Friday, January 18, 2008

UC Davis Launches a New Olive Center

This week the University of California Davis launched the first university-based olive research and education center in North America. They are hoping to do for olives and olive oil what it has done for grapes and wine.

The center's program will be devoted to teaching, research and educational activities. The teaching component will eventually include a general-education class on olive oil; student internships; and short courses on olive growing, and olive-oil processing and sensory evaluation.

Neal Van Alfen, dean of UC Davis' College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences is confident that the knowledge coming out of the new center "will lead to advances in olive growing and processing, and a better understanding of the link between olive products and consumer health."

The new center's initial priorities will include strengthening California's olive oil labeling statutes, conducting research on issues identified by olive-oil and table-olive producers, and identifying better laboratory methods for detecting adulterated olive oil.

An olive-oil processing plant will enable the center to examine the impact of different olive varieties, environmental factors and growing practices on olive-oil quality. Researchers affiliated with the center will also explore potential health benefits of olives and olive oil, pest management strategies and mechanical harvesting improvements.

More information

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Chicken Cacciatore with Olives / Roasted Mushrooms

Recently I resuscitated this recipe in my own everyday cooking and was very pleased at how tasteful and satisfying it was for not much effort. The olives add an incredible burst of flavor to this classic dish. You can serve it over spaghetti or rice. Add more tomatoes if you like a saucier dish, especially if added to the pasta.

I tweaked the online recipe slightly, and from a tip I discovered recently, I included a roasted mushroom variation. Prepare the mushrooms separately. The mushrooms soak up the olive oil, salt and sherry vinegar flavors through the roasting method. When thoroughly cooked, add them into the chicken cacciatore towards the end of the cooking time.

This dish is also an excellent choice as the main entrée in a buffet meal. It was a success at a recent holiday party of mine. I just doubled the recipe, added a bunch of side dishes, and I was set to go!

Ready to try it? Chicken Cacciatore recipe | Roasted Mushroom recipe

(I promise to post pix soon!)

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