrown myself into every task imaginable to help pass the time and not dwell on the season finale and through the next year until the 4th season starts to air. I’ve started reading again – and my inadvertent first choice of novel was a love story set in Edwardian England just before the start of WWI, and the torturous love of an aristocrat’s daughter and the house manager’s son, ala Sybil and Tom Branson. Not exactly, but pretty spot on.
To me who was sprawled out on the bed reading for hours after I can home from work – Ben’s loving reaction was summed up with “WHY are you reading that? Why do you like tortured love stores?” And all my emotionally overwrought senses could put together was, “Everyone deserves a great love in their life!! You big jerk!”. Well, the second part of that was in my head, I think. He suggested I read something a little more worthwhile, like a book on grizzly bear attacks in Glacier National Park. Oh yeah, cause that is so much more entertaining then star crossed lovers set any day? He said at least I could learn something. We run into a lot of grizzly bears in Seattle, it’s best to be prepared…This statement is just dripping with sarcasm, can’t you tell?
But you know what else you should always have prepared? Having a pantry stocked with infused olive oils anytime you’re in the kitchen. Infused olive oil are so simple to make and they make a really easy gift during the holidays. The flavor combinations are endless, from garlic, to spicy peppers, to citrus and rosemary. It’s a cinch, I kid you not.
Start with 2 cups of good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil and your choice of spices, herbs or zests – about 2-3 sprigs of your favorite herb and at least 2 tablespoons of your favorite zest if you’re doing a citrus infusion. With a mortar and pestle crush the herbs, to release the oils and momentarily set them aside.
Pour your olive oil into a heavy bottom sauce pan and turn the stove to medium heat. Add in your herbs, spices or what have you and allow the herbs to gently simmer for just 2 minutes. It doesn’t take much. Cover the saucepan with a lid and allow it all to steep for about 2 hours.
Once you’re ready to bottle it, use a fine mesh strainer to remove the herbs and pour into a cleaned glass or vial. Cap and store in the fridge and use within two weeks.
Easy peasy, right? Think of all the flavor possibilities! You can do this.
How to Infuse Olive OIl
2 cups High Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2-3 sprigs herbs, such as Rosemary, Thyme, or ¼ cup packed sliced Basil
With a mortar and pestle crush the herbs to release their oils. Set aside. In small saucepan over medium heat bring olive oil to just a simmer with a few bubbles coming up. Add in herbs and steep for 2 minutes. Turn off heat, cover saucepan with lid and allow the oil to infuse for two hours undisturbed.
Strain oil and herbs through a fine mesh strainer. Bottle and store in fridge. Use within 2 weeks.
Makes a great gift.
Adapated from Martha Steward How to Infuse Herb Olive Oil