December 18, 2012

STONEHOUSE OLIVE OIL + BLOOD ORANGE BROWNIES


Back in September, Trish from Stonehouse Olive Oil hired me to shoot some new images for her website. When I got Trish's call - I was stoked at the opportunity to work for a woman who is passionate about her business, especially when that business is such a delicious one. I first met Trish almost 20 years ago when she and P worked together at Alice Waters' Cafe Fanny - as long as I've known her, she has dedicated her life to good food. I'm guessing that many of you are probably already familiar with Stonehouse from their shop at the SF Ferry Building. If you don't know these oils, you should. They are awesome, and I am totally hooked.

The photos above are from a field trip last month to Talcott Ranch in Carneros. When Trish offered to let me tag along, I jumped at the chance to walk through an olive grove at harvest time - the array of olive trees dripping with ripe fruit was simply breathtaking. Getting to see, touch, and smell the place where my food comes from always inspires me and makes me quite hungry!


Trish's life has been all about olive oil for over 15 years. Being food obsessed myself, one my favorite things about this project has been hearing Trish share her knowledge of oils and her food philosophy in general. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and I wanted to share with you guys...

Erin: So many of us food-lovers are ultra conscious of where our produce comes from, but we don't always have the same depth of knowledge about olive oil. The seemingly countless olive oils lining the market shelves can be daunting for consumers. Plus, all the controversy about bogus extra virgin oils from Europe has left me all the more confused. What are you guys up to at Stonehouse?

Trish: Here at Stonehouse, we taste through all our oils at the end of crush (harvest time) and select only the oils that are fabulous. I use our oils all the time, and we have a very loyal following that keeps us honest! We also have our oils certified but the COOC, the California Olive Oil Council, which has some of the most stringent extra virgin requirements in the world.  The COOC  is the best insurance a customer has these days to make sure they're buying the real deal.

It's overwhelming how corrupt the international olive oil industry is. Although it makes perfect sense, when you consider olive oil is one of the top commodities in the world, worth billions and billions, and it is incredibly unregulated.  It is not an exaggeration to say most of the extra virgin olive oils in the supermarket are not only NOT extra virgin, but not even 100% olive oil.  For people who want to know more, Tom Mueller wrote a great article for The New Yorker years ago, and followed it up with a book this year, for those who want to geek out on the subject. 

Erin: Name a few food artisans/cooks/purveyors who inspire you? 

Trish: There are so many!  I have to give 1st nod to Full Belly and Riverdog farms, as probably 70-80% of what I eat is grown by them.  Alice Waters and Michael Pollen get a lot of press in the food movement, and deservedly so, but the farmers themselves are the biggest heroes for me, because they really have skin in the game-- their lives on the line, their physical bodies-- in a way writers or restaurateurs do not.

And Capay Valley is a special place for me. It's been a pleasure to watch the farmers there grow and become part of the Farmer's Market revolution that has culminated with the opening of the Ferry Building in 2003, which is a kind of mecca for me.  Even after 10 years, I still feel blessed and weepy every time I walk into that building.  It's so gorgeous I feel lucky and honored to be a part of it.  And we're one of the most successful stores in there, which still blows my mind. Sometimes I think, wait, do I really have a store here? or am I dreaming?



Erin: What are your most dogeared cookbooks?

Trish:  The #1 most beat up is Fields of Greens, partially because it's 20 years old and one of my 1st cookbooks.  As a young vegetarian it was my 'joy of cooking,' my go-to bible.  Many of my standard dishes are from that book.  I guess I've turned back to it now because of my health issues and it has the 60's/70's cross cultural cooking I still like.  Remember the 1st time you made gazpacho and felt sophisticated?  

Alice's The Art of Simple Food is great - it feels like the culmination of all her years of experience.   I like the variations of the recipes she offers, so that each recipe really has 5-6 versions, which is how I cook, rarely the same exact thing twice.  Her Vegetables is a standby as well. 

Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi is a newer cookbook I'm cooking my way through and loving (Jerusalem is on it's way).  I'm also big on blogs these days for inspiration--Smitten Kitchen and Heidi, and of course Yummy Supper!





STONEHOUSE BLOOD ORANGE BROWNIES 

These brownies are not your standard fare. They do have all that dense chocolate goodness you want out of a brownie, plus the blood orange oil, quinoa flour, yogurt, and ample dose of cinnamon make for a surprising and healthful bite. With ingredients like these, we could even eat brownies for breakfast. Yum!

