Monday, July 15, 2013

Les Noms: Pissaladiere & French Plum Cake

This weekend we were invited to a huge Bastille Day potluck dinner party. It was really fun! At first I thought "What will I make that's vegan and French?" But, once I got to thinking, and flipping through my cookbooks, I had a huge list of ideas. The most helpful book was "Vegan Mediterranean Kitchen" by Donna Klein- with tons of great vegetable dishes from the French countryside. Also "30-minute Vegan: Taste of Europe" had some good ideas, but they were more "veganized" and I wanted something classic. I ended up with lots of bookmarked recipes from both books!

So, after compiling a long list of possible Frenchie Foods, I decided to make a few different dishes for the party. I figured that not much else at the party would be vegan (because, y'know, French Food)... so if I wanted to have a nice dinner, I was gonna have to bring it for myself.

The first thing I decided to make was a Pissaladiere. I love this yummy French take on pizza - a delicious crust covered in caramelized onions, olives and roasted bell peppers. What's not to love? It is so beautiful and delicious! I used this recipe from the Food Network, with a few changes:
~ reduced the olive oil in the onions by half AND used 3 lbs of onions instead of 2 lbs
~ used roasted bell peppers instead of anchovies (blech!)
~ used Kalamata olives instead of Nicoise olives (which I couldn't find!)
It was totally delicious, made two big pans, and was totally gone by the end of the night!

I also made this nice simple Marinated Lentil Salad, from Vegan Mediterranean Kitchen. It was simple and light and healthy (again, I majorly reduced the olive oil). I didn't just want to eat pizza for dinner, so I was happy to have some lentil-y goodness in my belly. As it turned out, the other vegetarians at the party were happy to see this dish there as well!

Finally: Dessert! I made this wonderful French Almond Plum Cake, from a recipe I veganized years ago from Jacques Pepin's cooking show on PBS! (recipe below!). It is so delicious and quite easy too. I had a bunch of plums from my aunt's plum tree, and this was a good use for them. The cake is fun because the plums puff up while baking and then collapse, leaving plum-shaped holes in the cake - but also spreading their plummy goodness in the cake. It's topped with an apricot-jam glaze. So good!

In the end, there were actually a couple of other dishes at the party that were vegan : baguettes, some ratatouille, an excellent fruit salad, and a corn salad. So, together with my goodies, I was set! Plus, I actually met a few other vegans at the party (wow!) and they were stoked to find out that there was a vegan dessert for them!

In honor of the rising up of the people, I offer you this Bastille Day Doodelle*:
(* french for "doodle")
(not really)

Jacques Pepin's French Almond-Plum Cake 

1 c flour
1 c raw almonds (I used slivered almonds this time, but Jacques used whole almonds with the skins on)
1 c sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
2 "eggs" ~ I used EnerG Egg Replacer with good results
4 tbsp soy margarine/Earth Balance
1/4 c almond milk
4-7 ripe plums (it depends on the size of the plums)
extra sugar
1/4 c apricot or plum jam

to prepare:
Preheat the oven to 350F.

Add the flour, almonds, sugar and baking powder into a food processor and pulse until the almonds are pulverized. Add the margarine and pulse until blended.

Mix up your Egg Replacer and pour it into the food processor. Pulse until combined. Then add the almond milk and pulse briefly until you have thick, sticky batter.

Spread the batter into a buttered springform pan. Use a rubber spatula to spread it around and smooth it out.

Take the plums and use a paring knife to carefully cut out the pit, while leaving the other end of the plum intact (like an olive!). It's a little tricky, so don't despair if you mess it up a little. Just do your best.
like this

One plum at a time: use a little water or plum juice to moisten the skin of the plum, roll it in the extra sugar to coat the outside of the plum, and then place it "hole-down" in the batter of the cake. Continue with all your plums.

Bake for 45 min-1hour, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Heat the jam and add a tiny bit of water to make a glaze. Brush or spoon the glaze on the top of the cake. Enjoy!


  1. Bien fait!

    I love--and use, frequently--Donna Klein's wonderful book of Mediterranean recipes. So glad you have mentioned it here. I married into a French family, and want to say that making pissaladière will gain one lots of points, any time, anywhere. Thanks!

    1. yeah! I agree, that book by Donna Klein is so wonderful. It was one of my earlier finds, back in the day, and I have so many old favorites from it. It was so nice to go back and look at it again. :)

  2. Plus, roasted bell peppers are far prettier than anchovies. Double win! :D

  3. I totally understand having to bring your own food for parties when you know there wont be many options. you did a great job making vegan french food!

    1. :) It turns out that there were so many idea for Frenchie vegan foods. I was surprised!

  4. Beautiful, beautiful pissaladiere and plum cake! I've been to France enough times to know how sad it can be trying to find vegan food. The hummus even had cheese in it!!
    my favorite veganized dessert is Dynise Balcavage's clafoutis! Omg SO amazing.

    1. ha ha - cheese in hummus is a crime against veganity!!
      I'll check out Dynise's clafoutis!! Thanks for the hot tip :)

  5. Ooh la la! Such beautiful food! These are the kinds of gluteny things that make me want to eat gluten and get a tummy ache. (not the lentils of course, which I would happily eat.) Maybe I can de-glutenize the plum cake. :)

    1. Oh, I didn't realize you were in the GF camp. There's only 1 cup of flour in the plum cake, I bet it could be de-glutenized!! No tummy aches!

  6. What an awesome sounding spread, everything you made looks delicious as always and now I want fancy French pizza for breakfast!


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