I rarely require an excuse to cook with – or scoff a doorstop sized portion of – cheese. But, today I am persuaded, nay, obligated, to knock out a cheesy dish in deference to the Brisbane Cheese Awards, taking place this weekend (yes, an actual event and not one merely existing in my food-obsessed head).
But, what to create!? Well, I decided to make it easy on myself by sticking to my fromage forte – Goat’s Cheese and Caramelised Onion Tart (with a touch of thyme).
This faithful recipe is often dragged out if I’m entertaining, because it’s:
Simple – quick and easy to prepare (especially if you prefer to use ready-made tart shells or store-bought shortcut pastry).
Elegant – a sophisticated and uncomplicated way to showcase your favourite cheese.
Versatile – perfect for all occasions. Whip up bite-sized tartlets to serve as canapés; individual tarts to serve as a starter; or one large tart to slice up and serve as a light meal or lunch.
The tart can be eaten hot or cold and can be complemented with a range of added ingredients and flavours (try topping with fresh figs or adding pancetta, fresh crab or sweet potato to the mix!).
And the taste? Tangy goat’s cheese and briny blue cheese, nestled in a bed of sticky, sweet caramelised onions, delivered in a crispy, buttery pastry shell. Sound alright?
Perhaps you should try it for yourself…
Makes: 1 large tart, 4 individual tarts or 12 bite-sized tartlets
Timing: If making the pastry – 1 hour and 40 minutes; if not – 40 minutes.
- 180g unsalted cold butter
- 240g plain flour (or a gluten-free flour mix can be substituted)
- Pinch of sea salt
- Cold water
- 1 egg, lightly beaten with a little water (to create an egg wash)
- Alternatively you may use store-bought, shortcut pastry
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 red onions, sliced
- 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- Sprig of thyme
- 3 eggs
- 250ml cream
- 100g soft goat’s cheese, cut into chunks
- 50g soft blue vein cheese (such as Roquefort or Gorgonzola), cut into chunks
- Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Grease a large 24cm tart/flan tin, or 4 12cm tart/flan tins, or a 12-hole tartlet (or muffin) pan.
- For the tart shell: Place the butter, flour and salt into a food processor and blend briefly (a couple of short bursts will do it).
- Turn out onto a lightly floured bench, sprinkle with a little cold water (not too much), knead very briefly and press the crumbly dough into a mound until it just comes together (it will be a little lumpy and contain chunks of butter; this is fine and will add to the ‘flakiness’ of the pastry).
- Shape into a ball, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge, sprinkle a little more flour on your bench and roll the pastry out until thin (about 1mm thick).
- Drape the pastry over the tart tin and lightly press into the pan. Roll the rolling pin across the top of the tart tin to trim the edges cleanly (but make sure the pastry still just peaks up over the rim of the tin).
- Prick the base with a fork and refrigerate for another 20 minutes.
- Blind bake the tart shell for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven. Remove the baking weights (or whatever you use to blind bake) and lightly brush the pastry all over the inside with the egg wash (this will stop the filling from seeping into the pastry, causing it to become soggy).
- Return to the oven and bake for a further 5 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
- For the filling: Place the oil, onions, balsamic vinegar, sugar and salt into a pan and slow cook over medium heat for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- When the onions are ‘caramelised’ add a few leaves of thyme and stir through.
- Scatter the onion mixture over the base of the tart shell.
- Crumble the chunks of goat’s cheese and blue cheese over the top of the onion.
- Whisk the eggs and cream in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the top of the cheese and onion, filling the tart shell to the top.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the tart is golden brown on top.
Wine Match: For me, goat’s cheese and a crisp Sauvignon Blanc is hard to go past. But, I could also be persuaded by a glass of champagne or Sparkling wine (a particularly excellent combination if serving small tartlets as canapés).
Allergens: Contains dairy, eggs, gluten and wheat (gluten and wheat can be avoided by using a gluten and wheat-free flour when making the pastry).
The ‘Change Up’
Serving suggestions: For a light meal, serve with rocket leaves dressed with oil, fresh figs, toasted or candied walnuts and a drizzle of sticky quince sauce. Or try serving with poached pears, fig paste, coleslaw…the combinations are endless.
Top the tarts with fresh figs before baking. Or add small chunks of roasted sweet potato, or crab meat or chorizo or pancetta to the filling mixture. You may even like to experiment with different types of cheeses or swap the onion for leeks or shallots. There are so many options!
Avoiding Cow’s Milk:
My severe intolerance the cow’s milk (I know, I know…however, I am still able to eat copious amounts of goat’s and sheep’s cheese without ill effect) has forced me to extensively experiment with this recipe. As a result, I have successfully turned out scrummy tarts by using the same amounts of dairy-free margarine (instead of butter) in the pastry, soy milk in place of cream and sheep’s or goat’s cheese (or soft soy cheese if you fancy) in the filling. Replacing the cream with a dairy-free milk results in a runnier filling mixture, which has a tendency to spill out of the pastry case a little, however the end result is still incredibly delish (though more ‘quiche-like’ in taste).
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