Our Staff Picks Might Be Yours Too

By Liz Strauss
on November 25, 2019

Our Staff Picks Might Be Yours Too

 Here at Port Plums, we have over 65 different olive oils and vinegars. 

Could you imagine trying to pick a favorite?
Luckily, we are here to guide you!
All of our staff members have a favorite and want nothing more than for you to try them!

 


Katie Shernan, Co Owner
“I love the versatility of this balsamic! It's delicious on sweet and savory dishes but my favorite way to use it is in a simple dressing with olive oil,
Old World Gourmet mustard, salt, and pepper.”
Aged up to 18 years in chestnut, oak, mulberry, and ash barrels, this robust balsamic is a perfect pair to just about any of our oils. It even tastes great on its own with your favorite vegetables, meat, and fruit.
   

 



Karen Shernan, Co Owner

“I like the Lemon Fused Olive Oil because it makes a great light base for a salad dressing, is wonderful for cooking seafood and roasting spring vegetables. I also use it as my body oil in the winter when my skin is dry!”
As it’s harvested and produced using traditional granite millstones in Italy, the Lemon Fused Olive Oil is a premium fresh pick for our staff. Produced by crushing the olive and lemons simultaneously in the same press with no added essences, the essential oils from the lemons harmonize with the oil of the Coratina olives. We especially love that these olives are hand-harvested by the producer in Andria near the Adriatic Coast. This oil works well drizzled on top
of sautéed vegetables, a green salad, or can even be used to
make a homemade aioli!


Maggie Griffin, Store Manager & Social Media
“My favorite vinegar in the whole store is the pineapple balsamic. It's sweet but tangy and awesome mixed into a cocktail with coconut rum. Also great drizzled over grilled fruit, steak tips, or just as a salad dressing. I recently added it to some salsa that my mom made with mango, black beans, and avocado and it was amazing! I’m pretty sure my dad licked the bowl clean.”
This staff favorite makes a delicious addition to marinades and dressings, pairing perfectly with our Chipotle Olive Oil or Harissa Olive Oil for a smoky and spicy flavor. If you’re a fan of grilling, this might also be your new favorite! It also pairs nicely with our Dark Toasted Sesame Oil for an Asian flair.
  

Leighann Richards, Store Manager & Buyer
“I love to use this one for a bright simple vinaigrette with Dijon mustard, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sea salt and pepper!”
Our Champagne Vinegar sources from the Ardenne region of France, giving us the crisp, creamy, and acidic essence to our favorite recipes. You may try it with vinaigrettes, marinades, sauces, homemade mayo or aioli. It’s even great for pickling and preserving!


Liz Strauss, Content Writer & Sales Associate
“What I love most about this oil is that it allows me to add a superfood to just about any of my dishes. Whether I’m cooking with it or just using it as a dressing, it adds that extra nutritious and yummy boost some meals might be lacking!”
This 100% pure, all-natural, and handcrafted oil is made from premium avocados. Its buttery sensation can’t help but project its richness, yet it leaves no overwhelming flavors like you would expect. While you can use this oil with uncooked foods, we would also recommend cooking with it because of its high smoke point compared to olive oils.


Emily, Sales Associate
“I use all of the dark balsamics, but the raspberry is always my go-to. It has a wide variety of uses from something as a simple as a salad dressing, in a smoothie, or even drizzled over vanilla ice cream.”
Both delicate and fruity, this dark balsamic pairs nicely with any salad, yogurt, granola, meat, or even works as a glaze or in a marinade! Its sweet and tartness works well on its own, but is also commonly paired with our Persian Lime Oil.

Eleni, Sales Associate
“My favorite is the Cranberry Pear Vinegar because of its light and sweet flavor. I love to use it on oatmeal and as a dressing for salads.”
This happens to be our most popular white balsamic. Because of its crisp, tart flavor, it compliments any green salad, chevre, or vanilla yogurt perfectly. We also like to use it in mixed drinks!
(Be sure to check out our holiday cocktail recipe blog!)



