A little while ago I promised that I would post the recipe for a tasty onion tart. Well, today's the day. This delicious tart is a brilliant addition to your recipe file as it is perfect for an easy meal or, served in slightly smaller slices, a dinner party starter. The original recipe comes from Nigella's How to Be a Domestic Goddess. This is one of my favourite books by Nigella and it was given to me by a friend from university. We're no longer in touch, but every time I use the book, which is frequently, I smile as I remember her. That's the thing with books, they really are the gift that keeps on giving.
On Saturday I took advantage of having the house to myself (the Bedmate and the Housemate both skiing, not together, that would be a bit mean, but away nonetheless) and decided to have my Yorkshire friends around for dinner. There are seven of us lads and lasses who went to school together and are now navigating the big city in the south. In keeping with our White Rose roots, I tried to cook northern-esque dishes. I decided on beef and ale stew with Yorkshire puddings for the main course and I thought that this onion tart would be a suitably hearty first course.
Nigella's recipe recommends strong cheddar or gruyere cheese in the scone base however, in a bid to increase the Yorkshireness, I used Wensleydale cheese. Wensleydale is a mild, crumbly, creamy cheese which is traditionally produced in Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales. We tend to eat it with Christmas cake instead of icing and marzipan and I particularly like it in sandwiches with slices of crisp, sharp apple. To be honest, the stronger cheeses have more of a presence in this little tart, but I did enjoy the milder Wensleydale. I paired the tart with a baby leaf salad with shards of cheese and braeburn apples tossed in. Yum.
This dish is good to make in advance if you're trying to reduce stress at dinner parties. I tend to cook the onions in advance and leave them until I'm ready for the dough. Do be careful when you're cooking the onions; you want them to be soft and mellow. Don't get distracted by helping your best friend write an online dating profile and let them burn. Oops. Sometimes the onions can be a bit bitter so I add a teaspoon of brown sugar and a splash of balsamic vinegar to calm them down.
I made individual tarts this time because I wanted to use my new mini tart tins (50p each from Heals and so cute). You can use a large dish if you prefer. I recommend a loose bottomed tin so that it's easier to turn out. The scone dough can be made ahead of time as well, but I would put some greaseproof paper over the tarts so that the dough doesn't dry out. These are also delicious cold.
I apologise for the lack of photos of the final result. As usual, I'm madly busy when it comes to serving food so I always miss the chance to take photos. How does everyone else deal with this? Of course, I still haven't told people about this blog so photo taking is always a bit conspicous even if I do have time. Even though they won't be reading this, I do love my home friends. We had such fun reminiscing and talking up the old country it really made my weekend.
Onion Upside Down Tarts
4 medium red onions (about 750g)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 heaped tablespoon of butter (about 25g)
3-4 sprigs of thyme, destalked (or 1/2tsp dried thyme)
1 tsp brown sugar
Splash of Balsamic vinegar
200g Wennslydale Cheese or strong Cheddar or Gruyere grated
200g plain flour
1 scant teaspoon of baking powder
1 tsp salt
40g butter, melted
1 scant teaspoon of English mustard
1 large egg, beaten
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
- Peel the onions and cut them in half and cut each half into four segments.
- Heat the oil and butter in a pan and then add the onions. Cook over a medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring regularly. The onions should be soft and tinged with colour.
- Season with salt and pepper and add the brown sugar and Balsamic vinegar to taste.
- Put the onions in the bottom of your tin and sprinkle the thyme over the top. Then sprinkle about 50g of the cheese across the onions.
- Leave the onions while you make the scone dough. Put the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl with the remaining cheese.
- In a measuring jug thoroughly mix the milk, mustard, egg and the melted butter. Pour into a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and mix with a fork or your hands. The dough should be quite sticky so add a splash more milk if it feels overly dry.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and shape into one large round or enough for your little tins (5-6 tins) and then press the dough onto the onions. Be sure to seal the edges.
- Put the tarts into the oven for 15 minutes and then turn the oven down to 180 degrees for a further 10 minutes or until the dough is crisp and golden.
- Let the tarts rest for 5 minutes and then invert the dish onto your serving plate so the onions are on the top. Yum.