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Don’t Cry, It’s Just Onions

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This week’s recipe for Cook the Book Fridays is for an easy appetizer called Pissaladiére, or Onion Tart.  Talk about something that’s bigger than the sum of its parts.

This recipe starts by making an easy yeasted dough, similar to a pizza dough.  While the dough rises, a huge pile of onions gets caramelized.  In theory, the timing works out nicely.  The dough should be ready to stretch out around the time the onions have the proper golden hue.

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Unfortunately, I had a scheduling hiccup.  I got a late start, and when the onions were done, I didn’t have enough time to stretch and rest the dough, arrange the toppings, and bake, before I had to leave the house.  Disappointed, I put the onions and rising dough in the refrigerator, hoping for better luck the next day.  I knew the onions would be fine but not as confident about the dough.

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Next day, I approached the refrigerator with trepidation.  I was surprised and delighted to find that the dough had continued to rise overnight.  I feared the dough would be a lost cause, instead, I discovered that this recipe was more flexible than I expected.  I let the dough warm up for about an hour, then continued with the recipe.

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The dough patted out easily to fill the pan.  I spread the caramelized onions on top, then had fun arranging anchovies into a crosshatch design and strewing the top with olives.

The pissaladiére is in the Appetizer chapter, but I found it worked well for lunch with soup.  It was delicious!  And, I also really loved figuring out that I can make the pizza dough the day before.

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Definitely try this one.  You won’t be sorry.  It’s a winner.  You can find the recipe on page 69 of David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.  To read my blogging friends’ links about their own experiences with this recipe, check them out here.

Happy Holidays to one and all!

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scallop and onion tartes fines {ffwd}

Scallop Tartlette

This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie is an elegant and substantial starter. Disks of puff pastry are topped with a mixture of caramelized onions and bacon, then adorned with barely cooked sea scallops.

Let’s start with the puff pastry. For whatever reason, I always have the hardest time rolling out thawed puff pastry. The thawed slab never seems to get much bigger. That means that every time I’m faced with a recipe that calls for puff pastry, I get a pit of dread in my stomach.

Last month, I came across a recipe for Quick and Easy Puff Pastry on Chocolate & Zucchini. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to try it out since then. Clotllde said this recipe changed her life. Now that I’ve made it myself, I can see why. It was truly easy. The technique wasn’t the laminated style of a true puff pastry, where the butter is rolled into a slab that gets rolled inside the pastry dough. This is more of a rough puff pastry where butter is cut into the flour, staying in relatively large pieces. After that, the fold and roll steps to form layers is similar.

No food processor required either. This is a purely manual operation. I cut the butter in with a pastry blender. Then ice water is incorporated with a dough scraper. Finally, a few roll and fold repetitions, one full rotation and then some (I lost count, so did some extras), and that’s all that was needed. I splurged on Plugra, though I’ll have to make it again with my usual butter to compare. The dough remained supple and was very easy to roll out, but in the making, and later when I rolled out for the disks. I’m thinking I’ll never buy puff pastry again.

Homemade Puff Pastry

My favorite part of this recipe was the onion and bacon mixture. I sliced my onions thin, though you can also choose to chop them finely. My new trick when caramelizing onions is to cover the pan for the first 10 minutes or so to accelerate the softening of the onions. Then, the uncovered onions continue to cook, and brown, and finally caramelize. This combo would be great to fill a full-sized savory tart too.

Caramelized Onions and Bacon

Finally, the scallops. I’ve never seen them as expensive as they were this week. I nearly fell over when I saw them priced at $28.99 a pound. I was only making half the recipe, so I asked for three scallops (they were huge), which ended up weighing just under half a pound for $11. Even though I trust the freshness of Whole Foods seafood counter, I seldom keep uncooked fish in my refrigerator overnight. I’m a “eat it the same day I buy it” seafood shopper. I mixed up some dates this week, so ended up buying the scallops two days before I actually needed them. This made me squeamish about eating them raw (OK, barely cooked). Instead, I seared the scallops the way we have before, then sliced them into disks to top the mini-onion tarts.

The final word? We both liked them. We agreed that the onion and bacon topping was so satisfying that we would have liked them just as well without the scallops. Also, Clotilde’s rough puff pastry is a keeper. It tasted fantastic! Even with the expensive European butter, it is still more economical commercial puff pastry. And no dread involved.

To see how my Dorista friends’ tartes came out, check their links here. We don’t post the recipes, but you can find it in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.