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Oloves Are Easy to Love


Oloves

Have you been looking for a low-calorie, low-carb snack that actually tastes like food? And that’s also good for you? That’s the beauty of Oloves, pouches of green olives stuffed with your choice of flavors.

These tart treats are vegan as well as kosher. They aren’t packed in juice, either, so you can nibble on an entire packet without getting your fingers wet. You don’t need to cool them down, either, because they are shelf table; so, you can pack them up for a picnic, put them in your lunch box or grab them whenever you need a quick bite.

Oloves come in three flavors:

  • Hot Chilli Mama, or habanero
  • Lemon Lover, or lemon and garlic
  • Light-Hearted Vinaigrette
  • Tasty Mediterranean, or basil and garlic

I tried the basil and the habanero varieties, and both were pleasant treats that satisfied a mid-afternoon snack craving.

The price is $1 a pouch at H-E-B.

 

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New Shop Opens at Sandy Oaks


Do your holiday shopping at Sandy Oaks' new shop.

Just in time for your holiday shopping: Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard in Elmendorf is opening a new store today.

The new ship has plenty of space and natural light.

The large space will feature olive oil pressed on the property as well as numerous products made with from some form of the olive tree, including olive jelly, olive tea and olive wood boards.

Olive oil skin care products and soaps are available as are olive-themed books, apparel and linen goods.

Gift baskets with a lively variety of these products can also be had.

The upstairs of the new facility will house office space.

Owner Sandy Winokur has more than 11,000 olive trees planted on her 40-acre farm at 25195 Mathis Road. She also offers a number of olive trees for sale in various sizes and varieties. She and her staff can help you find the right plants for your property, if you want to add these silver-tinged beauties to your landscape.

With the weather being as balmy as it is, a trip down to the olive orchard is far more peaceful than braving the malls at the opening of the holiday season. So, you could do some shopping and enjoy a bucolic escape from the traffic and the hordes at the same time

For more information on Sandy Oaks, click here.

The new shop at Sandy Oaks in Elmendorf.

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Easy Appetizers: Stock up for the Holidays


FoodStillLife2The phone just rang. It was friends announcing they were going to drop by. You just got off work and haven’t a thing to serve them. Or so you think. The following are easy appetizers that you can create out of items you may have in your refrigerator or pantry that will make it seem as if you were expecting company.

Some items to keep on hand:

  • Chips and salsa. This is San Antonio. Any questions? You can liven up the usual mix with a jar of black bean dip, but even that’s not necessary if your salsa and your chips are good.
  • Tins of anchovies, sardines, smoked oysters and other seafood favorites, as well as canned pâté, that some guests will enjoy.
  • Several types of crackers, including soda crackers, Wheat Thins and Triscuit, so guests have a choice.
  • Three or four distinctly different cheeses. These can range from a soft cheese, like a triple crème, to a harder cheese, such as Manchego. They don’t have to fancy, either. Aged cheddar, a smoky Gouda, a spreadable goat cheese from Texas, a block of Swiss, Colby and Monterey Jack all have their fans.
  • Sliced salami of various types, from pepperoni to Genoa to spicy Hungarian styles, and prosciutto or ham are great to have on hand. Also stock up on a couple of mustards you can offer to dip them into.
  • Bread of some sort: Cocktail rye slices, pumpernickel, pita bread, flour tortillas and baguette are among the easier styles to serve at a moment’s notice.
  • Popcorn. Try seasoning your popcorn with various flavors, from black truffle to Cajun spice to Parmesan cheese and pepper. It takes only minutes to pop a fresh batch in a Dutch oven, which tastes so much better than the stuff that comes out of the microwave.
  • Jars of pickled or preserved vegetables and fruits. Roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, cornichons, giardinara and even pickled brussels sprouts are at most area supermarkets. The olive bar is a great place for easy snacks. Ethnic stores offer an even wider variety, including baby eggplants, grilled zucchini and radish.
  • A piece of ripe fruit to go with the cheeses. Pears, apples and oranges are all in season now and full of flavor.
  • Dark chocolates. Have a bar of 70 percent dark chocolate, another of 85 percent and a third with some sort of flavor. Break off a few pieces of each for a comparison tasting. Serve with dried cranberries, raisins or nuts on the side.
  • Good olive oil, good balsamic vinegar.
  • Dried fruit and nuts. Mix them together with a touch of coconut or serve them separately.
  • Chex Mix. Some snacks are classics for a reason. With this party mix, it’s the irresistible combination of Worcestershire sauce, butter and garlic powder on top of cereal, nuts and pretzels that make it so appealing.
  • Keep a bottle of white wine or sparkling wine in the refrigerator or a six-pack of beer, so you are ready with drinks. Reds are easier to have ready since they should be served at around 65 degrees or so; if the bottle is a little warm, pop in the refrigerator for a few minutes before opening.

