Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Pizza or Pissaladière?

I am sitting, quietly thinking, enjoying the last weeks of warm weather. As the trees turn their autumn colours, leaves slowly drifting off their branches and hurried along by wind gusts, its hard to imagine that summer is over so soon. I will welcome the winter this year because we have had so little rain. Gardens are dying and animals have no feed in their paddocks. Cattle and sheep are being fed on hay, a big expense for farmers, but what is the alternative?

It has been dry enough to send brown snakes up to the house and Blue Tongue lizards out from their shrubbery: koalas drinking water from containers put out by caring neighbours, it is the driest period in 38 years.

Early mornings have the autumn air and soon there will be heaters and sweaters and wooly hats and thick soups to take the chill off any outdoor pursuits. But until then lets enjoy what mother nature provides, the warmth of the sun and the colours of a rainbow.

I've just been looking at photographs taken a couple of years ago in France and the gardens are so beautiful and the countryside is so green; I 'm reminded of Brie and French Onion Soup and truffles, so tonight I am going to settle on a French dish!

Do you know the difference between a Pizza and a Pissaladière? If you are not sure then here is a simple explanation. Pissaladière is the French equivalent of an Italian pizza without cheese.

If you drop in to any bakery in the Provence region of France, you are sure to find a version of this. A Pissaladière is full of creamy onions, anchovies and olives. While it is a simple dish the onions must be slowly cooked in butter so they do not brown but become deliciously soft and buttery and melt in the mouth.

Here's a recipe for you to try, loosely based on a recipe of Marie Claire.

While I was hunting around at French Language Courses, I stumbled upon this blog.

There are some beautiful photographs of France and especially Paris. It is worth taking a look and I am excited to think that I will be visiting Paris later in the year. 



2 cups plain flour - I use 00 flour
1 teaspoon  dried yeast
3/4 cup warm water
pinch sugar
1/4 cup olive oil


1 kilo brown onions finely sliced
125 grams butter
black olives
fresh thyme
salt and pepper

Starting with the dough - place the flour, sugar, yeast into a bowl. Add oil to the water and mix then add to the dry ingredients. Bring the dough together. Knead for a few minutes until the dough becomes soft and smooth. Cover and leave in a warm place until it doubles in size.

To make the filling. Slice the onions finely. Add butter to a frypan and add the onions and fresh thyme. Cook on a very low heat for around 1 - 1.5 hours until the onions are transparent and very very soft. Do not allow them to brown. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.

Once the pastry has risen, roll out to a rectangle on to some parchment paper about 40 cm x 30 cms . Place on a baking tray. Brush the pastry with a little olive oil and add all of the onions spreading over the entire surface. Next add the anchovies, which have been cut in half lengthways, in a cross pattern. (see picture) Add black olives. Set aside and allow to stand for another 20 - 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 220º degrees C/200 fan forced and cook the Pissaaladiere for 15 - 20 minutes, until the dough is crisp and brown and the onions have some colour. Turn onto a cutting board and cut into pieces. Enjoy with a green salad and a glass of red wine.

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