Preheat broiler with rack 6 inches from heat source. Place eggplant rounds on a wire rack set on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until eggplant is blistered and deep brown on one side, 10 to 12 minutes. Flip and broil until blistered on other side, 10 to 12 minutes. Immediately transfer to a large bowl, toss with oil, and cover with a plate. Let stand until softened, 10 minutes.
Arrange eggplant and tomatoes on a platter, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper and drizzling with oil before adding next. Top with feta, olives, and parsley, and serve with bread.
This authentic dish of meltingly tender leg of lamb is roasted with garlic, lemon and potatoes for an irresistible Sunday lunch centerpiece.
1 garlic bulb, separated into cloves, half peeled and sliced, half unpeeled
8-10 fresh bay leaves
3 lemons, cut into quarters lengthways
2½ kg leg of lamb
50ml Greek extra virgin olive oil, plus 4 tbsp for the potatoes
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1kg Cypriot potatoes, peeled and quartered lengthways (if you can’t find these, any large, waxy variety is fine – try Desirée)
140g Greek Chalkidiki olives (or other large pitted green olives)
125ml red or dry white wine
Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Arrange the unpeeled garlic cloves, 3 bay leaves and the lemon quarters in a large roasting dish and cover with 200ml cold water. Sit the lamb on top, drizzle with the olive oil and rub it in all over.
Using a small sharp knife, cut small incisions in the lamb skin, then tuck the remaining peeled and sliced garlic and bay leaves into these slits.
Season the lamb well and sprinkle over the cinnamon. Cover tightly with foil and place in the oven. Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Leave to cook for 4 hrs, skimming the fat from the juices and removing the foil for the final 30 mins of cooking.
After 1 hr, put the potato wedges in a large roasting tin, coat them in 4 tbsp olive oil and season well. Roast in the oven with the lamb for 11/2-2 hrs.
Transfer the cooked lamb to a large piece of foil, wrap tightly and leave to rest for 20-30 mins. Check the potatoes are cooked (if you need to, turn the oven up to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 to finish cooking). Add the olives and wine to the pan juices, simmer them and keep warm until ready to carve. Serve the lamb thickly sliced with the olives, potatoes and Tahini & lemon sauce (see ‘goes well with’), with the meat juices poured over at the last minute.
THE three main objectives of harvesting olives are: Pick when ready for preparing eating olives or making olive oil, to cause as little bruising as possible and cause as little damage to the trees as possible. Olives for eating need to be picked while still firm. Olives for oil can be picked at the same stage or left to fully swell to maximise the overall yields.
Some high quality producers still pick by hand. However most olives are allowed to fall naturally or racked, knocked off with long canes, or shaken off with mechanical tree shakers onto nets and then transferred to plastic boxes.
In some areas, to reduce harvesting costs, the ground under trees is laid bare by using weed killers two weeks before shaking the olives onto the ground when they are blown or brushed into heaps for sacking.
Yields can vary from 10 to 110 kilos or more per tree depending on the age, health and pruning of the tree, and the summer and autumn sunshine and rainfalls.
Forget the health benefits of olives and olive oil – the latest boost to wellbeing is the humble olive leaf. It was once a folk remedy revered by the Greeks, while ancient Egyptians used it for mummifying royalty. But a drink made from olive leaf extract – taken from freshly picked Italian organic olive leaves – is the first health supplement of its kind to be launched in Britain. A new scientific review in the journal Complete Nutrition shows it contains two antioxidant compounds known to support heart health that are among the most potent yet discovered.
Oleuropein, a polyphenol produced by the olive tree, makes it particularly robust and resistant against insect and bacterial damage. The other compound hydroxytyrosol, is thought to be a major ingredient of virgin olive oil – one of the cornerstones of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. Although it is found in olives and olive oil, the highest concentrations occur in the leaf. The 5mg dose contained in a serving of Ovivo Organic Leaf Infusion with Calendula has been approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as having antioxidant activity. Dr Pamela Mason, chair of the Government’s Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances, suggests the combination of hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein may hold the key to many of the health benefits associated with olives and the Mediterranean diet.
Both have powerful antioxidant activity and have been shown to reduce the oxidation of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol – the process that makes it hazardous to health. A study found a twice-a-day 500mg dose of olive extract was as effective as an ACE inhibitor at reducing both diastolic and systolic blood pressure. Unlike the prescription-only blood pressure pill, the extract also significantly lowered levels of triglycerides, blood fats linked to heart problems. Another trial investigating the impact of olive leaf extract on blood sugar control reported a significant improvement in insulin sensitivity after just 12 weeks. The review also included a study in patients with type 2 diabetes which showed improved insulin levels and lower levels of a marker linked to a greater risk of diabetes-related complications. The review concludes: ‘This extremely promising ingredient, olive leaf, is worthy of considerable further research.’
