Tag Archives: Black olives

CARCIOFI FARCITI (Stuffed artichokes: with meat and with olives and anchovies)

Stuffed artichokes, I can’t get enough of them.

Carciofi  are artichokes; farciti, imbottiti and ripieni all mean STUFFED in Italian.

If you are invited at my place for dinner during artichoke season it is very likely that one of the courses will be stuffed artichokes.

I braise stuffed artichokes in stock and white wine and all the stuffings  have a proportion of breadcrumbs (1- 2day old good quality bread).

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There are two  other recipes on other posts for stuffed artichokes:

Two lots of friends last week, two lots of artichokes and two more recipes. Although I braised the artichokes in stock and white wine, tomato pulp (canned or passata) are an option and would compliment the flavours of the following stuffings.

The cooking time will depend on the type and maturity of the artichokes. Sometimes I have found that they take 40 minutes and at other times almost double the time. To test if the artichokes are cooked, pull on one of the outside leaves – it should detach easily.

There may or may not have a fuzzy choke, depending on the maturity of the plant. If there is, remove it with a teaspoon, carefully turning it without snapping the sides of the vegetable.

 

STUFFED WITH MINCE MEAT

2 medium – large artichokes
stock/ white wine/water/tomato pulp
bay leaves
 
Stuffing:
1 egg
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup of good quality lean ground beef
1tbs parsley, cut finely
1 garlic clove, chopped
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for the stuffing and ½ cup to cook the artichokes
½ cup pine nuts
ground nutmeg; I also added a bit of cinnamon

salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the stuffing: Place all of the ingredients together in a bowl and combine them with your fingers. The mixture is the same as when making meatballs.
 

Clean the artichokes, see: CARCIOFI (Artichokes and how to clean them and prepare them for cooking).

Trim the stalk with a small sharp knife to pull away the tough, stringy outer skin (just like the strings of celery). Keep the artichokes and the stem in acidulated water (water and lemon or water and a little white vinegar) until ready to stuff.
Drain the artichokes, remove the outer leaves of the artichokes and cut off the top. Use your fingers to spread out the leaves; the stuffing will go mainly in the centre of the artichoke. Sprinkle a little salt between the leaves.
Stuff the centre of the artichokes – I use my fingers; press the stuffing firmly into the centre.
Pour the rest of the olive oil in a pan and heat it. 
Place the artichokes upside down into the hot oil – this will brown the meat stuffing.
Turn the artichokes the right way up i.e. standing upright so that they can cook in an upright position (choose your pan carefully).
Add braising liquid. The level of the braising liquid should be about 1 cm below the top of the artichokes. Add a little salt to the braising liquid.
Cover and cook artichokes over low-medium heat for about 50- 80 mins. The cooking time will depend on the type and maturity of the artichokes.

 

VARIATION

Peas can be added during the braising – add these about 20 minutes before the cooking is finished.

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STUFFED WITH BLACK OLIVES AND ANCHOVIES AND A CUBE OF CHEESE

Cheese: I used pecorino fresco but a sharper cheese like provolone or mature pecorino or parmigiano would also be suitable.

Artichokes with olives, parsley & cheese 2

2 medium – large artichokes
stock/ white wine/water/tomato pulp
2 cubes of cheese
 

 (In  the photo above, the artichokes are ready to be cooked.)

Stuffing

1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tbs of one herb: parsley or fresh oregano or mint, cut finely
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for the stuffing and ½ cup to cook the artichokes
½ cup stoned black olives
¼ cup chopped anchovies

 

Prepare the stuffing: Place the breadcrumbs, garlic, herbs and the drizzle of oil in a bowl. Combine them with your fingers. Add the olives and anchovies and mix them through lightly. (I do not use extra salt – I find that the salt in the olives, anchovies and cheese is sufficient.)
 

