Thank you for your patience as it has been a few weeks since my last post. As many of you know, the blog over went a pretty dramatic overhaul recently with a name and design change to better reflect the direction the blog was taking. It took a little time to get the look and feel right and not wanting to jump blindly into a redesign, I wanted to ensure the blog was just right before I started posting new recipes.
Also, Scotty and I have just returned from two weeks holiday where we went to Perth, Western Australia to both visit my family and so that I could take up the mantle of maid of honor for my best friends wedding day.
In this, my first post since the redesign, the most important thing to mention is that there will be some truly wonderful recipes in Chew Town’s future, starting with a series of excellent Italian recipes cooked in conjunction with my Mother while in Perth. This recipe for stuffed olives was a dish I had requested my mother teach me as it is a specialty from my dad’s home town of Ascoli Piceno in the Marche region of Italy. These stuffed olives are truly amazing and after tasting these you will never feel the same about olives again! I plan to make these a lot in the future as they are perfect at a dinner party and will always impress.
Below is an extract from Specialita’ d’Italia – La regioni in cucina, an Italian cookbook featuring the specialties of each region in Italy (translated from Italian by my wonderful mother, Josie).
Olives are a gastronomical symbol of Ascoli Piceno in Italy. The Latin writer Marziale wrote that the olives in Ascoli were served as an aperitif at the beginning of the meal and also as purification of the palette ate the end of every course.In the 18th century the ingenious cooks from this small town in Marche had the idea to stuff and fry the big olives, and so came to light a new discovery. This labour intensive specialty used only the ‘Tenere Ascolane’ olives which have a flesh that is particularly soft and sweet and a small stone making it perfect for stuffing.For those who do not have lots of patience, (or do not live in Ascoli, Italy) other qualities of green olives with a bigger pip can be used.
Specialita’ d’Italia – La regioni in cucina p.283
Olive all’Ascolana (Olives from Ascoli)
Serves six as a starter
1 cup chicken or beef stock
100g pancetta, cut in tiny cubes
2 tbsp olive oil
100g pork steak, cubed
150g beef steak, cubed
50g chicken livers, cleaned
1 tbsp concentrated tomato paste
50g grated parmesan cheese
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to taste
75 green olives
Olive oil for frying
Put 3 tablespoons of dried breadcrumbs into 1 cup of stock and leave to soak. Add a little oil to pan and quickly saute the pancetta, then add the pork and beef and fry until browned. Add the tomato paste diluted in a little hot water and continue cooking. When the meat is cooked, add the chicken livers and let them cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool (if there is a lot of liquid remaining, drain from pan).
Once cooled, transfer to a food processor and blitz until minced. To this mixture add the softened bread crumbs and 1 egg, parmesan cheese, cinnamon and nutmeg, and mix together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
The traditional way to prepare the olives for stuffing is by using a small paring knife to cut the flesh around the pip like you are peeling an orange. When stuffed the olives are then large and long. For those who do not have the patience or the skill, you could just as easily buy large pitted green olives, make a vertical cut down the olive to open it up for stuffing.
Once olive flesh is prepared they are ready for stuffing. Take a heaped teaspoon sized amount of the meat mixture and stuff in and around the hole left by the pip. Some of the mixture will coat some of the outside of the olive, and this is preferable. Repeat with all olives.
The next step is to crumb the olives. In three pasta bowls prepare the following, plain flour in one, 2 beaten eggs with a dash of milk in the second and dried breadcrumbs in the third. Take an olive and dip in the flour till coated then trasnsfer to the egg mixture. It is important to evenly coat the olive in the egg mixture so the breadcrumbs stick all around the olive. The final step is to place in the breadcrumbs and ensure an even coating is applied. Continue the same method with all the olives.
In a small deep frying pan add olive oil an inch deep from the bottom and heat until sizzling. In small batches fry the olives till the outer coating is golden. Serve with a squeeze of lemon and some peppery rocket.