The only takeaway meal we can get delivered to us is Pizza. We are fifteen kms from the nearest village yet they are happy to hop on their moped and drive all the way with a twenty euro purchase of pizza for the kids on the rare occasion that we are off out and our teenage daughter volunteers to babysit her sister and the neighbour's children. Often these nights out are only a 3 min walk down the road to an 'adult' dinner with friends but the whole 'home delivery pizza and movie' add an air of excitement for the children's evening in. It is a rare event in our house where we cook almost everything from scratch so the children embrace the chance to order in. Amusingly in France, along with all of the basic standard toppings, the menu offers you the choice of 'magret' [duck], escargot [snails], Gesier [duck gizzards!], St-Jacques[scallops], nutella and blue cheese! A long way from my childhood Friday night 'Fish and Chips' in NZ.
In London we had every takeaway known to man at our fingertips but our favourite Friday night activity was to get together with the neighbour's two doors down and make our own pizza on a rolling basis as we all came in from the city and our various days at school, film sets or photography studios...the cook was schedule dependent and as all four adults were keen and capable it became more like a pizza cook off with all manner of toppings being explored and experimented with whilst wine was sipped, jokes shared and stories told. Everyone got a turn to choose and share and we watched our then teenage son's palate grow from the 'margarita' to 'hot pepperoni' reflecting his growing confidence to try new and interesting things. In response to the fond memories of those evenings we have, after we all moved away from London, recreated the 'Friday night Pizza's' in France whilst our old neighbour's were visiting...with the new addition of their two young children. Great times revisited.
Among the Christmas DVD's this year was Rick Stein's 'French Odyssey' which follows his barge tour of France from Bordeaux in the North to Marseille in the South sampling, cooking and market shopping all the way. With a husband who loves the idea of a barge holiday it is great escapist viewing in the dead of winter. To see the fresh produce being created in various small riverside villages into regional French fare...Cassoulet, Toulouse sausages, Duck Confit, baked Mont d'Or cheese and the dreaded Steak Tartare. Rick makes it all look deliciously easy and takes the mystery out of these signature French dishes and more. Having lived with the cookbook from the series for a few years seeing the visuals has rekindled my interest in revisiting these recipes.
Pizza was on the menu again at our house last night by default as I halved the dough made as a base for Rick Stein's 'Pissaladeire' to create a meal that a six year old would enjoy. It was also an attempt to entertain her in the kitchen. Dressed in her chef's hat and apron she enthusiastically spread tomato paste, grated cheese and sprinkled 'lardons'.
The 'Pissaladiere' is simply a Nicoise olive, anchovy and onion tart made with a simple pizza type base. The onions are cooked slowly with a bouquet garni of fresh herbs till they are sweet and soft then spread on the base of the tart after a spread of anchovy paste. The tart is then laid with slithers of anchovies and olives in a symmetrical fashion. I made this dish with an eye to an easy prepare ahead B and B entree served with a simple basil and tomato salad. It proved delicious with the combination of sweet onions and salty anchovies just perfect. And the bonus was that the base recipe also makes a great pizza!