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Frying with Olive Oil and 8 Other Ways You’re Misusing Oil (Slideshow)

Frying with Olive Oil and 8 Other Ways You’re Misusing Oil (Slideshow)

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A go-to guide on cooking with different types of oil

With dozens of options in the grocery store, and new health claims being bandied about every day, choosing the right type of cooking oil can be tricky. Here, some simple guidelines for understanding the differences between the varieties and which oil to use when.

Frying with Olive Oil and 8 Other Ways You’re Misusing Oil

With dozens of options in the grocery store, and new health claims being bandied about every day, choosing the right type of cooking oil can be tricky. Here, some simple guidelines for understanding the differences between the varieties and which oil to use when.

Using Unrefined Avocado Oil in Cooking

Avocado oil is pressed from the flesh of damaged avocado fruit that can’t be sold as-is. Unrefined avocado oil has a nutty flavor and a green color; it should only be used in non-heat applications (think dressing or drizzling over steamed vegetables). On the other hand, refined avocado oil has very mild flavor, is almost clear in color, and has one of the highest smoke points, about 510 degrees F. Use refined avocado oil for all your cooking needs, from salad dressings to high-heat cooking, like stir-fries and frying.

Avoiding Coconut Oil

Coconut oil got a bad rap for being high in saturated fat, but is now widely considered one of the healthiest oils you can cook with. Coconut oil has no cholesterol, can help maintain a healthy immune system, and reduces the risk of clogged arteries. At room temperature it’s a solid and makes a great vegan substitute for lard in baking.

Deep-Frying with Olive Oil

Olive oil has a relatively low smoke point and should not be used for high-heat cooking methods like stir-frying or deep-frying. The unrefined extra-virgin variety has a smoke point of 320 degrees F, while virgin olive oil has a smoke point of 420 degrees F. Olive oil is great for drizzling, salad dressing, and low- to medium-heat cooking like pan frying and sautéing.

Only Using Canola Oil for Deep-Frying

Canola oil has a smoke point of 425 degrees F, which makes it a good multi-purpose oil, including grilling, baking, and yes, deep-frying. Canola oil is often viewed as unhealthy, but it’s packed with omega-3 fatty acids (which is great for your skin) and is lower in saturated fats than most other oil.

Forgetting About Grape Seed Oil

Grape seed oil is a byproduct of wine making. It has a smoke point of 390 degrees F, which makes grape seed oil ideal for high-heat cooking methods. Often overlooked for other varieties, grape seed oil is aromatic and flavorful, and can be used for everything from dipping to deep-frying.

Storing Peanut Oil in a Warm Place

Peanut oil can go rancid when stored in a warm place. Extend the shelf life of your peanut oil by storing it in a cool, dry place like a cabinet far from the oven or in the refrigerator. Peanut oil has a smoke point of 450 degrees F, which makes it ideal for high-heat cooking like stir-frying and deep-frying. It also has a neutral flavor and won’t make all of your food taste like peanuts.

Thinking All Sesame Oil is the Same

There are two varieties of sesame oil. Light refined sesame oil is mild in flavor and has a smoke point of 410 degrees F, while toasted sesame oil has a more pronounced sesame flavor and a smoke point of 350 degrees F. Store sesame oil in glass jars in a cool place to extend the shelf life.

Using Old Walnut Oil

Walnut oil is a very nutty, expensive oil. Because it is made from pressed walnuts, the oil is extremely perishable and should be kept in the refrigerator. Use unrefined walnut oil as a finishing oil, as it has a low smoke point of 320 degrees F; drizzle on salads and toss with cooked pasta.

Vegetable Oil is Healthy Because it’s Made from Vegetables

According to a Canadian study, vegetable oil may increase your chance of heart disease. Vegetable oil is made from a blend of vegetable, nut, and seed oils. Most vegetable oils are mainly made from soybean oil. Vegetable oil’s smoke point varies based on the ingredients, but it is usually from 400 to 450 degrees F.

How do we love olive oil? Let us count the ways. It's fragrant and smooth in dressings and dips, full-bodied when you're roasting or frying, and delicately rich in desserts. In the following recipes, it truly shines. Here are some of our favorite ways to use olive oil.

Pour it plain and simple: Like fine wine and lifelong friendships, a good olive oil is complex and beautiful&mdashand best appreciated straight from the source (in this case, the bottle). Crudités are often served in Italy with a dish of extra virgin olive oil but we like to swirl the oil with ricotta and balsamic vinegar for creaminess and zing. Similarly, our fennel-and-avocado salad needs just a drizzle of oil to finish, since the satsuma supplies the sweetness and acidity you'd normally get from vinegar or lemon. For finishing oils, our test kitchen team says Lucini Premium Select ($23 for 500 ml, and Laudemio Frescobaldi ($44.99 for 500 ml, are their go-tos.

