Come summer and I lean towards ice cream and cold sweet things but also towards smaller dishes that I can snack on versus larger meals. Dips can become a meal especially with a colorful assortment at the table and if you include a few different types (keeping in mind your diner's preferences) you could end up with a gorgeous spread of tastes and aromas begging to be eaten.Read More
A few weeks ago I visited the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in gorgeous Napa valley. It’s a few hours from Oakland and though I’ve been there before and (at one point even considered going to school there) I had never walked through the kitchens or for that matter cooked in them. But all of that was about to change, thankfully through a trip via the folk behind CARipeOlives. The purpose of this trip was to immerse myself in learning about the diverse possibilities in using olives in cooking taught by the chefs at the CIA and Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes.
To be completely honest, I’ve always thought of whole olives as a table snack or of something that you use for texture or for that pop of brininess in a dish but now I was going to learn to do much more than just that with them. We started off our day with a little tasting of various kinds of olives brined or treated in some way just to get a quick taste of how diverse this little fruit is. Among the different tasting samples, two really stood out. A candied black olive concoction and a smoked olive, neither of which I had ever tasted before. I’ve had olives in ice creams and desserts as a topping but never as a candy, the taste and texture reminded me of a sweet dried fruit with a much softer texture. Then came the smoked olives, it is everything you can imagine and more. At the CIA they start out with sawdust as the source for smoke and place it in a hotel pan, over which a perforated hotel plan is placed along with the drained olives (just use a can drained) and then covered with another pan. Then the entire apparatus is kept on the stove and as the heat starts to burn the wood and release the smoke, the olives start to absorb the flavors. The olives are then removed and allowed to cool a little before they can be used in any conceivable way possible.
Green and black olives are essentially one and the same fruit, the green olives just aren’t exposed to air during the ripening process. The way in which they’re brined affects the color, the ripe green olives from the tree can be made purplish black if you simply bubble oxygen through the liquid during the ripening process. Another fun fact, olives are like sponges, they absorb flavors really well which explains why they take on the salt of the brine in which they’re kept and also helps explain why smoking and candying work well. So even if you don’t want to cook olives in a dish you could do something simple like smoking and create an exciting change to your menu!
We then got the chance to cook in the kitchen and along with my team, we came up this delicious Kumquat Tapenade that we served with grilled shrimp and mushrooms. You can use any type of brined olives but I like the combination of color and flavor that both green and black olives bring to the tapenade. There’s a tiny bit of heat here balanced by the sweet acidity of the kumquats. I’ve shared the recipe here so you can make this easy and interesting citrusy version of this olive dip at home.
Makes approximately 3 cups
1/2 cup chopped kumquats with juice and skin, seeds discarded
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 serrano pepper, deseeded
1 cup black olives, drained
1 cup green olives, drained
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1 cup chopped parsley
1 Tbsp fresh lemon zest
1/4 cup [60ml] freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup [120ml] extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Place all the ingredients from the kumquats to the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor for a few seconds and pulse until you get a coarse paste. Taste and adjust seasoning. Refrigerate and allow to sit for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve as a dip with bread or roasted shrimp.
Happy 2017!!! I spent much of the past few weeks celebrating Christmas and NYE with my mom and sister who were visiting us from India. Now that they've gone back to India, the house feels quiet even with our beloved pets, both of whom who can be loud at times. We ate a lot of good food, took a few trips, saw a few movies but most of all, it was great to spend some one-on-one time with my mom who I get to see once, perhaps every two years.
One of the things, my mom and I like to do is, snack. We snack a lot and if there was one way to mark the start of the new year here, an appetizer or some sort of snack would be fitting. And so I have an easy hazelnut and walnut based pâté flavored with mushrooms, tea and a few aromatics for you.
To make a nut based pâté, you'll need a blender with a bit of oomph to grind those nuts down and the powerful new Ascent blender from Vitamixdoes just that! With a few short pulses in a few seconds, I ended up with an impressive smooth and creamy nut based paste that was ready to be absorb the umami of the mushrooms and tea. The only annoying part was having a little patience to let the pâté stiffen a little in the refrigerator but that is something I can live with.
