I bought my first copy of this book (I've worn out two and my third is looking very sorry for itself) when I was a student in the early 1970s and the book was newly published. It saw me through my years of impoverished studenthood and then came into its own again in the 1980s when mortgage rates were soaring and we had two small children, and then my daughters used it as their culinary bible when they too became students. Many of the dishes in it are long term family favourites now - curried lentil soup, Alsatian Onion Tart, stuffed marrow, pigeon pie... I really didn't think I would be able to find anything in it that I hadn't cooked before.
So I was surprised when I opened it at random and found a recipe for Tapenade. I honestly don't recall ever seeing it in the book before, or I'm sure I'd have tried it! Anyway, I noted that one of the ingredients was a hard boiled egg yolk. All the others were store cupboard standards, so I put my egg on to boil and set about assembling everything else.
¼ lb each of black and green olives. I pulled out the Kalamata olive jar from the cupboard - and found it empty apart from a trickle of oil and a sprig of oregano. Never mind, there are plenty green ones.... aren't there? I found the unopened pack, and it was just a 70g pack of chilli flavoured ones. Oh well, I couldn't go out to buy more as there was a workman digging up the drive. We'd just have to have green tapenade.
Next up, capers. Where are the capers? WHERE ARE THE BLOOMING CAPERS? I dragged everything out of the cupboard. Not a caper to be seen. Never mind, I'd add extra salt. Then anchovies. I can't use anchovies as Mark can't eat them...... more salt then! Oh well, at least we're never short of thyme or olive oil, the only other ingredients.
The recipe suggests making the tapenade in a pestle and mortar. I suppose when the book was first published, food processors were a luxury. As my mixture was so meagre it wouldn't cover the blades of even the tiny goblet, I decided to do it the authentic way.
Have you any idea how long olives take to mash? By this stage......
..... I was starting to lose the will to live. But once I'd added the egg yolk and oil, everything started to come together very nicely
I packed it into a ramekin where it looked like a pathetic amount, barely half filling the ramekin.
So there you have it, my random recipe for this month which bears almost no resemblance to the original. And do you know what?
IT IS DELICIOUS!!!
It is so far from the original that there is no copyright issue with me giving you the recipe here - do try it if you have patience!
one 70g pack pitted green olives with chilli (the sort in a soft pack that are vacuum packed without liquid)
large pinch of salt
1 hard boiled egg yolk
1 tbs light olive oil
large pinch dried thyme
Coarsely chop the olives then bash them in a mortar and pestle with the salt until starting to form a paste. Then add the egg yolk, olive oil and thyme and continue to bash until you have an almost-smooth mixture. That's all there is to it!