Clean the artichokes, see: CARCIOFI (Artichokes and how to clean them and prepare them for cooking)

Trim the stalk with a small sharp knife to pull away the tough, stringy outer skin (just like the strings of celery). Keep the artichokes and the stem in acidulated water (water and lemon or water and a little white vinegar) until ready to stuff.
There may or may not have a fuzzy choke, depending on the maturity of the plant. If there is, remove it with a teaspoon, carefully turning it without snapping the sides of the choke.
Drain the artichokes, remove the outer leaves of the artichokes and cut off the top. Use your fingers to spread out the leaves; the stuffing will go mainly in the centre of the artichoke. Sprinkle a little salt between the leaves.
Stuff the centre of the artichokes – I use my fingers; press the stuffing firmly into the centre.
Press one cube of cheese into the centre the stuffing so that it is covered.
Place the rest of the oil in the pan and arrange the artichokes standing upright so that they can cook in an upright position (choose your pan carefully).
Add braising liquid. The level of the braising liquid should be about 1 cm below the top of the artichokes. Add a little salt to the braising liquid.
Cover and cook artichokes over low-medium heat for about 50- 70 mins. The cooking time will depend on the type and maturity of the artichokes.
Present with cooking liquid around them.
 
 

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RADICCHIO, TUNA AND BORLOTTI SALAD and BRAISED FENNEL WITH TAPENADE

Continued from: IN PRAISE OF WINTER VEGETABLES

The red radicchio was made into a salad with canned tuna, cooked borlotti and red onion (Recipe from my book: Small Fishy Bites, Marisa Raniolo Wilkins,  New Holland publisher).

The fennel was braised and topped with tapenade.

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INSALATA DI TONNO, FAGIOLI E RADICCHIO (Tuna salad with borlotti beans and radicchio)

This very simple salad was popular as an antipasto or a light meal when I was growing up as child in Trieste. In the Triestian dialect this salad is called Insalata di tonno, fazoi, zivola e radiccio.

Trieste is in North Eastern Italy not far from Venice and if you are ever in Trieste you are likely to find this salad in any trattoria (for home style food) especially those trattorie that have a buffet.

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No quantities needed for the recipe – the proportions are up to you. I like more beans than tuna and I cook my own (well covered with water, soaked overnight, change the water and cook slowly – no salt – bay leaves or a stick celery,  whole carrot or whole onion do add flavour).

If you are using canned beans, a tin is 400g. A tin of tuna 425g.
If the tuna is not packed in oil, drain it before using.

INGREDIENTS AND PROCESS

tinned tuna (packed in oil, the tuna is not drained and is broken up with a fork)
borlotti beans (drained if canned)
red radicchio
red onion, finely cut rings
For the dressing combine extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, a little French mustard and some salt and pepper.
You can combine all of the ingredients together or layer it.
Layer it:
Place red radicchio leaves at the bottom of a bowl as a bed for the salad. Next, put on the beans, then the tuna and onion as the top layer.
Pour over the dressing.

  

BRAISED FENNEL

Sometimes a little bit of imagination makes an old favourite look special. This is just baked fennel with black olives but the special touch is that I used tapenade (which I make regularly and usually have some on standby in the fridge – see photo above).

I have written about making tapenade. See: TAPENADE

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1-2 fennel bulbs
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ cup tapenade
¾ cup white wine, stock or water or pernod, a mixture any
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs butter
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper 
Prepare the fennel:
Remove the fennel stalks that are not worth saving from the bulbs and discard – keep some of the fresher ones (this is mainly done for appearance but may be  also be suitable for eating). Trim away any bruised or discoloured portion of the bulbs. Cut the bulbs length-wise (vertically) into eights (or more or less) depending on the size of the fennel. Save the fronds.
Add the sliced fennel to a pan with hot olive oil and butter and sauté for 5-10 minutes, turning occasionally.
Add seasoning and about 1 cup of liquid (see above). Add garlic and fronds.
Cook uncovered on gentle- moderate heat for about 10 minutes, the liquid will reduce but add more if necessary
Add a teaspoon of sugar to help caramelize the juices. Increase the heat to evaporate any liquid left in the pan – this will result with the fennel cooking in the left over oil and butter and turning a deep gold colour. .
Place the fennel on a dish and pour over it any juices. Add a couple of spoonfuls of tapenade to the pan and heat it – only just to take off the chill.  Spoon the tapenade onto the fennel and serve. I guess the chives add to the composition, but these are not necessary.

