Monday, August 17, 2009

Pissaladiere Nicoise

On Saturday, I did something I would recommend strongly for others to avoid doing. I made four dishes for the very first time. To top it off, they were all out of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I decided to attempt to make an entirely Julia Child meal to celebrate her birthday. We had tried to invite friends over, but they weren't available and for that I was thankful. By the time I was done cooking, I was exhausted. I never finished making the chicken (the hollandaise type sauce never got made).

Everything was fabulous though and I learned a lot (like only attempt one new dish for a meal), found a killer pie crust recipe, made a cake that is divine, and discovered that a tart made out of onions, anchovies, and black olives is actually really good. (I can imagine my redheaded cousin cringing as he reads that last sentence because I am sure that breaks so many of his food rules!).

The tart isn't a main course, but more like an appetizer or a side. Because the onions are slowly cooked for an hour, they are very tender, mild, and slightly sweet. The anchovies and olives provide nice flavor to an otherwise uniform tasting tart. I will definitely make this again, especially when my onion basket is overflowing like it currently is (one medium sized bag of onions is way more than I can use in a week). The most time consuming, hands on part of this is chopping the onions. However, if you want practice chopping onions, this recipe is the perfect recipe to attempt it. I feel like I am much quicker at it now than I was three days ago!

Pissaladiere Nicoise
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

one 9" pie crust, put inside a tart pan**
2 lbs onions, chopped
4 T olive oil
1 medium herb bouquet: 4 parsley springs, 1/4 t fresh thyme, 11/2 bay leaf tied in a washed cheesecloth
2 cloves unpeeled garlic
1/2 t salt
1 pinch of cloves
1/8 t pepper
8 - 12 canned anchovy fillets
16 pitted black (Nicoise is preferable) olives
1 T olive oil

Cook the onions very slowly in the olive oil with the herb bouquet, unpeeled garlic, and salt for about an hour, or until very tender. Discard herb bouquet and garlic. Stir in cloves and pepper, and taste carefully for seasoning. Meanwhile, in a 400 degrees preheated oven, partially bake pie crust for 8 minutes. Be sure to line the pie crust with foil and weight down with pie weights, dried rice, or dried beans to let pie crust hold it's shape and not puff. Remove crust from oven, remove foil and discard, and prick pie crust with fork. Spread the onions in the pastry shell. Arrange anchovy fillets over it in a fan-shaped design. Place the olives at decorative intervals. Drizzle on the oil. Bake in the upper third of a preheated 400 degrees oven for 10 - 15 minutes or until bubbling hot. Remove tart from pan and serve.

**For what I think is the perfect pie crust, check out Julia Child's pastry shell recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I am not going to attempt to put it here, because it is very detailed and has some awesome illustrations. Go ahead, reserve and check out the cookbook at the Public Library, don't be scared of Julia any longer!

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