Tapenade

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Tapenade is a condiment of sorts, made from olives mostly, plus capers. It originates from Southern France, specifically the Provence region, but I’ve seen recipes from nearby Italy that also include anchovies. So once again we have a dish that has many different variations.

I’ve seen tapenade more often made solely with black olives, and it’s really pretty. But today I decided to use up a jar of mixed olives I had leftover from the holidays. I decided also to switch things up a little and use up some sun-dried tomatoes looking very sad in a half-used jar in my refrigerator.

I think I was inspired by my own recipe I served to friends this summer, that I called tapeschetta – essentially a combination of tapenade and bruschetta. Tricky, huh?!!! The combination was just a last minute thing I did because I wasn’t expecting company and had to work quickly. (Which is why the photos on that post are pretty terrible!) But it turned out so good that I haven’t quit thinking about it. I’d love to make it again, but without fresh, good tomatoes, I can’t repeat the recipe until next summer.

So I put this mixture together and now present you with a non-traditional, yet still fabulous tapenade!

Tapenade with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I jar of mixed, herbed olives, dry weight 7 ounces, well drained
2 tablespoons small capers, well drained
3 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes, the kind jarred in oil
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Black pepper

Place the olives and capers in a jar of a food processor. These olives even come pitted!

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If necessary, coarsely chop the sun-dried tomatoes and add them and the garlic to the jar.
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Add the thyme and black pepper. Then add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil; I used the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes.
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Begin processing the olives and other ingredients. You will have to scrape down the sides and repeat with the processing until you get the texture you want.
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I like some texture, but I have seen tapenade that is almost smooth and pasty. It’s just a personal choice.
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I served this tapenade with toasted tortilla strips and a log of goat cheese at room temperature. The addition of sun-dried tomatoes was really nice, although the main flavors are the olives and the brininess from the olives and capers.
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Tapenade can be used on a cheese platter because it’s so good as is on great country-style bread. Just place the tapenade in a little bowl with a spreader.

But I can also see it stuffed under chicken skin, or rolled in veal scallops like rollatini, maybe with some Provolone included. It would also be good as a topping on soups and stews as well. So many options for tapenade!

Faux Boursin

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I used to buy an herbed cheese called Boursin. It’s good. It’s got great herby flavor, and is nice and spreadable on crackers.

Back when I catered, Boursin was prohibitively expensive to include in a cheese platter, being that I had to buy retail. So once when I wanted something similar for a catering gig, I got the idea to duplicate it, with great results.

I can’t tell you how much less expensive it is to make your own “Boursin” because I’ve never calculated it, but even more important than the economic aspect, the taste and texture are much improved.

I wrote down a recipe of what I did once, just so I could share it with my daughters, but the truth is, you really don’t need a recipe. It has a cream cheese base, but you can also add feta or goat cheese for a zingier flavor. The rest is garlic and herbs. For me, I like a mixture of fresh and dried herbs. And I always include parsley.

So see what you think.

Faux Boursin

1 – 8 ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
6 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
2 ounces sweet butter, at room temperature
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 – 4″ stem rosemary, leaves removed, finely chopped (optional)
Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup fresh, chopped parsley

Place the cream cheese, goat cheese, butter and garlic in the jar of a food processor and process until smooth. It’s important to make sure the garlic is completely blended in.
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Then add the thyme, oregano, rosemary, if you’re using it, and the black pepper and pulse until incorporated. Add the parsley last, and only pulse until is evenly distributed. If you over process the cheese with the parsley, your cheese will become green, which is only good for St. Patrick’s Day.
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Line a small bowl or other mold with plastic wrap.
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Add the cheese and smooth the top. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
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To serve, unmold the cheese by placing it upside down on your serving platter and let it come to room temperature.
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Then remove the plastic and smooth out any wrinkles with a knife blade. This spreadable cheese is really good on bread and plain crackers.


But it’s also good with fun toasts with seeds and dried fruits.

And, as I mentioned above, this faux Boursin is very good as part of a cheese platter, providing a very unique and tasty spreadable soft cheese.

note: I include a half a stick of sweet butter if I’m going to create a mold with the cheese. If you’re going to keep the soft cheese in a serving bowl, you can omit the butter. By the way, one stick of butter is 4 ounces in the U.S., and 1/2 stick of butter equals 2 ounces or 56.7 grams according to this great converter I found!

another note: Think about all of the ways you change change up this recipe using the same base. You can definitely change the herbs – think about making a garlic pepper variety, or one using Herbes de Provence… Or, you can add pesto, or pieces of sun-dried tomato….