Between now and the New Year I'm dedicating my Fridays to the cocktail hour. I'm going to explore appetizers, little plates, tapas, and all manner of late in the day snacks, nibbles, finger food, and the occasional libation to wash it all down with. I'm excited, this is my favorite way to eat, whether I'm throwing a holiday party or just hanging out with the nightly news.
My husband is a people watcher. Me, not so much. So when we go out for the occasional date night/drink, I immediately scope out the situation and steer him toward the chair facing away from the crowd. Especially when it's a hot new place like the one we were at last night. Before you judge me, realize this is the man who spent the better part of one of our anniversary dinners with his eyes riveted on the next table over... at Marlon Brando. On another special dinner out, the highlight of his night was spotting Daryl Gates and Don Rickles within minutes of each other. This has played out over and over again throughout the years, with sightings from the sublime to the ridiculous, so you will forgive me if I've learned to get a little proactive. Depending on which camp you identify with, the people watchers or the 'give me a tall booth with curtains' type, it's a perk or an occupational hazard of living in Los Angeles.
On the other hand, living in a large city means there are plenty of places to go out and find mind blowing tastes like these. These little fried olives have to be the food of the gods. They're crunchy on the outside, soft and smoldering on the inside. Dip them in a fresh garlicky aioli and you'll swear you've died and gone to heaven. And I guarantee there won't be any people watching going on while these babies are on the table.
As for the olives, I used pitted green olives. I couldn't find small pitted green ones at my store's olive bar, so I bought a jar. They worked fine.
You can use regular bread crumbs like I did, or go with the the extra crunchy Japanese Panko variety. But this is one instance where fresher isn't better---fresh breadcrumbs won't give you the crunchy textured crust that you'll get with dried.
Something transformative happens to an simple olive when you dredge it in flour, dunk it in a beaten egg, roll it around in breadcrumbs, and then toss it in a pot of very hot oil. These will surprise you, they are fabulous.
I mean really. Who needs Halloween candy?
technically this should be enough for 4 as a snack, but my husband and I ate them all, so judge for yourself
1 5 1/2 oz jar of small pitted green olives (or fresh olives from an olive bar)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
vegetable oil for frying
- In a heavy bottomed pot heat an inch of vegetable oil until it reaches 325-350 degrees on a thermometer.
- While it is heating, set out the flour in a pie plate or shallow dish, and the breadcrumbs in another. Beat the egg with a tablespoon of water in a small bowl.
- Dredge the olives in the flour, and then into the beaten egg.
- Toss them into the breadcrumbs and make sure they get evenly coated.
- Fry the olives in the hot oil until they are golden, this will take about a minute and a half. Do this in batches so the oil doesn't cool down when you add the olives.
- Drain the olives on a paper towel, and serve hot.
Notes: I'm going to try to anticipate and answer a few questions...
Can you use any kind of olive? Probably, as long as they're pitted, but I think a small green olive works best because it gives you just the right ratio of olive to crust, and the flavor isn't overpowering.
Can you bake these? No. But you might like to try my Roasted Olives instead.
Can you make these ahead? Yes! Make them earlier in the day and right before you want to serve them pop them into a hot oven for a few minutes until they're sizzling.
Can I fry stuffed olives? I don't see why not.
I don't have a thermometer, can I still make these? Yes, but the oil has to be hot enough. To test it, drop an olive in, it should sizzle right away and fry to golden in about a minute and a half. And get a thermometer, they are really cheap.
One year ago today---