Why am I not tap dancing my way into the kitchen to make this Olive Tapenade?

Posted on July 16, 2011


Instead of tap dancing, I have been dragging my feet to the kitchen lately. I get home from work, and I just balk at the idea of starting in on kitchen work right away. 

Then I thought to myself the other day, why do I think of it as work, a chore, a job?

It’s a poor mindset that probably stems from the fact that I am still getting used to appreciating the steps it takes to enjoy a delicious meal, instead of the immediate gratification that is possible when eating out or cooking from boxes. “I’m hungry, and I want to eat now!” is not an attitude that’s going to fly, considering we have a budget and a desire to eat real food.

Ok, ok, and maybe sometimes I just would like my husband to make dinner. Not that he doesn’t. He is in the kitchen often, and always makes impressive meals. We don’t have any fixed division of labor around the house. It’s usually flexible depending on who has time and an idea.  But still, on those nights when it just happens to me who is in the position to make dinner, I don’t want to! I think I’m afraid of becoming June Cleaver. When I spoke with my husband about how I felt, he said he thought I enjoyed cooking, and that’s why he often leaves meals to me.

And there you go. There’s the truth. I do enjoy myself in the kitchen… that is, when I finally get myself there. I’ve built up a lot of kitchen experience with all the recipe testing and tasting, not to mention blog reading and writing, and it’s certainly having an effect. I have reached a stage where I feel confident enough to get creative, and recently, I’ve been impressing myself with more successes than fails.  

Earlier this week, for example, I got home from work, and I just felt fatigued. I plopped down on the couch, and I started complaining. “I’m hungry, but I’m tired. I don’t want to make dinner.” (I’m pretty good at whining and pouting when I’m tired.)

My husband, who had plans to go to the library to get some studying in, took pity. He went to the kitchen, came back, and said “I could make you hot dogs.” Even though I think he was just trying to get me to laugh, I balked. “That’s not food!!! Fine, fine, fine. I will make something. I’ll figure it out. You go and be back by eight. Go, go, go…”

I pushed him out the front door, which happens to be in the kitchen. So there I was. I scanned the fridge, skeptically. I didn’t have much to work with. I found bronzini in the fridge. I found a jar of kalamata olives. And then I had a little conversation with myself:

Fish and olives. That kind of sounds like it goes together… Can I stuff a fish with olives?”
Um, no.

“Can I make some kind of sauce with olives to cook the fish in?”
I don’t think so, dear. 

Isn’t there some kind of olive pesto-ish thing that I could spread over the top of the fish… What’s that called again…um… tapa-something?

“Oh yeah… what’s a tapenade?”
Don’t ask me.

“Well, I could combine the olives with some herbs, and maybe garlic, and what else do I have here? Capers. Ok, that would work. And what’s in this jar, pimento peppers? Hey, aren’t green olives stuffed with these things?”
I think so… but go check with Google first.

The first result of a search for “olive tapenade and fish” confirmed my greatest hopes — Spanish Baked Cod with Olive Tapenade had a recipe for tapenade that included kalamata olives, parsley, garlic, capers, and even suggested adding some kind of pepper would be nice and suggested spreading it over the top of a baked fish.

“Hey — that was my idea!”
Yeah, I know, so quit complaining about cooking dinner and go enjoy yourself!

I lightly oiled and salted the fish, then sprinked it with minced garlic and paprika, and set it to bake at 350 in the oven. (It was a cool evening, but wouldn’t it be great to also try this over fish that is grilled!?) Then I got to blending up my tapenade. I decided to make a very small batch just in case it didn’t turn out.

I think I agree with the author of the post linked to above, about the consistency of tapenade… I would like it to be more textured, but my blender was a little too rough on the olives, so I got a much smoother consistency. I don’t have a food processor, but next time I will put my blender on the lowest speed and give it only short pulses to try to get it to be more textured.

Olive Tapenade

about 20 kalamata olives, pitted
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon roasted pimento peppers
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Combine olives, garlic, capers, peppers, and parsley ingredients in a blender or food processor. Drizzle with olive and gind in black pepper to taste. Pulse on low until combined.

We didn’t use all the tapenade over our fish, so we also had some along side a salad and fresh herb quesadillas for the lunch the next day! It’s great just to add a bit of flavor to anything!