06 March 2009

Fishy Friday: Pissaladiere

Yes, yes...normally at this time of year I mention Tim Hortons' annual caffeine-fest*, filled with hopes that I'd actually win something...anything. Well...the competition is about two weeks old and I've not won anything...trust me, Timmys are what are keeping me going right now (that and the way-buzzy cold meds I'm on), so I thought I'd won at least twice by now. Meh.

No. I shall not at length about how unfair this marketing ploy is, commenting about how one can get much better coffee at a much lower price by, um, making it oneself, or even flesh out my theory as to where all the winning cups are going. Instead, I'll drone on about a self-imposed dietary tweak.

Yes: it's Lent. Yes: I'm doing fish on Fridays. No, I don't expect any of you to do this.

Even though I enjoy most seafood, I don't eat nearly as much of it as I'd like. Cost is a bit of an issue, probably because I'm not adjacent to an ocean and this essay, hosted by the University of Guelph's website, summarises the state of the Great Lakes fisheries.

I am trying to find cost effective ways of introducing fishy goodness into my regular diet...with a minimal reliance on reconstituted fish flakes covered in unidentifiable gloop. My Dear Little Cardamummy made fish and shrimp wet curries as well as dry spicerubbed fish fries. I'm not saying I'll be able to replicate those, but I'll be looking for non ketchup-dunking fare...and yes, I did stock up on a couple of sales at the mediumscarymegamart, so I've a kilo or two of shrimp in my freezer along with some catfish fillets.

So, what's my Fishy Friday meal this week? Pissaladière.

As its name suggests, it's a rather pizza-like dish found in southern France. Unlike most pizzas found here in North America, it's a white pizza, devoid of a tomatoey sauce. The toppings are few, but combined combined have a lovely balance: sweet caramelised onions, slightly bitter black olives and salty anchovies.

Yes. I said anchovies. No. Don't run away. I know many people seem to be phobic of these wee little fishies...why, I'm not entirely sure. I think they suffer from bad PR--just the mere mention of anchovies will leave CERTAIN people recoiling with disgust. I have been known to add them to dishes and feed them to CERTAIN people...who didn't complain...when they didn't know. Heck one person is now a convert (I think...I'm not forcing the issue).

I happen to like them and will use them for a bit of oomphy depth of flavour in pasta sauces. As a semi-regular pizza maker of semi-regular pizzas, I'll add them to a pie with sausage and hot peppers.

Pissaladière is at once effortless and effortful.

Sure, you can buy a a disc of dough and a jar of caramelised onions and pop the entire thing into an oven and have one in hand within a half-hour. But really...the therapy derrived in the simplest of actions is worth the effort: kneading dough and stirring ever-softening onions proffer greater pyschological benefits than a 55 minute session on a far to shiny leather couch.

My version probably wouldn't count as a "true" version, I admit, as instead of using black olives, I grabbed my jar of tapenade. And I used a whole wheat crust (not sure if the traditional dish uses "regular" flour or not). Like many things in life, it's the spirit that counts...right?


For the dough
100ml hand-hot water mixed with 0.5 tsp sugar
0.5 Tbsp traditional yeast
175g bread flour
50g whole wheat flour
1tsp salt
1 egg
olive oil

1-2 Tbsp black olive tapenade
4-6 Tbsp caramelised onions
anchovy fillets

For the dough
Bloom the yeast in the sugrar water for 15 minutes, or until a frothy head appears. Mix into flours and salt. Add the egg and knead, adding more water or flour as needed. When the dough is nice and soft (like the proverbial baby's tushie), transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and let sit an a warm, draft-free space until doubled in size--a couple of hours or so. After rising, punch it down and knead for about five or ten minutes and let rest for a couple of minutes

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F.

Oil a pizza or cookie tray. Stretch out the dough and let rest for a couple of minutes. Slather the top with tapenade and cover with onions. Form Xs with two anchovy fillets, one per slice. Drizzle olive oil over top and bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until done.

* Yes: I know you can drink decaf...but who really wants to?


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Deetsa said...

Ah yum. The Frog and I love pissaladiere. Funny, but even tho' he's French, he'd never encountered it before I made my version for him (anchovies included). Guess it really proves how regional France can be with their foods.

Anonymous said...

I love Pissaladière!