It’s about time I give you a provençal recipe since, after all, this blog is named after that sunny and inspiring region in the south of France. Plus it certainly sounds like Provence lately with those cicadas going crazy out there. My own little Provence (my back patio, bien sûr) has been taken over by mosquitos and is unfortunately uninhabitable these days. (They’re so bad that even my dental hygienist mentioned them this week!) So I’ll have to settle with dreaming of the real Provence, which is not hard to do since it seems that a 2012 Provence holiday is in the works. Thank you, Olympics! When my mom learned that we wouldn’t be able to spend her 70th birthday in Scotland because of the games, she stated ever so calmly (and wisely), “maybe we’ll just have to go back to France”. Maybe indeed!
Pissaladière is certainly one of the classic recipes from that region. Translated, it might be easiest to call it Caramelized Onion Tart (or pizza), because that’s essentially what it is. Doesn’t sound appetizing? Well, have you ever cooked a couple of thinly sliced large onions in butter and olive oil on low heat for well over an hour? If not, you’re seriously missing out. That’s the one “must-do” with this recipe. There’s no short-cut, because there’s no way to get the onions tasting that sweet without goin’ low and slow. Normally, one would make a pizza crust to hold all this onion-y goodness, but this time since it was an appetizer for French movie night chez Wendy, I took an easier route and served it as crostini, or rather, on sliced baguette.
1 demi baguette, sliced thinly
2-3 large onions, white or yellow, sliced as thinly as possible
a few sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. chopped black olives (not the canned kind, rather kalamata or niçoise, you know, the fancy kind from the olive bar)
coarse salt and pepper
First, melt the butter and the olive oil in a large sauté pan on low heat. Add the onions and thyme and cook on low for at least an hour. You want them to get really brown and this takes a while.
While the onions are cooking, prepare the crostini toasts by brushing the slices with olive oil and sprinkling with some coarse salt. Toast them in the oven at 400° until lightly browned (about 5-8 minutes).
Once the onions are brown and sweet (this could take over a hour!) add a dash of salt and pepper to season. You want them to look like this: sort of, but even more brown. Place about a tablespoon of the onion mixture on the toasted baguette slices and top with a bit of the chopped black olives.
True pissaladière also has thinly sliced anchovies–go there if you dare, but either way you have another easy and elegant appetizer. And this one’s even provençal!
We enjoyed these along with some of Wendy’s homemade white bean dip (maybe she’ll share her method later?) and Barb’s gourmet-style “pigs in a blanket”. And of course many glasses of crisp vin blanc. Finalment, Wendy’s movie selection for this summer’s French Movie Night was “Blame it on Fidel”, a charming tale of a young girl in 1970’s France whose parents suddenly become hippies. If you like movies of the subtitled sort, this was a highly entertaining one.
Other food adventures this past week included Frozen Mojitos and fish tacos at Sabor Latino. Their menu has definitely improved but they seriously need to clean and paint that dirty entranceway. I also attempted a Cucumber Dill Soup, an Asian Chicken Salad from a cookbook I bought in Ireland, a Cucumber Watermelon Salad to accompany Jerk Chicken and the oh-so-delicious Roasted Tomatoes with Shrimp and Feta, a recipe I make at least once a year when tomatoes are at their peak.
Can you tell I’m a big fan of the cucumber?