Sunday, November 4, 2012

Olive and Caper Spread, Classic French Condiment Recipe

Olive and Caper Spread- Tapenade

Makes 2 cups (500 ML), enough for hors d'oeuvres for 8 (or more if you are also serving othrer hors d'oeuvres)

Tapenade (from the provencal word tapeno, meaning caper) is one of the most versatile and delicious of southern French condiments, and apart from the necessity of pitting a bunch of olives, it is also one of the easiest. I suppose to be authentic it should be made with nicoise olives, but because nicoise olives are so small that pittin them takes so long, I use larger black olives from other parts of France, such as Nyons olives from the Drome and Vaucluse, or Gaeta olives from Italy, Kalamata olives from Greece, or oil-cured wrinkly olives from Morocco. Tapenade can be used as salad sauce, but I prefer to serve it with aperitifs, on toasted then slices of baguette or on crackers. While some cooks add dried figs to their tapenade, I used dried currants.Either way, the sweetness gently balances the saltiness of all the other ingredients.

1 pound imported large black olives (not canned)

3 heaping tablespoons small nonpareil capers, rinsed

12 anchovy fillets packed in oil, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes, patted dry

1/4 cup dried currants or raisins,soaked in 1/2 cold water for 15 minutes, drained

3 cloves garlic, chopped fine, crushed to a paste with the side of a chef's knife

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed to give the tapenade the texture you like

Pit the olives by squeezing them on each end between your thumb and forefinger to get the pit to slide out. If this does not work, cut them along one side with a small knife and pull out the pit.

Chop the olives, capers, anchovies, and currants int a course paste with the texture of ham burger relish; you can either use a chef's knife or pulse the mixture in a food processor, scraping down the sides several times with a rubber spatula Don't work the mixture to a smooth paste, as is often done in restaurants, or the flavors will meld and the tapenade won't be as interesting. Stir in the garlic and olive oil. Serve on baguette toasts or crackers.

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