Note, that I've said portabello/portabella mushrooms in the ingredient list, it honestly just depends on what you can find, the male mushrooms have the "bello" while the females have the "bella" in their names. It shouldn't make a big difference in taste.
vegetarian pâté (with mushrooms, nuts and tea)
makes: about 1 1/2 cups
1/2 cup (76 grams)hazelnuts
1/2 cup (46 grams) walnuts
1/4 cup (59 ml) melted unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons black tea such as Darjeeling
1/4 cup (59 ml) boiling water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup sliced shallots
2 teaspoons garlic cloves minced
1/4 lb chopped crimini mushrooms
1/4 lb chopped portobello/portabella mushrooms
2 tablespoons thyme leaves
4 to 5 black peppercorns
1 teaspoon sea salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the nuts on baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes until they just start to release the aroma and turn light brown. Remove from oven and transfer the nuts to the blender along with the melted butter. Pulse the nuts for a few seconds until they start to form a coarse powder. You might need to scrape the sides of the jug, just in case the nut bits move up to the sides.
2. Add the tea leaves to the boiling water in a small bowl and allow to steep for 4 minutes. Strain and discard the leaves, reserve the liquid.
3. Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until they just start to turn translucent, then add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, thyme and peppercorns and salt. Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer the contents of the skillet to the ground nuts and the reserved tea liquid to the blender. Place the lid and pulse until you get a smooth and creamy mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Transfer the pâté to a clean air-tight container and refrigerate for at least four to six hours before use. Serve the pâté with slices of fresh bread such as a baguette.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Vitamix, however all opinions expressed are solely my own.
Simplicity comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors. Simple things when brought together can sometimes produce the most spectacular of results which is why I adore hummus. A simple combination of chickpeas, sesame and a few other ingredients when mixed make for a delicious bowl of humus bursting with complex flavors that I find extremely satisfying. I think if faced with the option, I could probably eat hummus everyday and lots of it!
By far, this is one of my favorite ways to make hummus at home. Edamame is a buttery bean that lends its smooth texture to create many a tasty thing, so adding it to hummus makes it really good! I also love to add a few cloves of oven-roasted garlic to the bean duo of edamame and chickpeas with some freshly squeezed lime juice. The oven-roasted garlic flavor gives an aromatic and mildly sweet flavor to the hummus. If I feel a little bit risqué, I'll sometimes throw in a chili pepper for a little heat but if you don't want this hot, feel free to skip the chili.
My favorite part is diving a piece of warm pita bread straight into the bowl of hummus after it's been generously drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkling of sumac.
edamame chickpea hummus
yields: approximately 3 - 3 1/2 generous cups
2 garlic cloves, oven-roasted*(instructions below on how to roast the garlic, you can use one garlic clove if you prefer)
2 cups boiled edamame
7 1/2 ounces boiled/canned chickpeas
2 tablespoons tahini
1 thai green chili pepper (optional)
1/4 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher sea salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water (you might need more)
1/2 teaspoon sumac
extra olive oil for drizzling
1. Place the garlic, edamame, chickpeas, tahini, chili, lime juice, salt, olive oil and water in a food processor. Pulse until combined. You might need to add more water to adjust the consistency of the hummus.
2. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle the sumac over the hummus and drizzle with olive oil just before serving. Serve with fresh/toasted pita bread, pita chips or crackers.
* oven-roasted garlic
yields: 1 garlic head
1 garlic head
1 teaspoon olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Peel most of the loose paper off the garlic head. Place the garlic head in a small baking dish and brush it with the olive oil. Cover the dish with a piece of aluminum foil and bake in the oven for about 40-45 minutes. Remove and allow to sit covered for about 10 minutes. Remove the aluminum cover and and peel the paper off the garlic. Use as needed.