INGREDIENTS - thank you Trish!
{printable recipe}
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (Trish suggests Valhrona, 100% cacao)
  • 1 cup quinoa flour
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Ceylon Cinnamon (or a 1/2 teaspoon standard cinnamon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1/3 cup Stonehouse Blood Orange Olive Oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350.

Into a medium mixing bowl, sift dry cocoa, quinoa flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt - dry whisk to mix, set aside.

In a standing mixer, or using a hand mixer, blend the eggs together then add yogurt, blood orange oil, and vanilla and mix until combined. Slowly add dry ingredients into the mixing bowl. Continue to mix until well blended.

Wipe the insides of a 8x10 inch pan with a little bit of Blood Orange Oil. Pour the batter in and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.


64 comments:

  1. Wow those look special brownies! Can't wait for the Blood Orange season to start so I can make a mountain of goodies with them

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    1. Foodner4life, I look forward to Blood Orange season every year. There is something so magical about those beauties!


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  2. Erin - what beautiful shots! I always admire your photography. I have had this olive oil and it is first class. Blood Orange season is simply the best and I can only imagine how divine those brownies taste! Happy Holidays!!

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    1. Thanks Lisa! Shooting for trish was such fun. Her oils are not only delish, but so so beautiful. I'm guessing you've been to the shop at the Ferry Building, right?
      I'm sitting here eating another brownie right now:)
      xxoo
      E

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  3. Those oils look amazing and your brownies look wonderful!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. Thanks Rosa! The oils really are special. Products made with love and care always taste best.
      xxoo
      E

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  4. Brownies for brekkie, heck yes:) The blood orange oil caught my eye immediately, so how cool to see a recipe with it included here.

    Lovely lovely photos, and such a pretty olive grove. How remiss of me not to know that olives are grown in California - - although now that I think of it, what isn't grown there, right? ;)

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  5. Emma, you would have loved the grove. After decades of living in California, I'd never been to an olive farm. It was such a treat - I'd never seen olives in such abundance. Wow.
    xxxooo
    E

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  6. It's so amazing to see olives on the tree! I enjoyed reading Trish's perspective, and the brownies look divine.

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  7. Jess, Trish really knows her stuff. We've spent hours together talking about food and it's so fun. She's such a font of information - I could do a dozen posts just on her.
    xxoo
    E

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  8. I just love your photos of the olive groves. It looks like a magical place!

    It is so disconcerting to read about the corruption of the international olive oil trade. I suppose it shouldn't be surprising when just about any industry cuts any corners they can to save a buck. I will have to keep an eye out for Stonehouse. Not sure I have seen it in Colorado.

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    1. Hey there Dulcie,

      It was such a gorgeous grove and all those olives!

      If you want to try Stonehouse you can buy from their website. They do most of their business through direct sales and this allows them to keep their prices reasonable. Also Williams Sonoma sells a few of their oils. It's good stuff.

      xxoo
      E

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  9. Such gorgeous pictures, Erin! And I love how your brownies have some healthy touches to them, they look amazing.

    Wishing you a wonderful Christmas! xoxo

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    1. Thanks Denise. Yes I liked the healthy touches to the brownies too. I always like a good twist on a classic.
      xxxxooo
      E

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  10. Beautiful post and beautiful pictures! I haven't tried this olive oil yet but now I have to! The brownies look amazing and really moist :) Happy holidays!

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    1. Happy Holidays to you too!

      I have to say...I'm totally sold on Stonehouse and it's great to now have an olive oil that I love and know it's the real deal.

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  11. Beautiful photos Erin! The olive oil farm looks so beautiful, but those shots of the olive oil bottles are perfect! My favorite is the two bottles with the blood orange halves.

    I would have to check Williams Sonoma for these. And I have no idea there is an olive oil conspiracy. Now I'd have to read about it.

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    1. Thanks Jenn. The blood orange oil shot is my favorite too.

      I read about the controversy a few years ago and have felt really lost about what olive oil to buy since then. Talking with Trish helped me to have a much better understanding of the industry and going the see the farm and meet the farmer was food-lover heaven.

      xxoo
      E

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  12. Love their olive oils! And brownies with olive oil and quinoa? You're right -- with those healthful ingredients, I'd have no problem allowing myself to finish off half the pan. ;)

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    1. I hear you Carolyn. I've been nibbling on the brownies all day!
      xxxooo
      E

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  13. I love this story. I love hearing about the folks who produce our food! And those orchard photos are exquisite.

