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Pissaladiere and A Slice of Southwest France

September 3, 2010 · 26 comments

in Mains,Pescatarian

pissaadiere photo

For several summers running, I had rather a dreamy job which involved cooking whatever I wanted for a sweet family with a broad palate in the Southwest of France. Now, if you work in a restaurant, the bottom line is always in the front of your mind (or at least, your chef’s) and therefore your style can find itself rather cramped but other than occasional requests for potatoes (they were English after all) I could and did, mess about composing menus to my heart’s content.

onion jam picture

The house was built out of what used to be the barn and the main house of a tiny hamlet and the wood and stone construction retained a rustic feel though the kitchen boasted 2 ovens (heaven!), a fridge which dispensed ice and a dishwasher as well as windows looking out over the sunset and sunrise sides of the house. When it was particularly hot, I could take off my sandals and cool my feet against the terracotta floor.

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anchovies picture

In the cool of the mornings, I jumped on the trampoline (I love tramps!) or rambled about with the dogs past other similarly picturesque houses, one of which sold rabbits and chickens that they raised and slaughtered.

pissaladiere assembly photo

On my days off, I occasionally visited charming towns like Rocamadour, of cheese fame, which is balanced extremely precariously on a cliff or I would stay and swim and join the family for lunch. C. not only taught me how to make Pytt-i-panna but also introduced me to Pissaladiere, the French version of pizza, said to have been brought to France by the Romans in the 1300s.

how to make pissaladiere picture

Though my French didn’t improve much, I did learn that pain au chocolat in the south are called chocolatines and if you order the former, you’ll be considered a no-good Northerner (or, more likely, a tourist). If you’re ever around those parts, try it – you might get a smile.

french farmhouse picture

Do you know any dialect food words?

Pissaladiere

This is definitely a not for the faint-hearted, it’s very sweet and very salty. I’ve taken some liberties with it, but I served it to a Frenchman and he seemed to approve.

NB: I got an email from C. who says she adds a bit of sugar and water to the onions at the end, as well as a layer of tomato paste under them.

1 sheet of puff pastry

6 medium onions

6 tablespoons olive oil

A jar of anchovies

About 6 Kalamata olives

A beaten egg mixed with a tablespoon of water

Slice the onions as thinly as possible. To avoid tears, I put them in the freezer for about half an hour first.

Heat a frypan over medium heat and add the olive oil.

Add the onions and leave to fry for about 10 minutes without stirring unless they start to burn, in which case, turn it down a little.

When the bottom is dark golden brown, stir the onions, lower heat to medium low and cover.

Cook for 15 minutes or until jammy.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius (395 fahrenheit) and pit and slice the olives.

If you buy the pastry in a block, roll it out to a rectangle of about 25 x 35 cm otherwise just unroll it from the paper, and place onto a sheet of baking paper and then a baking tray.

Gently score a rectangle 1 cm smaller than the size of the pastry and arrange the onion jam inside.

Criss-cross the anchovies diagonally across the onions and dot an olive in each diamond.

Brush the border lightly with egg wash and bake until the sides and the bottom are golden, about 15 minutes (this is important – have a look underneath with a fish slice or something or it won’t be crisp).

Serve with a green salad.

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Alessandra September 3, 2010 at 10:26 am

No anchovies for me but… I always made it with a pizza dough… is puff pastry suitable??? It would make my life easier because I mostly buy frozen puff pastry now!!! (I know I should never say this, but it is true… and it has changed my life and baking! hehehehe)

XX
A.

Sasa September 4, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Yes, apparently it’s even done by the French. But if it tastes good, I say, do it and cock a snook at tradition…I’m totally with you on the frozen puff!

tiina { sparkling ink } September 3, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Recipe bookmarked! Just simple and lovely thing to make in a case of surprise guests, for instance. This dish + a bottle wine= a great night with friends! Have a good weekend! xo

Sasa September 4, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Thanks Tiina, you too – I will, I’m in Greece!

Kerry@Foodlovas September 3, 2010 at 1:48 pm

I love love love this recipe. I am trying it for sure!
Thanks

Kerry September 14, 2010 at 1:43 pm

I made it last night! I only have a small oven so I made individual tarts. They were delicious! Thanks :)

Liam O'Malley September 3, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Wow, what a wonderful job that must have been. I am so jealous! Is that actually a picture of the house you cooked in? I think your post has supplied me with sufficient daydream material for the next few hours…

Sasa September 4, 2010 at 4:39 pm

It is the house! The barn actually, which is where the kids slept.