Shannon, Sales Associate
Pesto Infused Olive Oil
“My favorite olive oil is the pesto infused oil. As a big fan of the basil, parmesan, and garlic combo, I love to drizzle it over pasta or use it for bread dipping.”
Looking for a new approach to pasta? With its fresh basil, parmesan cheese, and garlic flavors, our pesto infused olive oil tastes delicious drizzled over not only pasta, but also homemade focaccia, white pizza, Caprese salad, grilled eggplant, or even just for bread dipping!
 
Now that you have an idea of what we recommend, it's the perfect time to swing by and see for yourself.










Photos by Maggie Griffin

6 Holiday Cocktails We Are Dying For You To Try This Season

By Liz Strauss
on October 31, 2019

6 Holiday Cocktails We Are Dying For You To Try This Season

Have you ever tried using your favorite balsamic vinegar in a cocktail? This season we have some incredibly tasty cocktail recipes that are perfect for any holiday gathering, sitting by the fire, or simply just to go with your dinner.

Seasonings Greetings

Ingredients:

1 fluid oz Beach Plum Balsamic Vinegar

1.5 fluid oz vodka

1/3 cup club soda

A small handful of frozen cranberries (to act as ice)

Rosemary sprig

Instructions:

  1. Combine Beach Plum Balsamic Vinegar, club soda, and vodka in a cocktail shaker. Cover, shake and strain into glass.
  2. Drop a small handful of frozen cranberries in the drink to act as ice and garnish with rosemary sprig.

Love You a Latte

Ingredients:

1 fluid oz Espresso Balsamic Vinegar

1.5 fluid oz vanilla vodka

1.5 fluid oz Kahlua

1/3 cup milk

Dark chocolate shavings or espresso beans

Instructions:

  1. Combine vodka, Espresso Balsamic Vinegar, Kahlua, in a cocktail shaker. Cover, shake and pour into a martini glass.
  2. Steam milk and pour into a martini glass for a frothed top.
  3. Top with dark chocolate shavings or espresso beans.

Sappily Ever After

Ingredients:

1 fluid oz Maple Balsamic Vinegar

1.5 fluid oz bourbon

1/3 cup ginger beer (or Ginger Ale)

1 cup ice

Instructions:

  1. Combine Maple Balsamic Vinegar, ginger beer, bourbon, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Cover, shake and strain into glass.

Apple of My Eye

Ingredients:

1 fluid oz Gala Apple Balsamic Vinegar

1.5 fluid oz rum or honey whiskey

1/3 cup club soda

1 cup ice

Caramel Sauce

Cinnamon & sugar in the raw 

Instructions:

  1. Combine Gala Apple Balsamic Vinegar, club soda, rum, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Cover, shake and strain into glass.
  2. To rim the glass, cover a small plate with caramel sauce and mix cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Dip the rim of the glass in the caramel and into the cinnamon sugar. 

Feast Your Eyes

Ingredients:

1 fluid oz Mulled Cider Vinegar

1.5 fluid oz bourbon

1/3 cup ginger beer (or Ginger Ale)

1 cup ice

Lemon slice (garnish)

Orange slice

Instructions:

  1. Combine Mulled Cider Vinegar, ginger beer, bourbon, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Cover, shake and strain into glass.
  2. Stick lemon slice on the rim, and/or add lemon and orange slices to drink

Sweater Weather

Cinnamon Pear Cocktail

Ingredients:

1 fluid oz Cinnamon Pear Balsamic

1.5 fluid oz bourbon

1/3 cup club soda

1 cup ice

Cinnamon sugar rim and cinnamon stick

Instructions:

  1. Combine Cinnamon Pear Balsamic, club soda, bourbon, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Cover, shake and strain into glass.
  2. To rim the glass, cover a small plate with honey and mix cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Dip the rim of the glass in the honey and into the cinnamon sugar.
  3. Place a cinnamon stick in drink to garnish.

These are some of our favorite holiday cocktails at the moment and we can’t wait for you to give them a whirl. Let us know what you think next time you stop by.

