Olive VarietiesWritten by Shauna Hanus
Olives no longer come only in a can or jar waiting to be slid onto a child’s fingers or dropped into an awaiting martini. Gourmet olive varieties are widely available and come in an array of flavors.
Here are ten of more common varieties of olives and a brief description of each.
Green olives with herbs de Provence: This vibrant citrus flavored olive is a good match with fish and in recipes calling for sweet spices. Herbs de Provence is a delightful blend of spices that can be used in every thing from eggs to soufflé.
Nicoises: This earthy rich olive is traditionally used in nicoise salad. It is a small black olive cured in red-wine vinegar.
Mount Athos green with Sicilian herbs: This olive packs a punch, it is flavored with rosemary, garlic, mustard seed, and red pepper flakes. It is an excellent olive for use in bruchetta topping, on salads, and in tapenade.
Mount Athos green stuffed with garlic: This is classic martini olive stuffed with a clove of garlic. It is pitted then stuffed and perfect for pizzas, snacking, and a modern sophisticated martini.
Mount Athos green olives with sun-dried tomatoes: This rich heavy olive is ideal in salads and for snacking. The intense flavor of sun-dried tomatoes blends delightfully with intense flavor of olive.
Wok this Way! (Part 2 of 5) Selecting a wokWritten by Helen Fan
As mentioned in Part 1 of series, woks come in different sizes ranging from 10 to 32 inches in diameter, but a wok that's 11 to 14 inches in diameter should suffice for use in a household kitchen.
Woks come in 2 different bottoms, traditional round-bottomed woks, and “westernized” flat-bottomed woks. Both have their advantages, but there're reasons that traditional wok lasted thousands of years in Chinese kitchens. The flat-bottomed woks do not heat as evenly. The flattened area creates a little angle around bottom that makes it harder to manipulate your cooking utensil. Food may get caught in this area, becoming overcooked or even burnt due to lack of movement. This also could present a problem when you clean it afterwards. That little angle also increases likelihood that you will accidentally scratch wok while stir frying. The flat-bottomed woks were designed for better balance on flat American stovetops, especially electric stove. But there is a simple solution for that. You can purchase a “wok ring” that you put on stovetop, and sit wok over it for balance. We will go through that in more detail in Part 5, “Wok accessories”.
A wok is generally made of iron, copper, carbon steel, or aluminum. Carbon steel and aluminum are better ones because of their superior heat conductivity, but general consensus is that carbon steel is, by far, best material for a wok. C arbon steel is most porous, and when exposed to high heat, pores open up to absorb cooking oil, contributing to developing "patina", and then elusive "wok hay" (covered in Part 3). If you go around Chinese restaurants and ask their chefs kind of woks they use, an overwhelming majority will swear by carbon steel woks. The best part is that carbon steel woks are relatively inexpensive to buy. There is an old adage that says “you get what you pay for”. This is definitely not case for woks.