la pissaladière

© Jessie Kanelos

Caught in a breakfast rut this morning, I would have made Gwyneth proud.  I refueled with a bowl of miso soup.  As all the neighborhood bakers are sunning themselves on the French Riv’ this time of year, those of us ‘left behind’ must fend for ourselves.  Baguette is in demand.  However miso soup was a welcome savory change first thing in the morning.   I admit to loving the French breakfast.  But it is a strict formula of coffee, toast, butter, and jam.  A tartine, a grilled day-old baguette with a few leaves of butter and a generous smear of jam (quince being the flavor of the week) has easily replaced my matinal soft-poached egg on wheat.

So while we were sunning ourselves on the French Riv’ a few weeks ago, much to my surprise, pissaladière, a caramelized onion pizza studded with olives and draped with anchovies, was eaten alongside an espresso for breakfast.  Pissaladière is not reserved just for the morning; it is a savory
Niçoise snack at all hours.  But hung up on my tartine regime, I instantly turned up my nose at the pairing of coffee and onions.  But the sweetly caramelized onions and briny olives baked beautifully into the spongy dough, a long-lost savory sidekick to my café Américain.

Taste a mean pissaladière at Kiosque Tintin (3 Place Gén Charles De Gaulle  06100 Nice).  Or save a trip to Nice and make it at home.  So whether serving a slice as a light lunch with a green salad or sneaking a little the morning-after, it is highly recommendable over miso.


1 ball pizza or bread dough

2 pounds yellow onions, halved and cut into 1/4 inch slices

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 can best-quality anchovies

20 black olives

1/2 teaspoon thyme

salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste

1.)   Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.

2.)   In a sauté pan over low heat, cook onions until soft and transparent, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Cook 20 more minutes until golden and caramelized.

3.)  On a floured surface, roll the dough until 1/4 inch thick.  Place on a cookie sheet.

4.)  Spread onion mixture evenly on dough, creating a 3/4 inch border all the way around.  Layer anchovies and olives on top.

5.)  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the crust is crisp.

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Les Snapshots de Nice! 2012

Although I intently packed my watercolors with high hopes of capturing the many hues of the Côte d’Azur, I have fully embraced both my idleness and writer’s block.  Viva les vacances!  Grammar-be-gone!  Me lazy.  Nevertheless, because I cannot say it well with words, here are a few snapshots of a few Niçoise  discoveries.

© Jessie Kanelos

The zucchini flowers are in bloom!  And they fry up beautifully.  Find beignet de fleur de courgette, legumes farcis and other traditional Niçoise specialties at Le Safari (1 Cours Saleya  06300 Nice).


© Jessie Kanelos

Along with coming to the realization that I will never be as glamorous as my 70-something mother-in-law and resident of NIce, she has been more than generous with sharing her secrets to aging flawlessly, eating impeccably, and inviting me to sneak a peak into her Mediterranean kitchen.

Despite her disapproval of my self-inflicted summer bob, here is one thing that is mother-in-law approved.  Stock up on zucchini flowers and the freshest fish at the Marché de Libération,
specifically these little macarels at Poissonerie Gris.

© Jessie Kanelos

Purple green beans?  I beg your pardon!

© Jessie Kanelos

Another seasonal treat from the Marché de Libération were these tiny mara de bois fraises.  Intensely sweet and bitingly acidic, they were a strawberry reawakening .  Surprisingly enough, although France is home to the best pastries in the world, yogurt and fruit are the most common ways to finish off a well-balanced meal.    In my dream world where baguette has nutritional value, I would eat profiteroles everyday for dessert.   However, these little beauties were a perfectly satisfying addition to a well-rounded dinner of fried fish and heirloom tomato salad.