Cheers!

P.S. Have an eye on the glasses featured in these pictures? Visit us in store and we’ll be happy to help you decide on the perfect glassware for your next cocktail party!

 

 


Photos by Maggie Griffin

Everything You Need To Know About Our Butternut Squash and Roasted Pumpkin Seed Oils

By Liz Strauss
on October 10, 2019

Everything You Need To Know About Our Butternut Squash and Roasted Pumpkin Seed Oils

Our Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Seed Oils are back and better than ever! Thanks to WholeHeartedFoods, we have all there is to know about your new favorite Fall oils. Whether you’re interested in their health benefits, looking for ways to cook with them, or simply want to learn about a new oil, we got you!

Butternut Squash Seed Oil

One of Fall’s favorite foods is Butternut Squash, and we know its one of your favorites too. Now, just imagine it in oil-form! This hearty and buttery oil has a variety of uses: drizzle on a salad, roasted vegetables, even popcorn. The options are seriously endless.

The oil is also packed with Vitamin E and antioxidant beta carotene, making it extremely nutritious and a great addition to so many of your favorite Fall dishes. You can even swap it out for butter or any of our Extra Virgin Olive Oils.

Roasted Pumpkin Seed Oil

If you’re a fan of hazelnut or walnut, it’s likely you’ll enjoy this rich and nutty oil. With its buttery texture, similar to that of the Butternut Squash Seed Oil, it pairs nicely with pasta, quinoa or potatoes. Do you happen to make your own apple cider vinaigrettes? WholeHeartedFoods also suggests replacing the olive oil in your recipe with this oil!

The Roasted Pumpkin Seed Oil is high in poly- and mono-unsaturated fats, as well as phytonutrients. With these benefits, it’s the perfectly nutritious substitute and addition to some of your most-cooked dishes.

One hint WholeHeartedFoods gives their customers is to use this as a finishing oil, rather than cooking with it, in order to preserve its quality and flavor. For those interested in foods with limited, or single ingredients, you just might love this stuff.

Interested in trying out probably the most autumnal oils you’ve ever heard of? We don’t blame you! Be sure to swing by soon to try these two oils that are essential to your cabinet this Fall.

 

Photos by Maggie Griffin

5 Back to School Items You Didn't Know You Needed

By Liz Strauss
on September 27, 2019

5 Back to School Items You Didn't Know You Needed

Are you or your kids heading back to school this year and looking for products to make this the best year yet? Is that a yes? If so, we have just what you need.

1. Stasher

These reusable, non-toxic, 100% pure platinum silicone bags make the perfect storage for your food. They’re easy to clean, as they are dishwasher safe, and are also completely microwavable safe. Stasher is a huge money-saver and plastic-reducer since you’ll never have to use a plastic bag ever again!

(Not to mention, they’re super cute and fit perfectly inside our next suggested item. Keep reading!)

2. PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag

You may find that one downside to packing a lunch is that your food doesn’t stay cold for very long. Lucky for you, we have just what you need: freezable lunch bags! Just freeze the lunch bag overnight (it folds flat), and pack your lunch the next morning. They’re not only easy to clean, but they’re also made from nontoxic poly canvas and food-safe lining. (Suggestion: some even have a buckle handle clip perfect for attaching to your bag or backpack.)

3. Reusable Straws

Reusable straws have recently spiked in popularity, in an effort to reduce plastic waste. Either of these silicone or stainless steel straws do just that, and they pair well with just about any beverage! (Psst…we also have a straw cleaning brush.)

4. Corkcicle

Hot or cold, these stainless steel, insulated canteens and tumblers are perfect for running out the door on your way to class. They’ll keep your drinks hot or cold for hours on end, keeping your drink just the way you like it all day! (Hint, hint. We even have some fun accessories to add to it)

5. Beeswax Wraps

Looking for more sustainable ways to store your food or your kids’ lunch? These reusable beeswax wraps come in a package of three, ready for your various needs. Whether it be wrapping a sandwich for lunch, or an apple for a snack, your food will stay extra fresh! (And guess what! They’re even made in Massachusetts.)