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    1. Kimberley, the ranch was so gorgeous. I was amazed by the range of olives - size, shape, color. It was like a crazy patchwork of varietals.

      And I forget just how close Napa is. It took us less than an hour's drive from Berkeley to find ourselves in this olive paradise.

      xxoo
      E

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  14. These sound incredibly healthy and not what I expect in a brownie... but sometimes expectations need confounding! They look absolutely delicious and I love the idea of using blood orange infused oil.

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    1. Being the amazing baker you are, you would know your brownies! Aren't the ingredients interesting? Trish turned me on to quinoa flour a few months ago and I'm having so much fun with it. And the blood orange oil gives the brownies this mysterious quality - confounding in the best way:)

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  15. Those look and sound absolutely delicious! I love the pinky tinge to the tops of the brownies. This is a recipe I shall make over the Christmas break although I may have to squeeze blood oranges and mix the juice into the batter as I'm in London so very far from California! Thanks for the link to the interesting read on the olive oil industry too.

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    1. I bet fresh blood orange juice would be amazing here. I love the stuff and look forward to seeing those beauties at the market every winter!
      xxoo
      E

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  16. For People who have lactose intolerance, what would you use instead of Yogurt?

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    1. Hagit, Great question. I'm going to ask Trish for advice on that one.
      Have you had any luck with lactose free yogurt?

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    2. I haven't either, but I know my nephew who is lactose intolerant uses lactose-free milk without a problem. I'm guessing the lacotse-free yogurt would be good as well.

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    3. Hagit, I have a LF nephew too and if you just leave the yogurt out you can thin the consistency with a bit of water, just a few tablespoons does it, or you can also use Lactaid, that's the lactose free milk, it's actually pretty good; we make mashed potatoes with it at the holidays and it's just fine, no weird flavor. Again, just use a few teaspoons, as the consistency is so different from yogurt. FYI, you can also make custard with Lactaid and then run it thru your ice cream maker for lactose-free ice cream, your nephew will love you! Thanks for writing, I forgot to include the LF version.

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  17. You had me at the title of this post! I absolutely love Stonehouse olive oil and if I still lived in SF, I would most certainly have a big bottle as my go-to EVOO. Every time I go back there to visit, I always sneak in a few bottles of something into my bag....right now, it's some skinny bottles of the Persian Lime flavor. Do you think that would work in this recipe or maybe too acidic?

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    1. Yes the Persian Lime is so good! Not sure that it would work with these brownies - there's something so nice about orange and chocolate, and I think you're right that the lime would be too acidic. But maybe Persian Lime in an almond or coconut cake? I think that would be amazing!

      xo
      E

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    2. Vijay, I'm not sure about the Lime-Chocolate combo...Lemon-Chocolate is really good--on our site we have a recipe for a Rosemary chocolate cake with a bit of lemon oil that is really good, but Lime not so sure. We also have an online store for our non bay area fans.

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  18. Whenever I see olive trees I can't help but think of home, Greece. I wish I could taste this olive oil, all the way from California... it sounds so far away!!
    I love this brownie recipe as I love blood oranges. I make olive oil cakes often so I'm pretty sure I'm going to like these brownies as well. I think they're perfect for this time of year.
    Happy holidays, Erin!

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    1. Me too! One of my favorite things about Greece is the craggy ancient olive trees. It was a treat to see a California grove. Talcott is young, especially compared with Greek olives, but the ranch was stunning and the olives looked quite happy.
      Wishing you wonderful holidays Magda,
      xxooo
      E

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  19. UstabahippieDecember 19, 2012

    OMG this recipe is the best yet! I cannot wait to try it. How I miss Cafe FAnny.

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    1. I'm eating yet another slice of these brownies right now!

      I miss Fanny's too. Those bowls of creamy cafe au lait were perfection.

      I hope you have wonderful holidays,
      xxoo
      E

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  20. I'm amazed with your beautiful pictures!!!

    looove the olive grove shots!


    Merry Christmas to you and your family Erin!