Here are some quick appetizer ideas:

  • Wrap a radish with an anchovy. Skewer with a toothpick.
  • Drain assorted olives, rinse and warm in the oven with a little olive oil, your favorite spices, some citrus zest and a skewer of fresh rosemary.
  • Take slices of sour dough rye, layer with feta, then ripe tomatoes and fresh herbs. Drizzle a little olive oil on top and some freshly cracked black pepper. Or top the cheese with slices of pear and black pepper.
  • Top slices of cocktail rye or pumpernickel with butter, Swiss cheese and slivers of radish.
  • Roll and slice of prosciutto or black forest ham around a tender raw stalk of asparagus. The ham also works wrapped around a crunchy dill pickle.
  • Offer slivers of smoked salmon and cream cheese on cocktail rye or pumpernickel. Serve with diced onion or chopped hard-cooked egg and a touch of fresh dill.
  • Top toasted slices of baguette with hummus and crown with strips of roasted red bell pepper, herbs, toasted pine nuts, olive slices or a touch of spice, such as sumac or Chilean merkén.
  • Nachos, fresh from the broiler, are always welcome.
  • Baked brie in puff pastry is easy to assemble and always welcome. Just follow the directions on the package of brie. Serve with crackers and fruit. Or, just heat the brie up, either in the oven or microwave until it’s warm and softened and starting to ooze out of its casing. Top with a big handful of thinly sliced scallion.
  • Boil your own shrimp, which taste so much better than those processed shrimp rings, and serve with a homemade cocktail sauce that has just enough horseradish and lemon to give it a kick.
  • Another appetizer that can be made in a minute flat is to open up an 8-ounce package of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, mound on top of it as much fresh jumbo lump crabmeat as you can afford, then empty a jar of good (cold) cocktail sauce over the crab. Very good with crackers.
  • Bagna cauda is a quick-and-easy Italian butter dip that’s great with vegetables. Click here for a recipe.
  • Make bagel pizzas. Slice the bagel in half, top with your favorite pizza sauce and garnish with shredded mozzarella cheese. Pop under the broiler until the cheese melts, 2 or 3 minutes. Add pepperoni, bell pepper or mushrooms, to taste.
  • Make a dip mixing equal parts 8 ounces each of salsa and cream cheese at room temperature. Whip together until full incorporated. Top with a confetti of diced red onion and green and red bell pepper. Serve with bagel chips.
  • Make quick quesadillas by using shredded cheese between two flour tortillas and your choice of filling. Add cooked beef fajitas or grilled shrimp, and it’s so much the better.
  • If you have any leftover Holiday Cran-Raspberry Sauce or sweet-spicy jelly, pour it over cream cheese.
  • This recipe for crab dip comes from my late sister-in-law, Jeanne Servais: Clean 7 ounces crab meat, mix it with 8 ounces cream cheese softened at room temperature, 1 tablespoon sour cream, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce and1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce. Mix well and bake in a greased, oven-proof dish at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.
  • If you want to use your slow cooker, then here’s a good one to mix together. Grease the dish first, then add 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese softened at room temperature, 1 cup milk,2 1/4 ounces sliced dried beef and1 tablespoon dry mustard. Mix well. Heat on low for several hours until melted together. Serve with cubes of good bread on fondue sticks or wooden skewers as well as vegetable sticks.
  • If your guests like a mix of sweet and salty, then place individual butter pretzels (the little square kind)  on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Then place a single unwrapped Rolo candy on each pretzel. Top each candy with pecan half. Bake at 250 degrees until the candy is melted.  Allow to cool or refrigerate before serving.
  • Don’t forget one of the simplest of all appetizers: A shallow bowl of extra-good, extra virgin olive oil, seasoned as you like it, with kosher salt and cracked pepper, herbs, a few hot pepper flakes. And, have slices of very fresh baguette to dip into it.