Now that you know exactly what you need for the new school year, you'll not only make your day easier, you'll also be saving the planet. Be sure to let us know which turns out to be your favorite!

Photos by Maggie Griffin

We Visited Christopher Kimball's Milk Street and This is What We Learned

By Liz Strauss
on September 12, 2019

We Visited Christopher Kimball's Milk Street and This is What We Learned

Last fall, we partnered with Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street. Culinary magazine, school, public television show, and podcast, Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street has altered the way individuals have tackled their culinary endeavors. Through their innovative expertise and approach to the culinary world, the Milk Street team is dedicated to bringing ease to intimidating recipes.

After visiting the Milk Street studio in Boston last month, we were exposed to that very ease Christopher Kimball uncovered a few years back.

The key is making cooking as simple as possible, as Rosemary Gill, Milk Street’s Director of Education, explained to us. This compliments our business’ mission completely. We provide you with quality olive oils and vinegars, and even the tools necessary in making the most delicious meals you’ve ever cooked up yourself, and in the simplest manner. In fact, we wanted to make it just that much easier for you by getting an inside scoop on how the pros do it.

Cook Like a Pro

Contrast is the cornerstone of Milk Street’s culinary art. Gill stressed to us nothing but contrast, and for good reason. By this term, she means throwing together different flavors and different textures.

via Maggie Griffin

“You get a lot of meals that are sort of one note, you know, they are overwhelmingly soft or chewy,” she explains. For example, she suggests that for mashed potatoes you could throw in some chopped chives. “You get more dimension…” she reveals. “We’re using contrast in order to elevate and draw more attention to the main ingredient.”

One of the most important lessons Gill teaches her students is knowing how to analyze what’s missing, and knowing when you’ve put too much of something in a dish.

 

Let’s Get Started!

We all know that cooking can seem dreadful after a long day at work, or if you simply just don’t know where to start. This is precisely what Milk Street hopes to help individuals with through the “Milk Street: Tuesday Nights” cookbook. The cookbook is there for you to create outstanding meals in a reasonable amount of time, just perfect for the middle of the week. Starting off with meals such as those listed in the cookbook are a great starting point. Then, just keep cooking!

via Maggie Griffin

“You’ve got to make it a habit,” Gill advises to those who want to get into cooking. She also suggests that if you are interested in global cuisines, to choose one at a time and cook just from that region for a month or two. “You’re going to start seeing some similarities and you’re going to start understanding how flavors are put together… you’re just going to be building your library,” she says.

Using One of Our Favorite Ingredients: Olive Oil

One recipe that Gill loves herself is the Cantonese Steamed Fish from “Milk Street: Tuesday Nights,” because of the technique it requires. Sometimes, she’ll make it with a Mediterranean flavor profile, which is when she’ll utilize olive oil.

Gill also tells us her favorite ingredients to add to olive oil:

  1. Za’ atar
  2. Lightly crushed fennel & coriander seeds
  3. Cracked fennel seeds & thyme or oregano

 (Hint, hint: We sell some of these!)

We hope that our customers can utilize a variety of these tips to create new skills in the kitchen. Whether you cook up a new “Tuesday Night” dinner, or try one of our olive oils for the first time, leave your thoughts in the comments below.
We’d love to hear what you think!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos by Maggie Griffin

What is Rosé Balsamic Vinegar and How Do I Use It?

By Katie Shernan
on July 26, 2019

What is Rosé Balsamic Vinegar and How Do I Use It?

 

Rosé Balsamic Vinegar is a delicious treat that highlights everything we enjoy about rosé wine: bright acidity and soft, subtle aromas of crabapple, watermelon, raspberries, strawberries, and wet stone. Unlike traditional balsamic vinegar which is typically made from a combination of Trebbiano, Lambrusco, and/or Sangiovese grades, Rosé Balsamic is made from the Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) grape variety. This grape produces earthy, but elegant wines that translate beautifully into a well-balanced, clean, cool, crisp and dry vinegar. For a delicious vinaigrette, combine it with your favorite olive oil and Dijon mustard. The velvety consistency will lovingly caress everything from salad greens to grill-bound asparagus and seafood.

