Staples in my fridge – olives, capers, anchovies and nuts

In my fridge you are likely to always find green and black olives, anchovies, capers and nuts, especially almonds, pine nuts, pistachio, hazelnuts and walnuts.  I consider these as staples and frequently add these ingredients, common in Italian cooking, to much of my cuisine. In my freezer you will always find jars of stock and … Continue reading Staples in my fridge – olives, capers, anchovies and nuts

TUNNU `A STIMPIRATA – TONNO ALLA STEMPERATA (Tuna with onions, vinegar, capers and green olives)

Albacore tuna is sustainable, cheap in price and much under rated in Australia. It is not sashimi grade so the Asian export market does not want it and therefore in Australia we also tend to undervalue it. It is denser in texture but still excellent for cooking (lightly or cooked for longer).  As in Australia, … Continue reading TUNNU `A STIMPIRATA – TONNO ALLA STEMPERATA (Tuna with onions, vinegar, capers and green olives)

TROTA CON OLIVE VERDI, LIMONE E ACCIUGHE – Pan fried trout with green olives, lemon slices and anchovies

Anchovies are often added to fish in Sicilian cuisine – they are either stuffed in the slashes made on the sides of the fish or gently melted with a little oil and added to the fish whilst it is cooking. Trout has flaky, delicate flesh and slashing it is not a good idea so I chose … Continue reading TROTA CON OLIVE VERDI, LIMONE E ACCIUGHE – Pan fried trout with green olives, lemon slices and anchovies

Anatra a paparedda cu l’ulivi (Sicilian Duck with green olives and anchovies)

Il Signor Coria (Giuseppe Coria, Profumi Di Sicilia) will tell you that ducks are not standard fare on Sicilian dinner tables. The eggs may be used to make pasta all’uovo (egg pasta) but ducks  in Sicily are few and far between. In his book Profumi Di Sicilia, I found one duck recipe and this was … Continue reading Anatra a paparedda cu l’ulivi (Sicilian Duck with green olives and anchovies)

The last of my pickled olives

This year’s  olives…… hardly worth it.  Larger than last year’s crop, but probably just as few.

k04467491 (1)

I think that my tree is refusing to produce many olives because it is objecting to being in a pot. It gets root bound and every year we pull it out of the pot and trim the roots – this probably traumatizes it.

FullSizeRender-762x800 (1)

It has given me many years of pleasure and I have certainly experimented with processes for curing the olives and dressing them.

FullSizeRender[1]

Once pickled, my olives do not keep their colour – I pick them when they are a green- violet colour but the pickling process turns them into a uniform light brown colour.

I was horrified when I read this article in The Age (Melbourne news paper):

Olives painted with copper sulphate top largest-ever Interpol-Europol list of fake food

A statement by Interpol on Wednesday said a record 10,000 tonnes and 1 million litres of hazardous fake food and drink had been recovered across 57 countries, with Australia also making the list.

Italian olives painted with copper sulphate solution, Sudanese sugar tainted with fertiliser, and hundreds of thousands of litres of bogus alcoholic drinks top Interpol’s annual tally of toxic and counterfeit food seized by police agencies across the world. The haul of bogus diet supplements, adulterated honey and ……….etc.

Green+olives+3 (1)

I have often been asked about the colour of Sicilian Olives (those bright green ones as in photo above) and I really do not know how they are pickled and how the bright green  colour eventuates.

IMG_1136-e1420784758116-800x800 (1)
My tree has given me a great deal of pleasure and I have certainly experimented with processes for curing its olives and dressing them.

There are many posts written about pickling olives and recipes using olives on my blog…. key in OLIVES in the search button. I have just tried this and there are 72 posts about olives! Here is one of them:

Various Ways to Pickle Olives

olive-tree-DSC_0039-537x800 (1)

The olive trees in Agrigento are among the oldest in Sicily. This photo was taken in the Valley of the Temples.
Oh, to be in Agrigento now!

POLLO OR GALLINA ALLA CONTADINA, ALLA PAESANA. Braised Chicken with Olives, Sicilian style.

IMG_2667Any time you see Italian dishes described as alla contadina, alla paesana, alla campagnola………do we really know what is meant by these terms?

