Saturday, January 23, 2010

Adventures in the Salty Deep End of French Cooking


We have been making our way through Laura Calder's French Food at Home cook book. So far, only victories.

That is, until last night.

Last night we decided to jump into the salty deep end of French cooking; by this I mean, dabbling in anchovies.

Whoa, whoa, whoa...I know...anchovies are not to be treated lightly. Anchovies are fishies that are either the source of gastronomic love or hate.

We were feeling adventurous and still riding high on our recent cooking and baking victory euphoria.

We decided to make Calder's version of Passaladiere, a southern French pizza style bread baked with an onion reduction, tomato slices, black olives and a lattice of anchovies.

Jump in, throw off the bow lines, sail away!!!

So we did. The passaladiere came out of the oven a veritable joy to the senses. It was visually stunning, smelled amazing, the crust was so pleasingly toasty and crunchy....mmmmmmm.

Then the first bite..............


Salt. Salty salinity. So much salt. If you can get brain freeze due to salt content then that's what I had.

I ate two slices. My partner took one for the team and ate four slices. I love him. He loves me, and told me it tasted good. I marvelled at his tongue's tenacity in the wake of the saline rush.

This morning, I bought a used version of the Larousse Gastronomique. Within its multitude of pages, under A, I found a reference to anchovies - my new, fishy enemies. Deep within that reference to the hated fishies was a notation regarding "De-salted anchovies".



De-salted fishies.

A complete revelation. Anchovies may be in the deep, salty dark end of French cooking but there IS a lifeboat!

The lifeboat is filled with milk.

Merely soak the dreaded anchovies in milk for an hour to release the salt and proceed as normal.

Thanks to Larousse, anchovies have been saved from the back of the black book of banned food items.

Unfortunately, Laura Calder failed to include this little nugget of anchovy parlance in her recipe for Passaladiere.

If it were up to Calder, we would have written off those deadly salty little bastards for ever.

Because of Larousse, I may once again, dive into the briny deep.


I'm not sure.

I may just drink milk instead.
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