We have another party event Monday. So I am making the kitchen messy, of course. Food trumps cleanliness in my book.
I am testing a recipe for an onion tart. An onion tart makes people wonder if this is a dessert course, or part of the regular meal. It is often sweet, sometimes smoky and barbecuey, sometimes a bit jammy. They can be surprisingly easy to prepare, but people wonder if you slaved over them.
This one falls into the super-easy category if you buy frozen pastry dough. If you do not, omygodIbowtoyou – a fine flakey french puff pastry is way beyond my skills. Like many of the best recipes, I found it online.
What is involved? a splash of olive oil, a couple sliced medium onions, some salt and black pepper, a couple sliced smallish apples (I used Gala, which were about perfect except they brown quickly; a mist of lemon juice would have been helpful.) Two thawed puff pastry rolled thin (the one I buy is pre-rolled to about 10″ square.) And the ultra-secret ingredient – crême fraiche.
Crême fraiche is simply a very rich (and very specially prepared) sour cream. It does have to meet some pretty specific qualifications, but ultimately it is still just sour cream. Which is like saying devonshire cream is just clotted cream. It is, but it isn’t just. I can find crême fraiche in the local Safeway grocer; you might need to do a bit of research but it is probably made where you are at, too.
That really is it. Pre-heat oven to 400. Lightly brown the onions in the oil (largish skillet) over medium flame, about 12 minutes, occasional stirring. Golden, not darkish, then remove from heat. Sprinkle salt and pepper, and the apples, and mix thoroughly.
Place pastry dough on parchment lined baking sheets. Use a fork to put holes all over the middle, then spread lightly with crême fraiche, 1/4 cup per pastry, leaving about 1/2″ from the edge. Divide the onion mixture over the two pastries. Bake until pastry is golden brown, about 30-35 minutes.
Right out of the oven the tart has varied texture, with firm apples and softer onions on sometimes crisp and very flakey pastry. We will see if that survives cooling because I plan on serving them at room temperature. (Fresh from the oven the dough lacked the rigidity to make it a good sideboard dish cut in dainty sizes.)
The taste was very good, but with such mild grocery-store onions was lacking the oomph of some of its European cousins. The slightly acid creaminess of the crême fraiche worked with the Gala apples, but sometimes over-powered the wimpy onions. The pastry provided a lovely stage, not asserting its own taste but the showers of crumbs and occasional crispy bits working on the other senses.
Oh, but I didn’t mention… the whole house smells of baking onion goodness.