Tag Archives: Caramelized

Caramelized Onion Tart with Feta and Thyme

4 Mar

I thought I’d show you some pictures today to prove that the weather is not always perfect here.  It still looks beautiful though. Rufus and I walked to the top of this hill yesterday and the weather was on the verge of changing.

By the time we reached the top there was definitely something in the air. Something about the shadows and the clouds.

Rufus knew there was something going on, he could sense it.

You could see the storm clouds moving in above our heads…

So we decided to head home for lunch….

On Monday we went for dinner at our friends Joan & Terry. She made a lovely spiced ginger, carrot & coriander soup followed by a beautiful red onion and goat’s cheese risotto and a delicious apple and almond tart with an Amaretti biscuit base for dessert. I am always really grateful when people who are not vegetarian cook a full vegetarian meal for us. I know how difficult it is if you are not used to it. So thank you again, it was all gorgeous and we really appreciate it.

As we were leaving they gave us a crate (yes a crate) of food to take away with us as they were going back to England in a day or two. Part of the contents of this “food crate” was a bag of onions and some puff pastry.

Caramelized onions are one of my favourite things. Their sweet, savouriness enhances the hell out of  plain cheese sandwich transforming it into something gourmet. Add some veg (or beef) stock, sherry or brandy and cook for 10 minutes and you have an amazing French/Spanish onion soup to top with cheesy croutes. They add a grown up edge to pizzas and can be made into a fantastic caramelized onion dip that I found on Happy When Not Hungry.

My favourite thing to make with caramelized onions though is a tart. It is so easy and tastes lovely. The sweetness of the onions on the thin, crispy, flaky pastry base with a crumbling of some sharp sour cheese is delicious. Add a scattering of fresh herbs and you have an elegant starter or lunch dish. You can even make a big rectangular one to serve four, or cut it into squares or slices for a buffet. It is really versatile you can use whatever cheese and herbs you like. Why not try smoked mozzarella & basil or halloumi, mint & oregano, or try red onions with goat’s cheese & rosemary…..

Caramelized Onion Tarts with Feta & Thyme

serves 4 – 6, vegetarian

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 kg onions, halved, peeled & finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves chopped, or dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • 375 gr (1 block or sheet)puff pastry, defrosted in the fridge overnight
  • 25 gr finely grated Parmesan or Manchego
  • 150 gr Greek Feta cheese
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme leaves to scatter

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat and add in the onions, thyme and chilli flakes. cover with a lid and cook, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes. Add in the sugar, vinegar, salt & pepper and cook for another 5 minutes until the onion is soft and caramelized. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 220 C. Roll out the pastry, if necessary, to about 2 or 3 mm thick. Cut into a large rectangle with a ruler or cut around some side plates or saucers if you want individual round tarts. You can reroll the off cuts to make more if necessary. Score a 1cm border around the edge of the pastry but don’t cut all the way through. Prick the base inside the scored edges with a fork (see photo above) and sprinkle over the grated parmesan inside the circle too.

Put the caramelized onion on top of the parmesan leaving the border clear. Bake in the preheated oven for 15- 25 minutes depending on the size of your tart/s. Remove from the oven when the pastry is puffed & golden brown.  Crumble over the feta and scatter over some fresh thyme leaves.

Serve with a green salad dressed with olive oil & lemon juice. Depending on how many tarts you make you may have some of the caramelized onions left. Store in a sealed container in the fridge.  If they last that long……….

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“Wild” Mushroom, Shallot and Goat’s Cheese Tarts

13 Jan

The inspiration for this dish came from the amazing variety of wild mushrooms we saw growing in the forest where we walk the dog.

Some of them look like leather………

There’s curly ones….

And purple ones…!

I still have absolutely no idea which ones you can eat and which ones are poisonous but I’d say the purple ones are off limits. They seem to like it on damp, dark, mulchy bark and rotting leaves. So does Rufus…

I was too scared to pick any but it got me craving earthy garlic mushrooms and melting cheese. Nigel Slater is always good for earthy, delicious comfort food and he didn’t let me down. This recipe is a mixture of a couple of his recipes. He makes a big rectangular tart from a sheet of puff pastry. I made individual ones because I had some offcuts of pastry left I had to use up, and I don’t like sharing!

