Thursday, September 5, 2013

FFwD: Fresh Tuna, Mozzarella, and Basil Pizza

Oh my word, I can't believe it! Not only am I posting on time for this week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe, but I've made up a few recipes, too. Wonders never cease.

I have nothing against raw tuna, in general, but I DO have a problem with raw tuna when the fish in question is purchased from my supermarket's freezer section and defrosted. If I'm eating it raw, it better be fresh. Or, at least, I don't want to know it's not fresh. So, tuna was out as a topping on my Fresh Tuna, Mozzarella, and Basil Pizza (pg 166-167 of Around My French Table). I swapped it for coppa stagionata (a salami type of thing), and never looked back.

Perhaps rounds of fresh mozzarella look nicer when layered with raw tuna, but I think it's more practical to tear it up. Fresh mozzarella doesn't melt easily. When baked for only two minutes, it barely even warmed up, so the whole slice was falling off the puffed pastry crust with each bite.

I really hoped Charlie would like this concept of the puff pastry crust, because that would make a simple last minute/no ingredient supper in the future, but he took one bite of a normal sauce and cheese version, brushed the crumbs off his lips, glared at me, and refused to touch it again. He asked me when he was getting his "real pizza." Napoli is turning him into a pizza snob. This does not bode well for his future acceptance of pizza stateside.
I have to say, the puff pastry crust was too greasy for me. It was fine for the first half of the meal, but by the end, my stomach wasn't feeling so well. I think these make a better small appetizer serving, rather than being the entire meal.

Conclusion: Just okay. I'm sure the tuna provides more pizzazz than cured meat does, but wouldn't make up for the icky feeling I got from eating that much puff pastry.

Last night, I riffed off of Dorie's Wheat Berry and Tuna Salad to use what I had in the house. So, I made Barley and Chicken Salad. Personally, I think I prefer the chicken to the tuna.
Nom nom nom
Every time I cook barley, I wonder why I don't make it all the time. I love that chewy texture. Between the barley, the dijon mustard, the peppers, the apple, the avocado, and the tomatoes, this dish is a perfect blend of sweet and salty and chewy and crispy. I want to curl up on the couch with a book and a giant bowl and go to town on it. It's a combination of foods that I would never throw together, but they just seem right. Next time I'll add the boiled eggs. I skipped them this time, because I was already fed up from spending my afternoon making...

Floating Islands (pg 427). Sigh. Reading other Dorista's posts, consensus seemed to be that this was lots easier to make than you'd expect. That was not my experience. I felt like this took all day, I wasn't certain the results would turn out right, and somehow I coated my entire kitchen floor in sugary wetness that dried and turned black and I was sticking to by the time I was done. Nothing I like better than having to mop the floor before I cook dinner.

The meringue itself was easy to make, but then I ran into trouble with the baking part. First of all, my oven doesn't go down to 250 degrees. I went as low as I could. I triple-wrapped my springform pan with aluminum foil and put it in the water bath. Water got in. Lots of it. I had to bake this longer than specified for it to set, and about a half hour after it was out of the oven and cooling, I realized that my island was, indeed, floating. My tin foil did a much better job of keeping water in than out. I popped the springform pan, drained it (I suspect this was the step that coated my kitchen floor, though I wasn't aware of it at the time), and slid the meringue out onto a plate. Fortunately, I don't think the water had any ill effect on the outcome.

For the creme anglaise, I could have used some indication of how long the custard would take to get up to the correct temp. By the time I checked it, it was already well past Dorie's maximum temperature. My bad. There was some scrambled egg action going on, but fortunately the strainer took care of that. The creme was delicious. Best part of the whole dessert. I ate more than I'd like to admit with a spoon while it was cooling. You know, to make sure it was okay.

By then I was fed up and  not in the mood to make caramel. I'd bought a jar at Trader Joe's while I was home in July. I used that, and it was good enough for me.

