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Authors: Dorie Greenspan

Around My French Table (12 page)

BOOK: Around My French Table
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WHILE THE DOUGH IS RISING, MAKE THE ONION TOPPING:
pour the olive oil into a large skillet (nonstick is nice here) and warm it over low heat. Toss in the onions, thyme, and bay leaf, stirring to coat everything with oil, then cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent, soft, and golden, about 45 minutes, maybe more—this isn't a job you should rush.

While the onions are cooking, chop 6 of the anchovies. When the onions are cooked, pull the pan from the heat, stir in the chopped anchovies, which will dissolve into the onions, and season lightly with sea salt and generously with pepper. Set aside until needed.
(You can keep the onions covered at room temperature for a few hours or refrigerate them for up to 1 day.)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Press down on the dough to deflate it, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, cover it with a kitchen towel, and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Roll the dough out on a floured surface until it is about 10 × 14 inches. The exact size of the rectangle isn't really important—what you're going for is thinness. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and top it with the onion mixture, leaving a scant inch of dough around the edges bare.

Bake the pissaladière for about 20 minutes, or until the dough is golden. Pull the pan from the oven, decorate the top with the olives and the remaining anchovies, and bake the pissaladière for 5 minutes more, just to warm the new additions. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

 

MAKES 6 SERVINGS

 

SERVING
Use a pizza wheel to cut the pissaladière into serving pieces and eat them out of hand or on a plate with fork and knife. If I'm serving this as a lunch, I usually make one pissaladière for 4 people and top it with a lightly dressed arugula salad.

 

STORING
The onions can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated, as can the dough; just punch it down and cover it well. When you're ready to use the dough, bring it to room temperature. Once made, the pissaladière can be kept at room temperature for a few hours.

 

Provençal Olive Fougasse

E
VERY ONCE IN A WHILE, YOU'LL
come across a fougasse in a Parisian boulangerie, and as beautiful as it might be, it somehow looks a little lost. For sure, it's far from home. Considered a cousin of the Italian focaccia, it is a bread rooted in Provence, where olive oil trumps butter and rusticity reigns over prim, precise, and formal. A yeast-raised bread, this one scented with olive oil and rosemary and studded with olives, it's a fancifully shaped loaf that's meant to be served whole, the better to admire its form, then tugged and torn into pieces to be nibbled with wine and maybe a few slices of a nice garlicky
saucisson.

The fougasse is not a solid loaf of bread—once it's rolled out and shaped, it's slashed so that it will have an open pattern. Most often, a fougasse is shaped into a leaf, but a ladder shape is popular too—roll the dough into a long rectangle, make 3 or 4 horizontal slashes in it, and then nudge the slashes open to form rungs. However, unless you plan to set up shop in Provence, you're free to shape the bread any way you please. When I want to go nonstandard, I roll the dough into a large circle, slash a few spokes in the dough, and make a cut in the center of the wheel. These odd-shaped breads are often called
pains fantaisies
(fantasy breads), a name I love almost as much as I love the act of making bread in fantastical shapes.

BE PREPARED:
The dough needs to rise for an hour or two and chill for as long as overnight before you can shape and bake it.

1⅔
cups plus 2 teaspoons warm-to-the-touch water

teaspoons active dry yeast
1
teaspoon sugar

tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4
cups all-purpose flour

teaspoons salt
1
cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1
tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
Grated zest of 1 lemon or ½ orange
Kosher salt or other coarse salt, for sprinkling

Pour ⅔ cup of the water into a measuring cup and sprinkle over the yeast and sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, and let the yeast dissolve for about 5 minutes. When the mixture bubbles and looks creamy, add I more cup of the water, along with 4½ tablespoons of the olive oil.

Put the flour and salt in a mixer bowl and stir to combine. Pour in the yeast mixture, attach the dough hook, and beat at medium-low speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the flour is moistened. Turn the speed up to medium and beat for 10 minutes more, or until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl. The dough will be very soft and sticky, almost like a batter, and it will pool at the bottom of the bowl, but that's fine. (You can mix this dough by hand using a wooden
spoon, but you'll need time and a lot of energy, since the dough is so very soft and stretchy.)

Mix the olives, rosemary, and lemon or orange zest together, add them to the mixer, and beat for another minute or so. The olives won't blend into the dough completely, so finish the job with a sturdy rubber spatula or a wooden spoon.

Lightly oil a large bowl and scrape the dough into it. Lightly oil the top of the dough, then oil a piece of plastic wrap. Cover the bowl with the plastic, oiled side down, and put it in a warm place until the dough doubles in volume, 1 to 2 hours, depending upon the warmth of your room.