© Jessie Kanelos

Yesterday, we got up early and perused the crowded stalls of the weekly Cours Saleya flea market.  I have been in the market for a wedding ring since mine split in half shortly after we got hitched.  Not the best metaphor for marriage, but so far so good otherwise.  At the market, an antique aquamarine rock jumped onto my finger and my husband could not resist.  “It’s the same color as your eyes,” he cooed.  Although my eyes are green, I was undoubtedly charmed.  Sold.  Since we had neither a proper proposal nor an engagement photo session, I indulged in a Titanic “Heart of the Ocean” moment overlooking the sea from the Parc de la Colline du Chateau.

Thank you, Nice.  My heart will go on.

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Legumes Farcis : An Aller-Retour Niçois

© Jessie Kanelos for

Although being bilingual has theoretically done wonders for my brain, I can’t help but notice that it has slowed down my English.  When three second pauses pepper my conversation, in search of the words I once said, I overcompensate using coolcrazy, and nice.  And door has permanently become porte.  Am I turning into one of those pretentious Americans who lives in FrAHHHnce?

For a lack of better words, please check out my new cool, crazy, and nice contribution to Bonjour Paris.  


Legumes Farcis : An Aller-Retour Niçoise  by Jessie Kanelos. Published by

Routine completely flips itself on the head when starting over in France. Peanut butter, the humblest of American pastimes, gets an upgrade from domestic to imported.  And a sandwich eaten on-the-go can get anything from a sincere “bon appetit” from a stranger to a snarl of disapproval on the street.  But discovering new, French comfort food is like an expatriate embrace.  And it is a welcome addition to the dinner table of anyone looking for a little mealtime inspiration.  Legumes farcis, or stuffed vegetables, are a specialty of the sun-baked Cote D’Azur. And as the summer harvest abundantly overloads the farmer’s market, why not put a Niçoise spin on the season’s best?
Instead of a proper honeymoon, my cash-strapped husband and I took a roadtrip down South to visit my new in-laws in Nice. I am still trying to justify the reasoning behind this one.  Nevertheless, we managed to sneek out of the house during the day to walk on the beach, dream big at the impeccible Cours Saleya flea market, and test out all the Niçoise specialties. Along with the hearty chickpea crepe socca and pissaladière, the caramelized onion and anchovy pizza gone French, I was instantly enamored by legumes farcis.  Essentially the makings of a meatball, a fine mixture of ground meat, breadcrumbs, and aromatics is baked in local, sun-ripened Provençal vegetables until impossibly juicy. Charmingly coined legumes de soleil, or sun vegetables, these can include anything from tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, red peppers, and onions. Served hot out of the oven or direct from the refrigerator, they are deliciously easy and satisfying post-beach, post-swimming pool, or post-in-laws.

Although legumes farcis are rarely found on restaurant menus outside of the Cote D’azur, French butchers always have chair à saucisse on display.  Basically a sausage without its casing, it is a porky mystery meat destined for legumes farcis.  However, one part ground beef to one part ground pork or one part ground veal to one part chopped ham are suitable alternatives, minus the mystery.  Be creative!  With fruits et legumes at their height of diversity, why not experiement with a couple of round zucchini, Japanese eggplants, or a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes ?  Served with white rice, another local staple of the South, that 7 euro jar of Skippy will become completely unjustifiable.


Legumes Farcis Niçois, Serves 6

Note: Choose vegetables of a similar size so they bake evenly.

6 small, round  tomatoes

6 small onions

6 small zucchinis

6 small eggplants

¼ lb. ground beef

¼ lb ground pork

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 cloves of garlic, chopped


½ teaspoon herbes de provence

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or basil

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350° f/180° c

2. Slice the vegetables ¾ of the way lengthwise to create a reservoir for the filling and its hat. Scoop out the flesh of the zucchini and eggplant, chop and reserve. Scoop out the seeds and the ribs of the pepper.  Use a paring knife to carve out the center of the onions and tomatoes.

3.  In a bowl, mix the beef, pork, reserved zucchini and eggplant, chopped garlic, parmesan cheese, and herbs.

4. Drizzle a baking dish with olive oil.  Stuff the vegetables with the meat mixture and place in the baking dish.  Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and olive oil.

5.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Add a hat to each vegetable and bake for another 45 minutes.  Serve with white rice.

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