Anna Johnston September 5, 2010 at 4:12 am

What a lovely little recipe, so simple with the added bonus of being ‘oh so French’ :) Beautiful barn, what a great experience.

papaya September 5, 2010 at 4:34 am

this looks deeeelishus. shall def try it soon.

christine September 5, 2010 at 6:53 pm

One of the things I love the most about visiting great blogs like yours is I get to not only see food I’ve never seen prepared before, but you get to read about how they taste. Love it….. & now I’m hungry …. again :) If you wont mind I’d love to guide Foodista readers to your post. Just add the foodista widget to the end of this post so it will appear in the Foodista pages and it’s all set, Thanks!

Vanessa September 5, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Your posts are always so fantastic and I’m always impressed by the quality of the recipes and photos too. You made me feel I was with you in France, wandering around in the country. I miss it there and would love to return soon but in the meantime, perhaps this French version of pizza will revive good memories. Hmm, food dialect; well in Berlin, doughnuts aren’t called Berliners like everywhere else because that would be like eating the inhabitants so instead we say Pfannkuchen which are normally pancakes. In Switzerland, when we went to the mountains in the Central Region, there was a sign saying Poulet in Körbli, chicken in a little basket which always made me smile. I love the mix of French and German.

Sasa September 12, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Yeah wiener sausages aren’t called that in Vienna either, I think they’re called frankfurters. Hm.

Lana September 6, 2010 at 12:24 am

Hello, Sasa, I just discovered your blog perusing the Food Blog Forum. Not only are your photos beautiful and recipes easy to follow and so international, your stories have touched me, too. I had to go back and read everything from the beginning.
I am a story-teller as well, and spending time with you through your blog gave me a lot of pleasure. It is hard to find someone who writes so well.
Greetings from California.

Alli September 6, 2010 at 12:34 pm

What a great place to work, I just love anything French! A few slang words for food….’scouse’ not only a person from Liverpool but also a dish commonly known as stew, even funnier ‘blind scouse’ a stew with no meat in it which would be a trendy vegetarian dish these days whereas it originated because families couldn’t afford meat.

Sasa September 12, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Really! Will have to look that up, I want to make a stew called Scouse, heh.

The Grubworm September 6, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Wow – I came across something similar in a Nigel Slater book years and years ago, and it has become a staple, made with mushrooms, bacon and taleggio. Now I know where he got the idea from. I love the idea of anchovies and olives, i would never have thought of that – making a piquant, umami rich dish. Delicious.

Dave September 7, 2010 at 8:45 am

Hi,

I love this tart. I”m not a big fan of anchovies, but somehow it works so well in this dish. I am def going to have to try this again one day soon.

diva September 7, 2010 at 1:22 pm

this looks well scrummy! ahaha love that you’re taking the mickey out of the English and their insane love for spuds. I can’t think of any dialect food words (my brain’s fried completely) but my mates and I back in the days formed a jacket potato lunch team. It was pretty much what we ate every lunch break, leaving the library starvin’ and thinking of one thing only – jacket potatoes. They’re mostly ‘jackets’ but we created a codename for it – JACKPOTS. And that’s stuck for like forever. I sometimes end up ordering ‘a jackpot with cheese and beans please’. Of course, the deli lady is just like WTF. :D

SMITH BITES September 7, 2010 at 1:40 pm

I just love coming here Sasa – love reading all about your adventures both in life and with the food you create – fills my own spirit with adventures! And that ‘barn’ – stunning! You’ve had quite a life so far, traveling, work, cooking – makes for a very rich life indeed!

catty September 7, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Feel free to come live with me and cook for me! I pay in hugs :)

sakura September 7, 2010 at 10:27 pm

Ooh, how lovely to spend summer in south west France. This recipe looks easy enough for even me to try^^

Becca Rothwell September 7, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Oh I LOVE pissaladiere! Actually I love anything that involves anchovies, black olives and softly caramelised onions. Oh I want one now!

I’m with you on the frozen puff pastry though, I feel guilt buying short crust, but I spend enough time faffing about in the kitchen and sometimes it’s better to just make life easier or we’d never eat! It’s probably better quality than I could turn out anyway!

Jealous of your dream job too, that sounds so idyllic! If I was a more competent cook that would be my ideal life!

Glenn September 7, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Sweet. I don’t think I can do the little fishies, but I can think of plenty of other additives. Thanks for a nice recipe!

Katie@Cozydelicious September 9, 2010 at 3:43 am

What an amazing job! Being a private cook must have been wonderful! I have been wanting to make a pissaladiere for years – since I saw Julia Child’s recipe. Yours looks so tasty!

Sophia October 11, 2010 at 7:32 pm

I’ve seen so many recipes lately for pizzas! So far, I think yours must be the best! The other one I really like is Mexican Pizza. What do you think? Thanks again for sharing this delicious pizza recipe!

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