Pissaladière: A Play

Niçois Onion Tart Theater Proudly Presents the debut performance of

PISSALADIERE

(or, “Fear of a Jarred Anchovy”)

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Starring:

Anchovy

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Billy, The Anchovy Hater

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Jacques, The Friendly Frenchman

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PLUS: Special Guests!

Please take your seat. The performance will begin after the jump.

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Do Better Pans Make You A Better Chef? We Examine This Question With Two Dishes: Spicy Sea Bass with Olive-Crushed Potatoes & Sauteed Scallops with Wild Mushrooms and Frisee

Careful readers of this site will attest to the fact that in the two years I’ve been running it I’ve very rarely, if at all, sauteed anything for dinner. My primary method of food production is the oven: I like to roast. I like to bake. I like that you put something in looking one way and that it comes out looking another way. Sauteeing requires careful attention, masterful heat control and–perhaps most importantly–quality pans to do the job right. Quality pans don’t necessarily mean fancy pans (Mark Bittman argues for the cast iron skillet) but since I received fancy pans for my birthday, I figured I’d put them to work. And look, mama, what I made using them these past two nights:

Spicy Sea Bass with Olive-Crushed Potatoes [from “Daniel’s Dish”]

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Sauteed Scallops with Wild Mushrooms and Frisee [from “Simple Italian Food”]

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I can’t help but look at those pictures and feel like they rival pictures I’ve taken of dishes at some of New York’s finest restaurants. That’s not to say they rival them in quality–(the fish was undercooked, the scallops slightly–ever so slightly–burnt)–but they rival them in beauty. Or am I deluding myself? Am I just pan-happy? What exactly went down when I put my pans to work? Proceed: all the answers lie within.

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If Food = Love, This Cake = Hot Sex (Flourless Chocolate Cake for Valentine’s Day)

I’ve been reading a book on food and sex in anticipation of an interview I get to do with the author next week for another website [more on that soon!] and thusly food and sex have been on my mind. Specifically, how the pleasures we enjoy in the bedroom are not so different from the pleasures we enjoy in the kitchen or the dining room. (Fork condoms anyone?) Though many people don’t like to admit it, food is love. It’s the first connection with have with another human being (mother’s breast) and our need for that connection lasts our entire life. Which is why God invented chocolate.

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This is the cake I brought to school today as the adult equivalent of the glittery homemade cards we used to put in each other’s 4th grade mailboxes. Of course, there was never any card in MY 4th grade mailbox which is why I turned to cooking. If no one loves me enough to give me a card and food equals love then I’ll cook for myself! [Paging Dr. Freud.)

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Rocky Macaroon

[sung to the tune of that Beatles song]

Now somewhere in the black mountain hills of Hawaii

there’s a company called Dr. Paulo’s

and one day an e-mail came that took guts

it said: “We’re gonna send you some nuts [and coffee]

How’d you like that boy?”

So I said, “Sure send it”

and I waited for the mail

and it arrived real soon.

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Now most macaroons

Have coconut blooms

And rarely involve macadamias

But this recipe here

Is truly sincere

When it says you should use macadamias.* [*lazy rhyming alert!]

Macadamias add crunch

and I have a hunch

that they may very well be nutritious.

I opened the bag

and a nut I did snag

and the taste was truly delicious.

But say it ain’t so

They’re salty, no no

and the recipe says use nuts that are salt-less.

So the bag went away

and I started to pray

“Dear God I believe I am faultless.”

Then God just replied:

“Son step aside.”

And I collapsed in the corner.

[Piano solo while God does all the work.]

[God toasts the coconut.]

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[God combines condensed milk and vanilla.]

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[God whips egg whites.]

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[God combines everything.]

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[God spoons them out.]

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[God places them in the oven, bakes them and removes them.]

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[Thanks, God!]

Now the cookies are done

And won’t it be fun

to dip each one in some chocolate

We’ll melt down some chips

and dunk til it drips

and people will say, “Mmm, there’s chocolate*.” [*Lazy rhyme #2!]

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Now my macaroons

cause orgasmic swoons

just like they did in the Bible.

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Plus the nuts are still here

I’ll drink them with beer

The coffee will help with my revival. Yah!

[Piano music, fade out. Cue Ringo.]

Zany Zuni Bread Salad

There are certain recipes you catalogue permanently in your brain under the heading: “I AM GOING TO MAKE THIS SOMEDAY!” On my list you might find: black and white cookies, leg of lamb, cheese puffs (the fancy ones that Martha Stewart makes). Very high on my list was an ultra-specific dish that caught my fancy years earlier when I first purchased the Zuni Cafe cookbook: Roast Chicken & Bread Salad.

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As you can see by the picture, a few nights ago I succeeded in finally crossing this dish of my list. (Cue Hall and Oats: “This dish, this dish is off my list.”) Was it worth it? Did it disappoint? Are you tired of these questions that force you to click “Continue”?

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From Paris, With Risotto [Plus: A Snazzy Salad]

Let’s say I have this “friend” and this “friend” (in quotes) recently went to Paris and let’s say when he was in Paris he met lots of people who gave him Parisian foodstuffs and while at a market one day he bought a giant glass bottle of risotto. Let’s say he placed it in his suitcase and flew back to the States, ignoring the directive not to bring in food from outside the country. Let’s say this “friend” has a food blog and would like to blog about the risotto he made from the giant glass bottle of risotto last night. Would he be arrested? Would government agents come knocking on his door tomorrow? Let’s keep talking about him in the third person with pictures “he” provided for me over e-mail. Check out the gigantic glass bottle of risotto:

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Why did he buy risotto in Paris? Risotto is Italian. “Well,” he says, “I thought the giant glass bottle was really cool and I don’t remember seeing instant risotto anywhere in the States. Plus, I liked how you still needed butter and wine to make this instant risotto. Parisians may skimp, but they still skimp with style.”

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The Polenta Post

Foodies are often polenta bullies. “You should have polenta in your pantry,” they’ll tell you. “I make polenta all the time,” they’ll brag. “I named my first born child Polenta,” they’ll confess. Foodies really love polenta.

And so tonight I adopted a “if you can’t beat them, join them” philosophy and fried up some polenta, which I presented on my new Ikea plate with fresh made Marcella Hazan tomato sauce. Check it out!

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Has this turned me from one of the polenta picked-upons to a polenta picker on-er? Click ahead to find out…

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