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    1. Thanks so much Monika:)
      I hope your Christmas is cozy and peaceful. Cannot wait to see what beauty you'll have in store for us in 2013.
      xxxooo
      E

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  21. Your photos are always so spectacular, Erin. How do you do it? Thank you for the introduction to Stonehouse, too. Such a lovely ranch. The brownies look delicious, too, of course.

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    1. Kathryne, That's so kind of you to say. Taking photos gives me the biggest challenge and greatest satisfaction. It's so hard!
      And I'm glad to introduce you to Stonehouse. I think you'd love their oils. Thoughtful people create thoughtful food, right?
      xxxoo
      E

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  22. I love their product and as much as people love to bake with butter, I enjoy baking with olive oil. Every time I visit Ferry building, I have to sample their product and pick few bottles :) Such kind of project are always so much fun and the photos are stunning!

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    1. Kankana, I'm getting more and more into baking with olive oil too. I love butter, but oil gives such wonderful deep moisture to baked goods doesn't it.
      Next time you go into Stonehouse say hi to Trish if she's there. She's a fan of bloggers like us!
      xxoo
      E

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  23. Love this version of brownies! You are so lucky to be so close to amazing olive oil. Your photos are absolutely gorgeous, as usual.

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    1. Renee, Getting to visit the farm did make me feel so lucky. California is quite the Garden of Eden!
      xxoo
      E

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  24. Hello Erin, I felt I only got started following your blog when I had to pause due to building and poor internet service.
    What a great opportunity to be amongst those olive trees. Great reportage pictures. Congrats also on your cookbook!

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    1. Julie, Welcome back! So nice to hear from you. And thanks for the congrats on the cookbook - I'm having a blast.
      xo
      E

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  25. I always try to get a good oil, it changes so much and I use it quite often. I must say that you take amazing pictures.

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    1. Marta, so true. Good oil really does make all the difference, especially when cooking simple food.
      Thanks for the nice words about my photos - I love your work!!
      xo
      E

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  26. This sounds/looks like it was a fun day. Have I ever told you that my happy place is a veggin' in a villa in Tuscany surrounded by lots and lots of olive trees!? This spot looks like the next best thing. Olive oil is soo yummy. I just wish it could be used in higher heats. Otherwise, I'd use it for everything! Brownies look amazing, by the way. How do you like working with quinoa flour. I've yet to try it.

    xox,
    Christina

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    1. Christina Marie, Veggin in a Tuscan villa surrounded by olives trees - that sounds divine! I can see why that would be your happy place:)
      I have to say that I'm pretty smitten with quinoa flour. Trish actually turned me on to it and now I'm using it in all sorts of recipes. It gives a nice texture and is packed with protein. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
      xxoo
      E

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  27. Those colorful bottles of oil are gorgeous! And, how fun to visit the grove at harvest time. The flavors in these brownies sound fantastic. I'd love to have healthy brownies for breakfast!

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    1. Lisa, here's to brownies for breakfast!!!

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  28. Oh wow.

    I think I'll be ordering a bottle soon.

    Thank you Erin, and for all you do. Happy new year, by the way.

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    1. Thanks Stash for your kind words. I'm touched.
      Happy New Year to you as well.
      xxoo
      E

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  29. Some people lust after luxury cars and purses.. I lust after fancy pantry good and bakeware. I want to try these oils out!

    Photos are stunning, as usual! Like a ray of summer stuck in all the wintery (still beautiful, but very white) photos in the blogs I read

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    1. Stephanie, I'm with you. My friend gave me a giant slab of pink salt for xmas and I squealed with delight. I'd take anything food-related over jewelry anytime!

      xxoo to you,
      E

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  30. Erin, thank you for your beautiful recipes, information, and photographs! Looking at your work is just as relaxing as sitting in a hot springs sipping wine.

    There is so much conflicting information from the olive oil industry on the actual smoke point of olive oil; the interview with Trish was very informative as to why. I will be more careful to check that it is the real deal before purchasing in the future.

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    1. Jennifer, you are too sweet! I wouldn't mind sitting in a hot spring sipping wine right now;)

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  31. we made these yesterday minus the blood orange olive oil, wish i would have added some orange zest in next time. first time using quinoa flour i think i'm sold!

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    1. Mary Jo, I'm so glad you liked the quinoa flour. I'm really enjoying playing with it in my kitchen. Good stuff!

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So good to hear from you... I appreciate each and every note you leave for me!

Thanks,
E

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