Stir the dough, cover it again, and refrigerate it for at least 6 hours, or for as long as 3 days. (I prefer to let the dough rest overnight.) If you're keeping it in the fridge for a while, it will probably rise to the top of the bowl again, in which case you can stir it down, or not—it's not crucial.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, stir it down, and divide it in half. Turn I piece of dough out onto a floured surface and flour the top of the dough. Roll the dough into a rectangle that's about 12 inches long and 7 to 9 inches wide. Precision isn't important here. As you're working, lift the dough and flour the counter again if the dough is sticking. Transfer the dough to a large nonstick baking sheet or one lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Using a pizza cutter, a single-edged razor blade, or an X-Acto knife, cut about 4 slashes, about 2 inches long, at an angle down each long side of the rectangle, rather like the veins on a leaf. If you'd like, make another 2-inch vertical slash near the top of the rectangle. Again, don't worry about precision. With your fingers, gently push and pull the slashes open, tugging the dough a little as you go. Try to get the holes to open to about an inch wide. As you cajole the dough, you might want to tug a little more at the base than at the top, so you end up with a bread that's flat at the bottom and tapers toward the top, like a leaf.

Repeat with the second piece of dough on a second baking sheet (or cover that portion and return it to the refrigerator to bake later).

Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. (If you're baking just 1 bread, bake it on the lower or middle rack.)

Mix the remaining tablespoon of olive oil with the remaining 2 teaspoons water in a small cup. Prick the dough all over with a fork and, with a pastry brush, lightly coat the fougasse with the oil and water mixture. Sprinkle the bread all over with kosher or other coarse salt.

Slide the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the sheets from top to bottom and front to back and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until the bread is golden—it won't get too dark. Transfer the fougasse to a cooling rack and let rest for at least 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

 

MAKES 2 FLATBREADS, EACH SERVING 6

 

SERVING
Fougasse should be eaten warm or at room temperature. While it's good with cubes of cheese and delicious dipped in olive oil, it's really best just on its own with a glass of wine. For me, the very best way to eat fougasse is on a picnic, one with lots of savory nibbles at hand and plenty of chilled rosé.

 

STORING
You can keep the dough in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, but once baked, the bread should be eaten the same day.

 

Socca from Vieux Nice

I
F YOU'VE BEEN TO THE MARKET
in Old Nice, you probably remember seeing people strolling around snacking on pieces of steaming-hot socca, a large pancake made from chickpea flour. Or maybe you remember seeing the socca guys zipping around on their motorbikes with pans of socca on their fenders—like pizza guys in New York City. Socca came to Nice from Liguria, Italy, just across the border, where it's best known as
farinata
(and is sometimes made with chestnut flour). This socca came to me from Rosa Jackson, a culinary teacher and tour guide who lives in the old part of town near the market.

Socca is a snack, but it makes a great nibble with drinks, and it's a terrific icebreaker, since the best way to eat the pizza-sized pancake is with your fingers. There's nothing knife-and-fork about it.

Traditionally socca, which is meant to be peppered generously after it's baked, is seasoned with just salt and pepper, but Rosa likes to add some chopped rosemary to the batter, and I'm with her on this. I've also seen recipes in which a little chopped onion is added to the batter, and that's nice too.

BE PREPARED:
Like crepe batters in general, the socca batter improves if you let it rest for a few hours, or overnight. And you've really got to preheat both the oven and the pan (a big pizza pan or a couple of smaller cake pans) before you bake your socca, so take that into account as well.

1
cup chickpea (garbanzo) flour (found in health food markets and supermarkets like Whole Foods, or see Sources
[>]
)
1
cup cool water

teaspoons olive oil
½-¾
teaspoon salt (to taste)
2
teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
Freshly ground pepper

Put the flour, water, 1½ tablespoons of the oil, the salt, and the rosemary in a bowl and whisk until the batter is smooth—it will be the consistency of light cream. Cover the bowl and set aside at room temperature for 2 hours, or pour the batter into a covered container and refrigerate it for as long as overnight.

Have a 12- or 13-inch-diameter pizza pan at hand, or two 8- or 9-inch cake pans. About 20 minutes before you're ready to bake the socca, position a rack in the upper third of the oven if your oven has a top broiler; if not, put the rack in the lower third or center. Put the pizza pan or cake pans on the rack and preheat the oven to soo degrees F.

Carefully remove the pan(s) from the oven, pour 2 tablespoons oil into the pizza pan, or 1 tablespoon into each of the cake pans, and tilt the pan(s) to coat with oil. Heat the pan(s) for another 5 minutes.

Pour the batter into the pan(s), trying as best you can to get an even layer, and bake the socca for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and run the socca under it for 3 to 4 minutes, or until it starts to burn. If it burns here and there, it will look authentically Niçoise. Serve hot, sprinkled generously with pepper.

 

MAKES 4 TO 6 SERVINGS

 

SERVING
Cut the socca into pieces—Rosa says "rough pieces"—and encourage everyone to season the socca with plenty of freshly ground pepper.

BOOK: Around My French Table
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