Olives...both ways

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Oh My God it is Saturday already. Another week has gone by so quickly!
What a week it has been!
I learned (in theory off course)  the hows, whys and what-nots of red and white vinification - in normal speak this means the process of turning fruity, sweet grape juice into wine.

I tasted (and spited) about 10 wines from Alsace, Champagne, Bourgundy and Greece.
Photo by C.Tsatsaris
I attempted my first décantage, an experience that I will always remember not only because it happened on 12/12/12 but also because I spilled most of the wine on the burning candle that produced a lovely sizzle and a lots of laughs from my fellow sommeliers-to-be! 

After such a busy week I completely forgot to go to the market for the required ingredients for yesterday's French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Chicken, Apples and Cream a la Normande . Don't despair! You can find out how my fellow Doristas prepared it here - it sounds really yummy and I will definitely cook it sometime in the future.

For now you have to settle with what I am going to offer you today.
Two lovely recipes featuring two great products of my country, olives and olive oil. They are not the elaborate food creations you expect to find on the internet around this season. They won't fill  up your festive tables but believe me simplicity sometimes is much appreciated especially when you are up to your head with baking pies and roasting hams and turkeys and pheasants and you just need a simple, tasty nibble to keep your guests occupied while your run back and forth topping up glasses and setting more plates on the table. Both recipes can be made well in advance and stored in the fridge until they are needed!!!

The first recipe was featured a couple of weeks ago on French Fridays with Dorie.... Herded Olives Marinated in Thyme, Rosemary and Orange Peel. I made them and let them stay and macerate in their glass jar for a few weeks so that they could be infused by the aromas of the marinated olive oil even more.
Olives Marinated in Thyme, Rosemary and Orange Peel
Adapted from Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan 
Olives, green or black as plain as possible
Fresh rosemary springs, leaves removed and chopped
Fresh thyme springs, leaves removed and chopped
Coriander seeds
Black peppercorns
Green peppercorns
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (maybe a bit more to top up the jar with the olives)
Garlic cloves, green part removed and filleted
Bay leaves
Orange zest
Toast the spices (black and green peppercorns, coriander) in a hot pan long enough to release their aromas. Put them into a small bowl  remove the pan from the heat and wait a bit for it to cool down. Gently warm up the Extra Virgin Olive Oil. When I say warm it I mean warm it not burn it. Put the pan in very low heat and be patient - the result is definitely going to reward you as the herbs and spices you are going to add in will be able to release their flavours and aromas without being shocked from the heat of the oil. When the oil is thus warmed, add all the remaining ingredients (rosemary, thyme, the toasted spices, bay leaves, garlic, orange zest) and heat them through for no more that two minutes - we don't want to sauté them!!

Put the olives in a clean glass jar (sterilised if possible) and pour in the warmed oil and herb mixture. Mix everything around. You have to let the jar stand until the olives and the oil inside reach room temperature before you refrigerate it. I kept mine in the fridge for about a week before I was tempted to taste my creation. I was  taken aback by the intensity of the aromas of the herb infused olive oil and the taste it gave to the olives. I went ahead and made enough to fill an even bigger jar and I now use to oil to flavour my salads and roast fish or chicken!
The next recipe I am going to share with you is sinfully delicious and seriously addictive!

I cannot say for sure if it is a pesto, a spread or a dip! I would call it a bit of everything because you can easily spread it on a piece of toasted bread and enjoy it with a glass of fresh white wine or toss it in a plateful of warm pasta with a few shaves of Parmesan on top and be transported to a sunny terrace by the sea forgetting that your driveway is buried under 50 cm of snow!

Fresh Peppermint, Walnut and Olive Pesto - Dip
Adapted from a recipe by an award winning Greek Chef Christoforos Peskias publiced in Βιβλιοθήκη Γεύσης της Καθημερινής - Σπιτικές Κονσέρβες
Yield: about 2 cups
2 - 3 cups (tightly packed) leaves of fresh peppermint, washed and thoroughly dried
2 -3 garlic cloves, peeled, green part removed
200 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
100 gr walnuts, chopped
200 gr Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
Blend the mint leaves with the garlic and olive oil until they form a smooth green paste. Add the chopped walnuts and blend again for 4 - 5 seconds, you want the walnuts to get even more chopped but not really mashed up so that their presence could add a bit of bite to the whole mixture.
Empty the contents of the blender into a large enough bowl and add the chopped Kalamata olives. Mix them all together and you are ready to serve!


  1. I am a big fan of simplicity in cooking!! Am absolutely loving the sound of that dip.. would be lovely on some bread or even some used to flavour some pasta..

    keep up the wine/sommelier updates... I really enjoy reading about something I have no clue about!!

  2. I know the olives are yummy, and I'm betting your pesto is just as fabulous! It's so hard to keep organized this time of year...but hope you get a chance to try the chicken :)

  3. I loved the marinated olives from FF however, your olive pesto dip looks incredibly delicious! Great photos!

  4. Ahh this looks so delicious! I hope to whip something up like this one day! Thanks for sharing!

    (Found you via GIG Page btw!)

    Donah @ Sweetjellybean.com
    GIG Founder

  5. Oooh yum yums! What an interesting combination to marinate the olives in orange peel!!

    Hello from GIG btw! :)

    Cinnamon Spring


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