Great Extra Virgin Olive Oil suggestions from the Masterchef Champion 2019 Irini Tzo

Irini Tzo – Transcript 

[Irini is stood in her kitchen]

Irini: Hello everybody, I’m Irini. 2019 Masterchef Champion. As you can see, I’m in my kitchen, just outside the lovely Cartmell. Lockdown unfortunately applies to all of us and that’s why we’re not going to be together this weekend at Bishop Auckland Food Festival, but I really hope we can be there next year and really have a lot of fun.

In the meantime, it will give me pleasure to share a newfound passion of mine which is extra virgin olive oil. I come from a country that produces one of the best in the world and yet I didn’t know enough about it. So recently because I was writing my book, I realised I really needed to learn more about olive oil. What makes it good? What makes it taste fresh? How can I pair it with different foods? 

So, I did an olive oil sommelier course in January, as a result of which we tried 150 oils, different oils in the week. I can now taste like a wine sommelier can taste some wine. I can tell if the olive oil is defective, sometimes what country it’s from, what variety of olive. You know we have about sixteen hundred different varieties of olive trees around the world. So, you can imagine, depending on where the olives are growing it’s like vines, the climate affects them, the land morphology, the quality of the earth, where they grow. So, totally, many many different olives but the important thing is to remember that olive oil is a fruit juice so when as consumers we buy olive oil, we need to look after it. We need to pick it from, well buy it, first of all from importers we trust and then if we do buy it in a supermarket avoid top shelves, it doesn’t like the light. When we take it home, keep it in a dark cupboard. Buy small quantities so it stays fresh. 

[Irini holds up a blue cup]

And this is how we test it. We smell it. 

And then we take a sip. It should smell fresh; it should be reminiscent of the smell of olives. We take a bit and then we take a bit of air 

[Irini takes a sip from the blue cup] 

Like this. 

[Sound of air being sucked in through the teeth]

And we should be able, now that the olive oil is aerated, we should be able to pick lots of lovely flavours. Sometimes you pick out ripe tomato, sometimes you pick the leaves of the tomatoes or a bitter almonds or artichokes, but the point is you’ve got to pick flavours for the olive to be good. And the earlier it’s been harvested the better it is. 

So, I will now show you something very simple that you can make with good olive oil that you will love on top of salads, as a dip. 

It’s a very quick vegan mayonnaise.

[Camera pans down to the ingredients set out on the work surface in front of Irini] 

And all we need is some vegetable milk, this is almond or nut, but it could be soy. Some light oil, this happens to be canola and some very good extra virgin olive oil. A little bit of mustard, a little bit of honey. We will use a table spoon full of white wine vinegar but for the amani flavour I love adding a couple of chopped anchovies. So, all we do is we put everything in a little blender, like this. 

[Irini pours all the ingredients into the blender] 

Altogether, it doesn’t matter. It is important that the milk is at room temperature. I suspect that, I haven’t tested it, but is suspect that if it’s too cold the mayonnaise does not become thick. 

[Pouring the white wine vinegar into the blender out the bottle] 

So, a little bit, and we can taste later. 

[Grinding pepper into the blender]

A bit of pepper, not too much salt.

[Grinding salt into the blender]

Because don’t forget the anchovies are quite salty. 

[Putting the lid onto the blender] 

And all we do is give it a quick whiz. 

[Whirring sound of the blender] 

And it’s ready. 

[Camera pans onto a view of inside the blender]

And because it won’t be so easy to see inside there, here is some I made just before this little video. 

[Holds up a pot of pre-prepared mayonnaise] 

So, you see it’s got the thickness of mayonnaise. You can, as I said, use it as a dip or as a dressing for a salad. 


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