Vidalia Onion Tartlets with Tomatoes
My friend Helen, at Beyond Salmon, stepped outside the bounds of her fish-oriented blog the other day to share her recipe for Tomato Onion Tart, which, according to Helen, "has no equal!" Well, as regular readers of Stephencooks know, I'm a sucker for savory dishes with tomatoes, onions and cheese, so I couldn't wait to try my own version of this great-looking dish.
Of course, once I got started I couldn't help making some changes, as is my wont. (My version's richer, with the addition of bacon, cream and eggs -- okay, it's not health food but whaddyagonnado? I also tossed in some garlic and rosemary -- because E loves them and I mainly cook for her -- and some nutmeg, and I used a sharper cheese than Helen used.) It was great! I still want to try Helen's recipe soon, without modification, because it has a beguiling simplicity: caramelized onions, cheese and the tomatoes that I assume really puts the spotlight on the onions. Mine had plenty of onion taste and texture, but moderated and influenced by the custard, rosemary, garlic and bacon, which made the onions less central than in Helen's version. (I was interested to note, by the way, that Helen's recipe started with the same procedure as Julia's Onion Soup: long slow simmering of the onions in butter and oil. That's obviously the way to make a good onion dish!)
So thanks to Helen, for posting a beautiful and inspiring dish -- and also for designing the fabulous l0ok of the tart, which I shamelessly copied...
Vidalia Onion Tartlets with Tomatoes
Makes a 10" tart or 6 4"tartlets.
6 partially baked 4" tartlet shells, or a 10" partially baked tart shell (recipe follows)
1-1/4 lb Vidalia onions, sliced thin
4 oz shallots, sliced thin
8 slices thick-cut bacon
2 T butter
4 oz imported sharp Provolone cheese, shredded
1 C heavy cream
salt, hot sauce to taste
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 T fresh rosemary, minced
48 grape tomatoes, halved
Sauté the bacon slowly in a heavy pan until starting to crisp. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Add the onions, shallots and butter to the pan and sauté on medium about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Lower heat to medium-low and sauté another 30 - 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions have turned a deep golden brown. Remove from heat .
Whisk the eggs and cream together. Add the nutmeg, vinegar, and rosemary, stirring to combine. Season to taste with hot sauce and salt.
Chop the cooked bacon and stir it into the egg mixture, along with the onions and garlic.
Spoon the mixture into the tart shell or tartlet shells. Scatter the cheese over the surface and then arrange the grape tomatoes on the top surface, cut side down.
Bake in a preheated 375º oven about 25 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Broil for 3 - 4 minutes about 5" from the heat to finsh the dish.
Allow the tartlets or tart to rest about 5- 8 minutes before removing from the mold. Serve with a fresh salad and crusty French bread.
Pie Crust - Partially Cooked ("Blind Baked")
Makes a single crust 10" pie or six 4" tartlet shells.
3 C sifted all purpose flour
1-1/2 sticks cold butter
1/3 C vegetable shortening
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C + 2 T ice water
Place the flour, butter, shortening, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process briefly, until mixture looks like coarse corn meal. Add the ice water and pulse processor a few times until dough begins to clump. Do not overprocess. Scrape dough onto a board put in a plastic food storage bag. Working through the bag, quickly press the dough into a ball. Refrigerate dough for at least an hour. (May be frozen at this point for future use.) Roll the ball out to about 1/8" thick. Butter the pie plate or tart pans and line with the dough.
Butter pieces of aluminum foil and line the crust in the tart pans with them, buttered side down. Fill the foil with dried beans or rice to a depth of about an inch -- this will keep the crust from puffing when it is baked empty. Bake for about 20 minutes in a preheated 425º oven. After 15 minutes remove the foil and weights and prick the crust to prevent puffing. When done, crust should just be starting to brown. Allow to cool. Leave the tart pan rings in place.
The crust can be made up to four hours before the dish is assembled and served.
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