Happy President’s Day!? Actually, very happy because Nathan is home from school, always fun. We celebrated more yesterday than today, first with brunch at Stacey’s with my mom. We pulled it together pretty quickly (our original plan was to go out, which we bagged when we realized how much more fun little Cooper Cuteness would have at his own house). And as often occurs under those rushed circumstances, something rather delicious happened. Stace set out for Isles Buns for the most killerest cinnamon rolls on the planet – huge, soft and dangerously yeasty, studded with soft pockets of cinnamon and dripping with gooey, creamy icing. And that was brunch, all good. Oh wait! Nope, that was the end of brunch, right, although those lovely buns would have sufficed as the entire meal, quite handily. But heck no, this is me – and the family that made me who I am – we’re talking about here, so there was plenty more, plenty!
Including a pissaladiere – basically a savory French tart, but not a quiche, since it doesn’t contain eggs. How did I settle on a pissaladiere? Well, I started thinking quiche, and flipped through Mastering the Art of French Cooking for inspiration and a good short pastry recipe. Then I started thinking that Nathan does not enjoy eggs (to put it mildly), and that I had some delicious sausage that could make an interesting tart filling on its own, and so into pissaladiere the concept evolved. And what a treat! Buttery crust filled in this case with browned sausage, caramelized onions, and tomatoes. No cheese, no eggs. Really rather fabulous if I do say so myself (and apparently, I do)! The crust is quite rich, so needs a good chill before quickly rolling it out. But it’s worth the wait. We had it alongside a simple salad, which kind of hilariously served as a palate cleanser before… Those damn buns! My goodness we were full, not very moderate (despite my silly Valentine’s Day pledge), uff. (Recipe posted in comments, below.)
Then we rushed home to greet the Shubert family! Yay! As many of you already know, wherever the Shuberts go, fun follows… In this case, they were here as a huge favor to me – the Coreman sweetly agreed to help me set up my new Mac system. Yes, I have made The Leap, this is my first official post on a Mac, not a PC. (Pause and listen to the singing angels…) I have a bit of a learning curve ahead of me, since of course we have made things as complicated as possible with our music and photo libraries, network, incompatible email, and printing with a printer that doesn’t much like Macs, but we’re pretty well on our way. Hey, at least I’m posting this! Much faster, much prettier (gorgeous, in fact), much more fun. And blogging was already fun! So woo hoo for additional fun! (Now I just need a kickin’ new camera to take better food pics with…but don’t hold your breath on that one, awww shucks.)
Suz and the kids tagged along to make for a very fun afternoon! A little beer, a little buttery popcorn, some major video-game playing for the kids, some major Mac Magic for us adults, not our typical Sunday by a long shot – as in, very productive! Hopefully today will yield the same progress, and tasties (of course), stay tuned…
Do you read DavidLebovitz....you would enjoy it if you don't already!
Pate Brisee (Short Pastry, Pie Crust)
From Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Child, Bertholle & Beck
This crust is delicious – buttery, light, and flaky. The trick is to work quickly so that the butter stays cold, and to avoid over-processing so the crust turns out tender. The dough must chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight, so be sure to plan accordingly.
The recipe looks long, but much of it is Julia Child’s excellent instruction on rolling out the dough. A good primer.
2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
6 oz. (1 1/2 sticks) chilled butter cut into 1/2-inch bits
4 Tbsp. chilled shortening
a scant half cup of iced water, plus droplets more as needed
Measure the dry ingredients into the bowl of a 2-quart food processor (equipped with a steel blade). Quarter the chilled sticks of butter lengthwise and cut crosswise into 3/8-inch pieces; add to the flour along with the chilled shortening. Flick the machine on and off 4-5 times, then measure out a scant half cup of iced water. Turn the machine on and pour it all in at once; immediately flick the machine on and off several times, and the dough should begin to mass on the blade. If not, dribble in a little more water and repeat, repeating again if necessary. Dough is done when it has begun to mass; do not overmix it. Scrape the dough out onto your floured work surface, and proceed to the fraisage.
The fraisage – or final blending of the dough: place the dough on a lightly floured pastry board: With the heel of one hand, not the palm which is too warm, rapidly press the pastry by two-spoonful bits down on the board and away from you in a firm, quick smear of about 6 inches. This constitutes the final blending of fat and flour, or fraisage.
With a scraper or spatula, gather the dough again into a mass; knead it briefly into a fairly smooth round ball. Sprinkle it lightly with flour and wrap it in waxed paper. Chill for 2 hours or overnight. (Uncooked pastry dough will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator, or may be frozen for several weeks. Always wrap it airtight in waxed paper and a paper bag.)
Rolling out the dough: Because of its high butter content, roll out the dough as quickly as possible, so that it will not soften and become difficult to handle. Place the dough on a lightly floured board or marble. If the dough is hard, beat it with the rolling pin to soften it. Then knead it briefly into a fairly flat circle. It should be just malleable enough to roll out without cracking.
Lightly flour the top of the dough. Place rolling pin across center and roll the pin back and forth with firm but gentle pressure to start the dough moving. Then, with a firm, even stroke, and always rolling away from you start just below the center of the dough and roll to within an inch of the far edge. Light dough and turn it at a slight angle.
Give another roll. Continue lifting, turning, and rolling, and, as necessary, sprinkle board and top of dough lightly with flour to prevent sticking. Roll it into a circle 1/8-inch thick and about 2 inches larger all around than your pan. If your circle is uneven, cut off a too-large portion, moisten the edge of the too-small portion with water, press the two pieces of pastry together, and smooth them with your rolling pin.
To transfer the pastry: Either reverse the dough onto the rolling pin, and unroll it over the mold; or fold the dough in half, in half again, then lay it in the mold and unfold it. Press the dough lightly into the pan, then with your thumbs, push the dough 1/8-inch above the edge of the mold, to make an even, rounded rim of dough all around the circumference of the mold. Decorate the edges with a butter knife or your fingers.
To prebake: line the crust with foil, then fill with beans or pie weights. Bake at the middle level of a preheated 400-degree oven for 8-9 minutes. Remove foil and beans. Prick bottom of pastry with a fork to keep it from rising. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes more. When the shell is starting to color and just beginning to shrink from the sides of the pan, remove it from the oven.
Note: for the pissaladiere, I didn’t use a tart pan, but just created a free-form circle on a baking sheet, with a slight lip. You could certainly use a tart pan, however.
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Child, Bertholle, & Beck
This recipe is for Pissaladiere Nicoise, the classic preparation. However, I very simply substituted sausage and tomatoes for the olives and anchovies and it was delicious. Any tasty combination of savory ingredients would do.
1 lb. thinly sliced onions
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, whole
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pinch of powdered cloves
1 pinch of dried thyme
1/8 tsp. pepper
An 8-inch partially cooked pastry shell on a baking sheet (recipe below)
8 canned anchovy filets
16 black oil-cured olives
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Cook the onions very slowly in the olive oil with the whole cloves of garlic and salt for about 1 hour, or until very tender and browned. Discard the garlic. Stir in the cloves, thyme, and pepper, and taste carefully for seasoning.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spread the onions in the pasty shell. Arrange anchovy filets over it in a fan-shaped design. Place the olives at decorative intervals. Drizzle on the oil. Bake in upper third of the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, or until bubbling hot.