Another great use for olive oil? Frying. Whoever started the whisper campaign against using olive oil this way due to its low smoke point can ease off. Extra-virgin varieties have a smoke point upwards of 375 degrees, which is higher than any of the recipes here require. Try a dinner of pounded, breaded pork chops sizzled in a thin layer of the stuff the recipe ends with a splash of white vinegar to infuse its crust, just like a salt-and-vinegar potato chip. Hot potatoes are another tasty option: Spuds are cut into wedges, parboiled, then dried on a baking sheet before being fried. The potato wedges are just right for dipping in aioli, another dish that shines with olive oil. For cooking, our food editors love California Olive Ranch ($14 for 500 ml,, which they say is a great all-around option.

You can also whip olive oil into desserts. Olive oil cake always delights, but why stop there? Whisk a fruity variety of extra virgin olive oil into mango sorbet, and the flavors blend organically while the fat softens the icy edges. Or wield it instead of butter in these cocoa crispies, which also have a touch of honey to lend a deeper sweetness than sugar alone. Our pick for both of these treats: Les Moulins Mahjoub ($11.90 for 375 ml,

Recipes and Food Styling by Lauryn Tyrell. Prop Styling by Tanya Graff. Art Direction by James Maikowski.

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Sorting Out Fats

Cooking oils are a mixture of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fats. Trans fats are created when oils are partially solidified (hydrogenated), such as in margarine or shortening. Both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may help lower total blood cholesterol when used in place of saturated fats or trans fats. Consider below how each type of fat generally affects cholesterol levels in the blood.

Key: LDL = "bad" cholesterol HDL = "good" cholesterol

Monounsaturated Fat: Lowers total cholesterol, lowers LDL cholesterol, raises or maintains HDL cholesterol

Polyunsaturated Fat: Lowers total cholesterol, lowers LDL cholesterol, may lower HDL cholesterol

Saturated Fat: Raises total cholesterol, raises LDL cholesterol, may raise HDL cholesterol

Trans Fat: Raises total cholesterol, raises LDL cholesterol, may lower HDL cholesterol

How to Roast Vegetables

You might have had roasted vegetables at a restaurant or friend's house that seemed to be nearly as much oil as veggies. But roasted vegetables really don't need to be made with a lot of oil. Here are the four basic vegetable roasting steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a jellyroll pan with foil, and coat the foil with canola or olive oil cooking spray. Cut your vegetables into small chunks or hearty bite-sized pieces.
  2. Add vegetables in a single layer to the foil-lined pan and spray the top with cooking spray or drizzle with a bit of canola or olive oil (use no more than a teaspoon of oil for every cup of vegetables). If you use oil, toss the veggies about on the pan to coat as much of them with oil as possible.
  3. Sprinkle on any desired seasonings, such as rosemary or basil, parsley, marjoram, salt and pepper. Coat the tops of your veggies again with canola or olive oil cooking spray, if desired, especially if you didn't drizzle with oil in Step 2.

Bake until veggies are lightly browned in areas, and tender. If your vegetables look like they are starting to dry out during the roasting period, drizzle some broth, apple juice, or low-fat Italian dressing or vinaigrette over the top. Different vegetables require different cooking times. Check your roasted vegetables after 25-30 minutes (this is probably the halfway point), turn them over with a spatula, then cook until they're tender and nicely browned around some of the edges (about 25-30 minutes more.)

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Grape Seed Oil

Prized by chefs for its neutral flavor and high smoke point, this polyunsaturated-rich oil is made from the seeds of wine grapes. Grape seed oil is adept at raising &ldquogood&rdquo cholesterol (HDL) and lowering LDL or &ldquobad&rdquo cholesterol. However, unlike grapeseed extract, the oil doesn&rsquot harbor appreciable amounts of proanthacyanadins, potent antioxidants that fight disease.

Uses: Frying and sauteeing. Good for ethnic dishes

Storage: Opened, it will keep for up to a year in a cool, dry cabinet.


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Baking Soda


1 tsp. Vanilla extract

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 or 2 Tbsp. Milk (or alternative milk)

2 cups chocolate chips

1. Preheat over to 375 degrees F.

2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

3. Combine sugars, vanilla, and Tres Osos extra virgin olive oil. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Gradually beat in the flour mixture, then add in 1Tbsp. of milk (to make the a dough a bit firmer, I used 1Tbsp. + 1 Teaspoon). Stir in chocolate chips.

4. Roll the dough into balls with your hands and place on a greased or lined baking sheet.

5. Press slightly with you hand or a fork.

6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden and set. These overbake quickly, so it's better to take them out a bit early if you are unsure. Allow to cook for a bit on the baking sheet, then move to another surface to finish cooling. ENJOY!

How to Use Oregano Oil and Olive Oil to Help Treat Toenail Fungus

For every teaspoon of olive oil you use, add two to four drops of oregano oil. You only need a very small amount of oregano oil to harness its fungicidal properties.

