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16 August 2015

Onward Low Cholesterol (and Tasty Treats) Fans

I first learned about baking with olive oil from Melissa Romito, a fellow drudge at Fantasy Diamond, a graphic designer now living in or around Detroit.  Her boyfriend was in a cool situation which required a lot of treats for co-workers, which Melissa supplied.  Extras made their way to her co-workers.  So, when I was advised by my physician to "avoid" not only butter, cream, sour cream, whole eggs and whole milk, but also "homemade baked cakes & cookies" while giving up the drugs and controlling bad cholesterol through diet, I felt I had to figure out something if I wanted to continue supplying Larry and other family members (read: self) with baked goods, and remembered her baking with olive oil.
This book by Lisa A. Sheldon extols the virtues of baking with olive oil and highlights the dairy-free.  It cannot be found on Books on First website's on-line search (which unfortunately has definitely deteriorated either through our upgrade to Drupahl7 and subsequent change in "heuristics" or a change in the relationship between IndieCommerce and Ingram Book Company which had supplied the search engine/algorithms/whatever which used to make our online search very much like our in-store search with our wholesaler (Ingram), but call (815-285-2665) or e-mail us if you want to get a copy.

The only problem I am having with this cookbook is the printing/editing.  The author obviously meant to highlight the actual amount of olive oil used in each recipe, maybe in an olive colour.  No printer or editor thought to tell her and she did not think to see or change the galleys/test print. Instead of the amount of olive oil in each recipe being bold and important, it is hardly legible.

If you want to be even more cholesterol-free conscious, use only egg whites (2 whites = 1 whole egg) or egg whites available in cartons in the grocery store.  Cooking with Eggbeaters™ was also suggested by my doctor, but my response is, "You don't say that to someone who has 40 chickens running around the place," and I don't like to waste food.  I guess I could use 6 egg whites for a three-egg recipe and then, scramble the yolks and make an egg yolk omelet for Larry, but he says he likes balance.  For example, even though he does prefer yolks to whites, he would not want an all-yellow egg salad.  Admittedly, I don't use eggs much anymore since we sell many to good customers at the bookstore, giving people another reason to STEP OUT (of their houses) and STEP IN (to Books on First, of course!).

When cooking with olive oil, I know that it reaches smoking temperature level faster than most other cooking oils if not the fastest, meaning that olive oil heating on the stove in a skillet will get hot faster and start to smoke (and burn) very quickly.  I didn't see that there's any ill effect in baking, although for Larry (unintentionally), I burned a batch so badly, that he loved them, knowing they were burnt, but also thinking they were chocolate-flavoured.

I had to research "pastry flour."  How was that different from "all-purpose flour?"  Is it the same as cake flour?  Luckily, in this day and age, if one reads enough Google search result sites, one can figure out the differences and compensate for them.  Wikipedia is usually my go-to fact finder, but in this case, it was too technical and for practical purposes, I relied heavily on thekitchn.com (yes, that's "kitchen" without the "e," which will in 10 years or less be the accepted way to spell the name of that room). It's all about the ingredients used to make the "flour," the milling and whatnot and ultimately, how much protein/gluten the flour has.  Pastry flour has less protein while bread flour has more.  Since almost every recipe in the book has both all-purpose and pastry flour, I am wondering if the author is using the gluten/protein balance of both to compensate for the differences between butter and olive oil (for one thing, olive oil actually has less moisture than butter).  I simply use regular flour (all-purpose white or whole wheat) and add 2 tablespoons ("T") of cornstarch for each cup ("C").

I made the True Spice Cookies from this book and brought them to my parents' 80th b-day celebrations in New Jersey last weekend, because my nephew had remarked once that of all the selection of cookies I had previously brought, he had really liked the spice cookies.  Here is the recipe, a taste of the whole book:

¾ cup olive oil
¼C molasses
1C granulated sugar
2 eggs
1teaspoon ("t") vanilla extract
1¾C all purpose flour
1C whole wheat pastry flour (or 1C whole wheat flour with 2T cornstarch)
1½t baking soda
½t salt
1½T ground cinnamon
1½T ground ginger
1t mace
2t ground cloves


In a large bowl [which ultimately will have all the ingredients plus go into the fridge], whisk together olive oil, molasses, cup of granulated sugar, eggs & vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, combine the flours and other dry ingredients.  Pour into the wet and stir until well combined.  Cover the dough and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°F and line the baking sheets with parchment paper.  Place the remaining sugar in a small [shallow] bowl.
Form the dough into 1½" balls and roll into the sugar[, if desired].  Place on baking sheets and bake for approx 10-12 minutes or until tops crack.  Allow cookies to cool 5 minutes before transferring them to cool completely.  [For harder cookies, bake approx 3-5 minutes longer.  Sometimes, if you keep looking for the tops to crack, you will have snappily hard cookies, so compromise.]
Makes roughly 3 dozen cookies [so says the author].

As we don't have these treats yet at Books on First, I am fine with your making them for yourself and bringing some for Larry, but for Larry, be sure to burn them.

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