(Photo: Zsuzsanna Kilian)

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Oranges and Olives Combine to Make a Memorable Salad


Orange and Olive Salad

Olives have been on my mind lately, thanks in part to the recent Olives Olé. And one of the ways I like to serve them is in a salad with oranges, so the sweet and salty have a chance to blend. This is a Mediterranean classic, and Dorie Greenspan has a great variation in her new cookbook, “Around My French Table: More than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours” (Houghton Mifflin, $40).

“This is an exceedingly simple first-course salad or chaser when the main event is a tagine or rich stew,” she writes. “Here, slices of orange are drizzled with olive oil and strewn with onion rings and small black olives.”

Play around with the ingredients. I used blood oranges, simply because they were all I had in the house. The color wasn’t as vibrant, but the juice was abundant and flavorful. That forced me to add a touch of cilantro, which worked nicely in the mix.

Orange and Olive Salad

1 small onion, red or yellow
4 navel, Temple or other “meaty” oranges
About 2 tablespoons olive oil
Niçoise or other small black olives, pitted or not
Salt, preferably fleur de sel, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

You can leave the onion whole or cut it in half. thinly slice it, and separate the slices into rings or half rings. rinse the slices and drop them into a bowl of ice water. If you’ve got the time, let them sit in their water bath for about 20 minutes — the rinse will wash away some of their bitterness, and the bath will make them crisp.

You may want to remove the zest and save it before peeling the oranges. You can remove it in wide strips, cut away the white pith on the underside, and freeze the strips; you can sliver or chop the zest or you can grate it. (Slivered or grated zest won’t freeze as well.)

Remove a thin slice from the top and bottom of each orange to give yourself flat surfaces, stand the orange up, and, working your knife around the contours of the orange, cut away the peel, the pith and the tiniest bit of flesh. Once they are peeled, cut the oranges into rounds 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick, and arrange attractively on a large serving platter. If you’d like, you can cover the oranges and chill them before you finish and serve the salad.

Drain the onions and pat them dry. Drizzle the olive oil over the oranges, scatter over the onions, top with the olives and season with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 servings.

From “Around My French Table” by Dorie Greenspan

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Two Italian Salads Offer a Taste of Summer


Mix avocados with anchovies for a summery salad.

Reading about summer in the midst of winter can help keep the icy winds at bay. And Italian food is always good for the soul. Combine the two in the exhaustive, handsomely illustrative “Recipe from an Italian Summer” (Phaidon, $39.95).

You may have to wait until spring to get tomatoes sweet enough for some of the recipes or summer before the red currants appear. But here are two salads you can make any time of year.

Avocado and Anchovy Salad (Insalate di avocado e acciughe)

2 avocados
6 green olives, pitted and sliced
4 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and chopped
1 tablespoon rinsed and drained capers
Generous 1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon, strained
Salt, to taste

Halve and pit the avocados, then scoop out the flesh and dice it. Put the avocados, olives, anchoves and capers into a salad bowl.

Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice in a small bowl and season with salt. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and keep it cool until ready to serve.

Makes 4 servings.

From  “Recipes from an Italian Summer”

Carrot, Celery and Apple Salad (Insalate di carote, sedano e mele)

4 carrots, sliced
3 ribs celery, cut into small strips
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced

Sauce:
1/2 cup whole-milk plain yogurt
2 tablespoons light cream
1 tablespoon chopped mixed fresh herbs
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

[amazon-product]0714857734[/amazon-product]Make a layer of carrots, then a layer of celery, and finally, a layer of apples in a salad bowl.

To make the sauce, whisk together the yogurt and cream in a bowl, stir in the mixed herbs and season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the salad and sprinkle with the chopped parsley.

Makes 4 servings.

From “Recipes for an Italian Summer”

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Chefs’ Corner: Fig-Olive Tapenade Is Easy, Exceptional


Lamb Sausage with Fig-Olive Tapenade at Mac and Ernie's Roadside Eatery.

The best recipes don’t have to be the complicated. Take this Fig-Olive Tapenade, which Naylene Dillingham-Stolzer serves at Mac and Ernie’s Roadside Eatery in Tarpley. The name says all you need to know about what’s in it. But what the title does not tell is you just how rich the flavor is that comes from combining the two ingredients.

At Mac and Ernie’s, Dillingham-Stolzer serves this tapenade with lamb sausage patties. If you don’t have any at hand, try pork sausage patties. Both meats love the touch of sweetness that comes from the dried figs. You might also want to try it on white fish.

The flavor was so good that I whipped up a batch the very next day and had it with pita chips.

You can dice all of figs and olives by hand, but this is where a food processor works wonders. Just be careful with the olives. I bought some that were advertised as “pitted,” yet more than half of them had pits in them. So you may want to slice the olives in half before throwing them into the food processor. You can also play around with the proportion of the ingredients until you get a blend that works best for you.

Dillingham-Stolzer is a favorite guest instructor at Central Market Cooking School and will be teaching a class in such easy, elegant fare at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 27. Call 210-368-8617 or click here for information.

Mac and Ernie’s Roadside Eatery is at 11804 FM 470, Tarpley. Call 830-562-3727 or click here for information.

Fig-Olive Tapenade

Fig-Olive Tapenade

1 cup dried Calimyrna figs, stems removed and quartered
1 cup Kalamata olives, pits removed

Places figs and olives in a food processor and pulse 9 or 10 times until incorporated but not a paste.

Let set at least 1 hour before serving.

Makes 2 cups tapenade or enough for 6-8 side servings.

From Naylene Dillingham-Stolzer/Mac and Ernie’s Roadside Eatery

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Light Up the Grill for a Colorful Antipasto Plate


An antipasto plate can contain vegetables as well as meats and cheeses.

Creating an antipasto paste can be as simple or as complex as you want. In Italy, the dish is served before the meal and often consists of cured meats, cheeses, anchovies and more. In today’s Italian restaurants, such as Il Sogno or Ristorante Grissini, antipasto options also include grilled vegetables, marinated olives, roasted peppers, caponata and other vegetable dishes.

In the above platter, perfect for vegetarians or as a vegetable complement to a cheese tray, grilled asparagus, roasted yellow tomatoes, oven-dried roma tomatoes with garlic, and slivers of roasted peppers are fanned around marinated olives mixed with a few strips of roasted red bell pepper.

The secret to creating the plate is grilling one type of vegetable at a time because the cooking time for each is different. For the asparagus and the honey gold tomatoes, use a grill tray or basket, so nothing will slip into the fire.

For the asparagus, trim the ends off each spear, then coat all in oil and season with salt, pepper and a little lemon juice. Place over a low heat and monitor closely because the spears will cook quickly.

The honey gold tomatoes need to caramelize until the sugars inside are even more intense and the skins begin to shrivel slightly.

