Caramelised Red Onion and Goats Cheese tartlets

When we ran our B&B in France I often made these tartlets to serve as a starter with a little salad. Sometimes I would use up the cheese that was hanging around in the fridge so rather than just goats cheese it often became three, or even four cheese tartlets. I still make these or sometimes, I make one large flan to put in the freezer; they freeze well and just need to be defrosted and freshened up in a hot oven for 5 or 10 minutes before serving. The recipe below will do 4 X 4" tartlets or 1 X 8" flan.

 

Ingredients:

2 large or 3 medium red onions, sliced thinly. (Fig 1)

3 to 5 teaspoons Balsamic Vinegar.

Ingredients of Short crust pastry (see below) or pack of frozen Pastry.

200 or 300 grams of Goats cheese that can be sliced on the round, or a mix of cheeses to fill the tarts; Stilton,

Cheddar, Pecorino or any other strong cheese that will melt will do.

A good pinch of granulated sugar.

Method:

In a heavy based frying pan put enough olive oil to moisten the base, then, on a low heat put the sliced onions in; don't crowd them, better you cook three different batches than crowd the onions. Using a wooden spatula keep turning the onions to ensure they don't burn. (Fig 2)

Once the onions start to soften put in the Balsamic vinegar and the good pinch of sugar (Fig 3) the onions will start to turn dark brown and smell sweet. Once the onions have cooked through, remove them from the heat to cool (Fig 4). If you need to, repeat this process until all of your onions are cooked, then leave the others set aside in a bowl.

Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3 Figure 4

 

Next make the pastry or roll out your frozen pastry,

Shortcrust pastry:
125g plain flour (white flour)
55g butter diced into half inch cubes
30-40ml water (or as required)

Put the flour, salt and butter into a bowl and rub into a breadcrumb consistency. Add enough cold water to bind the dough together, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to chill for 15-20 minutes.

Remove from the fridge and place on a floured work surface. Flour a rolling pin and roll out to a thickness you are happy with for a flan, 2 to 3mm or 1/8 of an inch.

Place the pastry into greased tartlet tins or flan dish, making sure it fits into the edges without air pockets, leaving some over the sides. Prick the base with a fork then if you are doing one large tart blind bake in a preheated oven at 180°C.

We use parchment paper and dried beans to do this, or just use frozen pastry which works just as well. If you are doing the tartlets don't bother to blind bake.

Once the flan has come out of the oven and has cooled down, evenly distribute the caramelised onion over the base, cover with the Goats cheese or the cheese of your choice and pop back in the oven at 180°C until the cheese is melted and going brown on top.

The same goes for the tartlets, spread the cooled onions over the pastry pop on your cheese and place in the oven on a baking tray, temperature as above, once browned, remove and stand to cool (Fig 5) Before they cool too much or you remove them from the tins, it may be worth running the rolling pin over the sides just to smooth off the edges.

Serve with a little salad dressed with olive oil and Balsamic vinegar.

On the occasion of making these tartlets for the website, I had some left over pastry, onion and cheese so I decided to make a pasty. Once shaped and coated in beaten egg, (fig 6) I placed this in the oven with the tartlets to cook.

(Fig 7) everything cooling ready to eat.

Figure 5 Figure 6 Figure 7