French Onion Tart
October 18, 2006
An old uni friend of mine used to curse a housemate of his who, he claimed, ate nothing but beige food. For him, this was the sign of many things – intellectual and social deficiency, a lack of masculinity, a general spinelessness. I remember his angry tirades against beige food whenever I tuck into a bowl of humus, and I feel a slight pang of shame.
Maths chick is off to a swanky hotel on the Dorset coast with her fellow teachers tomorrow (who says teachers don’t get perks?) so I’m cooking her a tatty-bye meal. And to be honest, it’s looking quite beige at the moment. Many shades of beige – creamy beige, golden beige, pasty beige – but still, unmistakably beige.
It’s a recipe I’ve been meaning to try for years, and it features large amounts of five of my favouritest things – butter, thick cream, cheese, egg yolks and onions. It’s such a fine idea, I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve attempted it.
When I’ve thought about making it in the past, I’ve always lacked either the means or the excuse. The arrival with this week’s veg box of a 2kg bag of onions and a carton of devonian cream gave me the means; Maths chick’s tax-payer funded jolly to Sand Banks gave me the excuse. So thank you, Mr(s) Secretary of State for Education, whoever you are these days.
French Onion Tart
I’ve nicked this from Fearnley-Walthamstow’s River Cottage Year Book. He nicked it from (who else?) Elizabeth David. No doubt she nicked it from a ruddy-faced farmer’s wife in Normandy.
1. For the pastry case. Rub together 200g plain flour and 100g butter. Add just enough water to bind. Press the pastry into a 20-23cm flan dish. Bake blind (lined with greaseproof paper and dried beans) in a 200C oven for about 15 minutes. Lift out the paper and cook another 5 minutes.
2. For the filling. Finely slice 1kg of onions and saute them very gently in a good schlop of butter for at least half an hour, until soft and golden, but not browned. Season, and grate in a small amount of nutmeg. Stir together 3 egg yolks, 200ml of double cream and 100g of parmesan, gruyere or cheddar cheese. Mix with the eggy cream and pour in to the pastry case.
3. Final cooking: about half an hour in a 190C oven. If your oven is as inconsistent as mine, it’s a good idea to keep turning the flan to achieve an evenly browned surface.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a fare-thee-well feast to attend to.