For the oven-dried tomatoes, cut the romas in half and scoop out the seeds. Place on a baking sheet sprayed with a little olive oil. Salt each half and top with minced garlic. Place in a 250-degree oven and let cook slowly until they are dry yet soft.

Char multi-colored peppers on the grill. Place in paper bags and sweat until the skin can be removed easily. Then slice into strips and layer like flower petals onto your plate.

The olives are a mixture of various olives marinated for several hours in a touch of orange juice and olive oil with a little rosemary to season it. Add a few garlic cloves, unless you use garlic-stuffed olives, and strips of roasted pepper. Heat, if desired.

Serve the whole tray, with the possible exception of the olives, at room temperature. These foods are soft and silky, so use the appropriate tongs or forks for serving.

For more tips on grilling vegetables, click here.

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Olive Salad Adds Tang to Muffulettas


This recipe makes enough olive salad for eight muffuletta sandwiches. It originally appeared in Food  & Wine magazine and comes from Emeril Lagasse, by way of Sandy White, who grew up in New Orleans and now lives in San Antonio. “To be honest, ever since I found this recipe, I make my own and I think the final product is much better than any of the versions available,” she says.

Olive Salad

5 ounces (1 cup) pimento-stuffed olives, sliced, plus 2 tablespoons of liquid from the jar
6 ounces (1 cup) giardiniera (pickled Italian vegetables) chopped, plus 1 tablespoon of liquid from the jar
2 tablespoons capers, drained, plus 2 teaspoons of liquid from jar
3 ounces Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced (see note)
2 ½ teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley or fresh
Pinch of dried thyme
Pinch of dried red pepper
½ cup olive oil

Mix the olives, giardiniera, capers, garlic, shallot, oregano, parsley, thyme, red pepper and olive oil, and allow to set for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld.  This salad will keep for a very long time in the refrigerator.

Note: You want to slice/chop the olives and vegetables to a size where they will stay on the sandwich, but not so fine that you lose the texture.  You want to rinse off the Kalamata olives in order to minimize transfer of black to the cauliflower in the vegetable mix.

From Sandy White/Emeril Lagasse/Food & Wine

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New Orleans-style Muffuletta Dip


The muffuletta, a round submarine sandwich with olive salad on it, is a New Orleans creation dating back to the early 1900s. “This chunky, salty, almost spicy dip does credit to its inspiration,” writes Sally Sampson in “Party Dips!”  It can also be made a day ahead.

New Orleans-style Muffuletta Dip

1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives, drained
1/2 cup pitted brine-cured black olives (such as Kalamata), drained
1/4 cup coarsely chopped red onion
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or parsley leaves, to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or more to taste
1/2 cup mayonnaise

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Place the olives, onion, garlic and basil in a food processor and pulse until chopped. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and stir in the oregano, lemon juice, mustard, Tabasco and mayonnaise until well combined. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to overnight to let the flavors develop.

Upon removing from refrigerator, mix well, transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.

Serve with pita chips or thin slices of toast.

From “Party Dips!” by Sally Sampson

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White Beans, Olives in Soup


This winter warmer is great during the game or any time.

Bean and Olive Soup

1 cup dried white beans
5 whole cloves
5 peppercorns
5 allspice berries
1 ham hock
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ripe black olives (not canned), seeded and cut into wedges
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Cover the beans with water and soak overnight.

Drain the beans and place them in a kettle. Add 1 1/2 quarts water. Tie the cloves, peppercorns, and allspice berries in a muslin bag and add to the kettle. Add the ham hock, onion, garlic and salt. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours until the beans are tender.

Discard the muslin bag of spices. Remove the ham and cut the meat from the bone. Dice the meat and return it to the kettle with the olives. Reheat. Mash a few of the beans to give body to the soup. Adjust the consistency by adding more water. Sprinkle with parsley.

Makes 5 servings.

From “The New York Times Cookbook” by Craig Claiborne

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