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Looks Like It’s Still Winter {CtBF}

February snuck up on me.  The week started out as January, and then, hello, here comes another month.  The first Friday means another recipe for Cook the Book Fridays.  I am so glad that the selected recipe is one that couldn’t be easier.  Black Olive Tapenade can be prepared in just minutes from ingredients that I always have on hand.

Pulse together pitted Kalamata olives, capers, anchovies, garlic, fresh thyme leaves, and Dijon mustard in the food processor.  Then add olive oil and whir until the mixture is somewhere between chunky and smooth.  That’s it.  Mine was already on the salty side so no additional salt was needed.  The salt flavor also mellowed overnight.  Served on fresh baguette slices with a glass of red wine, tapenade was the perfect Friday night pre-dinner appetizer.

I think I make a different tapenade recipe each time the mood strikes, but this one, from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen is a keeper.  See what my friends thought of this recipe by following their links here.

I look forward to enjoying the leftovers, maybe on Super Bowl Sunday, along with other snacks.  I hate football, but I love food holidays.  Even though the local team is playing, I won’t watch the game (but I will watch the commercials).  And, per our tradition (and much of America’s), we’ll make a chili dinner.

Happy Groundhog Day all!  Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, so maybe six more weeks of winter.  Apparently, he’s not the only predictor.  I heard of other groundhogs in New York and Canada that variously agreed or disagreed with Phil’s prediction.  It’ll be what it’s going to be.  I also heard that this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day”.  Time does fly.

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Cocktail Hour, Anyone? {CtBF}

What do you snack on with a drink while you prepare dinner?  Or set out for guests while you apply the final touches on a meal?  Depending on the menu or the drink, we typically serve cheese and crackers or chips and salsa.  If company is coming over, I put more thought into it, offering a variety of textures plus accommodations for dietary restrictions or sensitivities.  I’m always looking for new ideas and inspirations for easy cocktail time nibbles.

This week’s recipe for Cook the Book Fridays fits the bill.  I’d describe Salted Olive Crisps as something between a thin savory biscotti and a full-loaded cracker.  You start by making a shallow loaf of something like a quick bread with a healthy dose of Herbes de Provence and oodles of chopped olives and almonds.  After the loaf is baked and slightly cooled, you slice the loaf as thinly as you can and bake the slices again to crisp them up.  Once cooled, you have a treat to offer (to yourself or others) alongside a glass of wine or other beverage.

Though I used a good bread knife, as recommended, to slice the loaf, my crisps weren’t quite as thin as they were meant to be.  I think it’s because the recipe wasn’t clear about how long to cool to bake the loaf before slicing.  I only let it cool until I could handle it, about 10 minutes.  It was still warm.  However, when the recipe said to turn down the oven temperature after the loaf came out of the oven, it seemed like I was meant to bake the slices shortly after the loaf was done.  I felt like if the loaf had cooled completely, it would have been easier to slice thinner.

The slightly thicker slices took longer to get to golden brown and still felt a bit soft.  I baked these after dinner, so they weren’t cool enough to put in a closed container before bedtime.  I put them back in the warm (turned off) oven to spend the night.  In the morning, they were beautifully crisp.

I used oil-cured olives that have a slightly sweet flavor and a chewy texture like moist raisins or prunes.  In fact, I often use these same olives as a substitution for dried fruit in recipes that Howard would otherwise eat.  I can see this recipe serving as a springboard for many other combinations, varying the herbs, the olives, the nuts, and adding other savory ingredients such as sun-dried tomatoes or capers.  I think it would be nice with a combination of sweet and savory ingredients, but I’d have to try that when I’m bringing treats to a friend (refer to constraint above).

If you’d like to try these yourself, check out the recipe on page 42 of David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.  You can learn more about other bloggers’ experiences with this recipe here.  Or let me know when you want to stop by for cocktail hour chez moi, and I’ll whip up a batch and share!