Recipe Notes (by Alexia Moyer)
Victoria makes this pissaladière for Lenny in Tessa McWatt’s 2004 novel This Body. He thinks it’s delicious. Victoria worries about the eggs. Have they been tampered with? Have they, or the hens, been injected with “something foreign” (29), like modified poultry genes? Hormones?
I’ve used organic eggs to make this tart. Short of having met the hens myself, I can trace their provenance. My bid for Victoria’s approval ends there, I’m afraid. My tomato purée came from a can. My blue cheese came from a cow, not a sheep. My anchovies were pickled, not salted. And then I chose not to include them. They had been left to linger in the sun too long and were looking (and smelling) rather the worse for wear.
I had come to believe that pissaladière was made from caramelized onions, olives, anchovies, and bread-like dough with nary a tomato, egg, or crumb of blue cheese in sight. I am happy to correct this oversight and to welcome this little unknown into the fold. One can never have too many tart recipes in one’s culinary arsenal.
shortcrust pastry, made using 4 oz (100 g) organic, self-raising flour
1 lb (400 g) ripe, organic tomatoes
1 medium-sized red onion
1 clove garlic
1 oz (25 g) unsalted, organic butter
bouquet of parsley stocks and thyme
2 tablespoons concentrated tomato purée (made previous day and refrigerated overnight)
4 oz (100 g) grated Beenleigh blue sheep’s milk cheese
1 tin (50g) anchovy fillets
6 black olives or sweet pickled prunes
freshly milled pepper
Roll out prepared pastry to a circle on a lightly floured work surface and use it to line an 8-inch (20 cm) round quiche tin or flan ring set on a baking tray. Chill the pastry while preparing the filling. Scald the tomatoes in boiling water and peel away the skin. Peel and finely chop the onion. Peel the garlic and crush to a purée with a little salt. Melt the butter in a sauce-pan over low heat. Add the onion and fry gently for 5 minutes to soften but not brown. Add the garlic, chopped tomatoes, herbs, and tomato purée. Draw off the heat and allow to cool until the hand can be comfortably held against the side of the pan.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 C). Stir the eggs, grated Beenleigh Blue, and a seasoning of pepper into the tomato mixture. Pour mixture into the pastry case. Arrange a lattice of anchovy fillets on top and decorate with black olives or pickled prunes. Place in pre-heated oven and bake for 40 minutes. Serve warm or bake ahead and reheat for 10 minutes in an oven heated to 350 F (180 C).