The weather in Chicago has been brutally cold for the last week. The cold is slowly taking over the house. We’ve been adding layers and wearing slippers, but the best way to beat back the chill is to cook and fill the house with great smells that suggest warm weather climate. Spices make me dream of Chile, Hawaii, and Thailand. Yesterday I infused olive oil with cinnamon and thyme. It not only smelled exotic and soothing, like summer in the hills, it also gave me a quick and easy ingredient to drizzle on rice, mashed potatoes, and chicken.
Infused olive oil doesn’t keep very long: just one month in your fridge. This actually makes the infusion process a low-stress, low-investment activity. All you need is 1/4 cup of olive oil and a few fresh herbs and spices of your choice to create a uniquely flavored olive oil to spice up your winter foods.
The olive oil I infused was from Chile and the cinnamon was from Indonesia. Two exotic places that are currently not covered in ice, lovely to travel to, if only in my imagination. Chile is actually a producer of very high quality olive oil. Over 90% of olive oil produced in Chile is extra-virgin; one of the highest ratios of extra-virgin olive oil production in the world.
There are a surprising amount of foods at your local supermarket that come from Chile. Foods from Chile is conducting an extensive marketing campaign this year to increase our awareness of all the fresh fruits and vegetables they provide us when we’re snowed in. Their growing season is year-round, but we appreciate it most right now, when our world is gray and drab and we crave fresh fruits and vegetables to get us through the cold. To learn more about the Chilean foods in your life, join us for a Twitter party next Tuesday at 7PM EST with the hashtag #TickettoChile. You’ll have the opportunity to win a pretty canvas bag filled with Chilean products: nuts, jam, olive oil, and blueberry juice, to name a few. To be eligible to win, please pre-register for the party on Eventbrite.
But if you want to go further than just attending a Twitter party, and the idea of winning a culinary trip to Chile sounds like a dream come true, you’ll want to enter the Foods from Chile Guided Culinary Adventure contest. One lucky blogger will travel to Chile along with a team of journalists and to eat and write his or her way through Chile.
I had the pleasure of attending an elegant dinner party at Jen Luby‘s house last month that featured only foods from Chile: wine, olive oil, salmon, and raspberries. The dinner, like this post, was sponsored by the Foods from Chile organization. Everything was colorful, fresh and beautiful, as elegant as our hostess. Amidst all this grayness, I was grateful for the assault of colorful fresh food.
What will you infuse your olive oil with to banish winter?
- 1/4 Cup of Decent Quality Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Cinnamon Sticks
- 2 Sprigs of Thyme
- In the smallest saucepan you own, pour the olive oil and spices.
- Heat on the lowest setting of your burner to 140 degrees. If you don't have an instant thermometer, watch the oil until it is shimmering, moving slightly. Heat for another 3 minutes from that point on.
- Olive oil is very delicate. Store it in the fridge when you're done. It will keep for a month.