 

Mushroom, Shallot & Goat’s Cheese Tarts

serves 2, vegetarian, adapted from a Nigel Slater recipe

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted in the fridge overnight
  • about 300 gr mushrooms, try to get a mixture of different types
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 or 5 shallots, quartered & peeled 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • a good squeeze of lemon juice
  •  about 2o – 30 gr butter
  • 100 gr goat’s cheese, sliced into 1/2 cm coins you could use Brie or Tallegio
  • 1/2 tsp fresh chopped rosemary/ thyme leaves, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • salt & black pepper

Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium low heat and cook the shallots slowly for about 20 minutes until they are softened and caramelized. Meanwhile 1/2 or quarter the mushrooms if large and put them in a bowl with the olive oil, lemon juice,garlic, rosemary, oregano, salt & pepper and mix well.

When the onions are done remove them from the pan, add a bit more butter and throw in the mushrooms and garlic mix. Pre heat oven to 220 degrees. Cook the mushrooms for about 5 minutes until tender and slightly browned. Meanwhile roll out your pastry to about 2 mm thick. If you are keeping it as a rectangle score a border around the edge of the pastry about 2 cm wide and prick all over the centre inside the border with a fork. If not cut two circles (I used side plates) from your pastry and score a 2cm border round the edge & prick the base with a fork.

Put the pastry circles/rectangle on a lined baking sheet and scatter over the shallots and mushrooms, don’t go into the border. Break up the goat’s cheese and stick it in amongst the mushrooms & shallots, sprinkle with a bit more rosemary. Brush the borders with some of the butter from the mushroom pan drizzle over any remaining butter.

 Cook in the preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes until the pastry is puffed & golden.

Eat with something green, like broccoli, if you think it needs something else. If not, just eat it on it’s own, in slices with your hands like a Mushroom “Puff” Pizza….

    Enjoy!!

Caramelized Shallot and Goat’s Cheese Tarte Tatin

10 Nov

I wanted to use some of the wild thyme we picked yesterday while walking the dog. All the wild herbs are in flower at the moment here, very pretty..

Look at these basil flowers, aren’t they beautiful? I have never seen a basil plant flower like this. We have normal basil and a purple basil plant on our roof terrace but neither of them have flowered like this. This was in someone’s garden so we couldn’t pick any, such a shame, can you imagine how lovely they would look on a Caprese salad…. maybe another day.

This thyme was growing wild at the side of the road so we picked some..

I had a couple of little bags of shallots in the fridge so I thought I’d have a go at a tarte tatin. A tarte tatin is an upside down tart normally made with puff pastry. You make the filling in a caramel (apples are the classic filling) then top it with puff pastry, bake and turn it out the right way up to serve. The sweet caramelized shallots contrast really well with the sour, sharp goat’s cheese and the thyme adds a classic herbal flavour.

Caramelized Shallot & Goat’s Cheese Tarte Tatin Recipe

Serves 2 Vegetarian

Adapted from a James Martin recipe

  • about 500 gr shallots
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry (defrosted in the fridge overnight, it has to be cold when you use it )
  • 5 slices of a small log of goat’s cheese (about 1/2 cm slices)
  • 3 oz sugar
  • 1 oz butter
  • fresh thyme sprigs & flowers
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Put the unpeeled shallots on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper, scatter over some thyme leaves, toss together with you hands to coat evenly and roast for 20 minutes. (You can peel them first, but I find it easier to peel them when they are cooked).

When they are cool enough to handle peel the shallots by squeezing them out of their skins, spirinkle with a few more thyme leaves and a pinch of salt. Melt the sugar over a highish heat in a saucpan until you have a caramel. Don’t stir it, swirl it. Add the butter and stir it to melt it in. As soon as the butter has melted into the sugar pour it into an 8 inch/20 cm round baking dish and quickly tumble over the shallots in so they fit tightly and in one layer. The sugar will start to harden (don’t touch the sugar its really hot!).

Roll out the pastry if necessary to about 2 or 3 mm thick. Then cut out a circle about 1 inch bigger than the dish. Put the pastry on top of the shallots and tuck it in around the edge in between the shallots and the inside of the dish.

Bake in the 2oo degree oven for about 15 minutes or until the pastry is cooked. Take the tart out of the oven and leave it for 1 or 2 minutes to stop bubbling. (Don’t do it straight away or leave it any longer because the sugar will harden and you won’t be able to get it out). Turn the grill onto high. Put an ovenproof plate on top of the tart dish, hold it tightly over and flip the tart dish over quickly and carefully so the tart plops out onto the plate. Leave it for a second to let any stray shallots fall down then remove the baking dish. Put the slices of goat’s cheese, one in each quarter and one in the centre, sprinkle with a few more thyme leaves and put it under the grill for a few minutes or until the cheese melts.

Garnish with thyme flowers and serve with a rocket salad dressed with olive oil & balsamic vinegar, or some thyme buttered new potatoes.

Delicious!!

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