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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Tapenade, the Frugal Cook's Secret Weapon

I'm always looking for easy-to-make, affordable ways of creating unexpected flavor. I remember eating at a French restaurant when I was growing up in LA and the bread basket always came with 2 ramekins: one with delicious sweet butter, the other with tapenade. To my kid-taste buds, the French food wasn't that great--I never knew what to order--so I'd eat all the bread the waiter would bring. To that, my mother always admonished me, "Don't fill up on the bread," but, of course, that was the point.

It wasn't difficult to learn how to make tapenade. The only specialized tool you need is a blender, like the Cuisinart Mini-Food Processor. A little bit of tapenade adds a special flavor to sandwiches and appetizers. Use it as a topping on sliced hardboiled or deviled eggs. Try it spread on a good slice of buttered bread, a hot, crispy piece of grilled lavash, or a turkey breast sandwich.

2 cups, pitted olives, black oil cured or cracked green
1 cup Italian parsley, washed, finely chopped
2 tablespoon capers
1 garlic clove, peeled, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne, a light dusting
2 anchovies (optional)

Put all the ingredients into a blender and pulse until the olives, capers, and parsley have combined into a paste. I'd add anchovies, but my wife doesn't care for them, so I put them in when I'm making myself a special treat.

Makes ½ pint.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes.

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