Shallots with Sherry Reduction

IMG_5691Back in the day, I used to make pickles, lots of pickles of every sort.  One fall I made many pints of pickled onions, and thought it would be a good idea to top each jar with a small chili.  Unfortunately I used Bird’s Eye Chilies.  There they sat, for several months, infusing my cheerful little onions with their heat.

We opened a jar one night, to sample these wonderful treats, so carefully preserved earlier in the fall.  One bite, and our eyes were streaming, and our throats were on fire.  So much work to create an inedible pickle!  Fortunately for us, we had a friend who’d grown up in Indonesia eating foods far spicier than our palates are used to, and she happily tucked into them.  She graciously accepted the remaining pints.  I’ve never made pickled onions since.

However, I do enjoy the sweet & sour of pickled onions, and this recipe is a worthy substitute.  I love the colour of shallots, from their raw bright purple to their delicate pink when cooked.  Their flavour is sweet and oniony, and when cooked this way, makes an excellent addition to a buffet dinner, or as a garnish on a plated meal, and there’s no unintentional heat. Continue reading

Warmed Olives with Citrus & Fennel

IMG_3323_2 I’ve always had a thing for olives.  When I was about eight years old, I can remember wanting big dishes of them with my birthday dinner.  The freedom to eat as many as I wanted was so exciting for me.

The texture and flavour are so appealing.  A few olives with some dry salami and crusty bread is pretty much a perfect lunch for me.

Even though there are so many varieties of olives available, this recipe brings them to a whole new level.  Whether you’re trying an imported jar of huge green olives, or are wondering what you’ll ever do with that can of pitted black olives, this works well for all.   The olives are heated in olive oil with citrus peel, fennel seeds and a pinch of chilies.  They’re served warm and the flavoured oil is fabulous soaked into bread. Continue reading