Monday, June 9, 2008
Nibble And Spread / Grignoter Et Tartiner
Oh June! I didn’t know you had such a hot temper.
First you came with open arms and roses and candle lighted dinners on the deck. You were beautiful, pleasant, and funny. You were the answer to our prayers after harsh cold winter days. Mornings with you were cool and breezy. Mornings with you had a scent of the beach and shells and fishermen coming back from the sea. Mornings with you were lovely.
We opened our house, our windows and our kitchen to you. The curtains were pulled all the way to the ceiling. The winter clothes were buried in the basement. Hairdressers were busy. Children were free. We went to the park together and you delighted us with tender asparagus, crunchy radishes and sweet strawberries. You told us stories about friendship and riding bikes and festivals and scraped knees and picnics and how you liked being on the spotlight announcing the summer season. We laughed together. We raised our glass to you. You gave us more strawberries.
But then everything changed. Something must have happened. Someone must have upset you. We must have upset you.
You left. August came. You said it was just for a day or two. It has been more than a week and you are still away. Different. Upset. Hot. Humid. Angry. Thirsty. Rude. Pitiless. 95.
We shut down our windows. We pull down our curtains most of the day. We drink and we are still thirsty. We huff and puff and drink and we are still thirsty. You threaten my kitchen garden. You threaten my sweet bread. You threaten my hometown and scared my mother. You gave me a sunburn on my shoulders. You leave my daughter wearing onesie all day long; leaving her beautiful pock dot dresses buried in her closet. We consider living under the shower. We consider living in our basement. We think about shutting down the stove and lighting up the grill. We think about going to work in shorts and flip-flops. We think about spending our day “farniente”, stretching our hand just to nibble and spread…and maybe gulp some ice cream to cool your hot temper down.
If I had to list my favorite summer food, olives would definitely be on my top five. No doubt about it. I like to eat oil-cured olives, also called Moroccan olives, with a piece of crusty bread and a glass of fresh, cold lemonade to wash everything down. This marinade is very easy to make and has become a staple in my house since the beginning of spring. Warm spices with fresh herbs complement the olives and give them another dimension of taste and warmth.
Muhammara is a Bell pepper and walnut spread originated in Syria and is very popular in most of the Middle East. I don’t remember how this addictive spread came into my life, but I’m glad it did; because the minute a spoonful of it laid into my slice of bread I promised my self to set a date for another batch of Muhammara. June goes much smoothly with olives and muhammara on the table.
Recipe: Gourmet, December 1993
- 3 red peppers, roasted, seeded and peeled, or a 7-ounce jar roasted red peppers, well drained - 2/3 cup fine fresh bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted lightly and chopped fine
- 2 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
- ¼ to ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Bread to spread on
In a food processor blend together the peppers, the breadcrumbs, the walnuts, the garlic, the lemon juice, the cumin, the red pepper flakes, and salt to taste until the mixture is smooth and with the motor running add the oil gradually and blend very briefly to a rough, slightly chunky paste.
Transfer the muhammara to a bowl and serve it at room temperature with the bread.
Muhammara should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
- 8 oz of your favorite olives* (I used kalamata olives)
- 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 fat garlic cloves, minced
- ½ tsp cumin, freshly ground
- ½ tsp coriander seeds
- A good pinch of cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- A dash of sea salt to taste
Rinse the olives two or three times under running water to remove the excess brine. Set aside to drain.
Put the remaining ingredients in a mortar or a bowl and mix enough to combine. Pour the marinade over the olives and stir well. Let the flavors develop for at least 1 hour before serving.
* Most Middle Eastern stores have a good variety of olives for a fair price. My favorite variety is the oil cured black olives; sometimes called Moroccan olives.
In Francais Please: Gourmet, Decembre 1993
- 3 poivrons, grillés, épluchés et épépinés ou une jarred de poivrons de 200g
- 25g de chapelure de pain fine
- Une poignée de noix, légerement grilles et hachées
- 2 gousses d’ail, finement émincées avec ½ c.c de sel
- 1 c.s de jus de citron, plus ou moins selon le gout
- 1 c.c de cumin, fraichement moulu
- ½ c.c de piment rouge en flocons
- 50 a 100ml d’huile d’olive
- Du pain pour tartiner
Dans un robot ménager, mélanger les poivrons rouges avec les noix, ail, le jus de citron, le cumin, le piment jusqu’à une consistence onctueuse. Avec le moteur en marche, verser l’huile d’olive en filet juste assez pour que le mélange prenne du volume mais reste riche en petits morceux.
Mettre la Muhammara dans un bol et servir avec des morceaux de pain pour tartiner.
Muhammara se conserve mieux au frigo dans un bocal à fermeture hermétique.
- 225g d’une selection d’olives (J’ai utilisé des olives Kalamata)
- 2 c.s de coriandre, finement haché
- 2 c.s de persil, finement haché
- 1 grosse gousse d’ail, émincée
- ½ c.c de cumin en poudre
- ½ c.c de graines de coriandre
- Une bonne pincée de cayenne, selon le gout de chacun
- 1 c.s de jus de citron
- 2 c.s d’huile d’olive vierge
- Une pincée de sel marin
Rincer les olives deux ou trois fois sous l’eau coullante pour enlever le plus de saumure possible. Laisser égouter.
Mélanger le reste des ingredients dans un mortier ou un petit bol et bien mélanger. Verser la marinade sur les olives et laisser les aromes se connaitre entre elles au moins une heure avant de servir.