Want to enjoy some Mediterranean flavour at home?

Hailing from a little village called Ortone, in the Abruzzo region of Italy, Mario represents the flavour and hospitality of the Med that the Olive & Oil family is about. And he can cook! So we decided that it would be great to share some of his tips and tricks with our extended Olive & Oil family, our Guests.
Check our Facebook pages regularly for Mario’s Tips, and keep an eye out for the newsletter featuring one of his recipes. mario2

Mario’s Tip #1: Salt the Water

For his first tip, Mario advises that when making pasta, “Salt the water to allow the pasta to start absorbing flavour from the water. About one tablespoon per 250g packet should do. Just remember not to salt the water until it comes to a boil. If you add the salt to cold water, it will take a little longer for the water to boil and the salt could also pit the bottom of your pot.”

Mario’s Tip #2: Keep the Rinds

Keep the leftover Parmesan rinds and store in the fridge. Use later to flavour slow-cooking dishes like stews, soups and stocks. The rind will either dissolve, or you can fish it out with a slotted spoon at the end of cooking time.

Mario’s Tip #3: Which Herbs to Usemario-tip3

When using herbs always use the wooded herbs, which are stronger flavours, such as rosemary, thyme and oreganum at the start of your cooking when working with slow cooked meats, soups or sauces. Use the soft leafy herbs, such as basil and parlsey, chopped and sprinkled in at the end.

Mario’s Tip #4: Perfect Roast Lamb¬†¬†


Use a roasting dish that is close to the size of the lamb roast you are cooking, so pan juices do not burn and give a burnt taste to the roast. Make sure to give the lamb time to rest after cooking. This gives the juices in the meat a chance to redistribute, giving a more tender result. Cover the roast loosely with foil and rest it for 10-15 minutes before carving.

Mario’s Tip #5: Dry Spices

Store spices in a cool, dark place, not above your stove. Humidity, light and heat will cause herbs and spices to lose their flavor.

Mario’s Tip #6: Roast Chicken

To get perfectly crispy roast chicken, remove chicken from fridge approximately 1.5hrs prior to cooking, to bring it to room temperature. The skin has to start dry and stay dry to go crispy, so be sure to pat it dry all over, inside and out, with a paper towel. Sprinkle the skin with salt and pop it into the oven to cook. What are your tricks for roast chicken?

Have a hankering for chicken now? Have a look at the roast chicken dishes on offer at Olive&Oil: http://oliveandoil.co.za/main-menu/mains-poultry/

Mario’s Tip #7: Slow Stew

To get the best out of your beef, make sure you sear it first. This caramelises the outer edge and seals in juices. And the best way to cook stews is low and slow – over a low heat, for a few hours. If hearty dishes are what you need this weekend, have a look at what we’ve got on our menu: http://oliveandoil.co.za/main-menu/mains-grill/

Mario’s Tip #8: Salad Dressing

To make a great home-made salad dressing, add seasoning to one part vinegar to three parts oil, put them all into a jam jar with a lid and shake it vigorously. Alternatively, you can make flavoured olive oil by taking bottles of good quality extra virgin olive oil and infusing them with sprigs of fresh herbs or chillis.

To see what delicious salads you can get at Olive & Oil, have a look at our menu here: http://oliveandoil.co.za/main-menu/mains-focaccia-and-salads/

Mario’s Tip #9: Beer Marinade

One of the best uses of beer (other than drinking it) is cooking with it. And beer makes an excellent meat tenderiser, so it’s perfect for marinades. Make a basic steak or ribs marinade by using 1/4 cup dark beer, 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, a drizzle of honey (if its ribs), 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt, 1/2 tsp crushed garlic and pepper. Cover meat with sauce and let marinade for a few hours or overnight, turning occasionally. Pour marinade into a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook for several minutes. Add meat to the braai and baste with cooked sauce.

Mario’s Tip #10: The Perfect Steak

Cook a 2cm-thick piece of steak for 2-3 minutes each side for rare, 4 minutes each side for medium, and 5-6 minutes each side for well-done. Turn the steak only once, otherwise it will dry out. Always use tongs to handle steak as they won’t pierce the meat, allowing the juices to escape.

At Olive & Oil we take steaks seriously. Our cuts are aged in-house for over 28 days. Have a look at what steak options are on our menu: http://oliveandoil.co.za/main-menu/mains-grill/


Mario’s Tip #11: Easy Sorbet

It’s officially summer and watermelons are in season! A great way to use watermelon is to turn it into refreshing sorbet in just a few easy steps! Cut the watermelon flesh into cubes, lay out on metal tray, and pop into freezer! Once cubes are frozen, add to food processor with a spoon of honey and a few fresh mint leaves. Decant the puree into a metal loaf pan and freeze for a further two hours, or until sorbet is scoopable. Enjoy! And if sorbets are your thing, but making them isn’t, Olive & Oil’s got delicious fruity ones on the menu: http://oliveandoil.co.za/main-menu/mains-desserts/

Mario’s Tip #12: Grate Butter

Grate the butter! It’s too hot to leave butter out to soften, and it can be chore if you need butter soft quickly, for cooking or baking. Get around this by grating your slab of butter. It’s easier to mix into dough when baking!

Mario’s Tip #13: Candy Cane Dust

Candy canes are “in season”, and they are great as more than just sweets! Pop them into a food processor and make a candy cane dust, which you can add to anything! Mix into icing, cookies, ice cream, mousse, hot chocolate, and cocktail rims. Add to milkshakes, dust onto dessert plates or use as fun centerpieces for the Christmas table.

Mario’s Tip #14: Quick Squeeze

Best way to squeeze the juice out of a lemon in a hurry? Use tongs! Heat lemon in microwave for just a few short seconds and then squeeze using braai tongs.

Mario’s Tip #15: Shake it up!

o peel a whole bulb of garlic, pop it into a jar and just give it a good, strong shake. You can also use two bowls, one bowl turned upside down and used as a lid for the other.

Mario’s Tip #16: Iced Lemon

ice ice, baby! Save time and combine two great drinks accompaniments in one: ice and lemon – by freezing both in muffin pans. It’s a great way to use spare lemon.

Mario’s Tip #17: Eggsy Easy

Easter is around the corner! To make egg dyeing and colouring easier, pop the egg into a whisk and dunk it in bowls of colour! No mess, no fuss.