OLIVE PASTES AND OLIVE JAMS

Olive pastes have been around for a long time and probably Tapanade is the one we know best. This is made of puréed or finely chopped olives, capers, anchovy fillets, and olive oil with the addition of many variations such as mustard, garlic, and being a Provençal dish any of the following herbs common in the South of France – basil, thyme, rosemary and parsley. Olive oil (good quality, extra virgin) is essential. Some add lemon juice, some brandy. Although it is most commonly made with black olives, green olives also make a good paste, very different in taste of course.

Below, Tapanade made with green olives and caper berries.

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Clifford A Wright (Food Historian and author) offers a plausible explanation for why it is called Tapenade:

The caper plant was known as tapeneï in Provençal, and the flower buds, the part of the caper used for culinary purposes, was the tapeno, which were preserved in amphora filled with olive oil since vinegar was not used at that time. The capers became mushed together in the amphoras to form a kind of pâté of crushed tapeno, the ancestor of the modern tapenade. This is why it is today known by the word for caper rather than olives, which is actually, in volume, the greater constituent ingredient. In the second century A.D., vinegar came to be used more in preserving and so too garlic, the great universal medication in the medieval period when the Greek physician Galen’s medical theories were prevalent.

capersP1010137-480x640

I have written about Tapenade once before and there is a recipe for tapenade on my blog:

Tapenade and Cauliflower, travelling in the south-west of France

Italians, Spaniards and Greeks also have versions of olive pastes – usually the pastes made in these countries only contain very few ingredients apart from olives and good olive oil, with maybe some herbs or garlic.
Now what about Olive jam?
I think Italians would find this hilarious and as an Italian food purist I was very skeptical. Yet it is no different from having a fruit chutney or a dab of a strong-tasting, thick paste. It is called Camilo Olive Jam.

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It was the sweetness that made me wonder, but the paste still definitely tastes of olives. The ingredients are black olives, salt, apples, Camilo honey, lemons and chilli, sugar (22.8g per 100g).

I am finding the Olive Jam very pleasant ( with cheese, meat and fish) and when I have offered it to friends and they too are as surprisingly delighted  as I am. Who would have thought!!!

See: Camilo Olives

And for one of my recipes for one way to use Olive Paste with fish, (Camilo Olives website, Recipes), see: Polpette di Pesce.

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TAPENADE and cauliflower-Travelling in the South West of France

This cauliflower is ceramic. I remembered I had this photo and chose to use it instead of one of a real cauliflower.  It was one of the many beautiful decorative objects in Le Pont De L’Ouysse Restaurant in the countryside of Lacave, not far from Rocamadour, in the Lot, South West of France.

The restaurant is recommended in Stephanie Alexander’s Cooking & Travelling in the South-West France.  I stayed with my partner and two friends in the same converted barn – La Vieille Grange in Mercadiol , a small hamlet in the South West of France.

And all this to tell you about olive Tapenade which I love to eat with steamed cauliflower.

Tapenade made from black olives, mustard, anchovies, capers (some use brandy) comes from Languedoc, further south than the Lot, but the olive tapenade I prefer is from Provence. It is fresh and light and very summery. In the Occitan region in the south of France (Occitan –romance language spoken in southern France), the word for capers is tapéno, hence the name for this popular spread.

I present it with bread but sometimes I accompany it with some vegetable crudities. Raw or steamed cauliflower flowerets are a pleasant addition.

But Tapenade also comes in very handy as a sauce or condiment for simply cooked fish or vegetables, especially steamed cauliflower.

Tapenade is a pesto and traditionally made with a mortar and pestle. I cut my herbs by hand (otherwise they can taste grassy) and then add them to the olives that I have chopped in the food processor.

I also need to give credit to y friend Liz who introduced me to Tapenade as made in Provence, many years ago.

