Monday, 18 May 2015

Carta di musica with olive, rosemary and anchovy salsa

Anchovies are one of those ingredients that split people. Katie hates the little oily, salty strips and will pick up their scent however well concealed in a sauce, under a heap of cheese on a pizza or poked into chunks of lamb. I know that screwed up face and “oh! There’s anchovies in here!” very well indeed. But I adore the things. I always remember my mum eating them straight out of those shallow tins when I was young, and I’ve enjoyed that tangy kick ever since. I’ll find any excuse to put them into a dish. And although punchy in their own right, used subtly they deepen, round off and enhance. But she will always notice. 

On the other hand I deplore marmite. I used to bite into my brothers sandwiches by accident and pull that exact same creased expression. I’m often urged to spoon it into mash, sauté with mushrooms just try again on toast but I can’t. So swings and roundabouts I guess.
Back to those glorious anchovies. I’ve always had a vastly more savoury tooth, and often crave the deep hit of something salty. Crisps over chocolate any day of the week. Our rosemary plant has been flowering of late, releasing lovely fragrant pine just outside the back door. Recently at work I had an idea of crushing up a few sprigs with more of those anchovies (there is *always* a jar in the fridge) and some green olives. Tapenadey I guess, but a whole lot more rustic, with chunks of individual components giving little bursts of flavour. Even at work I could taste it; I almost ran the four miles back home.
But I couldn’t just sit there spooning this delicious concoction into my gob (I totally could and would). I needed some sort of carrier. A good sourdough or focaccia from my local and brilliant Spence or E5 bakeries would normally be the quick answer. But I’ve been criminally quiet on the baking front of late, and thought the whole thing would be that bit more satisfying as a result. I’d stumbled across a recipe for Italian ‘music bread’ a few weeks before and was astounded at how easy they were to knock up. In the fading evening light I dug out the trusty pasta machine, whacked the oven on full blast and the brittle, almost transparent bits of dough worked a treat.
Makes a fair few sheets, but they don't hang around for long.
For the carta di musica:
200g Italian 00-grade flour, plus more for dusting 
4 good tablespoons of polenta 
150ml water 
1 tbsp olive oil 
Sea salt
For the olive and rosemary salsa:
A handful of green olives, pitted 
4 anchovy fillets 
1 garlic clove 
4 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped 
1 tbsp capers, rinsed 
1 lemon, zest and juice 
A pinch of dried oregano 
A pinch of dried chilli flakes 
Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 220⁰C.
Tip the flour into a bowl and mix with the polenta and a generous sprinkle of salt. Form a well in the middle and pour in the water and the olive oil. Work into a dough, adding a little more water or flour if necessary to achieve a smooth consistency. Knead well to release the glutens until the dough has a soft, elastic texture. Roll until thin, dust with a little more flour and then pass through each gradient of a pasta machine until it reaches the thinnest. 

Line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper and brush with a little olive oil. Top with the thin strips of dough. Brush with more oil, sprinkle with a bit of salt and bake in batches for 5-6 minutes, or until very crispy and starting to brown in patches.
To make the salsa, put the garlic, olives, lemon zest and juice, anchovies, capers, oregano, chilli flakes, and chopped rosemary into a large pestle and mortar. Beat well until everything is finely combined. Pour in enough extra virgin olive oil to loosen into a spoonable salsa. Taste and add salt, pepper or lemon if needed.

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