Called, in Niçois dialect, Barba Jouan (“Uncle John”), these little pastry purses, served hot from the oven as an hors d’oeuvre and washed down with a well-chilled white wine redolent of the fruit of tender youth—Muscadet, Pouilly-fumé, Sancerre, for instance—are a joy and a perfect example of that which the meridional French like to describe affectionately as their cuisine spirituelle. They may also be served, apart, as an accompaniment to a bouillon or other relatively light soup to the advantage of both.
Sharp, powerful sheep’s milk cheese—a local and noncommercialized peasant production—goes into the making of an authentic Uncle
The pastry should be rolled out as thinly as possible and, to this end, a pasta machine is a great help; the dough should be kneaded, in this case, no more than absolutely necessary to render it manageable before being rolled out (I use the next to last notch on a machine whose rollers may be set at eight different thicknesses). Treated in this way, the pastry becomes more shell-like—much firmer and less tender—when cooked. To best make the comparison between this and tender olive oil pastry, it may be useful to prepare Barba Jouan with half of the following recipe and to transform the remainder into a tourte, following, except for the filling, the directions given for zucchini pie (the resultant pumpkin pie may surprise many a compatriot).
Once having had some
Wrap the squash in aluminum foil and bake, skin side down, in a 375° to 400° oven for about 2 hours or until the flesh is purée tender. Leave to cool. Line a colander with a towel, empty out the squash shell with a spoon, placing the spoonsful in the towel and salting each layer, fold the towel edges over the surface, place a small plate upside down on top and, on it, a weight of some
Cook the onion in the oil in a tiny, heavy saucepan, over very low heat, for about ½ hour, stirring occasionally, without letting it color.
Mash the Roquefort to a paste in a mixing bowl, mash a bit of the squash with it, then stir in the lot, adding the onion, the garlic purée, the marjoram, and the egg, and beating well with the fork. Stir in the Parmesan, grind in pepper to taste, and, finally, add the rice. Taste before adding more salt (the pumpkin has already been salted as well as the garlic purée, Roquefort is often oversalted, and Parmesan sufficiently so . . .).
Using a cookie cutter, an empty tin can, a large highball glass, etc., cut rounds approximately
Copyright © 1974 by Richard Olney. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.