Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Father's Day Appetizers

Last Sunday was Father's Day. To celebrate, SP's dad had everyone over to his place - but all he planned to do was relax and drink beer. It was up to us to provide the food and do the cooking. In addition to dessert, SP and I decided to make a couple of appetizer goodies: olive tapenade and pimiento cheese spread.


Back in June 2003, a friend and I spent a week in San Francisco and Napa. The first winery we went to in Napa was Robert Mondavi. At the end of our winery tour, we got to sample several wines. The final wine we sampled was a 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. It was by far the best of the wines we sampled - and of course it was also $100+ per bottle. Needless to say, I did not return home with a bottle of that wine, but I did bring home the recipe for the Nicoise Olive Tapenade the winery served with the wine.I made the tapenade once before - probably back in 2003 so it's been 7 years since I made it!! I love this tapenade. This time, we made a substitution to this recipe - a big substitution! Costco does not sell huge jars of nicoise olives. And to our surprise, Giant Eagle Market District did not have nicoise olives. So we substituted kalamata olives (which Costco does sell in huge jars).This tapenade is very simple: put the pitted olives, capers, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and garlic (which we omitted) in a food processor and blend until it's a thick paste.SP liked the tapenade; I didn't think it was as tasty as in 2003 - or maybe it's more that I think the consistency was wrong. It didn't seem to be a thick paste. It seemed more watery than I remember. Maybe because we used kalamata instead of nicoise olives? I'm positive my mom found nicoise at Giant Eagle back in 2003 because we made the tapenade for Christmas Eve at my place and I remember almost accidentally dumping some olives into cookie dough - I was baking and mom was starting the tapenade in my little apartment kitchen and things got a little cramped and crazy. I remember that Christmas more than other Christmases because it was the last Christmas with my grandma.

Or maybe my memory is wrong. Maybe it was watery then, too. Or maybe it tastes better on crostini - we didn't serve the tapenade with crostini. We figured it'd be too much of a pain to slice and toast baguette at SP's dad's place with everything else going on, so we took Carr's crackers instead. It was still a tasty tapenade, but next time I think we'll have to make a trip to The Strip (or Whole Foods) to get nicoise olives so I can see if that is the difference.


The past 2 years, we've spent our vacation time in the south. Most recently in Savannah & Charleston, where I enjoyed some tasty cheese spreads, but also in 2009 we spent time in Dahlonega, GA. In Dahlonega, I was re-introduced to what I think of as a southern thing: pimiento cheese spread. Last fall, Bon Appetit published Grandma Knowlton's Pimiento Cheese recipe plus Southern Living recently published Our Favorite Pimiento Cheese recipe, both of which I cut out and added to my recipe binders.

All of which is to say I've been wanting to make my own pimiento cheese spread. This was a good time to do so since we could share this not very healthy treat with other people and not be faced with eating a mound of cheese spread just for ourselves!I drained a jar of pimientos while SP grated the cheeses. After the pimiento drained, I chopped it a bit so that the pieces wouldn't be too large.Toss the cheeses, pimiento, mayo, cayenne, and black pepper in a bowl:and mash it all together with a fork.And yum! The cayenne adds a very nice touch to the cheese spread. We used the whole jar of pimiento, which was more than the recipe calls for, and we used less mayonnaise than the recipe calls for.

I enjoyed both of these and would make both again. Maybe not again for SP's family since Googer deemed these both too unhealthy to consume and ZSO and SSO don't eat mayo things plus SSO doesn't eat anything with vinegar... I don't think Z liked them much, either... Oh well.

These appetizers are also good on sandwiches - I've been spreading both olive tapenade and cheese spread on my English muffin with turkey lunch meat for my lunch sandwich this week.

1 comment:

  1. Both of these apps are things I would love to try but would never think to make! I just read the book "Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, and Other Southern Specialities" and there was a whole section on pimiento cheese!