Sunday, June 13, 2010

Onion tart

If I had to give up all kinds of vegetable save one, I'd keep the onion family. I once knew a woman whose husband refused to eat onions, and she had a really hard time working out what she could cook without them.
         Last week I had a special friend coming to lunch, and decided I'd make an onion tart. It's another of those accommodating dishes that are best served warm, rather than piping hot. I used a recipe I've been making for years, from my trusty Pauper's Cookbook (that's the other good thing about onions, they cost so little and keep so well). The recipe says you can add cheese on top at the end if you like, but I think it tastes better made with just onions, eggs and cream.
          I did make my own pastry this time - with reasonable though certainly not brilliant success, so I won't even try to give a recipe for that. Commercial savoury shortcrust pastry is fine, and using ready-rolled sheets makes it easier still. But these need to be bought and used up quite quickly, so they don't turn into the ancient, brittle freezer relics mine sometimes become.
           Some of my friends swear by a ceramic dish but I prefer metal. My flan tin is good because it's got a loose bottom, but it's a bit too wide and a bit too shallow, I think I need a deeper one.
            The onions take quite a long time to soften, so if you want this for lunch or an early dinner, it pays to cook them the night before. It might work well to do them in a slow cooker, but I haven't tried this.

Alsatian onion tart (after Jocasta Innes)
4 medium or 2 large brown onions (white is better if you can find them)
30g butter (or a bit more)
2 large or 3 smaller eggs
2 tbsp plain flour
75g (1/4 of 300g bottle) cream
Savoury short-crust pastry to line a 20-25 cm flan dish or tin

* Finely slice the onions, getting rid of the tough outer skin. Cook them gently in a shallow pan over a low heat, with just enough water to stop them ctaching, until they are soft and tender and transparent. They should not brown. Stir in a generous lump of butter and leave them to stew a few minutes longer. (You can do all this ahead of time.) Leave them in the pan.
* Set oven to 220C. Defrost the pastry if necessary.
* Lightly but thoroughly butter a flan tin and line it with the pastry.
* If you cooked the onions earlier, warm them gently through, then turn off the heat. Beat the eggs and stir them into the cooked onions. Add salt, freshly ground black pepper and 1-2 tablespoons of cream.
* Spread the onion mixture evenly over the pastry, spoon a little more cream evenly over the top, and bake for 20 minutes at 220C. Turn the heat down to 180C and cook for another 25-30 minutes, until the pastry edges look golden brown and crisp and the filling is golden and nicely set.
* Leave the flan to cool a little. If possible remove it from the tin and transfer it to a warm plate for serving, otherwise serve it from its dish.
This goes well with either a warm green bean salad or a plain green salad with a slightly sweetish vinaigrette dressing, and some crusty bread.


Deborah said...

I'm feeling hungry looking at that. Too late to cook it for dinner tonight (we're having pumpkin soup from the freezer and cheesey muffins), but maybe lunch tomorrow.

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