Tag Archives: Olives

Pan Bagnat

The last few days of our recent vacation, we stayed at Bay Cottage, a lovely retreat located on the shore of Discovery Bay near Port Townsend, Washington.  It seems like I’ve wanted to stay in a place like that forever — somehow making up for the lack of a family summer vacation rental that so many others seem to have had.  If I think about it, the others I’m thinking of were most likely characters in summer reads, or old movies which makes me idealistic, I guess.  No matter, because it was beautiful there and we enjoyed sitting in the old Adirondack chairs in the evening marveling over how long the daylight lasts at this time of year, or watching the fog slowly burn off the still water each morning.  Large blue herons  stand in the shallow water at low tide like statues, patiently waiting for a fish.  It was so peaceful.

We’ve enjoyed a variety of vacation rentals in our travels.  They’re much more relaxing than staying in a hotel because a television is usually absent, there’s a living room to sprawl out in just like home, and after the daylight is gone, we go through the cards and games usually stashed away in a cupboard somewhere to enjoy a few rounds of Rummy or Trivial Pursuit.  We also take the time to read for extended periods of time, enjoying the stillness.  Outside of the water lapping against the shore, not much else broke the quiet in the evenings, which is a rare thing to enjoy.

Having a kitchen available is another vacation rental perk.  It’s usually stocked with a variety of pots, pans, and utensils and even some pantry basics to add to the groceries we shop for soon after arriving.  I know that others often question cooking on a vacation, but honestly, it’s far less trouble at times than deciding where to eat — especially when money can be saved cooking for ourselves.  It also makes packing a picnic easier when planning a day trip because if you plan with that in mind as you hit the market, then you can enjoy some pretty tasty treats on your outings.

Pan Bagnat (pahn-bahn-yah) is the perfect make ahead picnic food because other than needing to boil a few eggs, open a can of good tuna, slice vegetables, and prepare a simple vinaigrette, all you need is bread and some bricks — or in my case, weights.  On the other hand, if you’ve got children, you might consider using the weighting technique mentioned in this version of Pan Bagnat published in the New York Times.

Each bite of this wonderful sandwich is a treat whether you’re enjoying it at home or otherwise — and it’s fun to make.  Have you had Pan Bagnat before?

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Seared Yellowfin with Kalamatas and Capers

Yellowfin with Kalamatas and Capers

My husband has been on a diet.  Sitting at a desk most of the day catches up with you when you least expect it, right?  When we returned from Italy this summer, he decided he was going to do something about it, paying close attention to what he ate, and getting regular exercise.

Since I’m the resident cook, I suggested that he might consider not going back for seconds at dinner, and that I’d help by reducing the quantity of food I cook.  I also suggested that instead of having a protein, starch, and vegetable with bread, that I’d focus on only a main dish, and a side dish.  The only exception would be to add a salad — and even then, the salad could replace the side dish.

He’s done his part by going to the gym we pay for in our HOA fees between 4-6 times a week doing both cardio work on the treadmill or reclining bike and then some weights.  I’ve done my part as well, and last night he informed me that he’s lost 11 pounds.  In two months, that’s the best sort of weight loss since it will most likely stay off over the long haul.  Outside of the numbers on the scale, I did notice yesterday that his trousers are riding a bit higher than before, and that the tailoring he had done when he purchased them to let them out will now have to be redone to take them in.

We won’t discuss whether any of this food regime has had any effect on my body, but I will say that it certainly can’t hurt.  I try to do my three miles three times a week and limit my portions.

We’ve been eating quite a bit of fish lately, and he said this meal was exactly what he wanted after he’d finished it.  Since I’ve tried many variations on it, I’ll agree that this is excellent, and is extremely quick and easy to prepare.  Because I’ve also experimented with a variety of types of fish, I know that it will taste good with the type you enjoy best.

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Home Alone with Baked Ricotta, Olives, & California Rose

It’s been a while since my husband and I have been home alone.  My mother stayed with us for six weeks after returning from her supposed to be permanent move to Virginia, and while we were on vacation, two of my sons traveled with us.  But my mother has found a place to live of her own, my older son is back at his place, and our teenager is visiting a cousin.  That means we have the entire house to ourselves.

Ahhh…

After my husband gets home from work, we’ve decided to either walk or swim some laps on alternate days.  Sounds more interesting than it actually is when you consider that the laps last about 10 minutes before tongues are lolling from our mouths in exhaustion.  Good thing there’s no one around to witness our inability to stick it out for a solid 30 minutes.  But to our credit, last night, we did work for 20 minutes, then feeling sorry for my husband, I decided we were done and walked the short distance to our house, dripping like drowned rats.  Dinner afterward is something light.  Well, lighter than normal, which means there are only two items on the plate instead of three.

Keeping with the “home alone” mood of things, I decided that an appetizer of sorts and something refreshing to sip on a pleasant summer evening after a dip helps make life seem a bit more glamorous.  Well, except for the part where we flopped on the couch and watched Harry Wilson’s War on a pay channel while we enjoyed our food.

But the food was excellent, and it just so happens that our light repast qualifies us for Blog Party #36:  Blogger’s Choice hosted by Stephanie, the Happy Sorceress of Dispensing Happiness, who is celebrating the third anniversary of Blog Party.  Three years is quite the accomplishment in the bloggosphere, if you ask me, so congrats, Stephanie!

Baked Ricotta with Herbed Olives and California Rose is my choice for a special get together when excellent flavor and little prep is required.  You can make it ahead, too, which means it’s even better.  To make it more than an appetizer that two can share, add a salad, and you’ll be satisfied.

