Two weeks ago I was lying on a beach in Mexico sipping margaritas and working on the beginnings of my tan. It had been a long time since my body had soaked up any rays, even though I live a short distance to several beaches. A tropical beach is something different altogether. My legs were the colour of skin milk–so white they were almost blue.
This vacation was a long time coming. I needed the break, but since I’ve been back I’ve been laid up with back pain. I suppose that’s what you get when you fall asleep hunched forward in the teeny-tiny seats of economy class and drag a suitcase without wheels around the airports of North America. In terms of much-needed rest, it’s one step forward, two steps back. Needless to say, I haven’t felt much like cooking. And my hard disk is so full of photographs I have to delete a bunch I don’t need just so I can upload the ones from my vacation.
I brought my Canon Rebel with me for the trip, certain I would have plenty of photo ops. I ended up spending most of my time lying on the beach and shopping the markets, thus I didn’t get many shots to share. And I’m sure you didn’t come here to see pictures of me in my bikini.
I do, however, want to offer up these sun dried tomato and olive palmiers. I was going to bring these to a food blogger’s get-together this week until the back pain forced me to back out of the event. In the past, I have posted a recipe for sweet palmiers, the French sugar cookies that look like little butterflies. These babies are savoury, speckled with bits of salty olive and tangy sun dried tomato. They’re super easy to whip up if you have some frozen puff pastry on hand, yet they make an elegant appetizer. Don’t you think?
* I made these with equal parts sun dried tomato pesto and tapenade. However, the pesto can be substituted with four or five oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, minced and blended into half a cup of tapenade.
Sun Dried Tomato and Black Olive Palmiers
adapted from William-Sonoma Essentials of French Cooking
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1/4 cup sun dried tomato pesto
1/4 cup tapenade (see recipe below)
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1) Preheat oven to 425F (220C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the puff pastry on a floured board or surface into a rectangle about 12X10 inches (30X25cm) and a 1/2 inch thick.
2) Spread a thin layer of the sun dried tomato pesto over the dough to 1/4 inch of the edge. Follow with the tapenade. Sprinkle with the thyme.
3) Roll the longest ends toward each other until they meet snugly in the middle. Gently press the dough together where the ends meet with a bit of water to keep the ends from spreading apart while baking. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes
4) Cut the pastry roll crosswise into slices about 1/2 inch (12mm) thick. Arrange the slices on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Place the baking sheets in the freezer for 10 minutes.
5) Bake the palmiers until puffed and golden, about 15-20 minutes. Let them cool slightly on the baking sheet. Transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm.
Anne Willan’s Tapenade
adapted from The Country Cooking of France
I love a mound of salty, earthy tapenade made with dry-cured black olives. Anne’s recipe is a classic. Hand-pitted olives offer more vibrant flavour than canned. Old tapenade recipes include tuna whereas others recommend white bread to bind the puree, which does double duty in soaking up some of the saltiness. Your choice. I’ve been known to omit them both. Saltiness is my thing.
3/4 cup/150g salted (dry cured) black olives, pitted
6 anchovy fillets, soaked in a little milk for 15 minutes
2 ounces/60g canned tuna in water, drained, or 2 slices white bread without the crusts
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons/20g sliced almonds
1/4 cup/45g capers, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup/125ml olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
freshly ground pepper
1) Drain and chop the anchovies coarsely. Flake the tuna or pull the bread into pieces. Put the olives, anchovies, tuna or bread, garlic, almonds, and capers in a food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped.
2) Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and work into a puree. With the blades running, gradually add the remaining olive oil in a slow, steady stream so the mixture emulsifies slightly. Season with lemon juice and pepper.
3) Transfer the tapenade to a bowl and serve. It will keep covered tightly in the fridge for a week or more.