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Loup Avec Croute d’olive or Seabass with Black Olive Crust

For a number of years I was a cooking assistant for my friend Kathy, who happened to own La Pitchoune, the same home that Paul and Julia Child owned. And, the home was next door to the Becks as in Simone (Simca) Beck who co-wrote Mastering the Art of French Cooking with Julia and Louisette Bertholle.

One of the many delights of this piece of paradise are olives. Consequently, so is olive oil and it is treasured in Provence. The seafood is also abundant which makes this dish a regional favorite and one I learned how to cook at La Pitchoune.

Fortunately, I still travel to Provence and lead culinary tours to this region as often as I can.
Serves 8.

1 cup black olives, pitted and finely diced
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 ½ cups fresh bread crumbs
4 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8-6 ounce sea bass fillets or (halibut, red snapper)
1 recipe black olive oil
1 recipe garlic mashed potatoes

Preheat oven to 425°F. Oil a baking sheet large enough to hold fish in one layer.  Place diced olives in a mixing bowl.  Warm the olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat.

Add the shallots and sauté until soft, but not brown. Raise the heat to high and add the bread crumbs, stirring until the crumbs are slightly crisp.  Add the crumbs to the diced olives, mix well and stir in the thyme.  Season with salt and pepper.

Season the fish with salt and pepper and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Coat the fillets with the crumb mixture, dividing evenly and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.  Bake for 8 – 10 minutes or until the fish is opaque throughout.  Serve with the garlic mashed potatoes and drizzle with black olive oil around each piece of fish.

Huille de Tapenade  (Black Olive Oil)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon tapenade

Combine olive oil and tapenade. Let stand 1 to 2 hours

Tapenade (Olive Spread)
1 pound Niçoise olives, pitted (or Kalamata)
2 anchovy fillets
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoon capers, drained
3 tablespons olive oil
Freshly ground Pepper to taste

Place the olives, anchoives, garlic, and capers in food processor and process until puréed.  While processing, add the olive oil and black pepper to taste.