News From The Ranch

MAY 2014
EVOO with Fresh Herbs
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Visit our Fresh, Bright & Light Pinterest Board for more beautiful recipes and inspiration.

Our olive trees are flowering. That means baby olives are on their way! Rancher Brian Mori updates us on what's happening in the olive groves and around the ranch. 
Green Couscous

Creating fresh salads and dressings at home has never been so easy. This time of year capitalize on fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, and other seasonal ingredients available at your local farmers' market and grocery. Late spring produce bins are filled with diverse and brightly colored salad greens, avocados, radishes, beets, carrots, apricots, strawberries, and more.

Returning home, prepare your fresh salad and top it with a homemade dressing or vinaigrette made with good extra virgin olive oil as well as vinegar, fresh lemon juice, mustard, and fresh herbs. Easy as pie - and you'll know the name of every ingredient in the fresh dressing itself.

"Tossed, chopped, shredded, composed - salads are versatile in both form and flavor. They're also an enticing and healthy way to showcase favorite seasonal produce," Georgeanne Brennan, our featured chef, says in her cookbook Salad of the Day.

We're showcasing salads all month long in our Fresh, Bright & Light campaign, teaming with talented bloggers as well as our friends at the California Avocado Commission, California Almonds, and OXO. We'll feature recipes and tips for making your own salads and dressings. And, as part of our campaign, we want to hear from you!

Enter your own original salad recipe by entering our Salad Bowl Recipe Contest. You can win olive oil, almonds, avocados, essential kitchen tools, a $500 Visa Gift Card - and more.   
So let's get dressing! 
Fresh Salad Recipes
Grilled Flank Steak Salad with Tomatoes  

Our featured chef - Georgeanne Brennan - notes that flank steak "is a great choice for salads" thanks to its big flavor. Here, grilled flank steak is paired with tomatoes, red onion and romaine lettuce. The steak is marinated beforehand in an herb-infused vinaigrette. Additional vinaigrette is used to dress the salad. Make the vinaigrette with our robust Miller's Blend, which can stand up to the bold flavors. The recipe appears in Brennan's book Salad of the Day.  

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Grilled Salmon, Potato and Asparagus Salad  

You can prepare this light salad right before serving - or even a day ahead. The salad and dressing are then combined at the last minute. Georgeanne Brennan, our featured chef, recommends serving the salad as a light dinner or a special lunch. Use our medium robust Arbosana or our Everyday Fresh to make the vinaigrette. The recipe appears in Brennan's Salad of the Day.  

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Spinach Salad with Candied California Almonds 
This refreshing salad makes a nice side dish or can be served as a light lunch. It pairs homemade candied almonds with baby spinach, fresh goat cheese and berries. The salad comes together with a flavorful Dijon and lemon vinaigrette. The recipes comes from our friends at California Almonds, and was created by Gaby Dalkin of What's Gaby Cooking. Make the vinaigrette with our fruity Arbequina, which is great in salad dressings.   

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California Avocado Potato Salad   

The use of ripe, creamy avocados kicks  ordinary potato salad up a notch or two. The recipe is from our friends at the California Avocado Commission. Large avocados - about 8 oz. - are recommended. Adjust the quantity accordingly if using smaller or larger size avocados. And use our medium robust Arbosana to make the olive oil, mayonnaise, and lemon juice dressing. 

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Arugula with Avocados, Almonds & Blueberry Vinaigrette
Blogger Jennifer Farley of Savory Simple created this flavor-packed salad by combining  fresh arugula with spicy, candied almonds and avocados. She whipped up a unique vinaigrette pairing roasted seasonal blueberries with our fruity Arbequina and balsamic vinegar. "It creates a tangy, naturally sweet vinaigrette that's out of this world and unlike anything you'll buy at the store," she notes.   

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Sesame-Almond and Avocado Spinach Salad 
In addition to avocados and almonds, we count quinoa as among our favorite superfoods. And so we thank blogger Erin Alderson of Naturally Ella for including these three foods in this sweet and savory spinach salad. The dressing is made using olive oil, lime juice, fresh ginger, soy sauce, honey, tamarind paste, and crushed red pepper. Our robust Miller's Blend would complement these wonderfully diverse flavors.

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Many Talents: Q&A With Georgeanne Brennan

Georgeanne Brennan
Georgeanne Brennan has worn many hats. She was a school teacher in Alaska and pioneered a specialty vegetable seed company. Brennan and her husband also made and sold goat cheese in France, a story told in her memoir, A Pig in Provence. Today, Brennan is an award-winning cookbook author and journalist whose books have been translated into more than a dozen languages.  In addition to her books, Brennan writes regular features for The San Francisco Chronicle's food and wine section, is a columnist for Edible Marin and Wine Country magazine, and has contributed to  many other publications.

You and your husband were school teachers in a Alaskan village. What was the most unusual dish you learned to cook there?

We lived in a traditional Eskimo village - one of the few left allowed to practice sustainable whaling. We were once given about two pounds of ground whale meat. The villagers told us how to make whale burgers. We mixed the meat with salt and pepper, fried the patties on a stove, and served them on hamburger buns with mustard. They had a milder flavor than regular hamburgers. It was more like a ground pork burger.

What spurred you to get into cooking?

I always liked to cook and had an interest in food. My mother and grandmother liked to cook and so I  cooked with them. My father taught me how to gather abalone off the rocks along the California coast. I wrote my first cookbook in the second grade - although the word "recipe" was spelled incorrectly. During college I spent my junior year in France - mainly Provence - and that inspired my interest in food.

How did you become involved in food writing?

That came about in the 1980s when a friend and I launched an imported vegetable seed company, Le Marché Seeds. We started a catalog and included recipes for the vegetables. We sent copies of the catalog and press releases to food editors - rather than garden editors. We were written up in Vogue, the Chicago Tribune, Family Circle, and other publications. Both of us ultimately were asked to participate in a vegetable cookbook. We developed and wrote recipes, and we wrote the text.

Who does the cooking in your house?

I mainly do, but we all cook. I live with my husband. My son and his girlfriend live very close by, and they often come over.  Two of our other children and their spouses also live nearby and so they come over, too. When we're all together we cook. We had my grandchildren over recently and we made fresh pasta. They hand-cranked it out and rolled the pasta dough through the cutters to make noodles.

Can you give us a simple dish involving extra virgin olive oil that doesn't require a recipe?

Use for any fish fillet or steak. Salt and pepper the fish, top it with a thin slice of lemon, and drizzle the fish with olive oil. Put the fillets or steaks in a 450 F oven for 10 minutes an inch - or until it flakes it easily. That's it.

How do you like to use California Olive Ranch olive oil in your cooking?

I use it any time an oil is called for. I sauté in it. I fry in it. I finish with it. I make my salad dressings with it.  

What do you like to eat when you're too tired to cook?    

If I don't want to cook I'll put together a dinner salad. We make our own pancetta. I'll cut that and cook it up, along with some olive oil croutons - basically cubes of bread fried in olive oil. I'll fry up a couple of eggs and top the salad with them.

Look for more of Georganne's recipes on her website as well as on HUFFPOST TASTE or TASTE WILLIAMS-SONOMA.  And don't forget to enter our Salad Bowl Recipe Contest with your own recipe creation!