keito potato


Black Olives with Orange and Fennel
August 14, 2012, 2:26 pm
Filed under: recipes, starters | Tags: , ,

These marinated olives are mysterious and heavenly.  The fennel and orange peel complement the olives perfectly.  The flavor is soft and subtle, and the marinade seems to erase some of the saltiness of the olives.

 

 

BLACK OLIVES WITH ORANGE AND FENNEL

2 cups black olives — oil-cured, Nicoise, Kalamata, or a mixture

6 small bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

zest of 1/2 small orange, in large strips

extra virgin olive oil to moisten

METHOD

Combine everything in a bowl.  Let stand for 1 hour or more for the flavors to develop.  Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 3 weeks.

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Greek Potatoes Stewed with Kalamata Olives
June 3, 2012, 11:21 am
Filed under: main dishes, recipes | Tags: , , , ,

When you slowly simmer good olives into a stew, they infuse the stew with a saltiness that is more complex than simple salt.  This dish is simple, delicious, and possibly addictive.  My vegetarian cooking group put together a huge Greek meal last night, and ate a long extended table in the backyard.  This was one of the favorite dishes, and the serving dish was practically licked clean.

The recipe comes from Diane Kochilas’ cookbook The Greek Vegetarian, which has become one of my most favorite and beat-up cookbooks.  Kochilas says that this dish is inspired by a classic dish from Zakintohos.  I’ve made this stew a few times over the years, and I plan to make it several times over the summer before I move to China, since olives will be harder to find there!

photo by Joyce Hiendarto

GREEK POTATOES STEWED WITH KALAMATA OLIVES

2  1/2 pounds medium-sized potatoes

1/3 cup olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1  1/2 cups kalamata olives

2-3 cups canned plum tomatoes, with their juices

1 teaspoon dried oregano

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

METHOD:

Peel and finely chop the garlic.  Peel and wash the potatoes.  Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise, and cut each half into four slices, each about 1/2-inch thick.  Drain the olives and pit them.

In a stewing pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the potatoes and stir to coat.  Toss in the garlic and stir. Add the olives, and stir and saute for 2-3 minutes.  The olives will break apart a little and the dish will change color and darken.

photo by Joyce Hiendarto

To break up the canned tomatoes, grate them with a large-tooth cheese grated.  Add the tomatoes to the pot and stir.

photo by Joyce Hiendarto

Lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer the potatoes for 25-30 minutes, until they are very tender and the sauce is thick.  In my experience, it may take a little longer than this for the potatoes to become completely soft.  Add a little water during cooking if it seems as though the potatoes are in danger of burning.  

Just before removing the pot from the heat, add the oregano and season to taste with salt and pepper.  This stew would be good with some feta as a garnish.  Here you can see the potato and kalamata stew served at my vegetarian cooking group alongside a slice of spanakopita, or “Spartacus” as my friends were calling it, as well as an arugula, orange, and wrinkled olive salad.

photo by Joyce Hiendarto



Pissaladiere
February 26, 2012, 10:27 pm
Filed under: recipes, starters | Tags: , , ,

Pissaladiere is a French onion tart essentially made from pizza crust topped with caramelized onions and good black olives.  The rich and sweet caramelized onions are slowly cooked with fresh thyme, and are perfectly paired here with the salty olives.  On a trip to Portland, Oregon a few years ago, my friend Annarie made this for me…. actually, I think she made it twice on that visit.  She’s seriously addicted to caramelized onions, and has a hard time keeping herself from eating them straight out of the skillet.

This recipe comes from Joanne Harris’ cookbook My French Kitchen.  During my Portland visit, Annarie sung the praises of this cookbook, and used several of its recipes.  I was compelled to pick up a copy for myself.  It’s full of simple and rustic French dishes, including the basic salad dressing I used for the raw brussels sprout salad.

This is best served for a crowd, and has become one of my favorite party appetizers, as of late.  I made it this year for an Oscar party, as well as for New Year’s Eve.

PISSALADIERE RECIPE

For the onions:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

bunch of thyme

3  1/2 pounds onions, very finely sliced

sea salt, to taste

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the dough:

4  1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

2/3 cup lukewarm water

1 teaspoon sugar

2 cups unbleached flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing

about 1 cup black Mediterranean olives, pitted

METHOD

Prepare the onions by slicing them very thinly.  Warm the 2 TBS olive oil and 2 TBS butter in a large heavy skillet or saucepan over low heat.  Strip the thyme leaves from the stalks and add about half to the pan.  Add the onions, and cook over low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent browning.  They should be soft and slightly caramelized.  Season with salt and pepper and let cool.

While the onions are slowly cooking, make the dough.  Mix the yeast with the lukewarm water and sugar.  Leave for 10 minutes in a warm place until the mixture becomes frothy.

