It all started in the south of France when I started to take a serious commitment to spreading tapenade on my baguette and drink kir as the sun sets in front of me every afternoon in my friend's garden in an old hilltop town overlooking Grasse. It was summer, I was on holiday with my 2-year old daughter and I was relaxing with my friend of more than 30 years. Imagine that. Still together after all these years.
We sometimes bridge the 750 kilometer (more or less) gap between us when there is a need to confront personal issues. Like dealing with our lives. Keeping families together is a full-time job and in handling it, we tend to forget to detach ourselves from the routine sometimes. A break, quiet time, a time to reboot and jump back to the daily routine again. I think, my daughter needed that break too from her big brother to discover herself and take out how she really is. She was a little child lost in her brother's shadow. In fact, that pause had given each of us a chance to distance ourselves from each other and take a better look at the importance of what we have.
At the airport, my husband and son greeted us happily with a stem of rose each. That was a very sweet way of admitting that they missed the females in the house. At home, I took out what I brought home for them. Endless jars of tapenade. It was the start of a French lesson.
One of the tapenade that my friend and I loved was a mixture of olives, figs and almonds that we had once at a restaurant. It has been so many months but I still think about it sometimes but I never really got around to experimenting. Since I have this habit of scribbling recipes, ingredients or anything pertaining to cooking or food in loose notes, even on tissue paper (God forbid!), I breathed deeply and finally attacked my dreaded job of organizing them. There I found my scribbled notes from my French trip. I found the reminder to try out a list of ingredients that my friend and I put together after guessing what could have been in that tapenade.
I know she wouldn't be impressed by the fact that I spread it on a sandwich bread and mixed it with mayo and prosciutto cotto (cooked ham). No other French would. Tsk! Tsk! But hey, they are good! You can give it a try too! Or if you want to eat it the simple French way, just smear your baguette with it.
Mini Ham Sandwiches With Olive, Fig and Almond Tapenade
Olive, Fig and Almond Tapenade
Makes 1/2 cup
- 1/4 cup black olives (I used Taggiasche from Liguria)
- 1 fillet of anchovies
- 1/2 tablespoon capers
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 garlic clove (or 1/2 - 1 whole if you like it more garlicky)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon brandy
- 2 dried figs
- 1 teaspoon almonds
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil of good quality
- Soak capers in water for 10 minutes then drain. Squeeze out excess liquid.
- Mix all ingredients except extra virgin olive oil in a blender.
- While blending, pour extra virgin olive oil slowly.
- Keep refrigerated in a jar.
To Compose the Mini Sandwiches:
Makes 8 mini sandwiches
- olive, fig and almond tapenade
- 6 slices of cooked ham (depending on the size of your bread)
- 6 slices of sandwich bread
- 8 pitted whole olives (optional)
- Layer the following: bread, tapenade, bread, mayonnaise, ham (double the ham if it's too thin), bread.
- Slice away and discard the brown sides of the bread then slice to four parts.
- Top with olives if desired.