Sep 4, 2009

Black Olives, Anchovies, Tomatoes and Wine

The other day I was browsing through chicken recipes in Epicurious, when I realized with a start that I had every ingredient for William Sertl's Chicken Provencal. Brine-cured black olives? Yes. Anchovies? Yes, and not an unopened can but recent leftover ones from a sauce I had made the other day for pork--yes!! What a rim shot this recipe was.

I doubled the recipe, which led to a lot of sauce, but I rummaged around in my cupboard and found some Israeli couscous, which I have a bit of a thing for. So I browned it in a little olive oil and cooked it in water, and voila, there it was in all its glorious chewy-eyeball texture. Everyone liked it. We had leftovers for lunch yesterday, and I boiled up some orzo because the Israeli couscous was gone (because, ahem, I had eaten it). "Hey, this isn't Israeli couscous!" exclaimed Sherlock.

Speaking of Provence, which I was, because Provencal means "of Provence," did you know I spent spring vacations there in eighth and ninth grades? My father was stationed in Germany and we traveled whenever we could. I don't remember olives, anchovies, tomatoes, or wine but I remember sweets, because that's the wavelength I was on at the time. Fragrant, grainy lavender honey and marrons glaces, and creme de marrons. Marrons is French for chestnuts. I never knew, before that vacation, anything about eating chestnuts, except for that Christmas song about roasting them over an open fire. Ever since the American Chestnut blight in late 19th and early twentieth centuries, we don't really have any chestnut trees to speak of. Not a good time for American Chestnuts or Indians.

About the Israeli couscous, it's not that hard to find. It takes longer to cook than the more usual couscous (Gentile couscous?) because there's that browning step and then a twelve-minute cooking time. But worth it.

The boys and I will make the most of this last gasp of summer by taking the train to the city (That would be Philadelphia.) We'll go to the Reading Terminal Market to eat at the Down Home Diner, and make our ritual pilgrimage to Franklin Square for miniature golf among small replicas of Philadelphia landmarks. And the highlight of the day for Jack and Will? A visit to Daddy's cubicle. We think someone has been reading too much Dilbert.


MemeGRL said...

Wow--I have everything (except the chicken breasts) for that too--glad it went well!
And the Co-op has by far the best price on Israeli Couscous I've found. I made the mistake of buying some at Talulah's Table, only to find it for half the price in our own back yard!

RuthWells said...

We're summer-last-gasping with a visit to Philly this weekend as well -- the kids have never been to the Italian Market, which is a scandal! Unfortunately, the trip will likely include a stop at HUP to see my dad, who is being admitted this morning. Nothing too serious, but enough to bork up the weekend and annoy him greatly. : (

Carpe Diem said...

Yum! You've re-whetted my appetite for couscous, long forgotten around this kitchen. Will have to locate some near Spring Mount... And, Provence. Never been, but it's on my bucket list. What with Van Gogh's sunflowers and films like A Good Year out there, what's not to like?