Cooking with olives
Olives — green and purple and plump — are hanging from trees throughout the country. It's time to preserve them for later enjoyment — around about Christmas party time.
Although commercially prepared olives are pickled using a variety of different preservatives, I normally use plain salt and water followed by a vinegar and spice marinade. Place the olives in a bucket, add enough water to just cover then some plain salt — you require about one cup for each four or five cups of olives. Stir to dissolve the salt. Place a plate on the olives with a weight on top so they are submerged in the brine. Stand them in a cool place for three or four days. Drain off the liquid and repeat the process. Repeat this for another couple of weeks. The olives will start to change colour.
Drain the olives and wash in cold water then place in sterilised jars. Combine some white or red wine vinegar with one or two dried bay leaves plus chillies and garlic cloves according to taste — and a little honey if you wish. Bring to the boil then pour over the olives. Seal and stand for at least six months before enjoying.
Salami are making a comeback, probably due to the fact that they are a cured sausage of fermented and air-dried meat, usually beef or pork — and fermented products are ‘trending’. Many salami are being imported from both Australia and Italy to add variety to our deli delights. Garlic, minced fat, salt, spices, various herbs, vinegar and at times wine are added to finely chopped raw meat for flavour and as preservatives. This mixture is stuffed into casings and the sausages are dried in a temperature and humidity controlled atmosphere until the meat ferments a little. Sometimes they are smoked as an added preservative.
6 medium onions
¼ cup each: olive oil, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
2 sheets flaky puff pastry
16 each: small sprigs thyme, pitted Kalamata, halved lengthwise
6 anchovies, chopped
50g fresh mozzarella diced
- Peel and halve the onions then thinly slice which can be done using the slicing attachment on your food processor.
- Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan. Add the onions and cook on low for about 15 minutes, until soft and golden. Add the vinegars, brown sugar and seasonings. Cook for 5 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Cool.
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- Lightly oil a 30cm x 20cm slice pan. Line with baking paper ensuring the ends come up over the sides of the pan. The oil helps the baking paper adhere to the pan.
- Cut the pastry to fit the base of the pan. Using the point of a sharp knife, score a 1cm boarder around the pastry. From the leftover pastry, cut 1cm strips to place on top of the scored edge.
- Spread the cooled onion over the pastry, top with the thyme, olives and anchovies. Bake for about 30 minutes until the pastry is golden. Dot with the mozzarella and allow to melt a little. Using the baking paper, lift out of the slice pan onto a serving plate. Great served with a crisp salad.
2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground salt and black pepper to taste
4 (about 600g) lamb leg steaks
1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges
400g pack cherry tomatoes
100g pitted green olives
2 teaspoons dried oregano
¾ cup white wine
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Season the lamb steaks on both sides then brown in the oil for about 1 minute each side. Place in a single layer in a baking dish. Add the onion. tomatoes and olives. Sprinkle with oregano and oven cook for 15 minutes or until until the lamb is tender. Cover and rest for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring the wine to the boil in the frying pan. Boil until reduced by about one-third. Pour over the lamb and serve.
Salami and kimchi toasted rye sandwiches
Kimchi is a spicy fermented Korean cabbage available in jars from delis and selected supermarkets. Serves 4.
8 slices soft rye bread
125g cream cheese
4 tablespoons olive tapenade
8 tablespoons well-drained kimchi
12 thin slices salami
Butter or margarine for spreading
- Place 4 slices of the rye bread on a chopping board. Spread with the cream cheese. Top with the tapenade, kimchi and salami. Top with the remaining bread. Spread the outsides of each sandwich with butter or margarine.
- Lightly toast in a non-stick frying pan or sandwich press until golden on both sides. Serve with a tossed green salad.
Fig, salami and blue cheese pizza
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon each: balsamic vinegar, olive oil
23cm prepared pizza base
150g each: sliced salami, creamy blue cheese, diced
6 fresh figs, quartered
3 pitted black olives, thinly sliced
Basil leaves to garnish
- Preheat the oven to 220C. Place an oven tray in to heat.
- Cut the tomatoes into chunks and place in a small saucepan with the garlic, balsamic vinegar and oil. Boil quickly until the sauce thickens. Set aside.
- Remove the hot tray from the oven and place the pizza base on top. Spread evenly with the tomato sauce. Dot with the salami, blue cheese and figs. Bake for 20 minutes, until the base is crisp.
- Garnish with the black olives and basil leaves before serving.