These all translate as of the peasantry – peasant style –  and as those who live on the land would cook these dishes. They imply to be dishes that are healthy, nourishing, unsophisticated, hearty, country-style and as cooked at home. In these dishes you would also expect some common vegetables – onions, carrots, celery, some common herbs and wine (someone living on the land usually makes their own wine).

Carne – meat, or coniglio – rabbit, or pollo or gallina, seem to be cooked alla contadina, alla paesana, alla campagnola very frequently in home kitchens. The method of cooking is braised or stewed.

What is meant by pollo and gallina, and is there a difference?

Pollame are farmyard birds, therefore pollo is derived from this word.

Gallina is chicken and female. Gallo is the masculine, i.e. a rooster and would probably be not as tender as a gallina and would require more cooking.

Once a pollo would most likely have been considered a male, but in modern times there is no difference between the terminology or the gender and especially in Australia, UK and US,  it is what we commonly refer to as chicken.  Usually chicken is 6-12 months old when it is killed.

A gallina vecchia would be the description of a chicken used to make broth/ stock and would be older than 12 months.

Proverb: Una gallina vecchia fa buon brodo…. An old hen makes good broth

Cappone is a capon and is a castrated male – this is likely to be sold as a larger bird as it will be fattened intentionally; the implication is that it will be tasty. I doubt if I could purchase a capon in Australia.

IMG_2654

Recipes for pollo or gallina (chicken) alla contadina etc. cooked with these simple ingredients and braised are found in every region of Italy; the only variations may be the addition of a few tomatoes or mushrooms or a pepper (capsicum) or two. The wine can be red or white.

IMG_2659

In Sicilian recipes you may find the addition of olives. More common would be the green, olive schacciate (cracked olives) as they have no stone. (The photo below was taken in Palermo. I have so many photos of Sicily and do not necessarily add them in my posts – silly me.)

Statues+at+Palermo (1)

I always buy whole chicken for a braise. My mother and relatives always did and I guess I just do without question.

Although I always buy free range, there is always some fat and I remove as much as possible before I cook it. I also always skim fat from the top of the braise once it is cooked.

IMG_2655

As you can see by the way I dissect the chicken into pieces, I am no butcher, but if it is peasant style after all so I get away with it being roughly cut. I usually cut rough the vegetables as well. And who needs exact measurements if the recipe is home style.

1 chicken
2 carrots
2-3 celery stalks
1 large onion
2-3 red tomatoes (peeled fresh or canned)
½ -1 glass of white or red wine
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
rosemary, parsley or sage
1 cup green olives (no stones)

Cut the chicken into pieces and remove the fat (unless you like fatty chicken).
Brown the chicken in a tiny amount of oil – one side and the other. Remove from the pan. I like to drain off any fat before I continue cooking the rest.

IMG_2660

Use the same pan, add the olive oil. Sauté the onion.
Add celery and carrots and sauté some more.
Add the chicken, herbs, tomatoes, seasoning and pour in the wine. Do not use much salt as the olives are likely to be salty.

IMG_2666

Add some water to almost cover the chicken, cover and braise the contents (on low heat) for 40-60 minutes, stirring now and again. Add the olives about 10 minutes prior to the finish.
If there is too much liquid and you wish to concentrate the flavours, remove the chicken, increase the heat and evaporate the liquid lid until it has thickened.  At this stage I skim more fat from the top if it is necessary. Add the chicken, mix, cover and leave until ready to serve.

Remember, Italian food is not usually presented at the table piping hot; the flavours are left to mature for at least 30 minutes.Italians like to savour their food and not have scalded palates!

RED CABBAGE- CAVOLO ROSSO- with black olives, garlic, red vinegar and anchovies

Red cabbage, sautéed or braised with apple, red wine vinegar, juniper berries, caraway seeds and cloves is the most common  way  I cook it in my kitchen. Sometimes I add walnuts and at other times some raw bacon – all delicious, but same old, same as. Shredded red cabbage is also good uncooked in a … Continue reading RED CABBAGE- CAVOLO ROSSO- with black olives, garlic, red vinegar and anchovies

VARIOUS WAYS TO PICKLE OLIVES

I always know when it is picking olive season by the number of people looking at the posts on my blog about pickling olives. Yesterday there were 162 people looking at How To Pickle Olives, the day before there were 188; I can only assume that these readers are living in the southern parts of … Continue reading VARIOUS WAYS TO PICKLE OLIVES

PICKLING OLIVES- More About

Some of the most popular posts on my blog are about pickling olives or how to dress them once they are pickled.