Excellent Complements
Nicoise Salad
Light Vinaigrettes
Goat Cheese
White Asparagus
Mixed Drinks & Spritzers
 
Ideas for Use
Combine Rosé Balsamic with any suggested olive oil pairings for a great salad dressing.
Combine Rosé Balsamic with Chipotle, Harissa, or Mushroom & Sage olive oil for a pork or poultry marinade.
Serve Rosé Balsamic over ice with vodka or sparkling water.
Use Rosé Balsamic as a glaze on seafood.
Use Rosé Balsamic in a vinaigrette to dress warm fingerling potatoes or sautéed haricot verts and sprinkle with chopped chives.
Drizzle Rosé Balsamic over sautéed herbed zucchini.

Sweet Corn and Lentil Salad with Grilled Halloumi

By Katie Shernan
on July 23, 2019

Sweet Corn and Lentil Salad with Grilled Halloumi

This vegetarian dish celebrates some of our favorite summer farm stand vegetables in one light yet filling entrée! Sweet summer corn and tangy tomatoes play off the earthy, tender lentils. The salad is delicious served warm or cold.

Grilled halloumi cheese adds the perfect rich, salty finish to the fresh, bright flavors of the corn and lentil salad. Halloumi cheese (also know as Grilling Cheese) is a soft, curd-like cheese that, similarly to feta, does not melt. It was traditionally made in Cyprus using sheep's milk cheese. Halloumi is available at specialty markets and Whole Foods.

This dish is sure to become a summer favorite in your household!

 

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

½ red onion, finely sliced

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 lemon juiced

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 ¼ cups green lentils

½ cup cooked sweet corn, cut off the cob

1 pack halloumi cheese, cut into ¼” slices

 

Toss the tomatoes, red onion, 1 clove garlic, lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl with ½ tsp salt. Cook the lentils until just tender (around 15 minutes), drain and add to the tomato mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a frying pan over medium heat, grill the halloumi slices 2-3 minutes per side or until golden.

Optional: Serve with sauteed Swiss chard as pictured above.

 

This recipe is a modified version of: https://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/vegetarian/warm-puy-lentil-cherry-tomato-and-halloumi-salad/

7 Ways to Use Citrus Mint White Balsamic

By Katie Shernan
on July 05, 2019

7 Ways to Use Citrus Mint White Balsamic

The new Citrus Mint White Balsamic is one of our favorite summer flavors!
The tangy, bright citrus notes complement the light and refreshing mint aroma.
Amp up the flavor at your next cookout with one of these 7 ways to use citrus mint balsamic vinegar.

Beverage:

Blend 1oz Citrus Mint White Balsamic + 2oz white rum + club soda to taste for a refreshing cocktail.

Mix with iced tea for a quick and delicious Arnold Palmer.

Side:

Pair with Roasted Onion & Cilantro Olive Oil and drizzle over grilled vegetables.

Toss with cubed watermelon and feta cheese.

Make this Moroccan Lemon Mint Couscous for a perfect hot weather side dish. 

Dinner:

Toss with toasted sesame oil, chicken, and veggies for a South Asian-flavored stir-fry.

Use as a shortcut in this recipe for Citrus Balsamic Salmon.

 

We also recommend pairing this summery balsamic with lemon olive oil, orange olive oil, lime olive oil, mint olive oil, basil olive oil, chipotle olive oil, Milanese gremolata olive oil, or harissa olive oil. Visit Flavor Infused Olive Oils to check them all out!

Savory Bread Pudding with Ham, Asparagus and Brie

By Katie Shernan
on April 07, 2019

Savory Bread Pudding with Ham, Asparagus and Brie

An indulgent, filling breakfast entree that checks all the boxes and it couldn't be easier to put together! We've got carbs, melty cheese, flavorful ham, and green veggies for good measure. 

