Monday, January 21, 2008

Baked olives and cricket

With a tennis-coach for a brother and a father who, in his forties, played hockey (the grass variety, that is) for the amusingly named Geriatrics team (they would beat the Pensioners, mere children in comparison, often) one could say that mine is a sporting family.

I, on the other hand, was shy and uncoordinated, and, as I got older, found that team sports were reserved for the popular girls, not misfits like me. The netball girls weren’t awkward; instead they were pretty, long-legged and looked good in their tiny pleated skirts. In our final year of school, two friends and I felt vaguely guilty about our lack of sporting prowess in a school that rewarded even average sporting results well above academic or creative ones. So, we padded-up and joined the cricket team. We spent most of our time far out in the field, making each other laugh hysterically. It was, thankfully for the team, short-lived.

Summer is cricket season in these parts. Indeed, it wouldn’t be summer without the radio gently simmering in the background, the occasional call going up as a wicket is taken, waking you from your lazy, heat-induced lethargy. Though I know precious little of the actual rules, secretly I love the cricket being on. The language of the game is esoteric to say the least – a yorker is beyond me and the less said about googly's the better – but what I do know is that sports fans need a little something on which to snack while they watch. And that’s something I can provide you with.

While I think these are better with a glass of wine, they are very good with a beer, too.

Maggie Beer’s Baked Olives – for 6-8

Fast to make, these are better than most marinated olives you can buy. Baking them makes them juicy and flavourful. I used Mount Zero’s mixed olives – a delicious mix of teeny-tiny ones, Manzilla and a giant variety whose name escapes me. By ‘cured’ olives, I mean the kind in brine rather than already in oil. The recipe is only slightly adapted from this, magnificent, book.

2 cups of cured olives
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
Zest of 1 orange
4 fresh bay leaves, torn in half
1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds

Preheat the oven to 180 C (375 F).

Toss all the ingredients together in a baking dish and cook for 10 minutes. Leave to cool a little before serving – remember, there are hot pits in the centre of each little morsel. Stir through a little more oil or lemon juice if you like and serve.

I’m submitting this to Mansi whose blogging event Game Night is in full swing. She’s looking for fast, vegetarian-friendly snacks that will tame a sports fans’ hunger.


Mansi Desai said...

this one sure will Lucy:) this is a great recipe, and I loved your writeup too:D

Thanks so much for participating!!

Laurie Constantino said...

I absolutely love baked olives -- I never liked Kalamatas until I started baking them. This is a great version and perfect for Mansi's event.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Oh my. I love olives - but have never 'done' them like this before. Now I'm going to have to! Thank you for sharing the recipe.

Sophie said...

Wow - those purple olives are an amazing colour!

I've never really thought of baking olives - it sounds good for those of us in the middle of Winter as well as you guys in cricket season

Rosa said...

What a gorgeous photo! The olives almost look like plums. With this much lemon involved, I know I'll love this recipe.

Patricia Scarpin said...

They look delish and I'm glad to see that they're easy to put together, Lucy!

Lisa said...

I could eat olives every day of the week. I have to stop myself from eating my whole supply when I am pitting olives for a dish.

I'm not much into beer, but I bet these baked olives would taste awesome with wine.

Susan said...

"Black Olives and Cricket" sounds like the title of a food memoir. Very evocative.

I couldn't let it go; I did some research on those fat boys you did not know the name of. Looks like they are blonde kalamata. I would have thought cerignola. No matter. I'm in love!

Wendy said...

I could quite happily eat olives until I popped. Will have to make these some Friday night in the near future.
And I hear you on the sport issue. I avoided P.E. whenever possible in High School though I was always forced to play netball and basketball due to my 5"10 height:
"Just stand at the net with your hands up, lanky!"
Grrrrrrrr. Still detest team sports! :)

Lucy said...

My pleasure Mansi - looking forward to your round-up!

Laurie, I'd never tried it until late last year. Can't be stopped now...

You're welcome aforkfulofspaghetti - hope you love them!

Perfect for all seasons really, Sophie. That purple is quite something, isn't it?

Rosa, I know how much you love lemon and think you'll want that extra squeeze at the end.

Patricia, it's very, very unusual for me to post a 'fast' recipe - LOL!

Lisa, I do that often as well. One for the pot, one for know, I'm not a beer fan either - better and, dare I say, a little more sophisticated, with a nice glass of wine.

I knew someone would come through for me, Susan. The ones I adore in this mix are the tiny little ones. Small amount of flesh, yes, but very tasty.

Wendy, I was 'lucky' enough to have short legs. Thank goodness for that - I had NO idea how to play netball and, at my school, it was simply assumed that all females knew how to play netball...I've never been much of a 'joiner' anyway. Love olives...much more than I should!

winedeb said...

What, no photo of you out in the field playing cricket?
Lucy you are my spot today for learning something new - I have never heard of baking olives! I love olives and there is always a bowl of them on our table when we have guests. I will be trying this one. I suppose the heat really intensifies the flavors! And yes I agree, a glass of wine would be a perfect match!

Lucy said...

No photo, Deb...I think Mr Ashby, womens cricket 'master'extrordinarie, was glad to see the back of us! I did look around the house for some cricket gear, but it seems we gave it all away. Now, what sort of wine would you recommend, o, guru?

Christina said...

In that first picture, with the greens, purples and distant yellows, I think you've created a masterpiece. I swear, your photography keeps getting better and better.

Living in an olive-growing area, I have constant access to good olives of great variety, and olives appear in many of my meals. Right now, I'm in love with tiny little nicoise tossed with crushed red pepper and lots of garlic. Oh, my! However, I have never tried baking them as you do here--I'll have to try this, and soon.

Johanna said...

I am with you about netball - I got to high school only to realised I was one of 4 girls in my class who had never played netball - and I continued to avoid it as much as possible - the best thing about sport seems to be sitting watching it with lots of nice food like your lovely olives :-)

winedeb said...

Being in your part of the world, the wine I would choose would be a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, Cloudy Bay would be my first choice, and it would be nicely chilled. I would choose a Sauvignon Blanc from your area because they are so well structured and I think would pair with the saltiness of the olives and the citrus that you have added. You are lucky to have such great wine country at hand!

Callipygia said...

Ohh I was expecting to find little black crickets nestled within the olives! BTW, love the new banner and this photo. I too was quite uncoordinated in team sports and my punishment for making fun of my Phys Ed teacher was for him to volunteer me to "demonstrate" skills for each new sport we learned. Oh, the torture and shame of it all!

Lucy said...

Christina, they plump up and take on all that lemon-y goodness. Delicious, regardless of season. You'll make me blush, I swear...

Exactly, Johanna! As though it's unnatural to NOT know how the game works...far better to watch!

Well, Deb, that works out perfectly for me - I've got a Cloudy Bay in the pantry and will get it out to chill. Thanks for the advice!

Thanks for noticing Callipgyia. Now, crickets in my olives...they would add a certain 'crunch' factor that's missing. Your sporting skills sound much like my own.