The treatment is simple. Apply this mixture to the affected areas, as well as any surrounding area that could be a spot for fungal infection (such as your uninfected toenails). Afterwards, leave your foot uncovered and allow the oils to seep into your skin and the nail. The fungus will slowly be killed off.

You can do this treatment when you’re watching TV, reading a book, or relaxing. If you want to move around without tracking oil through your home, use a pair of cheap flip-flops that will allow your feet to breathe. Putting your damp feet back into socks or shoes could delay how long the treatment takes, as these are good conditions for mold to thrive.

By doing this treatment at least once daily, you can cure your toenail fungus in less than a month. Sometimes all it takes is a couple of weeks.

So don’t despair if you see some fungus growing on your toenail. Take a trip down to the health food store, pick up some oregano and olive oil, and wash that fungal infection away!

7 Things to Do with Reserved Duck Fat

Duck fat is delicious. It develops tremendous texture and rich, savory flavors. We love it with roasted veggies and fried potatoes, added to sauces, and so much more. These days, if you're not into saving your own fat from roasting a duck, you can also find rendered duck fat in grocery stores.

Is duck fat healthy? Well, healthy is kind of a loaded word. Duck fat is, after all, a saturated fat. However, as the Los Angeles Times notes, the amount of fat from duck fat that's saturated is roughly comparable to chicken fat or pork fat. But at 33%, duck fat's saturated fat content is significantly "better than butter, which is about 51% saturated fat." What's more, duck fat contains oleic acid, the same monounsaturated fat that's found in healthy olive oil. Duck fat is 40% oleic acid, compared to 71% oleic acid for olive oil. So is duck fat a health food? Probably not. But it does seem to be a reasonable and certainly a delicious substitute for butter and an occasional tasty treat.

Here are some of our favorite, most delicious recipes for using up rendered duck fat, including making golden-brown potatoes, confit, tortillas, and more. And don't miss our Favorite Duck Recipes for Special Dinners.

Chef John's Grilled Flap Steak

This cut of beef looks like skirt steak, but it's actually cheaper (usually) and equally delicious. "It did make for some extremely tasty Asian-style lettuce wraps," says Chef John. "You can use flap meat in so many other wonderful ways. You should try this in tacos or Philly cheese steak. I used the grilled meat with lettuce, carrots, red onions, chopped peanuts, and cilantro leaves to make a salad. For the dressing I combined the reserved meat juices, sambal, fish sauce, and rice vinegar to taste. I didn't measure anything, and neither should you."

How to Cook Fish Fillets Perfectly Crispy, Without a Recipe

People avoid cooking fish for lots of reasons, including the irrational fear that it will stink up the house. But the main reason people don't cook fish is because they don't know how. There's something to that. A fillet of fish, unlike a piece of meat, is delicate. But that doesn't mean it's not doable.

I used to be a cook in a fancy French restaurant, where I stood elbow-to-elbow with the fish chef, six nights a week. From watching her, I learned how to prepare fish with crisp skin and just-cooked-through flesh--and 15 years later she's in my head every time I slide a fillet into a skillet. There's no recipe, of course, but here are the rules:

Use a heavy-bottomed pan and
get it very hot--let it sit over medium-high heat for several minutes before you start cooking. I usually use a black steel pan or my trusty cast iron, depending on the size of the fillets, but a quality stainless steel pan will work, too. A nonstick pan will guarantee that the skin won't stick, but you'll never get the skin to brown as well. Almost any fish that's sold with the skin on suits this technique--try salmon, bass, branzino, or red snapper.

Fish skin sticks to skillets for two reasons--
either the pan isn't hot enough or the skin isn't dry. Pat the skin with paper towel before seasoning it. And remember to season the flip side of the fillet as well.

Use a neutral oil, like canola or grapeseed, and make sure there's an even coating on the pan.
It should be just smoking when you add the fish.

Add the fish to the pan, skin side down. The proteins will immediately contract, and the fillet will contract and curve upwards. When this happens, the skin is only in contact on the outside edges. Take a flexible spatula and
press on the flesh until the fillet flattens out--a matter of seconds. This ensures the skin remains touching the pan and will give you crisp results.

Let the fish cook. Don't mess with it. Don't flip it back and forth.
Just let it go. When you can see a nice golden brown color on the edge of the skin, gently slide the spatula under and turn it over. The fish is most likely to flake and fall apart when it's cooked, so be nice to it. At this point, it is about 70 percent cooked through and only needs a couple of minutes on the second side. Admire the brown skin while you wait.

That's it. Serve the fillets over a bed of lentils--or any other cooked bean for that matter. Or with a dollop of yogurt seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper, and maybe some grated cucumber, radish, and garlic. Perch it on a bed of greens with an assertive vinaigrette. Pair it with sautéed Swiss chard, kale, bok choy, spinach, or Napa cabbage. Serve alongside roasted potatoes, squash, or peppers. With a tomato and onion salad. With couscous or herbed rice. You get the idea.

And to my fish mentor, Max Hussong, if you're out there--thanks for showing me how it's done.