Monday, October 24, 2011

2-10. Diane's Italian Green-Olive Salad (G, V)

    I loved it when my dad drove our family to the Italian district in Chicago. Mother would stand at the counter and pick out things like provolone cheese, cannoli and prosciutto.
   Italian olive salad was also always on her list. The savory flavors of olive salad companioned with crusty breads, thick sandwiches or a variety of meats was a taste-bud delight.

   While trips to the city were infrequent, deli counters at local grocery stores began to sell similar Italian olive salads. Unfortunately, the flavors were not exactly the ones I remembered.

   If necessity is the mother of invention, I felt inspired and took on the challenge to figure out how to make my own version of Italian Olive Salad.

  I combined ingredients as I remembered them and allowed the salad to marinate. When I lifted the lid  from the olive container the fragrance was amazingly familiar and a taste of the olives told me that I had hit the mark! 

   This combination of herbs and olives will fill your kitchen with a bouquet of fragrant aroma just like the Italian delis of my childhood.

Diane’s Italian Green-Olive Salad

2 C large whole green olives, with pits (smaller olives may be used), drained - reserve liquid
2-3 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
Olive oil, extra virgin
Pepper blend

Put olives in a plastic bag and crush, (whack), them with a rolling pin or board. The olives should be slightly split. Pour crushed olives into a bowl and mix in about 1/4 C olive oil, 1/4 C reserved olive liquid, the celery and garlic. Mix well. Add pepper blend, dried basil and oregano to taste. (It is better to add less seasoning…more can be added later if necessary). Mix well. Pour into a container with a lid. Refrigerate. Periodically, rotate  or shake container so mixture is well coated with the oil and seasonings. If oil congeals, let salad sit out at room temperature for a few hours. Marinate olive mixture for 3 days before eating.

(Be mindful of the pits!)

This salad is wonderful as a side dish with sandwiches, chicken, or with a fresh piece of crusty, bread. The flavored olive-marinade is to-die-for!

*Note: The salad pictured above was made with small olives. Here in the Ozarks, large green olives with pits are impossible to find. I had to buy the pictured olives in the St. Louis area. They taste the same as larger olives, but the salad is more satisfying to eat if jumbo-sized olives are used. Pitted olives do not taste the same.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

2-9. Chocolate-Mint Cupcakes (V, G)

The print-ad for chocolate-mint cupcakes caught my eye. The little dessert cakes with dark chocolate drizzled across minty-green icing and topped with chocolate cookie flags, would be beautiful to make.

I bought the ingredients - unfortunately, months of super-hot summer weather kept me from turning on my oven to bake anything. I did not abandon my hope to make minty cupcakes, but as I waited for the inevitable cool down, I ate a box of the chocolate mint cookies. With each bite, I thought about how great the chocolate mint cookies would have looked on those fancy

This went on for months until it became embarrassingly evident that I had probably consumed more than a dozen boxes of cookies.

In mid-October the weather cooled - the cupcakes were baked and decorated. Kind of a delicious/ anticlimactic ending to a long, hot summer. The big question now is, will I stop buying those cookies?

Chocolate-Mint Cupcakes

1 box chocolate cake mix - gluten-free
Mint frosting, tinted green
Chocolate, mint cookies, cut in half (gluten-free_
1/2 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Mix cake mix according to box directions and fill cupcake papers 1/2 full. Bake according to directions and cool baked cupcakes on a wire rack.

Make frosting, tint light green and add peppermint flavoring to taste.
Frost cupcakes with a spatula or pipe icing  to cover top of cupcakes attractively. Stand cookie halves, cut side down,  in the center of each frosted cupcake.
Put 1/2 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips in a microwave safe dish. Melt on high for 30 seconds. Stir and continue at 10 second intervals if necessary until melted. Add 1 tsp of shortening and stir into hot chocolate.
Dip fork tines into hot chocolate mixture, and fling the chocolate back and forth over the cupcake tops to make an attractive presentation. Allow the chocolate to harden before serving.
Makes 20-24  cupcakes.

Monday, October 3, 2011

2-8. Quadruple Berry, Apple-Rhubarb Pie (V)

Some years ago, the Pillsbury television ad said, "...nothin says lovin’ like something from the oven." Although the ad ran during the volatile 60s, it became an immediate favorite. After all, who doesn’t love fragrant aromas wafting from their oven?

I enjoy my kitchen and showed my love for family when I turned out savory foods and baked good  especially for them.

I thought of wonderful family times as I put the recipe for Quadruple Berry, Apple-Rhubarb Pie together. My inspitration came from a Schwan's pie which was actually a  triple-berry apple-rhubarb pie - it was one of the best pies I had ever tasted with its wonderful crust, sweet fruity interior and an sweet vanilla icing.

I added a fourth-type of berry and my crust was folded. A two-crust recipe allows for two pies to be made, if desired.

(The pie filling recipe  may be cut in half and the crust may be formed like a traditional two-crust pie to make one pie).

Quadruple-Berry, Apple-Rhubarb Pie

Pie crust for 2-crust Pie
(Pie crust and pie crust secrets, Blog recipe #16)

2 C granulated sugar
2 T cornstarch
½ C flour
2 C frozen rhubarb, defrosted and drained
3 C mixed berry blend, frozen
1 C raspberries, frozen
3-4 C apple slices, frozen, thawed and broken into pieces
2 C strawberries, frozen
2 T orange juice

4 T butter or margarine

Vanilla icing (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, combine granulated sugar, cornstarch and flour. Add all berries, thawed apple piecs and drained rhubarb; mix well. Add orange juice and mix well.

Roll out half pastry for each pie. Place rolled dough in 2-pie plates. The dough should hang off plate edges. Place half of the filling in each plate. Dot with butter. Bring up edges of dough and gently lay onto the top of the filling toward the center. Bake until fruit is tender and crust is browned (about 50 minutes). If crust is browning too much, lay a piece of foil on top for the remainder of the baking time. Remove finished pies to cooling racks.

Optional: Drizzle cooled pie with vanilla-flavored icing. Slice and serve