Put the flour and salt in a mixing bowl, add the yeast mixture and the olive oil, and mix until you have a dough ball.  Lightly flour a work surface and knead the dough for 10 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and soft.  Brush the inside of the bowl with a little olive oil, put the dough in, and cover with a cloth.  Leave in a warm place to rise until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Brush a baking sheet with a little olive oil.

Knock the air out of the dough on a lightly floured surface and kneed for 2 minutes.  Roll the dough out to a 12 x 10-inch rectangle, place on the baking sheet, and brush the surface of the dough with a little more olive oil.  Cover with the cooked onions.  Arrange the olives.  I usually cut the olives in half after pitting, but you can leave them whole if you choose.  Sprinkle with the remaining thyme.

Leave somewhere warm to rise again, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 425F.  Bake the pissaladiere for 20-25 minutes, and serve warm.



Fennel and Potato Stew with Olives and Preserved Lemon
August 3, 2011, 9:02 pm
Filed under: main dishes, recipes | Tags: , , , , , ,

Invariably when I buy fennel, the person standing next to me in the produce section asks me what I do with it.  I usually tell them I slice it and roast it on high heat with olive oil and sea salt.  Roasted fennel is complex and delicious, and I can usually convince my fellow customers to pick up a few bulbs of fennel themselves.  This French stew is my other favorite way with fennel.  I’m drawn to fennel stews from the Mediterranean that are brightened with citrus and perfumed with herbs.  In hot summer weather, when I happen to crave a stew or soup, I want it to be lemony, light, and fresh. 

 

This stew is an adaptation of a recipe in Skye Gyngell’s cookbook A Year in My Kitchen from the Petersham Nurseries on the outskirts of London.  I have made this stew numerous times, but have gradually made it my own.  Her stew is built on both fennel and artichokes, but I found the artichokes bland actually, in comparison to the fennel.  I have finally landed on substituting yellow potatoes for the artichokes, and found that they pair perfectly with the fennel.  I have also omitted the saffron threads from the original recipe.  The flavors of the stew are so vibrant that the soft and subtle saffron is lost.  I think it’s a waste of an expensive ingredient.

I have tried several other French fennel stew recipes over the years, but this one is more interesting because of the preserved lemon and olives.  I love letting olives slowly cook into a stew or soup.  They give off a saltiness that is more earthy that plain salt.  If you can’t find preserved lemons at your local Arab market, you can make them at home, or substitute fresh lemon juice (although fresh lemon juice doesn’t have quite the same flavor).  If using fresh lemon juice, you may have to add a bit extra juice to make the stew bright enough.

This recipe calls for a drizzle of “basil oil” for garnish.  This is one of the foundational sauces of Gyngell’s cookbook.  It’s similar to pesto in consistency, but omits the nuts and cheese, and you can use it in a myriad of ways.  Keep in mind that it only keeps 1 week in the fridge, so you might want to make a smaller batch of it, or alternatively simply garnish the stew with a handful of torn basil leaves.

I like to serve this stew with either rice pilaf or couscous, a simple green salad, and dry white wine.  I should also mention that I often make a double batch, especially on evenings like tonight when I’m cooking for guests and want to make sure I have plenty of leftovers.

FENNEL AND POTATO STEW WITH OLIVES AND PRESERVED LEMON

2 heads fennel

3 waxy yellow potatoes (such as Yukon Gold)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2-3 tablespoons butter

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, plus extra leaves for garnish

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

1 dried red chili

4 plum tomatoes (or 14-oz canned plum tomatoes)

1/2 preserved lemon, chopped

1/2 cup vegetable broth

about 12 black olives (kalamata, Nicoise, or Ligurian)

freshly grated parmesan to serve

2 tablespoons basil oil (or alternatively, a handful of torn basil leaves)

For the basil oil, combine 3 bunches fresh basil in a food processor with 1 garlic clove, sea salt and black pepper to taste, and 3/4 cup good quality olive oil.  Adjust seasonings and pour into a jar.  It will keep refrigerated for 1 week.

METHOD:

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).  Trim the fennel and cut off the base.  Cut each fennel bulb into quarters.  Peel the potatoes and quarter them lengthwise.

Use a heavy saucepan that is oven-safe, and warm it on the stove at medium-heat.  Add the olive oil and butter and heat until the butter has melted.  Add the fennel and potatoes.  Season with a little salt and cook for 10 minutes or so.  Add the bay leaves, sage, and garlic.  Crumble in the dried red chili, and stir to combine.  Roughly chop the tomatoes and add to the pan, along with the chopped preserved lemon, then pour over the broth. 

Cover and cook in the oven for 40 minutes, or until the fennel is very tender, adding the olives for the last 5-10 minutes.

Taste and adjust the seasoning then spoon over the basil oil (or torn basil), and scatter over some sage leaves to garnish.  Sprinkle with grated parmesan and serve.