Pissaladière

Pissaladière is a French dish from the Pays Niçoise, an area bordering Italy. It’s easy to see the Italian influence in this flatbread decorated like a pizza. I read in Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook that Pissaladière is named for pissalat, which means “salted fish”. It’s a sauceless pizza topped with slow cooked onions, sliced tomato, olives, and anchovy. Niçoise olives grown near the city of Nice in Provence are traditionally used in Pissaladière. These small olives with big pits are harvested fully ripe and have a dark purplish-brown color. Niçoise olives are less salty than others. They have a mellow, nutty flavor that goes well with the onions and anchovies. I just can’t follow one recipe, it’s not in my nature. The Pissaladière I made for today is a marriage of two different recipes: Anne Willan’s from The Country Cooking of France and Martha Stewart’s from her Baking Handbook. I wanted to follow Martha Stewart’s instructions for the dough, and Anne Willan’s suggestions for the toppings (and make my own tweaks, of course).

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Storyboard: Olives

Olive StoryBoard (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

Growing & Curing

Olives grow on gnarled, silver-leaved trees. Originally, the olive tree is from the Mediterranean. These days olives are also grown in the United States (California, New Mexico, and Arizona), as well as South America. According to the reference, Starting with Ingredients, olive trees live an average of 300 to 600 years. I learned from Mark Bittman that olives contain a chemical called oleuropin, which has a very bitter flavor. Curing eliminates this problem. The longer an olive is allowed to cure in its brine, the more complex and deep its flavor becomes. An immature olive is green, and darkens as it ripens, eventually turning black. Often, olives are picked green for curing, while the ones meant for olive oil are allowed to ripen fully and turn black.

Varieties

Here are six varieties that are widely available in the U.S.  I hope this inspires you to explore the many other varieties of olives from all over the world.

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Cook in the Moment: Moroccan Carrot & Olive Salad

Click To Go To CookingBoulder.com

Today you can find my recipe for Moroccan Carrot & Olive Salad over at the Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder website. I’m exploring the jet-black oil-cured olives from Morocco in combination with other North African flavors like sesame seeds and cilantro. I’ve got tips for using olives in summer salads, and keeping the saltiness in balance. Click on the Cooking Boulder logo to see my column and recipe. Thanks for reading!

10 Ways Tuesday: Olives

Olives (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

I’ve got creative ways for cooking with olives:

1.  Simply Sautéed

In How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman shares a recipe for Sautéed Olives which embodies everything that is simple and good. He suggests that though olives don’t need cooking, they benefit an infusion of flavors like garlic and herbs. Served warm to begin the meal or as a side dish these olives are a great way to wake up the palate. He uses a mix of black and green olives, cooks them just long enough to heat through, then hits the olives with a splash of red wine vinegar. I think preserved lemon would be a nice touch, especially with black olives.

2.  Tapenade

Tapenade is a kitchen staple originating in southern France with seemingly endless uses. David Tanis includes a recipe for Olive Tapenade in A Platter of Figs. Simply grind pitted Niçoise olives, anchovy, garlic, and olive oil into a paste using a food processor. The paste will keep for weeks and can be spread on bread or crackers, meat or fish, or tossed with pasta.

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Ingredient Of The Week: Olives

Ingredient Of The Week-Olives (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

This week at La Domestique we’re wrapping up the summer pantry. The days are getting cooler, but markets are still full of beautiful summer produce like tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and corn. Fresh herbs are plentiful. We’re still enjoying salads and light pastas and cooking on the grill. The ingredient of the week is the olive, whose flavor is a fantastic match for the ingredients and cooking techniques of late summer. Salty olives bring complexity to summer salads. Their meaty texture adds heft to vegetable dishes. Puréed in a tapanade, olives make a delicious topping for grilled meats and fish. Look for more creative ideas for cooking with olives tomorrow on 10 Ways Tuesday. I’ll have recipes featuring olives as the star throughout the week. Here at La Domestique, learn about the many varieties of olives and how they are grown on Storyboard Thursday. Get to know olives by exploring the cuisines of North Africa, France, Italy, Spain, and Greece. If you’ve only had basic black or green olives, it’s time to try something new. I’m looking forward to cooking in the moment with you!

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