Happy Sunday everyone! Today Vito’s back with some more street food! You know the best part about this series? Vito does the cooking (it’s been amazing!) and the writing (also pretty great, right?). Win for me, and I hope you guys are enjoying it too. Take it away, Vito.
In our second installment of street food, I’d like to take you to France. As a culinarian (I hate the word “foodie”), it is one of those “Mecca” type places I’ve always wanted to go, wander around, and savor – well – everything.
This next journey from “Street Food” is pissaladiere – a delectable savory “pizza-like” street food that turned out to be out of this world good. The secret – and where I deviated from the recipe was with the anchovies, but more on that later.
Walk with me please. It’s November in Nice – the rainy season. It’s morning and gray – a little chilly, so we are both wearing our wool sweaters.
As we stroll, close your eyes for a moment… smell the brine in the air – coming from the Mediterranean – take it in. The salt, the fresh fish, the garlic, the onions and heady smells of bread and pastry. Take a deep breath – I’ll stop and wait.
Hey – are you Hungry? I need something. Something that embodies this experience, something that converts the smells into flavor… I need a pissaladiere.
- 1 package (2 ½ teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 2/3 cups AP flour
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus extra for greasing
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1lb White Anchovies packed in Safflower Oil
- 5 large onions sliced thin
- 1 fresh bouquet garni of fresh thyme, parsley, and bay leaf
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ cup Nicoise Olives (with pits)
- Put the yeast, sugar, milk ½ cup lukewarm water, and 1 tablespoon of the flour into a food processor fitted with a plastic blade. Leave for 5 minutes until frothy.
- Add the egg, oil, salt, and half the flour. Pulse for 1 minute. Add the remaining flour and pulse until the dough forms a sticky ball.
- Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl, put into a plastic bag and seal well. Set aside for 2 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 450, divide the dough into 4, roll, and pat into discs.
- Roll out and cut (I used a lid from our small Dutch oven as a guide – about the size of a pita) and plait the edges if desired. I was able to get two more whole discs from the dough using the Pot lid as my die. Use a fork to dock the center of the discs and bake for 7 minutes.
- Meanwhile, to make the topping, toss the onions with the oil, some salt and pepper (to taste) and cook them on a very low temp (covered) until soft and caramelized (about 2 hours) (keeping the pan very low and covered makes the process take longer but the result is succulently sweet onions that you can nearly spread.
- Remove from oven and brush with olive oil, spread on the onions and place the anchovies in “X”’s on the discs. Place an olive in the small diamonds that form after placing the fillets.
- Make small pouches with unbleached parchment, slide in the pissaladiere. Bake for an additional 10 minutes and serve.
Before you decide to say “thanks but no thanks” or “that would be good without the anchovies” I would like to tell you a secret… Not all anchovies are created equal.
A few years ago, Rhonda and I were eating dinner at a steak house and I ordered the Caesar salad (extra anchovies – I love em’). The salad came out with little, white, morsels of delectableness. They were like no other anchovies I’d had before – fresh and meaty and fantastic.
I went home and did some research and discovered that in some parts of France, Italy, and Sicily – they cultivate these little power houses as their own little secret ingredients. Packed in Safflower Oil or Olive Oil and White Vinegar, they are worlds apart from the little black salty messes mashed into a tin can and sold to Americans. But never fear – Whole Foods and Amazon are here! At times Whole Foods carries these in the refrigerated section by the meat/fish counter or you can always order these from Amazon.
Until you have tried this recipe with White Anchovies packed in nothing but Safflower Oil – you just haven’t tried it. As an added bonus White Anchovies are packed with unreal amounts of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, Folates, Niacin, Protein, Calcium, Magnesium, and Selenium.
As for the olives – if you try hard, you can find pitted Nicoise. However, I chose to use non pitted olives because, 1) it was what my recipe called for, and 2) it made us eat these slower… Which may very well be the point. We (many American’s) tend to shove food into our face as fast as possible (especially anything resembling a pizza). Knowing the olives had pits made us all take smaller bites, eat slower and savor the dish all the more. Nice trick Frenchie’s
All and all – Rhonda, Arden (8), a Guest, and I thought these were definitely a make again meal – Emery (5) was less than impressed but gave them (anchovies and all) a good try before he politely asked if he could pick his anchovies off. First, he did try them both on and off the pissaladiere. Win some and lose some.
Stay tuned for the next installment where we travel to Istanbul… or Constantinople… or Istanbul, ahh well that is nobody’s business but the Turks. Our business however will be the mass consumption of Cig Borek (lamb pies). Until next time – enjoy your trip to Nice!