Thursday, August 29, 2013

Starters

My sister who is an amazing kitchen designer and who you can follow as @woodwardkb on twitter and on Pinterest can vouch for the fact that my favorite type of meal is the snack.  You can also classify this meal as starters, but far too often we overeat the starters and then still try to eat dinner.  Her kitchen has this immense island where we lay out cheese and olives and every other kind of good snack-y type of food, and then that becomes the central gathering point for all family meals.  Our family loves to eat bread with olive oil.  It's kind of amazing that this habit hasn't been popular in the U.S. for all that long. You have to have really good olive oil to make this a decent snack though, and so many times, I just have the usual cooking olive oil in the house when I want to do this.  I discovered this technique to turn even the least inexpensive olive oil into something great for dipping.


I start with one cup of olive oil in a pan over medium low heat.  You don't want the oil to overheat or smoke but just to get warm enough to start taking on the flavors of the things you're going to add.


Next I add a whole can of anchovies in oil.  I use the kind that are wrapped around a caper for extra salty goodness.  Now I know what you are going to say but just trust me.  It doesn't taste fishy; it just adds a salty richness that you have to try.


As they heat up, I take a spoon to them to mash them around a little bit.  They basically melt into the oil leaving a cloudiness and the little caper gems.  It takes about 30 minutes for everything to heat up and melt down.  


Toward the end, I will add something extra like kalamata olives or chili flakes.  It usually depends on who is around for dinner.  The kids don't really like olives (where did they come from?), so for them I'll add chili flakes.  Sometimes I'll strain out the cloudiness if it looks too dark throwing the capers and olives in after and putting it back on the heat.  I always serve it warm.  I prefer a crusty bread, but my husband likes a softer crust, but really it depends on what I can get in the bakery section that day.  This is the kind of thing that I can sit and eat and not need anything else.  I do have to say since it is salty, it's great served with a beer.  The Stinking Rose does this hot oil and cloves of garlic thing that makes me think that the next time I do this I should throw in peeled cloves and just let it go for hours.  Hmmm...maybe these are my plans for this weekend.

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