I do not weigh/measure ingredients when I make this but the following works.

INGREDIENTS
pitted olives, 2 cups (I use Kalamata because I like their strong taste)
capers, 2 tablespoons
garlic, 2 cloves crushed
extra virgin olive oil, 1 cup
lemon juice, 1 lemon
freshly ground pepper, to taste
fresh herbs, cut by hand, 1 cup of each: Italian parsley, thyme, basil (sometimes, I have added marjoram or fresh oregano)
PROCESSES
Place olives crushed garlic in a food processor and chop to a medium grind (I do not like it too smooth).
Cut all the herbs and add them to the olives, add oil lemon and pepper.
Blend again for 5 seconds to mix the ingredients.

Place the tapenade in a sterile jar and cover it with a thin layer of olive oil – keep it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

It comes in very handy!!

River Ouysse
Bridge destroyed in 1966 (can see this from restaurant)

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BAKED STUFFED TOMATOES – POMODORI RIPIENI (PUMARORI CHINI in Sicilian)

These stuffed tomatoes were cooked by my friends. They are hydroponic tomatoes and I was very surprised to find that they were very flavoursome – in fact, they tasted almost as good as real tomatoes. Of course, the stuffing helped.

I am even more surprised by the quality of the photo, which was taken with my friend’s mobile phone.

I usually never buy hydroponic tomatoes. As it happens, I used not to buy any tomatoes when they were out of season, until those growers in Murray Bridge (South Australia) and Mildura (Victoria) miraculously extended their growing season and arranged transportation to one particular stall in the Queen Victoria Market. We shall probably have to wait for the heirloom varieties and local tomatoes till late December.

Pomodoro is tomato in Italian. Interestingly, they were first called pomo d’oro (meaning golden apples) and apparently tomatoes were yellow when they were first introduced to Europe – it is said to have originated in Central America. Maybe the oro (gold) reflects its golden status in cuisine.

My friends used Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe for stuffed tomatoes from Plenty, his latest book.

Ottolenghi has several take–home food shops in London. His cuisine reflects contemporary Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavours; I had the pleasure of attending one of his sessions at The Sydney international Food Festival in October this year.

In his recipe he uses a mixture of breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, black olives, capers, oregano, parsley and mint. The tomatoes are baked in olive oil. He calls it a Provincial-style starter and suggests serving them with a little salad of seasonal leaves and a few broken pieces of robust goat’s cheese.

Stuffing tomatoes was one of my childhood tasks therefore Ottolenghi’s recipe bought back many memories. We ate them warm or cold as a contorno or as an antipasto.

Although adding black olives, garlic, grated cheese and anchovies and mint are common regional variations, but my family preferred to keep the flavours simple. Grated cheese, anchovies or black olives (and just one of these ingredients) were only added when the stuffed tomatoes were to accompany a dish of strong flavours for example, a heavily spiced fish stew or sardines, (hence Ottolenghi’s suggestion to present them with some robust goat’s cheese seems appropriate).

INGREDIENTS

tomatoes, firm and ripe, 6 (estimate 1 per person and depending on their size)
extra virgin olive oil, 1 cup
garlic, 3 cloves, chopped finely
bread crumbs,  1 cup made from fresh 1-3 day bread
parsley, ½  cup , cut finely or fresh basil
oregano, dried, ½ teaspoon, or 1 tablespoon cut finely if fresh
capers, ½ cup, rinsed and soaked, if salted
salt  and freshly ground black pepper

PROCESSES

Cut the tomatoes, into halves. Scoop out the seeds and leave them upside down to drain.
Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Sauté the garlic in a little of the oil. Let cool.
Add the sautéed garlic and herbs to the breadcrumbs and mix with some of the oil, seasoning and the capers.
Fill the tomatoes with the mixture but don’t press it down– it will expand as it cooks.
Arrange the stuffed tomatoes in an oiled baking pan and dribble a little olive oil over each.
Bake for about 30 mins, or until the tomatoes are soft and the breadcrumbs are golden.