Seared Chicken Breasts

With Almonds and Olives

(4 servings)

A handful of nuts.

Some roughly chopped fruit, even olives.

And a quick turn in a skillet with a bit of melted butter.

This simple equation is the autumnal answer to summer salsas when served in conjunction with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Beyond almonds and olives, consider pistachios with grapes, cashews with plumped golden raisins or pecans with sauteed apples. (Or any combination thereof.)

Adapted from "Gourmet's Five Ingredients" (Conde Nast/Random House, 2002).

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

About 1/4 cup whole almonds with skins

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

About 1 cup brine-cured pitted green olives, such as picholine, or red or green seedless grapes

About 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)

In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. When the foam subsides, add the almonds and cook, stirring frequently, until they darken slightly, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the almonds to a cutting board to cool slightly, leaving the butter in the skillet.

While the almonds heat, pat the chicken dry. Place the chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and, using your hand, a skillet or a rolling pin, gently flatten each piece to an even thickness of between 1/4 and 1/2 inch. Season with salt and pepper to taste on both sides. Set aside.

Return the skillet with the butter to medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning at least once, until golden brown and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side. It may be necessary to reduce the heat to medium. Transfer to a cutting board. If desired, cut the chicken lengthwise into thin slices; cover to keep warm.

While the chicken cooks, coarsely chop the olives or grapes and the almonds. Set aside.

While the chicken rests, add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to the skillet and heat until the butter melts and the foam subsides. Add the almonds and olives or grapes and toss just until completely coated with butter and barely warmed through, about 30 seconds. Taste and, if desired, season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Working quickly, spoon the almond mixture over the chicken and serve immediately.

Per serving (using olives): 309 calories, 41 gm protein, 1 gm carbohydrates, 15 gm fat, 111 mg cholesterol, 4 gm saturated fat, 991 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber

-- Renee Schettler

Halloween Shopping Cart

Which is easier? Hollowing out and carving a pumpkin or making Halloween cookies? The answer is the latter, especially with these cushioned oversize pumpkin and ghost Comfort Grip Cutters. The stainless-steel cutters go smoothly through thick dough, and the cushioned grips are comfortable and safe, especially for the little kitchen goblins. The recipe printed on the back of the cardboard packaging produces an easy-to-work dough that tastes good too. But check the back of the packaging you select to be sure you can read all the recipe ingredients. We bought one that had a hole punched right through the amount of sugar.

Wilton Comfort Grip Cutters, $2.79 each. Available at Kitchen Etc., Mid Pike Plaza (11840 Rockville Pike at Montrose Road), Rockville; call 301-468-1770; and Potomac Run Plaza, Route 7, Sterling; call 703-433-2390.

Jamie Oliver's Class Online Today

The first chef in Great Cooks & Their Books series, Jamie Oliver, conducted a master class at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown on Monday. He made Near East Couscous With Grilled Vegetables and Loadsa Herbs and Chicken in Salt With Fennel, Thyme and Lemon.

Video of the master class will be online beginning today and the recipes that ran last Wednesday in the Food section will also be available online. Go to www.washingtonpost.com to cook along with the Naked Chef.

Web Site of the Week


They road-test infomercial kitchen gadgets.

They poke fun at but openly subscribe to healthful eating tips.

They always have the last word.

This male-slanted approach to the world of food online is more about keeping readers well fed and aware of what's worth the calories (and what's not) and less about proper cooking techniques and of-the-moment ingredients.

All in guy-speak.

For instance, "Avoid the Iceberg . . . and 18 Other Salad-Bar Survival Tips," wisely refers to "creamy salads" as "the white death."

Today's Tip

To easily pit a large number of olives for a recipe, place the olives on a cutting board and, using the flat side of a large knife, squash each olive until it splits. Then use the tip of the knife or your fingers to extract the pit.

-- "Sara Moulton Cooks at Home" by Sara Moulton (Broadway, 2002)

Food Attitude, a New York wholesale bakery, has created a novel pumpkin pie that is covered with a decorated pastry dome, ($25 for a nine-inch pie). Place the small, votive candle (included) atop the pie and cover with the dome for an eerie, pie-o-lantern effect.

Available at Dean & DeLuca, 3276 M St. NW; call 202-342-2500.

To Do

FRIDAY-SUNDAY: Russian and Eastern European food festival at St. Mark's Orthodox Church. Free admission. Friday, 4-8 p.m.; Saturday, noon-6 p.m.; Sunday, noon-4 p.m. 7124 River Rd., Bethesda. Call 301-229-6300 or see www.stmarkoca.org

SATURDAY: Burgundy cooking class and wine tasting at Tersiguel's Restaurant. $67.50 includes tax and tip. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 8293 Main St., Ellicott City, Md. Call 410-465-4004.

SATURDAY: Game Birds and Root Vegetables -- cooking class at Equinox Restaurant. $60 excludes tax and tip. 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. 818 Connecticut Ave. NW. Call 202-331-8118 or see www.EquinoxRestaurant.com

SATURDAY: Cooking demonstration and book signing with "The Art of the Chinese Cookery" author Joan Shih. Free. Noon-2 p.m. Hecht's Home Center, Westfield Shoppingtown, 7101 Democracy Blvd., Bethesda. Call 703-558-1610.

MONDAY: Mondavi wine dinner at Stardust Restaurant. $80 excludes tax and tip. 7 p.m. 608 Montgomery St., Alexandria. Call 703-548-9864.

TUESDAY: Steele Vineyards wine dinner at the Grill Restaurant. Special guest: Jed Steele. $90 excludes tax and tip. 7 p.m. Ritz-Carlton, 1150 22nd St. NW. Call 202-974-5566.

TUESDAY: Tenuta Mazzolino wine dinner at Villa d'Este Restaurant. $70 includes tax and tip. 7 p.m. 818 North Asaph St., Alexandria. Call 703-549-9477.


Nov. 7: 1996 Cotes de Nuits wine dinner at the Oval Room. Sponsored by Tasters Guild. 7 p.m. $95 includes tax and tip. 800 Connecticut Ave. NW. Call 202-223-1700.

Nov. 11: Dining Savvy for Adults, Teens and Children -- etiquette class and dinner sponsored by the International School of Protocol. $70 for adults; $50 for teens and children, includes tax and tip. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Milton Inn, 14833 York Rd., Sparks, Md. Call 410-592-6399 or see www.schoolofprotocol.com

Nov. 12: French desserts lecture and tasting with "Paris Sweets: Great Desserts From the City's Best Pastry Shops" author Dorie Greenspan. Sponsored by the Smithsonian Associates. $60 for nonmembers. 7 p.m. S. Dillon Ripley Center, 1100 Jefferson Dr. SW. Call 202 357-3030 or see www.residentassociates.com

Nov. 13: A Day With Washington Cookbook Authors -- cooking demonstrations, lectures, tastings and book signings with local authors. Sponsored by the Smithsonian Associates. $140 for nonmembers includes lunch. 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. The Washington Club, 15 Dupont Circle NW. Call 202-357-3030 or see www.residentassociates.com.

Nov. 14: National Press Club book fair and signing with "Celebrate With Chocolate" author Marcel Desaulniers, "The Asian Diet" author Diana My Tran, "The Magic of Fire" author William Rubel and "The Convent Cook" author Maria Tisdall. $5. 6-8:30 p.m. 529 14th St. NW. Call 202-662-7501.