Kalamata Olive Aioli: The Paris Wife

Book Club time again, this month’s selection was The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. It tells the story of Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemmingway’s first wife. I loved it, but then of course historical fiction is my favorite genre, and Paris in the 1920’s intrigues me. It also meant the food for book club would be easy, Paris, Spain, champagne and elegant meals, there was lots to choose from. And did I mention costumes, I do love to dress up and putting together a flapper costume was great fun. The hardest part this month was narrowing my options down. I chose to go with olives as my ingredient. In chapter three, Hadley tries olives for the first time at a greek restaurant in Chicago, she says, “I suppose it’s embarrassing, but I’ve never had olives before.” Ernest replies, “That should be illegal. Here open”. and feeds her an olive which starts their romance. I made an olive plate, but also wanted to actually make something so I made a dip that I also served at my sons chip and dip graduation party.

A kalamata olive aioli, which I loosely based on the Kalamata dip served at Nordstrom’s cafe with their fries (it is delicious, try it if you ever get a chance). It is simple, elegant, and has lots of applications, it is a great dip for crunchy potato chips or raw veggies, a great spread for bread and cheese or chicken sandwiches, and would also be great on roasted vegetables or french fries.

Kalamata Olive Aioli

1 1/2 c mayo

3 cloves of garlic, or 5 cloves of roasted garlic

1/2 c pitted kalamata olives

1 T lemon juice

1/2 t lemon zest

cracked pepper

add mayo, olives, garlic and lemon juice and zest to a food processor, blend until olives are completely incorporated into the mayo.

Add pepper and stir, and serve.

Chocolate Toffee Popcorn Balls and The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb

This past weekend was yet another fun and memorable book club meeting. The book was The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin. It is historical fiction, my favorite, and told the tale of Vinnie Bump, a perfectly proportioned, little person who was only 2 ‘ 8 ” but never let that stop her from getting what she wanted. Born to a farming family in New England who sheltered her from society, Vinnie knew she wanted more, she took risks and left the safe haven of her home to find adventure and fame. She ended up becoming an icon and celebrity who traveled the world thanks in part to a man named P.T Barnum. I was shocked to find out how much of this story was actually true, and amazed by her strength and courage, even if she was slightly selfish and cold hearted at times.

I had trouble thinking of a dish for this meeting, She does travel to New Orleans and mentions Gumbo, but that is an all day affair. And also not really a good food for book club, we tend to do more snacks, and small appetizers that are easy to share and eat on your lap while discussing the book.

Luckily my Martha Stewart, Everyday Food magazine came a couple of days before the meeting and had a recipe for popcorn balls, perfect, small single servings that were easy to make and went along with our theme, Vinnie, the heroine of the book was actually in the circus for a short time.

Chocolate Toffee Popcorn Balls

2 T butter

10.5 oz bag of mini marshmallows

10 c popped corn

1/2 c heath toffee pieces

1/2 c toasted almonds

1/2 c mini chocolate chips

sea salt

Make sure you have your popped corn ready and toast your almonds in a dry sauté pan over low heat for about 4 minutes of until fragrant and slightly colored and set aside. In a large pot melt butter over med heat, add marshmallows and stir until melted, remove from heat and add popcorn,almonds, toffee pieces and chocolate chips stirring with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon sprayed with cooking spray until evenly coated. Spray hand with cooking spray and form small balls with the mixture and place on waxed paper to cool (about 10-15 min). Sprinkle with a small amount of sea salt if desired.

Serve or store in an airtight container.