Here are two more EVEN EASIER recipes than the ice box cookies, if you can believe that! Yep, these olives and almonds are super special and unbelievably easy to make. Both of these make great cocktail nibbles to have with any festive libation and are a wonderful hostess gift, too!
Recipe 1 Glazed Red Pepper and Fennel Almonds: I’ve made these almonds for many a year now…all year long, in fact, but they are always welcomed during the holidays and definitely have a festive quality about them. They are so simple and you can whip them up for the weekend for guests, take them to parties, or gift them in pretty jars or bags… and they keep in an airtight container for a week…bonus! They are spicy, I won’t lie to you…and they have a distinctive anise flavor from the fennel, but these are all good things in my book. The combination of ingredients makes a truly harmonious whole, and I’ve yet to encounter anyone who didn’t love these tidbits. Here’s the recipe as I make it.
Glazed Red Pepper and Fennel Almonds (Bon Appétit)
Nonstick vegetable oil spray (canola or olive oil)
6 Tablespoons of granulated sugar
4 teaspoons of whole fennel seeds
2 teaspoons of dried crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
2 cups of whole skin on raw almonds
2 Tablespoons of water
A completely optional addition that I add every once in a while is some orange zest
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a heavy baking sheet with foil and spray with the non-stick oil spray to coat. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper and salt…don’t inhale while stirring, you’ll sneeze! (If you add zest, add it now and mix well) Pour the raw almonds on top of the sugar mixture and sprinkle the water over that. Stir to combine well. Spread the mixture on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until the sugar melts and the almonds are deep golden brown and glazed, stirring frequently and watching carefully, about 22 minutes total. Remove from the oven, separate the almonds with a fork and allow to cool on the foil on the sheet. When completely cooled, break apart into individual almonds. Store in a plastic bag up to 1 week. It makes 2 cups.
Recipe 2 Mixed Provençal Olives with Lemon and Oregano: I first made these a couple of years ago for gifts, then completely forgot about them…that’s one thing I love about blogging, it challenges me to remember these good things I want to share! This recipe has 6 ingredients and again, is so easy, but it’s really impressive looking and tasting. I happen to love olives of any kind, and get so excited if anyone gives me some, so this is a gift that is wonderful to give and receive. Hint. Hint.
Mixed Provençal Olives with Lemon and Oregano (Martha Stewart’s Hors d’oeuvres Handbook)
2 cups of assorted olives green and black, such as Niçoise, Nyons and Picholine
Wide strips of zest from one lemon
1 tablespoon of juice from the lemon
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons of dried oregano
Place the olives in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, combine the lemon zest, vinegar, olive oil and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer and add the oregano. Remove from the heat and pour over the olives. Allow them to marinate at room temperature for at least 2 hours. The olives may be made 1 week ahead and kept refrigerated in aan airtight container. Return to room temp before serving Makes 2 cups.
Footnote: I shall tell this tale on myself. I was merrily writing this, thinking I’d maybe post it tomorrow and managed…for the first time and perhaps not the last…to hit the publish button instead of the save draft button! Duh. So, if you’re a subscriber and got this before I could update, add images, PROOFREAD at least once….oops! Sorry about that!~BB