In 1989, Todd English and his wife Olivia opened the original Olives; since then the restaurant has moved to larger quarters, and Todd and his bold, inventive Mediterranean-inspired cooking have earned an international reputation. Voted one of the Top Ten Restaurants by Esquire magazine and the Best New Restaurant by Boston magazine, it has also been voted Favorite Restaurant in the Zagat Guide to Boston and Vicinity. In The Olives Table, the artistry of one of America's top chefs is on display, with more than 160 dazzling recipes from Olives and from Todd's home kitchen, illustrated with beautiful photographs by Carl Tremblay.
Todd's robust, intensely flavored food begs to be savored and shared with others. And since the complexity of English's cooking comes from the layering of tastes and textures -- not exotic equipment or techniques -- by following the careful, step-by-step instructions, even the timid cook can recreate the dishes that the patrons of English's hugely popular Boston restaurant enjoy at the Olives table.
Pull out the stops and begin a meal with Todd's signature Olives Tart, baked in a crisp crust and rich with olives and creamy goat cheese, pair Gingered Slow-Braised Lamb Shanks with Apple-Fennel Mashed Potatoes for your main course, and finish with Falling Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce. Or for a lighter repast, try Pan-Fried Cornmeal-and-Cumin-Rubbed Cornish Game Hens served with Arugula Salad with Tomato and Cucumber Juice; finish with Mango-Raspberry Granita. Plan a simple but deeply satisfying supper of Roasted Clams with Chicken, Tomatoes, Artichokes, and Bacon served with roasted new potatoes and end with Gingersnap Risotto Pudding. Whatever meal you decide to create from these recipes, you won't be disappointed.
Todd English is articulate about how he cooks. His food is uniquely Mediterranean, muscular and sophisticated; he describes it as "refined rustic." His purpose in The Olives Table is to show home cooks how to make simple Mediterranean ingredients "more interesting, more elaborate, more fun." These ingredients include lobster and foie gras, as well as fresh figs, artichokes, and other seasonal foods. Many dishes are elaborate show stoppers, as in Asparagus Risotto with Ragu of Crazy Mushrooms, Porcini Cream, and White Truffles, or time-consuming: Free-Form Tuscan-Style Rabbit Lasagne that you would more likely want to travel to Cambridge to enjoy. But also look for tempting, simpler dishes you can easily make, provided you have access to impeccable, fresh ingredients like tuna and local, vine-ripened tomatoes. A few highlights are Baked Potato Salad, Ginger Mustard Chicken, and My Mama's Zucchini (a kind of stew). Look, too, for Chocolate Risotto.