It's Julia Child Week! Wednesday would have been Julia's 100th birthday, so there have been many tributes: special dinners at restaurants around the country, a lovely new children's book about Julia and her cat in Paris, a panel nominating her top 100 recipes, a picnic I enjoyed yesterday (which will be Wednesday's features here and on AnnArbor.com) ... oh, the festivities! Oh, the food!
I remember watching "The French Chef" with my mother many moons ago; I'd be eating my pb&j, watching as this charming woman made lovely dishes and made us all feel that we could tackle each of these steps, as well. With Julia, cooking elaborate and sophisticated meals wasn't intimidating ... it was fun!
So this week, I'm featuring a variety of Julia's recipes. I looked over the list of the top 100, but many of them were too rich and heavy for hot August days, or they would require specialized equipment or techniques. And I've written posts about lighter dishes - such as souffles and cream puffs and potato salad with vinaigrette - already, so I wanted to offer new items.
So - dedicated soul that I am! - I perused cookbooks to find recipes that struck my fancy, that were easy to make, that were flavorful, that were summery, and that were representative of Julia Child herself: at their essence, a few simple ingredients that shone when prepared properly.
Today's offering is a simple tart, which looks very contemporary - bruschetta-like, reminiscent of foccaccia. And yet, it comes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I, which was originally published in 1961. The classics will always be perfect and timeless ... just like Julia Child herself.
Pissaladière Niçoise (Onion Tart with Anchovies and Black Olives) [pee-sah-lah-DEEAYR nee-SWAHZ]
(adapted from Julia Child's recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 basil leaves, minced
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 8" piece naan (or other prepared flatbread)
- 8 anchovy fillets, drained of oil
- 8 Kalamata olives, halved lengthwise
- 1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
In a small skillet, heat oil over very low heat. Add onion, basil, parsley, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes until onion is tender and caramelized.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Place the flatbread onto a baking sheet; arrange the anchovies and olives decoratively on top.
Sprinkle cheese over the flatbread. Bake for 10-15 minutes until cheese has started to melt and tart is heated through.
Cut into 4-6 pieces and serve immediately.
(Feel free to leave off the anchovies and substitute a few more olives, if desired. But they really marry well with the olives - strong flavors working together to enhance the whole ....)