olive oil powder copy

Molecular gastronomy, the geekiest incarnation of cooking known to man, has recently piqued my interest.  Foams and spherification and liquid nitrogen and the like aren’t particularly common on Seattle menus, but on a recent trip to Spur Gastropub, my dessert was adorned with a pinch of powdered olive oil.  The powder was a delightful surprise – it tastes just like olive oil, and when the dry granules hit your tongue, they dissolve almost instantly.  When I got home, I looked online for a recipe for olive oil powder, but came up empty handed.  I did, however, find an article that described using tapioca maltodextrin to dehydrate olive oil.  I don’t have any maltodextrin, but I did know where to find some instant tapioca mix.  A few hours of experimentation later, and I had a viable recipe.

Total kitchen time: 5 minutes
Makes: 1/2 cup of powder

Shopping list:

  • 1 3oz. package Jello Cook & Serve Fat Free Tapioca Mix
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  1. Using a sieve or a fine mesh strainer, sift the tapioca to remove the little tapioca balls.  Discard the balls.
  2. Place sifted tapioca powder and 1 tbsp. olive oil in a small food processor and pulse on high until blended.  Add the remaining olive oil, 1/4 tsp. at a time just until it forms a spreadable paste.  You may not need to use all of the olive oil – the paste should feel chalky.
  3. Spread the olive oil mixture in an even layer on a microwavable plate.  Microwave on high for 90 seconds.  Remove and let cool 5 minutes.
  4. Using the tines of a fork, break the cooled paste into small pieces.  Store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.

This powder is an excellent addition to a bowl of ice cream or other sweet dishes.  Unfortunately, since we’re using off-the-shelf tapioca mix, we do get some of the tapioca flavor.  However, the overwhelming taste is definitely olive oil, and unless you’re ready to start ordering commercial food chemicals, this method ain’t bad for $2.30.

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Sometimes there’s nothing like a hot plate of lasagna on a cold winter evening.  If you’re nodding in agreement, for the love of God, stop buying frozen lasagna!  This dish is nearly foolproof, and if you don’t want to make your own noodles and sauce from scratch, you can easily substitute store-bought ingredients.  I chose to make mini-lasagnas since I have a set of cocottes (tiny dutch ovens), but the same recipe will work in an 8”x8” baking dish.

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caramel confit chorizo

I wish I could take credit for this recipe – the best new thing I’ve tasted all year – but the credit actually lies with two of my favorite chefs in Seattle: Philippe Thomelin of Olivar, and Joseba Jiménez de Jiménez, formerly of Harvest Vine and now playing around at Txori.  On the night I first tasted chorizo caramel confit, I had just finished an excellent meal prepared by both chefs on a special evening at Olivar.   I happened to be sitting with Jay of Gastrolust.com, and Joseba came over to say hello.  Of course we praised the meal, and I jokingly asked, “But where was the chorizo?”  Joseba disappeared into the kitchen and emerged a minute later with a plate of sticky-sweet chorizo atop crostini.  They were unbelievable, and I’ve dreamt about them ever since.  Apparently, Philippe and Joseba had hand-made the chorizo earlier that day and had been cooking slowly in caramel.  Philippe generously shared his simple recipe, which I’ve recreated here using store-bought chorizo.

Makes: 24 pieces
Total kitchen time: 1 hour (15 minutes active time)

Shopping list:

  • 1 lb. dry-cured chorizo, sliced into 1/4” pieces
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 baguette, thinly sliced (optional)
  1. Pour the sugar and water into a medium skillet with high sides (taller than the chorizo is thick).  A non-stick skillet makes for easier cleanup.  Do not stir the sugar and water together, just make sure all the sugar is wet.
  2. Over medium heat, bring the sugar water mixture to a soft boil. 
  3. Stir in the butter until melted.  Reduce the heat to a low simmer.
  4. Add the chorizo and continue to simmer for 10 minutes, up to 3 hours.  The longer it cooks, the more flavorful the caramel will be.
  5. (Optional, for serving) Butter one side of thin baguette slices and toast in the oven or on a skillet.  Place each piece of chorizo on a piece of toasted bread and drizzle with the caramel sauce in the pan.
    Or, dump the whole pot into a mason jar and serve with bamboo skewers.

This is my new favorite dessert, and a dish that I’ll serve often at cocktail parties.  If you’re interested in hearing more about the wonderful dinner at Olivar, Jay has a great writeup on his blog.  And, many thanks to Frantic Foodie Keren Brown for organizing the dinner!

Chorizo Caramel Confit on Foodista

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