A few years ago, I discovered a cooking show on Discovery Health (pre-Oprah) called Just Cook This! The guy was Sam, and his food was focused on simplicity with big flavor, and a nod towards healthy eating. He also cooked in his own kitchen in his own home, with one camera man. It was unconventional, unique, and totally relatable. He coined himself Sam the Cooking Guy, and after the show ended I moved on and didn't hear much about Sam anymore.
Fast forward to 2 months ago, I thought of Just Cook This! and turned to good old Google. Low and behold, I found out he had been doing a Livecast from his home for at least a year! By the time I caught up with him, the Livecast had ended, but he still makes pre-recorded shows. I ate it up, and became a renewed fan quickly.
In one episode, Sam offered a We Olive giveaway. The contestant had to leave a review and rating on iTunes, and winners would be selected randomly to receive We Olive items. I decided to participate and after a week of anticipation, I was announced the first winner! I did a dance around my living room, and received the items a week later. So here they are, and here's what I did with 'em.
These two items are very much a yin and yang dynamic for me, since balsamic can easily overpower, but I am kind of crazy about anything lemon. For my first experiment, I wanted to let these guys shine on otherwise blank slates. So I decided to use the Lemon Olive Oil as a base for a salad dressing, and the Balsamic would go towards Balsamic Roasted Red Potatoes.
I've never made Balsamic potatoes before, so I followed a recipe merely as a guide. First, I quartered (or more) about 6 red potatoes and put them into a baking dish. Next, I made a basic dressing for the potatoes which consisted of olive oil, salt. pepper, green onion, 2 cloves of finely minced garlic, and some italian seasoning.
Into the potatoes, tossed around. (and my Siamese, Frida, trying to get in on that action.)
The recipe said to add more salt and the balsamic at the very end of the cooking process, so into a 400 degree oven they went, as I moved on to my salad.
I was going to do a review on these, but well...it's lettuce. There isn't a lot to say about these, except I think it's a cool way to offer different kinds of lettuce in one package.
There are 4 sections with individual..lettuces in each one! So I did a bunch of chopping and came up with this:
I added some baby spinach, chopped carrots, grape tomato, cucumbers and yes green onions. I sprinkled some walnuts on top, because I like them on my salads.
I've been experimenting lately with making my own salad dressings. The concept of making them is easy, but I've found that perfecting them is quite difficult. I decided that I wanted to use my Lemon Olive Oil as a base.
2 cloves of minced garlic waited patiently for the oil to join it, along with some salt and pepper. Since I'm incapable of leaving things be, I had to add one of my favorite condiments I add to almost anything. (except maybe ice cream.)
I whisk everything together with a fork to emulsify it a bit, and tasted it. You must taste your dressing as you make it, as ratios are key here. I always think of oil based dressings the same way I think of stir fry sauce, in that they should taste quite strong to your palette on their own. This way, when the food absorbs it, it won't come out bland. Thus far, it needed something, so I had to add another staple of mine.
Just a splash. I didn't even use up the little amount that was left in the bottle. You could add almost any vinegar to a dressing if you want to make it zippy. You could add sugar. You could add almost anything to make a tasty vinaigrette. I like to add lots of black pepper, or even cayenne for heat. I chose not to use balsamic since I wanted to taste them on their own, in separate dishes.
(money shot + I may or may not have added grated parmesan to my salad along the way. :-o )
One thing I've found with oil based dressings is to really use a light hand with them. They aren't like bottled vinaigrettes, and just a little bit of oil will really coat your salad well.
Now, onto the Balsamic.
(the We Olive spout is really cool!)
I took my potatoes out, and admittedly really had no idea how much balsamic to use. I measured out a little less than 1/4 cup...then used 1/2 of that. I tossed the potatoes with it and some salt, and then smelled it to try and gauge if it needed more. The bite of the vinegar scent tingled a bit, but I added a splash more, tossed again and popped them back in for 10 more minutes.
10 minutes later, they were sizzling and soft. I was ready to try it out.
Overall, I found the lemon oil to be lovely. There's a good harmony
between the light and freshness of the lemon, and the earthy, fruity flavor of a good quality olive oil. I
can see myself using it for many things, such as a chicken and veggie
roast (potatoes...carrots....red peppers....chicken thighs!), as a lemon sauce for
pasta, a finishing oil on a shrimp saute...!
The balsamic is on the sweet side, so I didn't care for it as much with potatoes. I like my potatoes to be garlicy and salty, spicy and maybe a little lemony. I will have to experiment more with the balsamic to find more uses for it. Any ideas?
Thank you so much to Sam and Max for these lovely little gifts. It made my foodie heart soar, and my palette too.
Check out Sam here! He has tons of recipes that you could make, and I promise you will end up loving at least one of them.