January 1, 2012

Bonne Annee!

I remembered something funny today as I was making this Pissaladiere as part of our New Year’s snackies.

Every time I knead dough, I can’t help but think about the pottery classes I used to love in high school. My junior year, there was a kid named Michael in my class (he was a freshman) who was one of those kids who pretended like he was too cool for school. And because of this, he never mastered how to center the ball of clay. Which means you can't get very far in pottery. So, he obviously had great difficulty getting any assignments complete. But what made me laugh was that he used to dig around in the huge slip buckets for other peoples’ rejects, take them out, and try to clean them off an pass them off as his own. I am quite sure our teacher was totally on to this. But to this day, it makes me laugh when I think about it.

But back to food…

I haven’t cooked in a while since we were out East for a week and at our friends’ house for dinner last night, so I decided today that I’d make Zach and I some tasty apps for dinner. We had some roasted shrimp cocktail (why do people only eat shrimp cocktail for New Year’s?). And then I made this Pissaladiere.

A Pissaladiere is a French pizza of sorts. It's basically fresh dough rolled out, topped with lots of caramelized onions, anchovies if you're into them, and good black olives.

I have a passion for caramelized onions. I think they are good in so many different contexts. On top of hamburgers. In quiches. Mixed with pasta. On dough, like they are for this Pissaladiere.

And I love making caramelized onions. Once you get past the peeling and slicing of the onions (I made the mistake of using a bag of small onions…which made the process take too long), the actual cooking of them is totally satisfying. They smell good. You visually see them changing. They are pretty much fool proof; they always turn out perfectly. These particular ones were jazzed up just a bit with some fresh thyme.

Once they are done doing their caramelizing thing, you put them on top of some fresh rolled out dough. You “artfully” arrange some good Provencal black olives on the top as Ina tells you to do, and you bake.

And what you end up with is a delicious addictive appetizer that is all of the following:

Different from the normal apps you always see
So yummy
Easy (albeit time consuming)
And cheap!

It’s actually pretty perfect. And a great way to ring in the New Year.

Pissaladiere (Recipe adapted slightly from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris)

¼ c olive oil
2 lbs yellow onions, halfed and sliced into ¼ inch slices
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 ¼ tsp salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
2 garlic cloves

1 ¼ c warm water (100-110 degrees)
2 envelopes rapid rise dry yeast
1 tbsp honey
3 tbsp olive oil
4 c flour
2 tsp salt

Corn meal
12 Provencal black olives, pitted

For the topping, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the rest of the topping ingredients and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn heat down if onions begin to begin to brown a lot. Take garlic out, chop it, and add it back in. Continue cooking mixture for 15 minutes. Set aside.

For the dough, combine the water, yeast, honey, and olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attachment. Add 3 cups of the flour and the salt; mix on low speed. Add in the remaining cup of flour, and mix the dough on low-medium for 10 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and knead it 12 times by hand. Form it into a ball; place in a well oiled bowl. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes. Dough will double in size.

After 30 minutes, divide dough in half. Roll both pieces into balls. Place the one you’ll use on a sheet pan; cover with the towel; let sit for 10 minutes. (You will have an extra round of dough that you can freeze.)

Preheat oven to 450.

Roll out the dough into a 10 x 14 inch rectangle. Place on baking sheet sprinkled with corn meal. Top with onions. Scatter the olives aross the top. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.

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