My Dad loves anchovies. In the late 80s/early 90s he was a specialty food broker. I remember having dinner with him one night in our favorite Italian restaurant. While sitting at the bar having pre-dinner cocktails (humm, ’80s. So mine would have been a Stoli and tonic. Can’t quite remember his.) he asked the owner, whom we both knew, if she would have someone in the kitchen open a can of anchovies he brought with him (presumably from work). He sat at the bar and proceeded to spread them on bread and snack with delight. I’ll admit that I turned up my nose.
Having spent the weekend dousing nearly everything I cooked with most of a bottle of nam pla, the pungent salty fermented fish sauce ubiquitous in Thai cooking, the idea that I would turn up my nose again at anchovies seems a bit absurd. So I headed off to Trader Joe’s to see what little fishes in cans were available. I ended up with the smallest can of Cento anchovy fillets (2 oz) in olive oil, packed in Morocco. Bright yellow can, so happy looking, lightens my negative anchovy thoughts.
At home I saute the onions and seasonings, mix in the finely chopped anchovies and top my flat breads with the mixture. Bake, and cut. First bite, sweet caramelized onions and an underlying fishiness. Not unpleasant, but distinct. The briny, sharpness of the olives cuts through the onion. Something is missing. Ah yes, a glass of white wine. Somehow the wine, the onion and the olives balance out the anchovy. I enjoy the second half of the pissaladiere much more, but overall I have to agree with D – we are underwhelmed. Nice, maybe a pleasant starter for a meal. I can’t say the fault lies with the recipe – I riffed off of Dorie’s suggestion to use puff pastry and went with a low cal/low carb flat bread we regularly use as a pizza base. The traditional pissaladiere dough is likely a better foil for the topping.
Half the recipe tops one Flat Out light flat bread. The bread has been brushed with olive oil on the bottom and lightly baked, about 5 minutes at 350.
I found that my onions started to dry out before they were browned, so I added about a tablespoon of water 3/4ths of the way through cooking.
Once topped, total baking time was only 10 minutes at 400 degrees.
Its topped with some chopped Kalamata olives: our local Whole foods carries Nicoise olives, but I never made it over there this week.
And no extra anchovies on top. I thought the three I put in the topping were quite far enough for my first taste.
I am looking for more ideas for the rest of the anchovies! Hopefully the rest of the FFwD crew will have some ideas after this week….we aren’t publishing recipes from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. Get a copy and join in!