I think you can call me an olive oil junkie... possibly an addict... and I'm embarrassed to say, maybe a snob. I love the stuff. I may even use olive oil more than butter. Probably. Next to my kitchen range, I have an old French lemonade bottle filled with a very reasonably priced extra-virgin olive oil that I use primarily for sautéing, the frying of eggs, or the oiling of molds. For that purpose, I've been buying Trader Joe's Extra Virgin California Estate Olive Oil, named by the Wall Street Journal as one of its favorites, and "a workhorse" in the kitchen (read about it HERE). On the opposite side of my range are the oils I use for finishing or whisking into a vinaigrette. I purchased an amazing one last summer at the Carpentras, France outdoor market and paid more for it than I like to spend, but it's heaven! It's truly the best one I've ever had in my kitchen... And, it's almost gone :(
But just because I adore really good extra-virgin olive oils, I will not drop a bundle on them. One EVOO I always try to have on hand in my kitchen is Nicholas Alziari from Nice. I refuse to purchase it here in the U.S. (carried by Williams-Sonoma and Zingerman's) because of the steep price -- it costs half in Paris. If I happen to be there, I will stock up, bringing several home. And, Nicholas Alziari is something I always request if a friend is traveling to France and generously asks, "Is there something you'd like me to pick up for you?" Packaged in a tin instead of glass bottles, it packs easily in a suitcase. But unfortunately, I cannot afford to hop a flight just to restock my pantry. My solution to that is shopping discount retailers. I've scored big time at places like HomeGoods. You won't always find an exceptional oil there, but if you're persistent, you will eventually snag a winner. I recently found Le Château d'Estoublon there for less than you'd pay in France. Always check the expiration date before purchasing, and store any unopened oils in a cool spot away from direct sunlight until needed.
This recipe for gluten-free Blueberry Muffins made with almond flour and olive oil is from a great article in a past WSJ OFF DUTY about olive oil myths (read it HERE).
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease 8 cups of a standard muffin pan with extra-virgin olive oil or use muffin liners. In a large bowl, stir together 2 cups almond flour or very finely ground blanched almonds, ¼ cup sugar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon.
2. In a small bowl, combine 2 large eggs, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons plain yogurt, then stir wet mixture into dry ingredients. (It’s OK if there are lumps in the dough.) Use a rubber spatula to fold 1 cup blueberries into batter.
3. Spoon batter into muffin pan, filling each cup to just below the brim. Bake 5 minutes, then decrease heat to 350 degrees and continue to cook until tops of muffins are lightly golden and dry to the touch, 15-20 minutes more. Transfer muffins to a rack to cool.
TAKE a LOOK: