Article

Recipe · Infused Oils

Every October we have a mini-break and take a couple of weeks to ourselves whilst our Alex stays with her Nana. We tend to stay in Spain, and one year we stayed in a marvellously plush hotel (we are not flash gits in the slightest, but tend to splurge on holidays) that had an insanely lovely restaurant. I remember the bread selection vividly – there were like 10 different kinds – and they were served with little oils for dipping. It was amazeballs, to say the least!

Sadly, infused oils usually cost a packet and although I like a treat, I don’t feel comfy spending a lot of money on a condiment… Handbags definitely, condiments no. See I told you I wasn’t flash! Then I had a brainwave…

Cooking and gardening go hand in hand, and there’s nothing more satisfying than combining the two to make your own meals. The thing I love about growing herbs and chilis, for example, is that you don’t need a lot of space for them – or even a garden or balcony – and they are relatively easy to maintain.

This year I’ve been growing all sorts of herbs in our veggie patch, and as we’re huge fans of spicy food we also invested in a bunch of chillis of different kinds. I really love drying out chilis once they’re picked so we have a handy stash all year round, plus dried chilis have a unique smoky spiciness that sneaks up on you – just the thing for Mexican food!

Anyway, let’s cut to the chase. The other evening I was pottering about in the kitchen and decided to make my own infused oils. I was pretty convinced that it wouldn’t work, but tried anyway. Well, as luck would have it they turned out super well and I just had to share this recipe with you!

These dainty oils are best served with crusty bread, but can complement any cuisine perfectly. You can experiment with quantities and flavours ans have s lt of fun inventing combinations! Almost anything can be turned into an infused oil, so do let me know if you discovered any unusual combination…

You will need:

  • 50ml vegetable oil or plain olive oil (not Extra Virgin);
  • 40g chilis, herbs or anything you fancy, roughly chopped. I bought organic or used the herbs from my garden. I used the following quantites for my oils:

Garlic Scapes & Chive Oil: four long garlic scapes, five chive flowers and chive stems.
Red Chili Oil: two medium-sized Habenero and five Cayenne chilis.
Basil Oil: Eight basil leaves (with stems).
Green Chili & Garlic Oil: two large garlic cloves and three large Jalapeño chilis. I also added a very small sprig of rosemary but this is entirely optional.

  • A food processor, sieve or mug tea mesh strainer/infuser, large jar or mug, small pan, small jars or pots to store the oils.

This amount serves three.

Method:

Now you’re all set! There is a lot of trial an error involved in this recipe, but the quantities I have shown are generic. Feel free to add larger quantities of ingredients to thicken the oil or fewer for a more subtle taste. Here are some tips and ideas to help…

Tips:

  • When making a batch of oils, make the oils with a milder flavour before chili oils or ones with stronger-tasting ingredients. Even after washing some flavours can stick to the blender and affect the taste of any oils made afterwards.
  • Invest in a mug with a fitted mesh tea strainer/infuser. They are ideal for making oils and cut down on mess as they fit the mug perfectly. Ikea do great ones!
  • Take care not to burn the ingredients by constantly stirring the mixture when cooking and keeping a close eye whilst it’s cooking! Even the slightest hint of burning can ruin the oil and you’ll have to start again.

Enjoy your oils and do let me know if you discover and amazing combinations!

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