Fact: until 2010 I only cooked with olive oil and now I only cook with rapeseed oil. All my recipes in the Kitchen Club use rapeseed oil and for me, it is 100% my go to. I am often asked by coaching clients and Kitchen Clubbers why I love it so much so I thought now (just before the fields turn golden once again) would be a good time to share.
I could tell you that it heats to a higher temperature, that it is high in omega 3 and vitamin E and low in cholesterol, but actually for me as a Chef and Kitchen Coach it’s about feeling a strong connection with my ingredients, and most importantly making the food that I’m cooking taste better.
CARE In 2010, my boyfriend and I moved next to East Lodge Farm in the Cotswolds. We got engaged the day we moved in and spent five years in our sweet little cottage surrounded by fields. The kitchen looked out onto the fields and from the kitchen table we would watch the cycle every year; from seed, to young plant, to flower, to harvest, to drilling and finally to seed again. Having grown up in suburbia, I was blown away by how much care goes into it, back and forth, throughout the year to achieve the best harvest possible. And that was just dedication for the seed itself.
Our house was just in front of the Cotswold Gold factory and I loved walking past with our dog Thula and seeing the seed being crushed to oil then fed through filters before it was bottled. It is such a simple process.
One of my favourite aspects about cooking is dealing with fresh ingredients and searching out the best local suppliers. It is an aspect of cooking that I’ve taken all over the world with me and it’s really nurtured my passion for understanding where food comes from. On Colonsay in the Inner Hebrides it was Andrew Abraham, the local oyster and honey man, in the Austrian Alps I found a retired butcher who spoke in a strong dialect and would deliver to the door even in a full blown snow storm, and on Ile-de-Re I scoured the island on my bike to find the best market stall where I goggled over their gorgeous fruit and vegetables. Pre-2010 I had never thought about oil (the base of almost all my cooking) coming from such a natural, local, raw form before.
TASTE The essence of the DizzleSky ethos is cooking fresh food in its simplest form and letting the natural flavours speak for themselves. Having cooked for years with olive oil and not tried anything different apart from processed sunflower oil for frying or sesame seed oil for dressings, I had not realised what a bitter taste olive oil can have. For me, rapeseed oil has more neutrality. It works as a painter’s palette binding flavours to create new tastes and allows me more control over the final result.
FLAVOUR As a chef, these are the bomb! A little drizzle here or there (and I mean a little drizzle as they are potent and you want them to enhance, not overpower your food) and they can make your food sing. My favourites are the more earthy tones of garlic, smoked and chilli which add real depth to my cooking. I use them at the end of cooking when I taste just before I serve. This is the time when balancing flavours is crucial.
Flavours can be grouped together in categories and when you taste try to visualise them to help you ascertain what might be needed. Remember to tweak them bit by bit (I can’t emphasis this enough) until you feel the food tastes balanced. If you’re not confident in balancing flavours then try bringing the flavours to the table for people to help themselves. I usually bring chilli oil, garlic oil, smoked oil, soy sauce, lemon quarters, lemon oil, Maldon Sea salt, black pepper to the table and a ramekin of freshly chopped herbs and spring onions if appropriate. We all taste food differently so this can be a great way to get people started and engage in conversations around flavours.
For the lighter infusions such as lemon, dill and basil I like to use these over fish or in a Greek yoghurt sauce. I simply stir a teaspoon in, taste and add more if necessary. A delicious and super quick way to lift food. And finally, how can I talk about Cotswold Gold and not mention their truffle oil? For me it’s the key ingredient to be drizzled over any risotto, creamy winey chicken or sweet potato mash. It adds depth and interest, an exotic allure. My word of warning is less is more and your food will truly sing.
MAYO Having spent 16 years growing up in Belgium I am a mayonnaise snob and I’m proud of it. I love the Cotswold Gold mayonnaises as they have an authentic taste and texture. When I make it at home with egg yolks and oil I often have to loosen it with water as it becomes quite block-like. This is how it should be. Thick, solid, yellow and delicious. These days I like to eat more healthfully and stir through a tablespoon of Greek yoghurt (mainly so I can eat more without the guilt). For rosemary wedges, I stir through Greek yoghurt and a teaspoon of grainy mustard. Now it’s asparagus season I’ve become addicted to their hollandaise sauce and try not to eat a whole pot in one sitting. Last week I had the truffle mayonnaise with a sirloin steak and new potatoes which was sublime and the smoked chilli with a paella. Can you tell I like it?
VERSATILE In the kitchen before stumbling across Cotswold Gold, I always had a plain olive oil for frying and roasting and an extra virgin olive oil for dressings. It was expensive and slightly irritating to always make sure I had both. Now I find I use the plain extra virgin cold pressed rapeseed oil for everything, from frying to roasting, marinating to baking and salads to whizzing up a hummous in the nutribullet. As a chef, I like to have this freedom with my most basic ingredient. I trust it and I think that’s really key.
So there you have it, the 5 reasons why I only ever cook with rapeseed oil. It’s funny putting it down on paper and really sensing in myself how much this product means to me on a professional and personal level. Oil for any home cook or chef has to be one of the key ingredients to cooking and to find a trusted UK supplier where the rape is grown in the fields where it is pressed and bottled is quite unique. Of course other rapeseed oils are available. But funnily enough, now I think about it, I have only ever used Cotswold Gold.
Happy cooking and stay safe!
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