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Thinking Outside the Jar 

Olives for Chinese chicken and for dessert

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Photo by Wendy Chan

I've loved Henry's Olives ever since my friend introduced them to me a few years back. But the idea of cooking with the locally made, hand-cured olives never crossed my mind.

Time to be adventurous — and unconventional. Last month I threw some in my Chinese chicken dish and my family loved it. The warmth of the creamy and salty olives added a nice balance, and the aroma of lemon and ginger make it a comforting dish for a chilly evening.

Since I was already cooking with olives and lemons, I made a dessert with them as well. This time I used mild canned olives, not the tart, briny variety. It only sounds crazy. This lemon olive cake has a cup of lemon curd filling baked in, since lemon curd is one of my favorite things to make when I have a basket full of hand-picked lemons on hand. The cake itself turns out lightly sweet with a hint of savory from the black olives.

Henry's Olives Lemon Ginger Chicken

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken, bone-in, skin on, cut up into legs, thighs, breasts and wings (reserve the back and neck for stock)

1 cup Henry's Olives, La Trattoria mix

4 teaspoons olive oil (divided)

6 slices ginger

1 Myer lemon, sliced into circles

1 ½ cup water

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon cornstarch

2 teaspoons oyster sauce

2 teaspoons sugar

Ground black pepper to taste

Marinate the chicken with the soy sauce, cornstarch and 1 teaspoon of olive oil for at least 1 hour.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large pan and cook the chicken skin-side-down over medium heat until the skin browns and starts to turn crispy. Turn the pieces over, toss in the ginger and cook for 1 minute.

Add the lemon, olives, sugar and water, and mix them in the pan. Cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes until fully cooked.

Add oyster sauce and pepper to taste and sautee for another 2 minutes. Served with rice.

Lemon Olive Cake

Ingredients:

½ cup butter, softened

2 tablespoon olive oil

2/3 cup sugar

3 eggs, room temperature

1 ½ cup cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

½ cup finely chopped black olives

1 cup lemon curd

Sliced lemons, olives and powdered sugar for garnish

Heat oven to 350 F and grease a loaf pan. Cream the butter, oil and sugar until the mixture is pale yellow. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Sift the cake flour with the baking powder into the butter mixture and mix well. Stir in the lemon juice, zest and olives, and mix until evenly combined.

Pour half of the batter into the greased loaf pan, then gently spoon in the lemon curd. Now pour in the rest of the batter, smoothing the top with a spatula.

Turn the oven down to 325 F and bake the cake for 20 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and use a knife to make few cuts on the top. Bake for another 30 minutes.

Let the cake cool for 15 minutes before turning it out of the pan to cool completely on a rack. Garnish with lemon slices, olives and powder sugar.

You can find Home Cooking with Wendy Chan classes benefitting local charities on Facebook and Eventbrite, including one about noodles on March 31.

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Wendy Chan

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