And I have also had many conversations with people about how to pickle olives so it is time to reveal another pickling method that has worked for my olives for the last couple of years.

IMG_1138-800x800

I have to say that my olives are small in size and if your olives are larger, this pickling process may take a much longer time. What you could do, is put a split on the side of each olive – this will assist the pickling process.

IMG_1134-800x598(1)

My tree is in a large pot on my balcony and I bought is from a plant nursery where it was labelled  as a Paragon olive tree – it would be called a Frantoio olive tree in Tuscany. Frantoio (Paragon) olives are small and oval in shape and they are mainly used for extracting oil. In the photo below the Paragon olives are on the left and Kalamata olives are on the right.

A ‘Frantoio’ is also the hydraulic press used to extract oil and the processing plant or factory is also called a ‘Frantoio’.

The color of an olive is an indication of its ripeness. Green olives ripen and go from green to light brown and purple, to black. If I am using brine (salt and water) I pick the olives when they begin to turn from green to violet and I go through the usual process of keeping them submerged in a bucket of water and changing the water every day before I place them into brine. Because olives do not all ripen at once I may need to pick the olives in stages and follow through to the pickling process in batches – I cannot say that it is one of my favourite occupations.

However for the last couple of years olive ripening time has coincided with travelling and not wanting to waste the olives I have collected them all at once – green, purple and black – I eliminated the process of the changing of water and all the olives went straight into pickling using water, salt, wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

And this process has worked (for the past two years). The olives are probably more bitter than previous years but I do not mind that at all. I usually leave them about 5-6 months before I eat them.

Olives-in-crock-pot-300x254

Every two years the tree produces a large crop and I may collect about 2 kilos of olives. I pickle my olives in a crockpot which I leave on my balcony (there is no room for a crockpot inside my small apartment).

When they are ready I transfer them to jars and add fennel seeds and dry oregano to them. Notice that there is always oil on top and that the olives are submerged.

FullSizeRender

There are various other ingredients that I add to olives when I dress them (See my other posts about olives).

2 kg olives
1 ½ litres water
5 tbsp heaped salt (I use sea salt for everything)
600 ml wine vinegar
600 ml extra virgin olive oil
Wash and drain the olives and place them in a clean glass jar; I use a crockpot.

Boil the water and add the salt – make sure that it is dissolved. The way to test if the water is salty enough is to float an egg in the water and if the egg’s surface remains above the water, there is enough salt in the water. If it sinks add more salt. Wait till it is cool.
Add the vinegar and cover the olives in the jars finishing with a good layer of olive oil to seal. Use some mesh to keep them submerged – they must be covered.
Set aside until the olives are ready.

More Posts about Pickling Olives:

PICKLING SICILIAN GREEN OLIVES using wood ash (OLIVE SOTTO CENERE)

ULIVI CUNZATE, INSALATA DI OLIVE – Sicilian Green olives/ Olive salad

HOW TO PICKLE OLIVES

MARINATED OLIVES, OLIVE SALADS, MORROCAN FLAVOURS

OLIVE SCHIACCIATE (Fresh Cracked Olives)

OLIVE FRITTE (Lighly fried, fresh black olives)

Olives_0049

 

CARCIOFI FARCITI (Stuffed artichokes: with meat and with olives and anchovies)

Stuffed artichokes, I can’t get enough of them. Carciofi  are artichokes; farciti, imbottiti and ripieni all mean STUFFED in Italian. If you are invited at my place for dinner during artichoke season it is very likely that one of the courses will be stuffed artichokes. I braise stuffed artichokes in stock and white wine and all … Continue reading CARCIOFI FARCITI (Stuffed artichokes: with meat and with olives and anchovies)