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Grilled Rib-Eyes with Tomatoes and Kalamatas

 

I have a tendency to skip the sections in food magazines like “Quick Kitchen” in Gourmet, or “Too Busy to Cook” in Bon Appetit.  I look at the photos, am sometimes mildly curious, then realize there’s nothing to do.  What is that?  Do I long for the torture that inventive recipes sometimes entail?

Who knows, but recently a photo of steak simply displayed on a plate caught my eye.  Steak with Olives somehow got past my filter, bothering me each time I thumbed through the April issue of Gourmet until I finally gave in, realizing it was an easy way to make my husband’s suggestion for a sunny weekend “Summer’s Here” celebratory dinner come to fruition.

With Bellinis.

He said he was in the mood for a fruity drink, and this is a person who doesn’t normally drink.  His comment of, “You know, margaritas…” was heard, but I’d seen something about Bellinis somewhere and had white peaches on the brain.

And I’d seen the Steak with Olives for days and days, okay, months…scoffing at me from the magazine pages, challenging me each time I searched for something more interesting.  I was winning until I found the rib eyes on sale at my grocery store.  Nothing stimulates my brain like steak, a sale, and gorgeous weather.

Well, it sounds good anyway, right?

Suffice it to say I’ll look more closely at those “quickie” recipes from now on.  They’re a great springboard for other things…like the other recipe I saw for Roasted Potatoes and Asparagus with Parmesan.

Dinner time.

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Roast Lemon-Garlic Chicken with Green Olives

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I enjoy the flavor combination of lots of garlic, olives, and lemon — especially with chicken.  I believe the first place I saw a recipe with this particular combination was in one of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks.  Well, maybe not, because I’m sure I’ve tagged quite a few in my epicurious recipe box.  Since finding out I lusted after those flavors, each time I see a recipe that includes them, I try it.  Chicken Piccata sort of falls into this category, but lacks the olives.  And I’ve tried a few that include artichoke hearts, but not with the olives.  Clearly it’s lust.

I’ve had to wait a bit for this particular recipe, however.  The grocery store I shop at the most decided to get rid of the green olives I used to count on.  They weren’t anything special, they just came in handy. Plus, the olives were pitted.  The last time I bent over to pick up a can, horror of all horrors, they were gone.  One meezly can’s width of space on a shelf and they have to get rid of it?  Of course they had umpteen gazillion cans of black olives (basic black American variety good for inserting fingers into at Thanksgiving when you’re completely bored with the conversation at the table) and an unbelievable number of those nasty Spanish olives with the pimento stuck in them which would so not work for this recipe).  What is wrong with having a bit of variety?  Huh?  It drives me nuts, because then I have to find a different store.  Or spend more on something that shouldn’t cost as much as it does.  I ended up conceding to a jar of gigantic green "Greek" olives that had seeds.  But at least I had green olives, even if they did set me back about six bucks.

So the latest recipe I’ve found that includes garlic, olives, and lemons is from seriously simple:  Easy Recipes for Creative Cooks by Diane Rossen WorthingtonAnd she’s right.  This is a very simple recipe.  Yesterday I didn’t quite have my ducks in a row (read:  blogging, more blogging, car pool, late afternoon grocery shopping, and more blogging…) and a miscalculation on timing to get chicken tandoori on the table (which will be tonight instead).  Anyhoo, I grabbed this cookbook, turned to the page I marked, started cooking at 7PM, and sat down to eat about about 8:15.  Not bad for something that has to be in the oven for 40 minutes, right?  What, you thought I was going to say this took 15 minutes?  Uh, no.

If you love garlic, this recipe is totally for you.  Goodness, it’s amazing.

Roast Lemon-garlic Chicken with Green Olives

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

1 T finely chopped lemon zest
1/3 c. fresh lemon juice
2 T olive oil
1/4 c. plus 2 T finely chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, parsley, basil, and/or oregano
Salt and Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 3-1/2 lb. fryer chicken, cut up
25 garlic cloves, peeled
3/4 c. chicken broth
1/3 c. pitted French green olives, rinsed

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1.  Combine lemon zest, juice, olive oil, 1/4 c. herbs, salt and pepper.  Stir.
2.  Arrange chicken pieces in a roasting pan that can be brought to the table and pour lemon-herb mix over the top.  Arrange garlic cloves around chicken, stirring them to coat with the mix. 
3.  Roast about 40 minutes, or until chicken is nicely browned and opaque throughout.
4.  Remove chicken from oven.  Add broth to pan, and place on stove top over med-high heat.  Stir to scrape up browned bits from bottom of pan.  Add olives and stir.  Cook a few minutes longer to heat them through.
5.  Garnish with the remaining 2 T herbs and serve from the pan, or transfer to a platter.

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Look at all that broth!

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This turned out to be a very healthy meal.  Very little fat, and lots of flavor which was extremely satisfying. 

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The sliced olives provided a nice touch of color.

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The garlic roasted on the chicken was beautiful and delicious.

Notes: 

  • I used a convection setting, and did not wait for the oven to completely heat up to put the chicken in. 
  • I used three rather hefty boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken.
  • I used  fresh rosemary, thyme, parsley, and green onions for my herb mixture.
  • I sliced the large green "Greek" (not French) olives I had on hand — about 6-8 of them.
  • I used an odd new type of garlic I bought at Trader Joe’s (see above) that is a round head-type single clove I cut into 8 smaller pieces — each of which was the size of a large regular clove.
  • At 30 minutes, I added the olives and broth, then continued to bake for the remaining 10 minutes.
  • There weren’t any brown bits to scrape up and there was quite a bit of broth in the bottom of the pan that would have been great thickened.
  • I served with brown rice, pouring a bit of the broth over all and sprinkling the remaining herbs.
  • Great dish with an excellent roasted garlic flavor and that is lemony without the pungent taste lemons roasted with peelings on can have
  • I’ll keep this one tagged to play around with.