Marianne Prey is an olive-oil enthusiast. She approaches the different varieties and flavors scientifically and is able to recommend the best oil to fit each customer's particular preferences and needs.
"My palate has become more sophisticated from having the store, more fine-tuned and discerning," she says. "I have learned a lot and gained technique, and my cooking has changed."
Prey, an enthusiastic cook, relies on olive oil for most of her recipes and does not keep any other oil in her house. She concedes that "some recipes need butter," but does not rely on butter as a primary ingredient in her cooking.
"I buy butter once or twice a year," Prey confesses. "It stays in the freezer for so long that I end up throwing it out. Despite the myth, you can most definitely cook with extra-virgin olive oil."
Prey also clears up a common misconception regarding olive oil: that butter is more flavorful than oil. She has found that cooking with oil produces fresher, healthier fare that complements a variety of dishes.
"Olive oil is the healthiest to consume," Prey says. "The range of flavors and styles are just as varied as wines, and depend upon the region where the olives are produced.
"French oils go better with poultry and seafood because they're richer and more buttery, and lighter Italian oils generally go better with rich foods like red meats, ragus and Bolognese."
Not sure where to start? Prey recommends this simple recipe for Jaffa mousse, which calls for a full-flavored, fruity oil.
Jaffa Mousse Serves 6
7 ounces good quality dark chocolate 3 large eggs 2/3 cup sugar 3 tablespoons espresso or 1 tablespoon instant coffee dissolved in 1 tablespoon water 2 tablespoons Amaretto ¾ cup full flavored fruity extra virgin olive oil, such as Extra Virgin's Private Label Arbequina Natural sea salt crystal flakes for garnish Mandarin orange olive oil to drizzle before serving
Break chocolate into one-inch pieces and place in a bowl over simmering water. Allow chocolate to gently melt. Remove from heat when almost melted. Stir until last bits are liquid. Cool to room temperature.
Separate eggs and beat egg whites until stiff.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until creamy. Add the coffee and Amaretto. Fold in the olive oil and the chocolate.
Gently fold in the beaten egg whites and pour into individual serving dishes. Chill until set, about four hours or overnight.
Serve with a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of Mandarin orange olive oil along with a slice of Italian panforte.