Toasted Goats' Cheese with Blackened Sherry-vinegar Onions
Toasted goats' cheese became very fashionable in the 1990s, and not surprisingly, as it's still a supremely good way to enjoy good goats' cheese just on the point of melting.
The blackened onions make a great accompaniment – lots of lovely gutsy flavour.
Begin this by roasting the onions: first you need to mix the sugar and vinegar together in a large bowl and give it a good whisk, then leave it to one side for 10 minutes or so for the sugar to dissolve.
Meanwhile, peel the onions, then, leaving the root intact, cut each one into 8 sections through the root, so in half first and then each half into 4. Then add the onions and oil to the vinegar and sugar mixture and toss them around so they get a good coating. After that, spread them out on the baking tray, pouring the rest of the dressing over and season well. Now place them on a high shelf in the oven and cook for 15 minutes; after that turn them over and give them another 15 minutes.
Towards the end of the cooking time, check them and remove and set aside any that are in danger of over-blackening. Continue to cook the rest till they are all fairly dark, then remove them from the oven and set aside – they're not meant to be served hot.
When you are ready to serve the salad, pre-heat the grill to its highest setting for at least 10 minutes. Then make the vinaigrette dressing by first crushing the garlic and salt to a creamy paste in a pestle and mortar, then work in the mustard. Now switch to a whisk and add the vinegars and oil, then season with freshly milled black pepper.
Next slice each goats' cheese in half so you have 4 rounds, season these with freshly milled black pepper. Now place them on the oiled baking tray and grill them 3 inches (7.5 cm) from the heat for 5-7 minutes, until they are brown on top and soft (if you use the smaller crottins these take only 3-4 minutes).
While they're grilling, arrange some lettuce leaves on each serving plate and divide and scatter the rocket between them. Then, when the cheese is ready, place one in the middle of each plate, scatter the onion all round and, finally, drizzle the vinaigrette dressing over each salad.
Needless to say, lots of crusty bread should be available.
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 8, 450°F (230°C).
You will also need a baking tray measuring 10 x 14 inches (25.5 x 35 cm) for the onions, and a smaller, solid baking tray, lightly oiled, for the goats' cheese.