I'm relegating Iles Flottantes to the realm of "restaurant food." It was too much of a hassle for me, and my kitchen had exploded at the end of it. It also made way too much dessert for Matt and I to eat, and I know meringue is not something that keeps more than a day or two before it starts breaking down. Don't worry, we'll finish it off tonight.

Hmmm. Computer's having trouble loading my photo. Oh well. I made it. I loved it. It was a pain in the butt. I'm never making it again. 

On a different note, I have a question from my many Francophile Doristas (and anyone else, too). We're taking a dream trip to Normandy, Brittany, and Paris later this month. The woman we're renting an apartment from in Paris has offered to babysit for us one night (YES!). If you had to pick ONE Parisian restaurant to have a blessedly childless dinner at, where would you go? We're staying in the St. Germain des Pres area (two minutes from Pierre Hermes. DOUBLE YES!), so preferably someplace that's not on the opposite side of town from there.


  1. Yeah, I totally agree...had to travel to the fish monger and buy the pricey sushi grade ahi. But we loved it! I like your twist, too :)

    PS...have a blast in Paris!!!

    1. Thanks! I'm sooo excited.

    2. Le 21
      21 Rue Mazarine, 75006 Paris, France

      Le Tournebievre
      65 Quai de la Tournelle, 75005 Paris, France

      Les Bouquinistes
      53, quai des grands augustins, 75006 Paris, France

      Le Bistrot d'Henri
      16, rue Princesse, Paris, France

    3. also there is a place called Fish ( La Boissonnrie) 69 rue de Seine which gets some pretty rave reviews

  2. Honestly, I think your salami goes with the other flavors much better than raw tuna. I still haven't attempted the floating islands. I was somewhat inspired after reading other posts last week, but then when I went back and read the recipe, it just still seemed to be too much effort. Have a great time in France!!!! Bon Voyage!

  3. Try it with canned tuna it gives the tuna flavor with out the cost of sushi grade tuna. We each ate two of these and then had a salad. I think Dorie really meant them to be a starter not a meal. I agree too much puffed pastry is hard on the stomach.

  4. Too funny about Charlie - that definitely poses a problem stateside. Can't wait to hear about your dream trip to France. I'd take a sabbatical for a year or two if I could economically figure it out and spend the time in France & Italy.

    I loved the wheat/tuna salad - I thought that was terrific and was actually ok the next day. Maybe someday I'll get around to posting about it.

    Hope you and your family have a great weekend!

  5. I am lukewarm on the pizza too. LOL at your fliating island experience - my oven doesn't go down that low either, and my meringue was floating in the water too!

  6. Wow, dream trip indeed. Have a blast. I highly recommend the Rue Mouffetard market street. It starts at Saint Medard square and peters out around the school. I'll dig around in my emails and see if I can't send a few more specifics.

  7. Enjoy your trip!
    Sorry about the kitchen mess - there is nothing worse than a mid-meal mess. Those totally put me in a bad mood

  8. Your trip sounds amazing... and I hope you have a memorable date night in Paris.

    I have most of the ingredients in the house to make the pizza, but somehow tuna and mozzarella don't go together in my head. The mixed opinions this week are not helping either. :)

  9. I paid for the expensive fish but it was worth it. Since everything else was cheap I thought why not.Also I just made mine on flatbreads toasted and avoided the greasyness you encountered. I didn't think of it but yeah, a full 1/4 sheet of puff would do that to you.

  10. Love that Charlie is a pizza snob. And good idea about the salami addition- I still need to circle back and make this one and even my sushi loving husband said he really didn't want to try the tuna on it (we'll see about that :) And kudos for catching up - I SO need to do that myself. Enjoy Paris- you are staying in an amazing area. Luckily, I do not imagine you can go wrong with any selection you end up with restaurant wise. Enjoy !!

  11. I'm so jealous of your trip to France. It sounds incredible. Too funny that Charlie asked for his "real pizza"'ll definitely be in trouble when you're back in the states!