Posts tagged olive oil

Hiding Behind Dessert: Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Let’s face it, things are a mess right now. The economy is in shambles, our leaders can’t agree on a solution, and the world is basically in chaos. Plus, have I mentioned that the sun hasn’t come out since last week?

As the rain poured down on Sunday I decided to cook my way back into cheer and comfort. I started with a recipe for Lemon Olive Oil Cake, reprinted on Serious Eats from the new cookbook Olives and Oranges. Even a cursory look through the Artichoke Heart archives will prove my culinary affection for the powerful pairing of olive oil and lemons. Whether featured in a rice salad or fried zucchini flowers, these Mediterranean staples are the embodiment of sunshine and happiness. I bet even Wall Street would agree.

My obsession with this dessert actually dates back a few weeks. I first saw a version of it in the September issue of Food & Wine, which included a gorgeous photograph and recipe for Olive Oil-Thyme Cake with Figs. But my enthusiasm quickly waned when I saw that the recipe required both pastry and bread flour and came with a long page of instructions. I’m not lazy or cheap, but I just didn’t feel like investing in two different kinds of baking flour when I don’t bake very often. (I also didn’t feel like carrying home a ton of ingredients from the grocery store. OK, so maybe I am a little lazy.)

A week or so later I came across the simplified recipe for Lemon Olive Oil cake on Serious Eats. Except for a springform pan, I already had all the ingredients and tools I needed at home. All I had to do was pull that darn mixer out from under the sink, combine the ingredients together, and my simple, Italian-inspired dessert was ready in an hour.

Now, that piece of cake in the photograph above may look like a bland little poundcake, but oh my, does it make up in flavor what it lacks in appearance. The combination of good quality, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon rind, and tangy whole-milk yogurt creates a simple yet explosive dessert that emits sunshine with every slice. I’ve been eating it for dessert after dinner and for breakfast all week, hiding from the front page news behind its soft, spongy texture and satisfying crumb. Believe me, it works. I feel better already.

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Pasolivo Olive Oil

Pasolivo’s Tasting Room, Paso Robles, California


Joshua Yaguda, Pasolivo’s olive miller, stood in the middle of the press room hosing down the Pieralisi olive mill. We turned our heads with the rest of the tour group as a small voice, with an accompanying echo, came from inside the tall steel vat to our left.

“Oh, that’s just my daughter Veda,” said Joshua. We joined in the laughter as little Veda gaily greeted us from inside the vat, where she was helping her dad with the cleaning. I’m still wondering what she found in there.

It’s this family-centric attitude that makes Pasolivo, and most of Paso Robles’s small, family-owned wineries, so unique. Pasolivo is operated and owned by Karen Guth; her son Yaguda and his family also run the ranch with her. Over 45 acres of Tuscan olives are hand-picked on the ranch at harvest time in order to prevent bruising and maintain the highest quality for their extra virgin, award-winning oils.

Oh yes, the olive oils. We tried several of them that day: the 3-month old “olio nuovo,” and the Meyer lemon, lime, and tangerine varieties. Rustic bread dipped in olive oil and then topped with coarse salt combined to refresh our palates. All thoughts of the Cabernet and Syrah we had tasted just minutes earlier on our wine tasting trail were forgotten, and we left with a bottle of the Meyer lemon oil, our favorite from the tasting.

In an attempt to recapture those sunny days on California’s Central Coast, I’ve used the lemon oil in almost every meal we’ve cooked since returning to dreary, wintery Brooklyn. On the suggestion of Joeli Yaguda, Joshua’s wife and Pasolivo’s sales and marketing manager, I covered a chicken in the citrus oil and roasted it to create a juicy and flavorful meal. The oil has also brightened up several salads, and last night we brushed it on some grey sole baked with garlic and breadcrumbs.

And that’s how we’re keeping our Paso Robles vacation alive: some Pasolivo olive oil on our salads, a glass of Hansen Vineyards Cabernet with our dinner. I just don’t know what we’ll do when we run out of wine. 

Pasolivo Olive Oil, 8530 Vineyard Drive, Paso Robles T: 805-227-0186

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