Grilled Broccoli with Black Olive Tapenade

Grilled Broccoli with Olive Tapenade ©2014 La Domestique

I love grilling. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the Southern United States where people take their BBQ seriously. Maybe it’s because I get to create perfectly caramelized grill marks on my food. Or maybe it’s because the sizzle and the smoky aromas always take me back to carefree Arkansas summers spent by the pool.

During summer I grill almost every single night because it’s quick and easy. Grilled broccoli was a revelation for me—charring this slightly bitter brassica gives it a smoky, caramelized sweetness. Any true Southerner knows that good condiments are essential to BBQ and I’ve paired the charred broccoli with tapenade, a boldly flavoured olive paste. Tapenade is open to variation based on what herbs you’ve got on hand. Basil, lemon-thyme, mint, oregano or even lavender would be fine substitutions for the rosemary. For this recipe, a good quality extra virgin olive oil is worth using. Splurge on a special bottle with plenty of spice and vibrant flavour. Take note that this tapenade is a briny sauce flavoured with two cloves of fresh garlic—be ready for its punch! Here the spirit of Italian antipasti embraces French Provençal flavours in a dish that’s perfect for munching on in a sunny garden with either a glass of Prosecco or rosé wine.

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Dinner with Food52: A Cookbook Review and Giveaway

Chicken That Fancies Itself Spanish, with Lemons, Onions, and Olives (c)2012 La Domestique

Food52 sent me their newest cookbook for review, and have graciously  provided a copy for this giveaway contest to La Domestique readers.

Full contest rules can be found at the end of the review.

I pick up the Food52 Cookbook, Volume 2, Seasonal Recipes from Our Kitchens to Yours, and run my fingers over the smooth, slate-gray cover. The cover photo is a gathering of ingredients that tells the story of a recipe in the making: sliced squash, sprig of sage, sprinkling of salt. Will it be soup tonight? I open the book to find out.

The introduction takes me back to the beginning of Food52, a website founded by Amanda Hesser and Merril Stubbs. Their original project crowdsourcing a cookbook online is now an active community of home cooks (about 100,00) sharing recipes, advice, and inspiration on Food52.com. I turn the page  and see The Year in Recipes begins with my favorite season, fall. Flipping through the pages, I find a somewhat random collection of recipes (noted as winners of weekly contests at Food52.com), anchored by the seasonal theme. Week 1 is the contest winner for Your Best Red Peppers, Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Corn and Cilantro, followed by Your Best Chicken Wings, Korean Fried Chicken Wings, and a Wildcard Winner, the Wicked Witch Martini. Each page turn reveals something unexpected, and I feel this is a cookbook I’ll reach for throughout the year to shake up my cooking routine. Every time I see the words “Your Best” before a recipe, it reinforces the highly tested, curated standard to which Amanda and Merrill measure these recipes by home cooks. Flipping through the pages, several fall recipes catch my eye. I realize they each have one thing in common: a clever combination of flavors that I would not have thought of before. In Week 4, Your Best Brown Bag Lunch, there’s Pan Bagnat: Le French Tuna Salad Sandwich, tempting me with a vibrant and punchy mix of tuna, basil leaves, olives, red bell pepper, red onion, artichoke hearts, and haricots verts (French green beans) atop crusty baguette. The Roasted Cauliflower with Gremolata Bread Crumbs (winner of Your Best Cauliflower) brings to mind an Italian antipasto – so simple and smart – coated in crisp breadcrumbs, lemon zest, garlic, and parsley. Another thing I notice about this cookbook collaboration by home cooks across the world is diversity – from the Moorish Paella to Afghan Dumplings with Lamb Kofta and Yogurt Sauce to Okonomiyaki (Kyoto-style pancakes), the Food52 Cookbook, Volume 2 is anything but vanilla.

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This Past Week: Olives

This past week at La Domestique we wrapped up the summer pantry with olives. It was fun to explore the many different varieties from all over the world. The briny flavor of olives brings complexity and depth to many dishes, like pastas, salads, and stews. Olives combine beautifully with the produce of late summer, such as tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant. I hope this week inspired you to try new varieties- we have more choices at the grocery store than ever before!

 

In case you missed anything, I’ve got a recap for you:

 

I’m honored that LaDomestique.com was featured on Food52 as “one of the most pleasant and attractive places in the food blogosphere.” Take a look at the write-up by clicking on the icon below.

 

 

Monday:  Announcing olives as the ingredient of the week.

Tuesday:  10 Ways Tuesday! Creative ideas for cooking with olives.

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Pissaladière

Pissaladière is a French dish from the Pays Niçoise, an area bordering Italy. It’s easy to see the Italian influence in this flatbread decorated like a pizza. I read in Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook that Pissaladière is named for pissalat, which means “salted fish”. It’s a sauceless pizza topped with slow cooked onions, sliced tomato, olives, and anchovy. Niçoise olives grown near the city of Nice in Provence are traditionally used in Pissaladière. These small olives with big pits are harvested fully ripe and have a dark purplish-brown color. Niçoise olives are less salty than others. They have a mellow, nutty flavor that goes well with the onions and anchovies. I just can’t follow one recipe, it’s not in my nature. The Pissaladière I made for today is a marriage of two different recipes: Anne Willan’s from The Country Cooking of France and Martha Stewart’s from her Baking Handbook. I wanted to follow Martha Stewart’s instructions for the dough, and Anne Willan’s suggestions for the toppings (and make my own tweaks, of course).

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Storyboard: Olives

Olive StoryBoard (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

Growing & Curing

Olives grow on gnarled, silver-leaved trees. Originally, the olive tree is from the Mediterranean. These days olives are also grown in the United States (California, New Mexico, and Arizona), as well as South America. According to the reference, Starting with Ingredients, olive trees live an average of 300 to 600 years. I learned from Mark Bittman that olives contain a chemical called oleuropin, which has a very bitter flavor. Curing eliminates this problem. The longer an olive is allowed to cure in its brine, the more complex and deep its flavor becomes. An immature olive is green, and darkens as it ripens, eventually turning black. Often, olives are picked green for curing, while the ones meant for olive oil are allowed to ripen fully and turn black.

Varieties

Here are six varieties that are widely available in the U.S.  I hope this inspires you to explore the many other varieties of olives from all over the world.

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