Add a fresh fruit salad and you have the perfect Easter brunch menu! 

 

Printable: Savory Bread Pudding with Asparagus, Ham, and Brie

Savory Bread Pudding with Asparagus, Ham, and Brie

Recipe Adapted from The Harvest Baker by Ken Haedrich

Serves 8

Ingredients

6 cups leftover (stale) cubed yeast bread

½ lb fresh asparagus

3 tablespoons olive oil

½ large onion, finely chopped,

2 garlic cloves, minced

5 large eggs

2 cups half and half

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or ¼ tsp dried thyme)

¾ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

6-8 ounces brie cheese with rind, cut into small chunks

1 cup grated sharp cheddar or fontina cheese

1 cup diced cooked ham or smoked sausage

 

  1. Butter a medium-size shallow casserole dish. Spread the cubed bread out in the casserole dish while you’re doing your prep, to help it dry out.
  2. Peel the lower third of each asparagus spear with a vegetable peeler or a paring knife. Cut off the tender tips and slice the remainder of the spears into 1-inch sections.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook over medium heat for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring often. Add the asparagus tips and chopped spears along with the garlic and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the asparagus is not quite tender. Remove from heat.
  4. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until frothy. Add the half and half, mustard, thyme, salt, and pepper. Whisk well.
  5. Spoon the cooked vegetables evenly over the bread, then distribute the brie, cheddar, and ham over that. Whisk the custard briefly and pour it slowly over everything. Using a large spoon, gently press on the solids so they’re submerged by the custard. Cover the dish loosely with foil and refrigerate for at least 2 hours; overnight is fine.
  6. When you’re ready to bake the pudding, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the foil from the dish and bake for 45 to 55 minutes. When the pudding is done, it will have puffed nicely, and the surface will be golden brown. To check the center, carefully – so you don’t leave a big crater – dig into it with a spoon or butter knife and see how it looks. It should not be soupy or look like there’s a lot of uncooked custard. Transfer the pudding to a cooling rack and cool briefly before serving.

 

Printable: Fresh Fruit Salad with Balsamic Dressing

Fresh Fruit Salad with Balsamic Dressing

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

3 tablespoons fruity white balsamic vinegar (we love White Raspberry, Coconut, and Peach but any of the fruity white balsamics will work nicely)

1 tablespoon honey (optional)

1 cup cantaloupe, cubed

½ cup blueberries

½ cup raspberries or strawberries

1 cup fresh pineapple

1 cup green grapes

Fresh mint leaves (optional)

 

Mix balsamic vinegar and honey (if using). Drizzle over fresh fruit and toss gently. Garnish with mint leaves if desired.

 

Can You Cook with Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

By Katie Shernan
on March 23, 2019

Can You Cook with Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

 

Extra Virgin is often used in its raw form and commonly misconstrued as a poor choice for cooking. This is because it's flavor will dissipate somewhat when heat is applied and it has a lower smoke point than refined olive oil. However, the smoke point of high quality EVOO is much higher than conventionally thought. Our EVOOs typically have a smoke point of 420-430 degrees. America's Test Kitchen reports 410 degrees as the smoke point while Milk Street found it to be as high as 446 degrees. In general, extra virgin olive oil is a good choice for cooking over low and medium temperatures. It's expecially good for sauteeing and roasting. But of course, the complex flavors and health benefits of extra virgin olive oil can be most fully enjoyed in its fresh, raw form as a salad dressing, finished oil, dip, or whatever else your heart desires!

Smoke Point

The smoke point of a fat is the temperature at which it begins to chemically break down. Visually, it occurs when a heated fat stops shimmering and begins to release smoke. This temperature can vary dramatically depending on the oil and how it has been processed. For example, refined oils tend to have a much higher smoke point than their virgin counterparts.

For more information on smoke points (and why smoking oil isn't always a bad thing!) check out this article: Cooking Fats 101: What's a Smoke Point and Why Does it Matter? 

 

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