With the holidays wrapping up and the house returning to its pre-holiday state we are setting our dreams and goals for the New Year with simplicity, creativity, and connection at the top of our list. I plan to keep curating and sharing inspiring content to feed your head, heart, and belly. As always, I am listening so keep telling me what you want and need. We are on this journey together, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Now onto the good stuff, black gold olive tapenade for your next celebration.
When I graduated from the Culinary Institute of Los Angeles, I was also working at the Getty Museum by day and attending classes 3 to 4 nights a week, to follow my passion for food as a creative outlet. Since I was working a very traditional day job the kitchen was where I could take risks, express myself and connect to others by sharing a good meal. I learned many lessons about myself through food and cooking.
After working in pastry for several prominent Los Angeles eateries, suffering third-degree burns on my arms while the head chef screamed at me to get back to work — I knew I needed something different. That's when I launched my first business, a catering company where I set the tone for a supportive, inclusive culture. It was so much fun in the early days, catering intimate in-home events, cooking the food I love, and working with an incredible staff. It was also exhausting and I was completely unprepared for the intricacies of running a business while fulfilling the roles of chef, client support, bookkeeper, food sourcing, and event planning all by myself. What was a fun time quickly turned into serious burnout. I was staying up all night to get everything done and then on my feet during the day, hustling to meet deadlines. Physically and mentally drained I made the decision to sell the company. I also learned it can be a slippery slope turning your love for something, into a career.
This is why I was so slow to embrace photography. With the sting of burnout still fresh in my mind, it took fourteen years for me to launch the Goldenbrand (there was a clothing line in between) and name photography as my focus. It has also taken me that long to feel ready to return to my first love, food. Oh, I still cook elaborate meals for family and close friends but to bring it back in a public way, sharing my story and recipes with you — took some time and consideration.
I can no longer deny that food will always be a source of inspiration and creativity for me. Often when I am pulling images for a client project and I'll come across an image that I just have to recreate for myself — whether it's inspiration for a self-portrait or a delicious palate of food that has me running to the kitchen. For me, it's all connected and as much as I loathe the term, I am a multi-hyphenate at heart for better or for worse.
So here's what you can expect. Since you loved my initial food and recipe share (thank you for the notes and photos, by the way, I loved seeing them) I'm happy to keep storytelling and sharing if you are happy to keep reading them.
I never write out my recipes, which means a favorite dish is a little different each time I make it. I happen to love this but it understandably drives friends crazy when they ask for the recipe and I tell them the ingredient list and to wing it. I see it as an adventure though, the best way to appreciate the newness of each meal.
I want to encourage you to do the same. Like your photography , self-portraits or whatever creative endeavor floats your boat, I want you to stay curious and trust your own intuition when it comes to food. Please consider my recipes suggestions, an outline — a way to express your taste and creativity. After all the magic of good food lies in its ability to create connection and memories. When celebrating or having a meal with someone you love do you care if the food is good?
Enough backstory Lisa , tell us about the food.
Without further ado I bring you my simple, delicious, and elegant Black Gold Olive Tapenade with Flatbread Crackers. You may want to double the batch while you have the food processor handy because you'll want to spread this on flatbread pizza, panini's, and slather it over your pasta with a touch of basil & lemon — or sun-dried tomato if that's your thing.
BLACK GOLD OLIVE TAPENADE with FLATBREAD CRACKERS
Yield: 1 cup
For the tapenade
1/2 cup pitted black Kalamata olives
1 tablespoon drained capers
1 drained oil-packed anchovy fillets (leave out if you're not a fan)
1 medium garlic clove
For the crackers
2/3 cup rye flour
2/3 cup plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp sea salt
4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to brush
3 tbsp mixed seeds (such as coriander, fennel, pepitas, and sesame)
Flaky sea salt or coarse salt for sprinkling
Make the tapenade
Drain olives from oil or brine & peel garlic. Give everything a whir in your food processor, blender or us an old fashioned mortar and pestle but give your olives a rough chop first if you use the later method.
Make the crackers
Heat the oven to 350°F. Mix the flours and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in 2/3 cup cold water little by little by with the 4 tbsp olive oil. Use your hands to bring it together and form a dough, adding a little more water if needed.
Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Cut into 10 pieces, then roll out each as thinly as possible into any shape you like.
Transfer the crackers to the lined baking sheets, brush with a little extra oil and sprinkle with mixed seeds and a grinding of black pepper. Bake for 7-8 minutes until golden and cooked to your liking (you’ll need to do this in batches). Transfer to a wire rack to cool and continue with the remaining dough.
Break up the crackers to serve or put in food bags and keep in a cool place