Caramelised Balsamic and Red Onion Tarts with Goats' Cheese
The long, slow cooking of red onions and balsamic vinegar gives a lovely sweet, concentrated caramel consistency. These are then spooned into crisp cheese pastry cases and topped with melted goats' cheese and sage. Serve them as a special first course with some balsamic-dressed salad leaves, or 2 tarts per person make a brilliant light lunch.
This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book Two.
|For the filling: |
| 6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar|
| 2 lb (900 g) red onions, very finely sliced|
| 2 x 100 g goats' cheeses|
| 1 oz (25 g) butter |
| 1 level dessertspoon chopped fresh sage |
| 8 sage leaves|
| a little olive oil|
| cayenne for sprinkling|
| salt and freshly milled black pepper|
|For the cheese pastry: |
| 3 oz (75 g) butter, at room temperature|
| 6 oz (175 g) plain flour |
| 2 oz (50 g) strong Cheddar cheese, grated|
| ½ level teaspoon mustard powder|
| pinch cayenne|
| 1 egg, beaten |
| Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).|
|You will also need eight 3½ inch (9 cm) diameter x 1 inch (2.5 cm) high mini flan tins, greased, and a 5 inch (13 cm) pastry cutter or plate to cut around.|
First make up the pastry by rubbing the butter lightly on to the flour, then adding the cheese, mustard and cayenne plus just enough cold water to make a smooth dough.
Then place the dough in a polythene bag to rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
After that, roll it out as thinly as possible and use a 5 inch (13 cm) cutter, or a saucer or something similar, to stamp out 8 rounds.
Line the greased tins with them, then bake in the oven, centre shelf, for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is cooked through but not coloured. Then cool the pastry cases on a wire rack and store them in an airtight tin until they are needed.
To make the filling, melt the butter in a heavy-based, medium-sized saucepan, stir in the onions, balsamic vinegar and chopped sage, season and let everything cook very gently without a lid, stirring often, for about 30 minutes until they have reduced down and taken on a lovely glazed appearance and all the excess liquid has evaporated away.
Then let the mixture cool until you are ready to make the tarts.
To bake them, brush a little beaten egg on to each pastry case, pop them back into the oven, same temperature as above, for 5 minutes – this helps to provide a seal for the pastry and helps it from becoming soggy.
Now spoon the onion mixture into the cases. Top each one with a slice of goats' cheese and a sage leaf that has first been dipped into olive oil.
Finally sprinkle with a little cayenne and bake for 20 minutes.