Monday, 19 February 2018

Pissaladiere

Pissaladiére
The notion of taking a flat piece of bread dough and baking it with a savoury topping is a widespread and longstanding one.The Armenians claim to have invented it and certainly it was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans, but it is Italy and particularly Naples, that has given its version of the dish (pizza) to the world.
As in all dishes of ancient origin which have eventually become national as well as purely regional property, there have been various evolutions in the composition of a pizza.Flat open tarts were originally made from bread dough.Gradually the bread dough came to be replaced with pastry while toppings of course varied enormously.
Pissaladiére is a substantial dish of bread dough  spread with onions,anchovies,black olives,and sometimes tomatoes,baked in an open oven on large baking trays and sold by the slice in bakers´ shops or straight from the baking tray by street vendors.It is not as common nowadays as it was before the war,when une tranche de pissaladiere could be bought hot from the oven in the early morning at every street corner in the old quarters of French towns like Avignon, Marseille and Toulon.
This was Pizza provençal style.I find it odd that Neapolitan pizza had captured people´s imaginations,even in the south of France where they already had their own traditional versions of it.The great difference was that the Provençal variety was made without the top being smothered in chewy cheese, characteristic of the Neapolitan pizza.In fact, the Provençal version more nearly resembles the traditional Roman pizza, and it is I suppose possible that it was introduced by Roman cooks during the reign of the popes in Avignon.
Truthfully it will be admitted that both the Italian  pizza and the Provençal pissaladiere lie somewhat heavy on the stomach because of the bread dough which is the base.The modern versions made with pastry, which are sometimes served in restaurants and homes and may be bought ready made at patisseries,are often an improvement.It is the topping, which if you happen to like the taste sensation of onions,olive oil, anchovies, and olives, that is important.Not wanting to mistrust the food gurus like Nigel Slater whose recipe cites shortcrust pastry, I had to be sure of it´s provenance before I made it.Nevertheless I settled for the more authentic bread crust rather than its more modern incarnation.
It would seem that the pissaladière originates from a Genoese recipe, from Imperia (Italy), at the end of the 15th century. Piscialandrea, the first version of the Italian pizza, was named in honour of Andrea Doria, a great condottiere and admiral of Genoa from the 14th and 15th centuries. The major difference, compared to the pissaladière, is that piscialandrea is prepared with tomatoes and garlic. Just like socca (farinata) or fougasse (focaccia), this other recipe of Genoese origin has been handed down from generation to generation to the families of Nice.

Pissaladiére
1 quantity of home made pizza dough
250g strong white bread flour
250g plain white flour 
15g fresh yeast or 1 x 7g sachet of dried yeast
10g salt
325ml warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
In a bowl, mix together the flour,yeast, salt and water to form a sticky dough. Mix in the oil. turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and silky ( 7-8 minutes )When the dough feels elastic, shape into a ball, put back in the bowl and leave to rise in a warm palce covered with a clean cloth, until doubled in size ( 1-2 hours).Pre-heat the oven and pizza stone or substitute to as high as it will go. Roll out dough into required size rounds or alternatively freeze 1/2 the dough for a later date.
8 medium onions thinly sliced,
2 skinned and seeded tomatoes,chopped
12 or more canned anchovies
12 small stoned black olives,salt and pepper ,olive oil
Heat 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy frying pan.Put in the thinly sliced onions and cook them very gently ,with the cover on the pan,until they are quite soft and pale golden,They must not fry or brown.Add the tomatoes and the seasoning( plus garlic if you like). continue cooking until the tomatoes are amalgamated, and the water has evaporated.
Roll out the dough to a circle the size of a pizza pan and with your knuckles press it gently and quickly outwards until it has spread over the whole pan to its edges.Cover with the topping.make a criss cross pattern over the top with the anchovies,then fill in with the olives,bake in the centre of a hot oven 200C for 20 minutes or until the dough is crisp.Remove from the oven cut into slices and savour the sensation.

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