‘‘… the fruit of the olive tree is a great boon for everything needed in life…’’ S O L O N Athenian lawgiver, 640 – 560 B.C.
Since antiquity the olive tree has a permanent presence in the landscape of Greece, in the daily life and habits of its people. The culture of the olive tree and its products deeply influenced the civilization of ancient and modern Greeks, and has played an important role not only in the Greek economy, but in all the aspects of Greek civilization, historical, folkloric, traditional, medicinal and artistic.
During older times had been by mistake claimed that its cultivation was transferred in Greece from Palestine. New elements from an analysis of pollen gives evidence for the olive trees presence on the Hellenic space since the Neolithic era. Systematic cultivation of olive trees has been certified during the Minoan period in different places in Greece.
Furthermore, the small plates of Linear A and B from the palaces of Knossos, Pylos and Mycenae testify its economic importance during 14th & 13th centuries B.C. Ancient vessels from Crete with olives and olive-kernels, the depiction from 16th century B.C. of an olive grove at the Cretan Knossos Palace, the traces of oleaster and the fossilized leaves found on the island of Aegean, Santorini – dating back some 50,000 / 60,000 years, the golden glasses with the anaglyph olive-trees from the 16th B.C. Mycenean tomb of Vafi in Sparta-Laconia, the planted by the mythical hero Hercules olive tree in the holy location of Olympia, the mythological tradition of Athena’s and Poseidon’s conflict for the name of Athens city and the offer of olive tree / symbol of reconciliation and peace, against the horse / symbol of war, and the salty water/symbol of sea, the golden holy olive tree of Apollo in Delos, the crowned by olive-branch statue of Zeus in Olympia – a Feidias’ sculpture, the Panathenaic amphorae with the cultivation of olive trees, leave no doubt as to the role of the olive in ancient Greece, and that the present day perceptions of the olive are profoundly shaped by the ancient past. Continue reading →
Are you looking for a proven crowd pleaser appetizer recipe? Look no further. These little bites of divine goodness are your ticket to elevating your entertaining status to a high level. They are simple, tasty and addictive. They combine the “carb” component we all crave, along with the saltiness of the olive which makes for an unbelievable combination. Trust me, the only problem you will have is that you and your guests will devour them and will want you to make more.
We are having a bit of a heat wave in the Bay Area this week. It is actually sort of refreshing after a winter of chill yet little rain. The sprinkling of heat signals that summer is around the corner and our Friday Night Bites can now move from indoors to outdoors. Got to get hubby to refresh the fountains and get them running again. I love sitting outside with the sound of trickling water along with a light breeze and a glass of wine in hand with some scrumptious appetizers an arms length away. Continue reading →
Don’t weekends go way too fast? After a long week at work, I completely look forward to Friday night. It is the beginning of the weekend. In addition we have our Friday night tradition of wine and appetizers. Our Friday night this week was filled with friends and great cheeses. Our dear friend brought a very special bottle of wine to celebrate Friday night. It was a bottle I have never had before and now has become a new favorite. Seven Stones Winery sits east of St. Helena. Ronald and Anita Wornick didn’t take long after they purchased 45 acres for their family estate, to take on the exceptional task of creating some of the best wine. They only produce 400 cases, and dedicate to a single varietal –Cabernet Sauvignon.
As quoted on their website – “Seven Stones is comprised of just under three acres of vines and a winery on the Wornick family estate in St. Helena. From small, meticulously cultivated vineyard parcels, we produce a limited amount of some of Napa Valley’s most sought after Cabernet Sauvignon.”Continue reading →
When it comes to appetizers, simplicity is sublime. Often the limited number of ingredients combined together creates the most spectacular flavor profiles. My Olive Tapenade Crostinis are a perfect example of this theory. Between the salty, savory tapenade and the smoky flavor from the red pepper along with the sweetness from the reduced balsamic on top of a crunchy carbohydrate – this is heaven in a two bite delight.
Hubby and I attended a holiday party last weekend in San Franciscowhich was rather beige unfortunately, but one that we needed to attend. We had great guests at our table, so the event was several shades more enticing. With any type of mass catering, sometimes the finesse of tasty food is lost in production and as hard as they tried, it was a lack luster attempt. Perhaps because I have such an affinity for food, I am being a bit too critical and I am sure others were thrilled and I am hapy for them. Be that as it may, there was one bright light shining at the event and it was on the appetizer portion of this party – thus my inspiration for this week’s Friday Night Bites. I always try to find the positive in any situation.
My positive was this delightful little two bite Crostini filled with salty tapenade, mozzarella and roasted red bell pepper. I added the reduced balsamic and a garlic rubbed Crostini. This can’t be more simple to make and will WOW your guests. This is a perfect appetizer to bring for any holiday party or enjoy on New Years Eve with a chilled glass of your favorite bubbly. Cheers! Continue reading →