Saturday, July 10, 2010

Olives and Olive Oil

This weekend I took the winding N7 up the West Coast to a small Town called Riebeek Kasteel, famous for it’s olives and olive oil. It’s name alone speaks of enchantment and adventure…this little town centred around a beautiful old church on a hill allows your mind, and your taste buds, to run away with your imagination. Famous for hosting the annual Olive Festival, when thousands of Capetonians flood the dusty streets, there are still many well hidden culinary delights.

My uncle owns a pizzeria along the main road where locals and tourists sit elbow to elbow savouring crisp wood fired pizza’s showcasing only the best local produce. The café culture and town square oozes Spanish country side… but it’s the cinnamon pancakes and the syrupy sweet koeksisters, South African favourites, that left me with a warm feeling in my heart.
Most of the farms sell a variety of olive products and are more than willing to tell you more about the olive oils they produce. As all successful food outings go, I returned home exhausted at the end of a long day with more olive delicacies than I could carry!

Nelleke’s Tips and Terms
Things to look out for on the label:
The words ‘Extra Virgin’ must be visible on the label of the olive oil bottle. This is an international term used to identify olive oil of the highest quality.
Look out for the word ’cold pressed’ meaning that no extra heat was used during the pressing process. The temperature must not exceed 30 degrees, as this can result in a bitter flavour.

Beware of a bottle that has the word ‘blend’, this often means that the oil has been blended with inferior olive or sunflower oils.
Read the description on the back of the olive oil bottle to find out more about the flavour of the oil. Some labels will even recommend dishes to pair it with!
Olive oils differ in colour and flavour depending on when the olives were harvested. Light, fruity oils are best suited for salads or dishes where the oil is added after the cooking process, like oil based pastas.
Stronger, greener oils are used for cooking and will give a fried beef fillet great flavour.
Fill a small bowl with balsamic, oil and swirl a light olive oil into it. Serve this with fresh crusty bread and dukka for an easy pre-dinner snack!



100g olives of your choice
60g black olives
60g anchovy fillets (optional)
30g capers
15g finely chopped garlic
Lemon juice, as needed
extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
2 tbsp chopped oreganum or basil


Blend all the olives, the anchovies, capers and the garlic in a food processor until chunky and easy to spread. Slowly add olive oil and lemon juice to taste without over mixing. Your tapenade must have texture and identifiable bits of olive.

Taste and adjust the seasoning with pepper and more lemon juice, if needed.
Mix in the herbs and serve with pate’s, pesto’s and cheese for a lovely metze platter.

Olive and Rosemary Focaccia Bread
Fresh yeast gives this bread a lovely flavour. Ask the bakery section at your local supermarket for 50g fresh yeast and store the left over yeast well wrapped in your fridge. It can be replaced with dry yeast. (see the packet for instructions)
500g white bread flour
7,5 ml salt
10g fresh yeast
275 ml warm water
75ml olive oil and a little extra to drizzle
3 rosemary sprigs
½ cup pitted olives of your choice
15ml coarse sea salt
15ml crushes garlic

  • Roughly chop ¾ of the olives and set aside.
  • Mix the yeast with 100ml of water and leave to dissolve.
  • Sift the flour and the salt together. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast and water mixture, olive oil and the left over water little by little. Mix with your fingertips to form a soft dough.
  • Knead on a clean and lightly floured surface for 5 minutes to from a smooth, elastic dough. Work in the olives and garlic.
  • Place the dough in an oiled bowl, covered with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for one hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celcius.
  • Grease two medium sized baking sheets. Once proved, knock the dough back by kneading it a little.
  • Divide the dough in half and shape into two flat oval breads. Make indents with the tips of your fingers to create dimples. Drizzle with olive oil and scatter the remaining olives, rosemary leaves and coarse salt on top.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden and hollow sounding if tapped underneath.

No comments:

Post a Comment