Wednesday, September 07, 2011

How Could I be Out of Olives? Williams-Sonoma's Essentials of French Cooking has made me happy. So very happy :-)

First off, I'd like to thank Leslie of La Cocina de Leslie for following my site! you see any olives? More on that later.

My favorite bookstore is going out of business. I love Borders. I love My Favorite Books too, the local second-hand bookstore in Tallahassee I haunt whenever I am in that area. But Borders………(deep sigh)……..apparently I will be buying my new books online from now on. Crap.

I like to pick up a book and flip through pages. How often have I bought a cookbook or novel to find there are only two recipes that float my boat. Or find the novel is a stinker and I can not make myself read past page 50.

With the death throes of Borders' demise come big discount prices. Cheap-ass that I am, a bargain is always a welcome sight – not in this case. Well…kinda. On my Amazon wish list I have had this particular Williams-Sonoma book, Essentials of French Cooking, at the top. I have lusted after this book but (remember the cheap part) always waited until it reached an “acceptable” price.

Now I own it. There was only one copy – ONE! And the day the discounts were in my ballpark, I marched to the back of the store where the dwindling number of cookbooks are housed and hoped, wished, almost silently begged that this book would be left for me. Clearly it was…….I can’t tell you how happy I am.

OK, where to start. I decided on a dish from Provence – Sauteed Chicken with Tomatoes, Bell Peppers and Olives.

From the book: “In Southern France, the olive growing area of the country, recipes often call for cured olives, which act as seasoning. Black olives are used in this recipe but green olives cured with rosemary, lemon or fennel can also add their own particular flavor to this rustic and homey dish of chicken seasoned with herbs. The chicken is cooked with tomatoes and sweet peppers until the meat is so tender that it easily falls from the bone.”

I used chicken thighs as white meat seems to be too dry for us. Rub your chicken pieces with fresh thyme and a teaspoon each of rosemary and black pepper.

Melt 1 ½ TB butter (real butter not margarine!) and add 1 TB extra-virgin olive oil to a pan.

Use a pan large enough to hold all chicken pieces in a single layer. When the oil and butter are nearly smoking hot, add chicken, reducing the heat to medium and cook, turning once, until the pieces are lightly browned. Add half cup minced onion and 2 cloves minced garlic and cook until soft (about 2 minutes).

Have prepared 5 ripe tomatoes chopped (or an 18 ounce can chopped plum tomatoes) and the juices ready to tip into your pan. OK, if the onions are now soft, tip in those tomatoes and also 2 red bell peppers, chopped into small pieces. Add one bay leaf.

Reduce heat and cook on medium low or low (depends on how your stove top works. ( Mine is a real piece of horse shit crap and low is still too high but…can’t get a new stove right now) and cook for 50 minutes.

If you have olives here is the time to add them. Can’t believe I thought I had olives in the pantry. You know what I had instead, what I thought was a can of black olives? It was a small can of tomato sauce. Christ.

Olives…..right, raise the heat back to high and add about 16 cured black olives. Cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust with salt as you need it. Add more thyme and rosemary (about a teaspoon or to your taste). Wait for it to all come together.

I love eating at home........the anticipation of the meal, the aromas, grabbing wine glasses, candles.....

My first meal from this cookbook and I was out of an essential ingredient. No matter! Because it was good. So good.

Rice, a crusty baguette and wine rounded it out. A white zinfandel we’d never tried before – too sweet for us but… was an enjoyable meal.

Next up from this book will be a Tomato and Eggplant Tien, another Provencal dish. All of the correct ingredients were purchased beforehand so…no cock-ups on this one. Unless I cut myself……but I am thinking positive thoughts.

Please feel free to share this post:


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Olives are optional, I suppose, when dinner's this good!


Welcome and thank you so much for visiting. If I don't answer you here I will get back to you on your blog. Also have had to switch to approving comments due to some SPAM lately. Alas...

Torte Rustica

This book has quite a few good recipes and all the ones I've tried so far have come out well.  This attempt at Torte Rustica turned out ...