Thursday, February 17, 2005

whisks' marinated feta

a few days ago, while doing my groceries, i walked around the cheese selection at woollies and was very tempted by the marinated feta, but a quick calculation suggested i could make a more economical version at home.

i bought a good quality plain feta soaked in brine, drained it well, being careful not to touch it with my fingers, or anything else for that matter, for fear of contamination. as i don't have a herb garden ast the moment, i used dried herbs in the marinade: ground sage, ground oregano, thyme, smoked paprika and cracked peppercorns (one is granted liberties here; whatever herbs and combinations one desires would make for an exciting flavoured cheese - my future attempts may involve celery seeds or chillies. one variation i fully intend to work on will involve lemon grass- just think of the endless possibilities!). i then drowned the whole container of feta and herbs with a fruity extra virgin olive oil: first cold pressing, early harvest. the result was spectacular (would have made it into the stratospheric had i access to finer herbs and given it the liberty of a few days to really soak in and mature). the olive oil was just so delicious i could have had just that on woodfired bread. miss c just couldn't stop eating it, and has not stopped devouring it after school these last few days.

the ideal situation would perhaps be to be well prepared and allow the feta to marinate a while, so, in a way, preparing a double (or triple portion, if one is so inclined) and having the extra on hand (for after school snacks or whatever glamourous occasion may arise).
just a note, do not be alarmed that the olive oil goes cloudy and solidifies in the refrigerator - it is just an indicator that it is olive oil, as canola retains the golden liquidiness when refrigerated (hence purchased marinated feta will be inferior to one's own effortless creation as canola or vegetable oils are used to give them shelf appeal).

from this lazy concoction, a myriad of opportunities arise:

black olives can be partnered with the cheese and strewn over the simplest of lettuce leaves, or progress to a more elaborate salad with avocados, tomatoes, roasted capsicums and cucumber

antipasto platters

quiche, frittata and savoury tart fillings

as a filling for rolled lamb or chicken

cut into small finger sized batons and rolled inside finely sliced prosciutto, drizzled with the flavoursome oil (i had this when i was in france, and it was very good)

my favourite though, is to have the cheese very simply on rustic italian bread so the divine melded flavours of the cheese, herbs and oil can be appreciated very simply.

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