Category Archives: olives

Katarina’s Summer Pasta Salad

A few years ago I had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of a lovely, sharp, boisterous, amazing German girl by name of Katarina. She often made this salad for barbeques and I can’t make it without thinking of her living with us that summer in Seattle. This is always a hit at parties because not only does it taste amazing, it will feed the Bundeswehr (an army).

This recipe serves: about 10 people (unless Tyler is there.)

2 bags Tortellini—cheese or pesto filling is fine.
1 pint or more cherry tomatoes or use grape tomatoes
1 cup Kalamata olives
1 red bell pepper
2 bunches green onions
1 small container feta cheese

1 cup low fat sour cream
4 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
lemon juice from about 1/4 lemon
1 tbsp. pesto and/or fresh basil
salt & pepper

This recipe is EASY and wonderful. If you use the precooked tortellini you’re really not even trying. Come on! And you call yourself a cook?

Anyway I usually grab two -three bags of Trader Joe’s dry Tortellini and boil that up for about 10-12 minutes. Once that is done, set it aside and let it cool off. It’s too sexy for the salad right now. It needs a cold shower and Quaalude. While it is cooling prepare everything else.

Halve the tomatoes and olives, chop the red pepper and green onions all into a bowl.

In another bowl mix the sour cream, garlic, olive oil, balsamic, lemon juice, pesto/basil and salt & pepper to taste. I know this looks like you might be doing some animal husbandry but stick with it.

Now toss it all together in a large bowl. Add in the feta cheese crumbling all the way.

It will be a colorful amazing mess of yum! Anddddddd….you’re done. I told you it was easy.

Make this one for your favorite people. I know when I make it, I think of Katarina!

This one’s for you Katinka :)


Olive, Onion Lavender Bread

The new company with which I work was kind enough to send me a gift this holiday season. It was a Lavender themed cookbook named appropriately, “The Lavender Cookbook.”

Well, all of you at Amaxra, thank you! So what do you do when you get a new cookbook?  Most of us put it on the shelf and pretend that we might at one time crack it open (when you have company for dinner). I decided to take the initiative make a lavender themed something or other. As luck would have it, it was tasty, so it made the blog!

1 cup warm water (about 100 degrees)
2 and 1/2 tsp dry yeast
1 cup warm milk
2/3 cup coarsely chopped olives
2/3 cup chopped onion
3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp lavender buds
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp black pepper
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup corn meal
2 cups whole wheat flour
3-3 and 1/2 cups white flour

Let’s froth up this bread! First pour the warm water into a large bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let that sit aside and get all foamy.  The yeast activating is always a fun process. You look away for a munite and when you look back, you’ve created life!

Then add in the warm milk, onions, olives, butter, lavender, sugar, salt, pepper and cornmeal. Then add in the wheat flour and beat it all together.

This will form a sticky thick dough. Don’t be alarmed. It’s OK if it sticks to your hands. Add the white flour 1 cup at a time.

Get in there and knead it (press the dough over and over on a flat surface) for a few minutes. Once most of the white flour is incorporated, roll the bread into a ball and place it in grease bowl. Now comes the waiting…cover the bowl with a towel and let it rise for about 1 and 1/2 hours until it has doubled in size.

***If it doesn’t change size, your yeast is dead and you’re out of luck. Enjoy your unleavened bread! If this happens mabye order Thai food.

During this time you can call Russia, get a shiatsu massage, or drink a few shots of bourbon. Whatever you deem most relaxing.

Once your dough has risen, punch it down like a kitchen prize fighter. It will deflate like my shattered ego. Divide it in two and roll those bits into balls.

Place them on a baking sheet (or pizza stone if you’re fancy) sprinkled with some more corn meal. Preheat your oven to 180 C (350 F). Let them rise again for about 30-45 minutes.

Now toss those little buns in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes.  I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is yes, but I wasn’t proud of it and they let me keep the tutu. Moving on…I meant to say, “doesn’t this take a long time?” Yes, but it is worth it.

Remove from the oven and let sit for about 5 minutes to cool. Cut into slices and serve with olive oil and cheeses.


Labels: bread, lavender, olives

Spicy Chicken Spanakopita

These are wonderful warm and cold, so logically they make great to-go lunches. I made a whole tray of these puppies and Rana took them to school for a week. I’m sounding more like a house boy every day. “House boy,” Rana will say, “fetch me that pitcher of sangria.” Oh well it’s a living.

These little wraps are versatile and long lasting, like your’s truly. The most important thing you need here is filo dough. If you don’t have that, its just a lot of messy filling and makes it a much less portable snack. This is based on a recipe from Jamilahs Kitchen.


3 cloves of garlic (I usually add more)

250 gr (1/2 lb) ground or finely chopped chicken (turkey and beef work too!)

1/2 cup raw spinach

1/2 cup crumbled feta

1/4 cup drained pickled artichoke heart

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce (mixture of balsamic vinegar and hot sauce works also)

1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives

phyllo dough

1/4 cup of melted butter

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Preheat your oven to 200 C (390 F).

Add the garlic to a little olive oil in a fry pan. After a minute or two toss in the chicken, spinach 1/4 of the feta (so 1/8 of a cup) of feta. Season with salt and pepper and pour in the worcestershire sauce. Now you want to let this reduce a bit. Stir continuously until the liquid starts to thicken a bit in the fry pan. Right before you’re about to remove it from the heat throw in the kalamata olives.

Pour the entire contents of the pan into a lar mixing bowl. Mix in the remaining feta and the artichoke hearts. The artichoke hearts will soak up some of the liquid.

Now we must prepare the papous for our filling. Here comes the fun part. Ok so it’s a royal pain in the tush but whatever. Mix the melted butter and olive oil in a bowl. Place one sheet of filo on a flat surface (the counter if you will) and brush it with the mixture of butter and olive oil. I only used olive oil because I had no butter but I’m sure butter would, as it always does, add to the flavor. Now place a new sheet of filo on top of the buttered one and butter it. Continue this process until you’ve got about 4 layers.

This is where we combine origami with cooking. Now cut the layered filo into about 5 inch wide strips lengthwise trying to leave the longest amount of dough (shown below). Plop a spoonful of the amazing filling onto the bottom left of the strip and fold like you would a flag. Continue to do this until you are out of dough or filling or your head is about to explode, whichever comes first.

Step 1

Step 2

The Hokey Pokey

Place them on a cookie sheetand brush them with the olive oil butter mixture. At this point you can sprinkle some seeds or zatar or something over the top but it is not necessary.

Put them in the oven. They should bake about 15-20 minutes. When they are golden brown, they are done. I caution you from personal experience and over-exuberance that they are quite hot inside when they come out. Let them cool for about 10 minutes before you even attempt to eat them or you’ll be scraping a fresh layer of skin off of the roof of your mouth.

Ok friends, until next time.