News From The Ranch

MAY 2013
Olive Oil-to-Go
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Fan Photo Faith Vance

Veggie Breakfast Dish

Congrats to Faith Vance, who e-mailed us this photo of a veggie dish she likes to serve her family for breakfast. "This combination of shitake mushrooms, black kale, fresh garlic, and onion - all sauteed in California Olive Ranch EVOO - is a winner," she writes. "I use it either in a frittata with a sprinkle of cheese or as a side to fried eggs." Faith has won a bottle of oil. You can win this month's contest by sending us a photo showing how you use our oil. Put "Fan Photo" in the subject line and send it to the email address below. 
Kirsten and Bob

Springtime at the Ranch

Marketing pro Kirsten and Master Miller Bob pause for a photo in front of the olive trees at our Artois ranch in northern California.



With the arrival of spring, we're thinking picnics, travel, Mother's Day, and Memorial Day. In short, we'll be on-the-go! And, being food lovers, we're focused on how to bring along the foods we love - including fresh California extra virgin olive oil. Fortunately, we've got a solution when it comes to olive oil. We'll bring our new trial product we're testing out this month - the California Olive Ranch Olive Oil-to-Go packet.  It's small, lightweight and perfect for all of your outdoor gatherings and summer travels. We even brought some on a backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon to make a mushroom pasta recipe!

The packet holds nearly a tablespoon of our fresh, extra virgin olive oil - perfect for using with your on-the-go meals.  It can be used in countless ways. Bring some packets along on picnics for use in a salad ... or for drizzling on farm fresh corn and sliced  tomatoes.  Pack some in your purse or backpack. Let your imagination run wild!

During May, for a limited time only, our packets are available at our online store: You can get a bag of 10 for $5.99, or 5 bags of 10 for $24.95. 

We'd love your feedback on our new product!
  Please email us at, and share your ideas and suggestions for using the packets. Don't forget photos!  We'll be posting your comments and photos on our new Pinterest board, as well as on Facebook.  (If this product is something our fans truly enjoy, we'd love to consider adding it to our ongoing featured items.)

So this May, head outside with our Olive Oil-to-Go packets and enjoy some healthy, flavorful food!

Mediterranean Food Month
May is Mediterranean Diet Month - created to generate awareness about the delicious foods and amazing health benefits associated with the  Mediterranean diet.
Below you'll find recipes showcasing Mediterranean cuisine. You can enjoy them outside at picnics (where our new packets would be handy) or at home. As you know, olive oil is a staple in the Mediterranean pantry. You'll also find a Q&A with cookbook author Nancy Harmon Jenkins, a leading authority on olive oil and Mediterranean cuisine.
Cold Almond Soup with Garlic and Grapes
Cold Almond Soup with Garlic and Grapes This Spanish dish would be perfect for a picnic. "The soup is usually served with peeled and seeded muscat grapes or, less commonly, with small melon balls," award-winning author Claudia Roden writes in The Food of Spain (HarperCollins, 2011), where the recipe appears. "You can use any sweet grapes." Give the soup a finishing drizzle with our new Olive Oil-to-Go packet.

Click here to see the recipe
Marinated Mushrooms
Marinated Mushrooms Another good picnic dish. These Italian mushroom are a "family favorite" at cookbook author's Joyce Goldstein's home. "Why does everyone gobble them up?" she asks in her book Antipasti (Chronicle Books, 2006), where the recipe appears. "The answer is texture. The key here is not to marinate the mushrooms too long, so they still have some crunch." Our Everyday Fresh or robust Miller's Blend oils would work well for the marinade.

Click here to see the recipe
Roasted Figs and Goat Cheese
Figs and Goat Cheese Roasted on Fig Leaves May marks the start of California's fresh fig season. And we get rave reviews about this  dish created by cookbook author (and fig aficionado) Marie Simmons. If you have access to fig leaves, you can roast the figs on top for added flavor. Before roasting, the figs get a drizzle of olive oil and honey as well as a sprinkling of herbs. You could use our Everyday Fresh or Arbequina oils.

Click here to see the recipe
Greek Fries
Greek Fries Diane Kochilas, in her cookbook The Country Cooking of Greece (Chronicle Books, 2012), says residents of the Greek countryside typically eat potatoes fried in olive oil at least once a week. She suggests pairing these with fried eggs for a quick meal - or with meat stew for a more elaborate meal. For added flavor, we'd fry the potatoes in our robust Arbosana or Miller's Blend oils.

Click here to see the recipe
Couscous with Almonds, Raisins and Saffron Onions 
Couscous with Almonds, Raisins and Saffron Onions Joyce Goldstein calls this couscous dish "a salad with Moroccan flavors, and Americans love it." The couscous is tossed with raisins, saffron-infused onions, slivered almonds and a citrus dressing. The recipe appears in Joyce's book Mediterranean Fresh (W.W. Norton & Co., 2008). She recommends using our fruity Arbequina oil to prepare the dressing .

