I miss throwing parties
I miss throwing parties. While I didn’t do it all that often, when I did, I would go all out on the cocktail party snacks. Homemade breads, crackers, and savory cookies; smoked trout rillettes; charcuterie, savory jams, tapenades, meatballs, party nuts, soup shooters, crudité, dips, marinated olives, and other delights would greet my friends when they came in.
They would hang out mostly in the kitchen, even though it was hot in there, eating, drinking, and talking, and it was a blast (both the cooking and the party).
To make up for the lack of parties over the last eighteen months, I’ve taken to embracing L’Apéro (French for the cocktail hour). I whip up some salty snacks, cut up a few veggies, and fix myself a drink or pour a glass of wine. While I miss the conversation, the snacks hit the spot. Massachusetts has a ballot initiative to restore happy hour in the Commonwealth, so perhaps it’s also just in the air.
Reviving a dish I used to make: marinated olives
Yesterday’s apéro featured beautiful heirloom cherry tomatoes with radishes and salted butter from the farmer’s market, along with some juniper salami from my Walden’s Local Meat share, bread from Hi-Rise Bread Company, and something I hadn’t made for quite some time, marinated olives.
Ask any of my friends, I’m going to order warm marinated olives any time it’s on the menu. Honestly, I can’t believe that it’s been so long since I’ve actually made them. So much better than serving olives straight from the jar, and it only takes about fifteen minutes. I shall not forget this back-pocket recipe again.
Marinated olives: dead simple and absolutely delicious
Marinated olives are dead simple to make. Herbs and spices and a little citrus, combined with olive oil and a bit of red wine vinegar elevate a pedestrian jar of olives to something truly special, especially if you serve them warmed. They keep for at least two weeks, and you can use the leftover oil for salads and dipping bread. They’ll delight you, and when we can have parties again, they’ll delight your guests. Recipe below.
- ⅛ teaspoon fennel seeds
- ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 12 oz jar olives in brine, drained You can use green or black olives (a mixture, if you have it, is wonderful). This is a good way to use up olives you might have on hand.
- ½ cup olive oil plus more to cover in the jar
- ¼ teaspoon red wine vinegar don't skip this. it adds something
- 3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed from two and chopped
- 3 small sprigs rosemary, leaves removed from two and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, cut in half cut in half
- 2 fresh bay leaves, cut in half Dried is OK, if fresh isn’t available, but fresh really adds something
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 strips of orange zest substitute lemon if not available
- salt to taste be careful
- In a small heavy bottomed sauce pan (I use Le Creuset) over medium heat, add the peppercorns and fennel seeds and toast until just fragrant. Remove from heat, and let the spices cool slightly in a small bowl. Let the pan cool for a minute or two as well.
- Over very low heat, warm everything together gently until you can smell it and the oil is just warm (you might want to adjust the heat a bit, depending on your pan). Taste the oil, add a tiny pinch of salt, if necessary (be careful).
- Remove from heat. You can serve your marinated olives now (they will be tasty), but you’re going to be so much happier if you pour that mixture into a jar (I use a Mason jar) and stick it in the fridge for at least a few hours. If necessary, add a little more olive oil to cover the olives.
- If serving later, either bring them to room temperature, or warm them gently (do this!).
- Olives will keep for at least a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.