Yesterday, my brother got engaged! It was really exciting! He asked me to be chauffeur (he wanted a limo-like ride in my Grandpa Car – 1994 Lincoln Town Car), cameraman, and chef on his special night.
All day I practiced a gluten-free version of the Asturian cachopo. Then when the time came for me to pick him up, I quickly did my best to plate the food like a pro and rushed off to his apartment. (On my way I realized that I had forgotten to buy him 12 red roses. The next ten minutes felt like a scene from Fast and Furious as I flew to all the stores around town looking for roses.) I arrived at his apartment and we finished our preparations with two minutes to spare before we had to pick up his girlfriend. I straightened my tie, and we drove across the street to pick her up in style.
When we arrived at the spot my brother had picked out, we exited the car and walked to a table overlooking the entire valley. With sunset about an hour away, I served them and then realized I had to find a good reason to get away to fulfill my last role of cameraman. I blubbered an excuse and walked back to the car. I hopped in the car and drove down the hill, just as they began eating the cachopo.
Once out of sight, I parked the car and began climbing up the hill. It took me two or three tries to find a good spot, but I found a spot on the edge of a nearby cliff that gave me a great vantage point (I borrowed a 57x magnification video camera) and hid me from sight. Like Jason Bourne in the Bourne Supremacy looked at my subjects. I set up the camera and waited. Thirty minutes or so later I saw my brother get up to grab dessert. He casually walked over to the table (where I placed the dessert) and came back with the roses. He gives her the roses and then gets down on one knee and proposes.
A few months ago, I was talking to my now sister-in-law-to-be and I learned that she had lived in France for a couple years. This pissaladiere recipe is hers. (I’ll soon post the cachopo recipe too!)
Pissaladiere comes from Nice and/or Provençal France. These (and other) cities argue over who actually first created it. But whoever did, we can thank them for it! Now pissaladiere can be made in two ways as a pastry and as a focaccia. It can never be made like a pizza. Any die-hard pissaladiere foodie will slap you around if you call the dish a pizza. So to avoid any painful remarks, let’s call pissaladiere a pastry or focaccia as it’s generally acknowledged to be. You’ll be able to easily find a book or site that teaches you how to make the pastry version (I might even do it myself in the future), but here you’ll learn how to make the focaccia version.
If you’re like me and have never had anchovies before, then you may just enjoy this dish. Or you might not. Until I had an anchovy I thought I enjoyed the flavor of all seafood. I’ll settle for octopus or cuttlefish over an anchovy any day. But hey, I’m the only one I know that likes the flavor of octopus… I’m trying to say that you should try the dish. Try it and let me know what you think!
There are two parts of making the pissaladiere: the dough and toppings. For the dough, I’m going to refer you over to my focaccia recipe. All you need to do there is follow the dough making instructions. Once you have the dough, you are good to go! Be aware that in order to make a good focaccia, it will take 2 days. But you will love the flavor!
It doesn’t take too much effort to top a pissaladiere. Here’s what you need: 1 large onion (sliced into strips), 2 cloves of garlic (diced), 2 containers (4 ounces) of anchovy fillets, and pitted olives.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position.
First, caramelize the onions. Then add the garlic and sauté until the garlic browns.
If you’ve followed my instructions from my focaccia recipe (which, be aware uses my biga recipe) then you have let your dough rise on a cookie sheet. Take the sheet out of the fridge and uncover it. Spread a thin layer of olive oil across the dough. Evenly spread the onions and garlic across the surface of the focaccia.
Open the cans of anchovies and drain the liquid. Remove one anchovy at a time and place it on the dough, arranging them into a pattern of diamonds.
Place one olive in the middle of each square.
With the oven heated, place the pissaladiere on the oven rack. Cook for 10 minutes. Then turn the pissaladiere 180°. Cook an additional five minutes or until the bread begins to brown.
Remove from oven and let cool for a minute or two. Use a spatula to carefully remove the pissaladiere from the pan. Set the pissaladiere on a cooling rack.
This next month will be French-themed. French February is right around the corner!
Let me know what you think!