Click here to see the recipe
Pan-Grilled Fish with Garlic and Chile Dressing
Pan-Grilled Fish with Garlic and Chile Dressing Claudia Roden, in The Food of Spain (HarperCollins, 2011), says the stovetop method used to cook this fish keeps the flesh moist and juicy. You can also grill the fish. The fish is served hot with a dressing poured over. Use our fruity Arbequina oil to prepare the dressing and our Everyday Fresh to fry the fish. If you're having a barbecue, use our  Olive Oil-to-Go packets for a finishing drizzle.

Click here to see the recipe
Writer, Traveler, Food Authority, Olive Oil Guru
Nancy Harmon Jenkins
Nancy Harmon Jenkins
Photo by Pamela Sheldon Johns
Noted food writer and historian Nancy Harmon Jenkins says that during her travels around the Mediterranean, Southeast Asia, China, India, and the Middle East she
realized "there is a powerful connection between who we are and what we eat." Nancy - who divides her time between coastal Maine and an olive farm in Tuscany - is also an authority on the Mediterranean diet, its health-promoting properties, and extra virgin olive oil. She's penned several acclaimed books, including the groundbreaking Mediterranean Diet Cookbook and the newer The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook. We caught up with her by phone in New York City, where she was happy to talk about Mediterranean cuisine, her upcoming book on olive oil - to be published by Houghton Mifflin in 2014 - and how she became interested in food. Also, be sure to check out Nancy's recipe for Greek zucchini fritters!


How did you become interested in the Mediterranean region and its cuisine?


I first moved to Spain in the mid-1960s. And since then I've lived in many parts of the Mediterranean: Italy, Greece, Turkey, etc. I not only lived in the Mediterranean, but I worked there and raised a family there. I also own a house in Italy. It really became home for me. Between my native Maine and the Mediterranean, I'm torn. I love both of them.


What makes the Mediterranean way of eating different from other cultures' diets?


The No. 1 reason why the Mediterranean way of eating is so healthy is the olive oil - and by that I mean extra virgin olive oil. It's the principal cooking fat. There's also an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables. By contrast, meat consumption, especially red meat, is low. The other interesting thing is wine consumption. Wine is consumed at every meal. But there's a very low level of alcoholism. Children are allowed to consume wine mixed with water. It's not seen as this dangerous thing. Also, meals are consumed in a very social manner. There's some kind of social interplay that almost always takes place over food. And I think that's an unexplored, but important, aspect of the Mediterranean diet.


You wrote the Mediterranean Diet Cookbook nearly 20 years ago. Looking back, you seemed to have been ahead of your time. What do you think - did it take a while for people in this country to come around?


I think people have come around in the sense that almost everybody knows what you're talking about. But there's still confusion. A lot of people think Italian cooking is the Mediterranean diet. There's lots of great food from Greece, Turkey, Spain, and other Mediterranean countries. We don't always recognize that in this country.


You've just completed a book about olive oil. Can you tell us about it?


It's about my own experience with olive oil. I have my own olive orchard in Tuscany and make my own oil. My experience with olive oil goes back to the late 1960s and the early 1970s when I lived in Spain. But the book is not simply a memoir about olive oil. I include a lot of recipes. There's a chapter on the science of olive oil and why it's good for us. There's also a chapter on what extra virgin olive oil really is. Once the definitions are made, the only oil I think worth talking about is extra virgin olive oil. To me there's just no other kind.


How did you become interested in food and cooking?


That's a hard question to answer. I could say I've always loved to eat. But for me food is a really interesting way to get into another culture. I learn more when I go to a completely different country by going to markets, by going to restaurants, and by asking people what they're taking home to cook. It's about why people are eating that food and what they're doing with it. Sometimes it has to do with the climate and the geography of a place. Sometimes it has to do with history. Sometimes it has to do with religion. In Italy, for example, people have always had pasta in their history. Also, Italy is a great wheat consuming nation.


You created a delicious olive oil mousse au chocolat using our Arbequina oil. We've made it countless time. What does the Arbequina contribute to the mousse?


Arbequina has a very flowery flavor to it. I almost think of it as an almond flavor. That balances well with the chocolate. You also need a fat to bind it all together. If you made that mousse with a Picual olive the taste would be totally different. Picual naturally has a strong taste and would cancel out the chocolate.


What's your best piece of advice to home cooks when it comes to cooking healthy food?


I always say cook with extra virgin olive oil. And people will say you can't fry with olive oil. But of course you can fry with olive oil. Olive oil is very good, even for deep-frying. You can heat it to the right temperature - which is about 365 degrees Fahrenheit, more or less - and it will crisp the outside of the food and won't get soggy. There's a myth that olive oil breaks down at frying temperatures, but that's exactly what it is - a myth.  


Because of its high content of polyphenols, extra virgin olive oil is actually very stable up to over 400 F. You can use it two or three times if you filter it. I also love the flavor olive oil gives to fried foods. I say use it for everything - eggs, chicken, fish. And you should certainly use it in raw sauces you make, like pesto or vinaigrette for salads.