Friday, February 19, 2010

Spanish Olives

I love any excuse to use my mortar and pestle. It's one of the reasons I love to make Indian food because you are always roasting spices that need to be ground up. My mortar and pestle is from Thailand, it's made from a heavy gray granite that has a nice rough texture and a hefty pestle. If you are in NYC you can buy them from the Bangkok Center Grocery if you live in the city and haven't been here you should definitely check it out, it's small but chock-filled with the most amazing selection of all things need for Thai and South East Asian cooking. Not only do they sell sticky rice cookers they sell replacement baskets. I know in Queens there are several other ones, but for me this is the best.

Anyway, back to the olives, when I started to do the locavore thing I stopped buying fancy mixed olives to have out for dinner parties. Also they have become quite expensive. Then the other day I was in the massive Goya section of what I refer to as the Ghetto Grocery store across the street from where I live and was happy to see that Goya has introduce a brand of organic beans - I was particularly pleased to see them being carried at this store as mostly the quality of products tends to be manufactured meat wrapped in plastic on styrofoam and super jumbo high fructose infused fizzy beverages. I digress, so Goya sells for about 2 bucks jars of green olives, Manzanillo and jumbo along with a large selection of stuffed olives. On a whim I picked up a jar of the jumbo and one of the Manzanilla and brought them home to see what I could do with them.

Sorry for such a long winded intro to such a short recipe, but something else I do often when I roast chicken is coat it with a mixture of smoked and hot paprika, I had never been a paprika fan as it was the only spice my mother ever used. In recent years I've discovered what a diverse and tasty treat paprika is. The best smoked paprika is the Spanish brand Safinter, it's kind of expensive, but well worth it.

Spanish Olives

Drain well and pat dry two jars of Green olives (3 -4 cups), set aside in a good sized bowl.

Roast in a dry skillet over medium heat 3 teaspoons of coriander seeds and 3 teaspoons of cumin seeds until they are aromatic and several shades darker. Remove from heat and place in a mortar and pestle. Grind to a course powder.

Add to the spices 3-4 garlic cloves and smash into a paste. Add the paste to the olives and add
2 teaspoons of sweet paprika, 1 teaspoon of hot paprika, 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika, 1 thinly sliced organic lemon, well rinsed and cut into bite size pieces, skin and all (I used Meyer lemons because someone had given them to me) and 1 small Valencia orange (or what ever kind of orange you have would be fine a thinner skinned one is preferable over a thicker navel type orange) also thinly sliced and cut into bite sized pieces, about 1/2 cup Spanish olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste toss in an optional 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley before you serve.

These make a nice pairing with freshly roasted almonds, don't forget to put out a bowl for the pits and napkins they are delicious but messy!

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