It feels like forever since I've been home. We are having work done to our house and consequently my room has been turned upside down. There’s a hole in both my floor and ceiling; considering we are only meant to be having an extension in the kitchen (yaaay!!!) and lounge, clearly things aren’t exactly going to plan. But, I’ll let my parents worry about that! One of the things I miss the most about not going home at the weekends is Sunday lunch. Admittedly I have never had a traditionally English Sunday roast. But in my home, Sunday is a lazy day and always involves a long, luxurious lunch. It’s a chance to try something a bit special; enter: my gourmet goat’s cheese and caramelised onion tart.
Spread the onions over the cooked pastry and dot with the defrosted spinach. Finally top the tart with the cheese and bake for another 5 minutes.
One of my cousins told me about this recipe. For something that sounds so posh, it is really simple to make and looks pretty impressive. Caramelised onions are one of those intriguingly sticky and sweet yet somehow savoury gourmet ingredients. Seen on a menu, they immediately signal posh brassiere. But would you believe it, caramelised onions are made using three very every day ingredients; oil, onions and balsamic vinegar. The caramel flavour comes from the slow cooking process through which the onions release their unctuously sweet juices and ta da, you have caramelised onions!
As for the tart, well, if you’ve got a freezer then you’re sorted! I know shortcrust pastry is easy to make, nothing more than flour, butter and a touch of water. But I know an even easier recipe; your supermarket ready rolled version. I will use the “I am a student and have bigger fish to fry” excuse here. When time, energy and kitchen space are in short supply I think there is nothing wrong in taking a few short cuts with the shortcrust!
This dish is perfect to try when you’re trying to impress someone and can easily be made for a large quantity. I have to say, my presentation skills are somewhat lacking; I like to call it the shabby chic look. And I have to say my favourite part of any pastry dish is crispy overhanging bits. But if you want the real deal gourmet finish, it just takes a few seconds to trim down any excess pastry.
Caramelised Onion and Goat’s cheese tart (serves 2)
½ a roll of ready rolled shortcrust pastry
½ tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
45g soft goat’s cheese
30g frozen spinach (a few cubes of frozen spinach)
Start by lining a greased tray or pie dish with the pastry. You can use whatever tray or dish you like. Line the pastry with baking parchment and fill with baking beans (I missed this step out, and as a consequence my pastry bubbled up a bit – however it tasted just as delicious, but as mentioned earlier the final look is more shabby chic than brassiere! If you don’t use the baking beans then prick the pastry with a fork to minimise the extent to which the pastry bubbles.)
Bake the pastry in a pre heated oven for 20 mins at 200ºc.
In the mean time, finely slice the onion. Cook in a pan with the oil on a medium low heat, stirring occasionally. Don’t let them catch or colour, just let them cook slowly until they soften. If they seem to be catching, turn the heat down and add a little pinch of salt (this will draw out the moisture from the onion and should prevent them catching). After about ten minutes they should have shrunk by about half. Add the balsamic vinegar at this point. Cook for a further 5 minutes and they should be done.
This pastry can be enjoyed hot, warm and cold the next day.
I found when making this tart, the generosity of the super market ready rolled pastry (another reason to buy it readymade!) meant that I had some left over. This gave me the chance to make the perfect decadent and indulgent raspberry and chocolate dessert tart. The perfect ending to a gourmet meal.
Raspberry and Chocolate tart (serves 2 greedy people)
the other 1/2 of the ready rolled shortcrust pastry
170mls double cream
100g dark chocolate (this makes a somewhat bitter tart, if you prefer sweeter desserts, use 50g milk chocolate and 50g dark)
Cook the pastry in the same way as before, except cook for 5 minutes extra until it is golden and cooked all the way through.
(Bake the pastry in a pre heated oven for 20 mins at 200ºc.)
Heat the cream in a pan on a low heat. Wait until the cream is completely heated through, and you see bubbles appearing on the surface. This will take about 7 minutes. Take off the heat. Break up the chocolate into small pieces, and stir into the hot cream. The chocolate should melt before your eyes and the cream turn into a beautiful chocolate ganache.
Once the pastry is cooled, place the raspberries on the base of the tart and pour over the ganache. Put the pastry in the fridge to set for at least two hours. Believe me, it’s worth the wait!
I hope you enjoy these gourmet treats, and impress those you share them with!
Until next time...