I haven’t bought a can of black olives in a long time so when I received two free cans from the good folks at California Ripe Olives I wasn’t sure what to do with them. Well I popped open a can and munched one, and what do you know I do still like black olives! I’d been caught up in all the olive bar type olives for so long I forgot about my first love affair with olives. Yes I was just a tot when I became fond of black olives right out of the can. Then came black olives on pizza, and it was good. Then came black olives in iceberg lettuce type salads and that was good. Somewhere along the line I started eating stuffed green olives. kalamata olives, oil cured olives, jalapeno stuffed olives,etc. there was hardly a new olive that I didn’t like, but my first love sat neglected on the grocery store shelf for many years. What fun it is to explore the possibilities of black olives in my kitchen and blog about it. These tasty California black olives had a long trip to get to my home in Baltimore. I didn’t know that California produces 95% of the ripe olives in the US, with more than 1,000 multigenerational families taking part in the process. That’s a lot of homegrown expertise. For my entry into the black olive competition I wanted something original, and something using an ingredient from my garden. I love fresh herbs and thought that fresh oregano would be a fun choice for an olive appetizer on a toasted baguette slice. I wanted some color so from the fridge came the roasted red bell peppers I made last week. For the fat content I chose garlic infused olive oil to brush on the baguette slices. For the topping I grabbed some Parmigiano Reggiano to shred on top using my new Oxo Good Grips medium grater. It was a fun project and I tasted several of the treats. The only thing I might do different is put a slice of roasted garlic on each toast slice for a bit more oomph. I was happy that the olive flavor was not drowned out by the other ingredients and took the whole tray to my favorite Vet clinic to have them taste test it.Apparently they scarfed them down quickly indicating a good vote in the first round. With any luck I have a winner for the competition at the upcoming Eat, Write, Retreat food bloggers event in Philly. For all you you that might want to give this a try at home I include the recipe. I think you will find it fairly easy and tasty. Don’t forget your favorite white or red wine to go with it. I would recommend a good, crisp California Sauvignon Blanc. Please leave a comment on what you think of this recipe on my blog. Bon appetit!
California Ripe Black Olives on Toasted Baguette Rounds with Fresh Oregano
1 can of CaliforniaRipe Black Olives, drained and sliced in half lengthwise
1 baguette sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds
2 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil
1 package of fresh oregano
2-3 ounces roasted red bell pepper, in 1 inch slices
2 ounces fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano chese
Brush baguette rounds with garlic infused oil on one side only and toast under broiler until lightly browned. Remove from oven and repeat broiling on other side. Let cool. Pluck the leaves of the oregano for placement on top of the baguette rounds when they are cool. Use just enough to cover about 1/3 of the surface of the rounds, reserving the rest to mince and sprinkle on top at the end. Put on slice of roasted red bell pepper on each round, and two pieces of black olives. Grate parmigiano reggiano over toast rounds. Put minced oregano on top and serve with a Sauvignon Blanc if you like white wines best, or a Zinfandel if red wine is your favorite.
There are many things I am so grateful for in my life. I was reminded of one of those simple pleasures Saturday while cooking for Phillip’s Mushrooms 2nd anniversary of their retail shop in Kennett Square, PA. One of the three appetizers I was cooking during the 4 hour event was my Maitake Mushroom Bruschetta topped with 5 year old Gouda on french bread. Lucky me that I am not gluten intolerant, because this recipe rocks! However out of the approximate 50 people that came through the kitchen to taste the appetizers about 5 couldn’t eat the bread. Twice when I cut the oh so crispy bruschetta to serving sizes I had someone hear that sound of a crusty bread being cut and lament that they could not eat it. Bread is one on the oldest prepared foods known to human beings! Thousands of years ago it was one of the first things we clever humans mixed up and cooked. I suppose there were other things we mixed and cooked that didn’t pass the taste test, but bread is one of those that stuck with most cultures. I heard on National Public Radio’s Science Friday show several years ago that it is thought that bread is the oldest prepared and cooked item that we eat! Yet now we have a significant portion of our population that can’t eat it without adverse affects. I won’t go into the theories behind this problem, but wanted to point out to all of you out there that can eat bread that we are members in a lucky club indeed! Imagine life without a typical sandwich, toast in the morning, croutons on a salad, stuffing at Thanksgiving, and the list goes on. In celebration of this wonderful food I give you one of my favorite recipes that I made up just last month. To try in this in your home you need just a few ingredients and about 20 minutes. For this recipe it helps to buy a very good quality loaf of french bread, and a good quality cheese. The mushrooms should be very fresh and if you have it, use fresh thyme added about one minute before sauteing is finished, instead of dried thyme. The result is a simple, wonderful combo of bread, mushrooms and cheese that cries out for a glass of your favorite wine, like a Pinot Gris, or Petit Sirah. This appetizer with a nice salad would work as a light meal on a warm spring day. That way you can celebrate spring and the fact that you can eat bread too. Welcome to the club.
Mushroom Bruschetta with Aged Gouda
1 pound maitake mushrooms chopped
1/2 cup sliced yellow onion
1-2 cloves fresh garlic minced
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 ounces shaved or grated aged gouda or good quality parmesan
1 loaf French Baguette split lengthwise and cut into 3 inch lengths
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Saute onions and garlic in large saute pan with oil for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add mushrooms, and thyme and cook for about 10 minutes or until most of the liquid is cooked out of the mushrooms. Put bread in oven on a sheet pan for 3-5 minutes to toast it a bit. Remove bread from oven and top with mushroom mixture and then cheese.
Return to oven and heat for 5 minutes. Serve hot out of the oven.
Note: Works well with white button, oyster, crimini mushrooms or mix and match.
*Substitute aged gouda with Parmigano Regiano if you can’t find a good aged gouda.
Two 8 oz packages of cream cheese
Two pieces of smoked salmon(about 8 oz), skin removed
One small clove of fresh garlic minced
One jalapeno minced, plus one for garnish, both are optional
One to two tablespoons of plain yogurt, (thins it out a bit)
1/4 cup green onions sliced thin
Break up the salmon in a bowl and pick out any bones. Add room temp. cream cheese, garlic and jalapeno. Mix well. I use a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, but have done it with a hand held mixer also. Add the green onions last and mix just enough to incorporate. If you mix too much they break down and disappear. I like to garnish with sliced jalapenos before serving.
1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans
2 Tablespoons of tahini
2-4 cloves of garlic, see note
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup water + 1 Tablespoon
1/4 teaspoon salt,optional
1-2 Tablespoons of Sriracha depending on how hot you want it
Drain liquid from canned garbanzos, and discard liquid.Blend all ingredients in a food processor for about 30 seconds, scrape well and blend another 30-45 seconds for a smooth consistency. Garnish with a drizzle of Sriracha sauce and serve with pita chips.
Note: I used my version of roasted garlic which is simply 1 cup of olive oil and 8-12 garlic cloves cooked on a stove top for 5-7 minutes on very low heat. I cool and store in the refrigerator until needed for garlic flavored oil or roasted garlic. If you use fresh uncooked garlic 1-2 cloves is plenty.