I am trying to make interesting dishes with the basic fruit and veg staples that most people seem to subsist on here over the winter – too often have my meals of late consisted of homogeneous mush and it's getting rather dull. These ingredients are: onions, potatoes, squash, cabbage, carrots... that's pretty much it I reckon, at least for this year. I could of course make them more interesting by going out and buying a fresh lobster from the hypermarket, but that would be cheating. I just like a challenge, and one has to fill the time in between rebuilding a house and looking after a newborn child somehow.
As you know, experiments can go well or they can go badly. Here is a recipe for a walnut and onion tart that we had tonight (along with a less successful pumpkin pie which I am still working on so stay tuned!)... I know, I know, I said no extra ingredients, but we have a gigantic walnut tree in our garden damnit! So I think this can be counted as a staple...there are a bunch of other ingredients too, so brace yourself.
This recipe would be much better with cream instead of milk and the teaspoons of flour, but I rarely buy cream because it just ends up going off in the fridge (I am not inclined to plan meals weeks in advance and we only go to the shops once a month), so I have thickened the milk to make the right consistency. I also had a bit of ricotta left over from the previous recipe so I threw that on top too. Walnuts have a bitter edge - I have made this before with almond in the pastry instead which has a smoother taste and it was yummy... I don't find pastry that appealing usually and so try to make it more interesting by adding things to it. A handful of parsley work well too.
For the pastry
175g plain flour, sifted
75g butter, chilled
small handful of walnuts (find someone with small hands, or even one small hand)
For the filling
5 medium sized onions
small handful of walnuts
4 medium eggs
200 ml milk
one teaspoon potato flour or polenta (ordinary flour or cornflour will do if that's all you have)
salt and pepper
23cm flan case, greased and dusted with flour
Heat the oven to 180ｰC. Place onions, chopped into rings, in a frying pan on a low heat. Cover and leave to sweat until they go soft.
Meanwhile sift the flour again into a bowl and add the butter, chopped into little cubes. Rub the butter into the flour: lift loose handfuls of the mixture high above the bowl and let it fall as you rub your fore and index fingers with your thumb. This retains air in the mixture and keeps it cool (you don't want the butter to melt at any stage). If you can powder the walnuts – I have a blender but bashing them inside a bag with a wine bottle will do the trick. Mix in the walnuts and salt and add just enough water to bring the crumbs together to form a ball of dough. Flatten the ball, cover it in clingfilm and put it in the fridge for 15 minutes.
After this roll it out so that it covers the inside of the flan tin and there is about 1 cm excess over the edge. Cover the case with greaseproof paper and fill the case with dried beans or something like that to stop it from rising in the oven. Put it in the oven for 15 minutes – you can trim the excess unless you are going for rustic charm.
Whisk the egg with the milk and flour (or cream) and add salt and pepper to taste. Take the lid off the onions, add oil and turn up the heat until they go golden brown but not crispy. Chop half of the walnuts roughly and powder the rest.
Once the tart case is done, place half the onions inside it (remove the beans and greaseproof paper first!) and cover with egg mixture to about a centimetre from the top. Add the rest of the onions and pour egg mixture at the edges of the case to fill to the very brim. Top the onions with powdered and chopped walnuts, which should roast as the tart cooks. Put the tart in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes or until set.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 October 2009 09:19|