Unlike those three gents outside who installed my new gutters in under three hours, I have accomplished very little today.
See? Gutters. Fascinating.
So, there’s a closet to be organized, a bathroom to be cleaned and a book to be read. Did I do any of that today? Nope.
Blame it on a first ever nighttime finish of the Tour de France? A book club meeting that lasted for many hours? Or the addictive qualities of the
new toy Ipad mini? Combo of all three probably and definitely not worth analyzing but the least a girl can do is knock out a blog post for a requested recipe from yesterday’s book club.
And speaking of firsts, Evelyn’s first pick inspired a very spirited discussion. I, for one, highly recommend this read (although it wasn’t totally loved by all ten of us, to be honest).
(photo shamelessly cut-and-pasted from telegraph.co.uk. I hope they don’t mind!)
It also inspired a very spirited gobbling of food!
There was my pissaladière and pea pesto crostini (both of which were requested recipes and shall appear here shortly), Barb’s grilled coconut shrimp with orange chutney, Maeve’s Asian-inspired meatballs, Wendy’s Indian-spiced potatoes (she’s the potato lady after all), and Molly’s dessert duo of banana cake and Oreo dessert. Norma made a watermelon salad, Beth brought a cheese/fruit plate and Vikki make another cake.
In other words, we didn’t go hungry. Or thirsty for that matter, but this time the bottles of rosé shall remain, er, uncounted.
Call it caramelized onion pizza, onion tart or the true Provençale name, Pissaladière, which is what I usually call it until people look at me funny. I’m not trying to be a Frenchie-snob. Back in the 90s, our Luberon-born French friend, Jérôme, used to bring it to every party. This is what he called it (because that’s what it’s called). Thank you for bearing with me.
Yield: 1 cookie sheet sized pizza, can serve several as an appetizer or 3-4 as a main course with salad.
Do not turn your back on this recipe if you are not an onion lover. Onions that cook for a couple of hours over low heat become caramelized. Caramelized = candy-like. They are sweet and delicious contrasted with the saltiness of chopped black olives and anchovies (pssst-I didn’t tell them about the anchovies yesterday. Sorrrrrrry.)
I referenced both Dinner: A Love Story and My French Kitchen. The crust is Jim Lahey’s no-knead pizza dough via Dinner: A Love Story (which might be my favorite cookbook-I’m just sayin’). The ease of this crust will change your pizza-making life. Just remember to leave two hours of rise time before you’re ready to assemble the pizza (fine, I’m calling it pizza now).
For the crust
- 3 3/4 cups flour
- 1 packet yeast
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 3/4 tsp. sugar
- 1 1/3 cups warm water
- olive oil for greasing the pan and the freezer bag (this recipe yields two doughs)
Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl and add the water. Mix to incorporate the water with a wooden spoon and then get in there with your clean hands until there is no flour left unmixed. You will have a stiff dough. I do actually knead a couple of times right in the bowl, just so it all stays together. Cover it with a towel and allow to rise in a warm spot (such as on your stovetop) for two hours.
Preheat oven to 500°.
Once the dough has risen, divide in half. Work a little olive oil around a freezer bag and plop one dough half in the freezer for later use.
Generously oil (about a tablespoon, depending on your pan) a rimmed cookie sheet with your fingers or a brush. Add the dough and work/stretch/push it with your fingers until it reaches close to the edges. Be patient as it may take a while but it will get there and produce a lovely thin crust. (This method comes, again, straight from Jenny). The beauty: no rolling pin needed!
Next add the toppings: caramelized onions, a couple of chopped anchovies (shhhh…) and about 10 or so chopped black olives. Cook in the hot oven for 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool and cut into desired number of pieces.
For the onions
- four large onions, thinly sliced (I used Vidalia but you could use white onions)
- a couple of sprigs of thyme
- 3-4 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar (optional)
In a large skillet, cook the onions over very low heat until they are nicely browned. Nestle the thyme sprigs among the onions and make sure to remove stems before assembling the pizza (there I go again). This could take up to an hour or more to get these right so I often do this the night before (or perhaps while the dough is rising).
You don’t have to stand in front the onions the whole time. Here are some tips. Start with a low flame. If not much seems to be happening, turn it up a bit. Make sure, however, that your are not browning your onions (like when you grill them over high heat), so continue adjusting your flame throughout. They should become a caramel colored brown from time and low heat. Stir every so often. Eventually they will cook down to about 1/4 their original size and, like I said, taste like candy. Add the tsp. of balsamic vinegar at the end and mix.
Enjoy these on the pizza, as a crostini topping or even on a burger. If you made these ahead of time, it might be hard not to eat them straight out of the container you’re storing them in.
You might notice I’ve been experimenting with adding text to my photos.
Now, about that closet…