Sunday, March 18, 2007

Blarney Cheese and Onion Tart

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to make this cheese and onion tart. The recipe was published in the Gardener News about a year ago, and comes from the cooks with the King’s supermarket chain.

I made a couple substitutions: I used regular salt rather than kosher, and margarine rather than butter. And the nutmeg was not, alas, freshly grated. Oh, and instead of beans to weigh down the foil while baking the crust, I just use about a ¼” layer of rice. (If anyone knows why you’re supposed to weigh down the crust while baking, please enlighten me.)

Blarney cheese is available at my usual supermarket. Or at any rate, what I used is Kerrygold brand Blarney Castle cheese, which is an Irish gouda-style cheese. So if you can’t find that brand, a gouda would probably work just as well.

The dough takes awhile to make, but can be prepared in advance. I don’t have a food processor, so just made the dough the way I would make pie dough. Be cautious when you get to the water-adding stage. It says to add 3 tablespoons of water to start, but I found that only one was all that was needed. Maybe because I used margarine rather than butter. Also, I forgot to add the baking powder (the ingredients are out of order in the original recipe), but it didn’t seem to matter.

The directions are very detailed when it comes to preparing the dough, but they neglected to mention my favorite trick, which I learned from Tape a piece of Saran wrap to your counter and roll out the dough on that. Then flip over the dough onto the pan so the wrap is on top. The wrap keeps the dough from breaking apart and makes it easy to get the crust centered in the pan (or on top of a pie). When the crust is placed just right, carefully peel off the Saran wrap.

The filling is fairly thick in consistency – there’s not a lot of liquid there – but there’s not that much of it; it makes a layer only about ½” thick, so you don’t need to run the dough very far up the sides of the pan.

The result is very tasty. The cheese and onions complement each other well. The crust is a bit crunchy, presumably due to the cornmeal. The filling, or at least the eggy part between the onions, has almost a fluffy quality to it (I suppose the whisking helps). It’s also visually attractive (sorry I can’t post a picture; I don’t have a digital camera yet), with the brown onions making swirls against a light golden background.

Verdict: Yum! This one's a keeper!

Blarney Cheese and Onion Tart
(Source: The Gardener News; recipe attributed to Kathleen Hulsey and Deb Barrett)

For the tart dough:
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
pinch baking powder
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
4-6 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound yellow onions, cut in half, and thinly sliced
1 egg
4 ounces Blarney cheese, grated on the large holes of a grater
½ cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the dough:
1. Combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix and aerate.

2. Add the butter and pulse to break up the pieces. When the butter has been reduced to the size of small peas, stop the processor.

3. Add 3 tablespoons ice water and pulse until incorporated. Add another tablespoon and pulse. Feel the dough. If it holds together when squeezed between two fingers, it is ok. Add another tablespoon of water if it does not. Pulse to combine. Test again, adding water if necessary. The dough should just hold together. Dump the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and gather the ends of the wrap together to enclose the dough. Twist the ends to compact the dough into a disk. Gently flatten the disk, making sure the dough looks cohesive, not crumbly. Place in the refrigerator to rest for at least one hour.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Adjust an oven rack to the bottom third of the oven. Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before rolling out. This will warm the dough slightly and prevent the edges from cracking while rolling. If you have a pastry cloth and rolling pin sleeve, use that to help roll out the dough. If you don’t have these tools, roll out the dough on a floured work surface to fit a 9 to 10 inch loose bottomed pan. Fit and then trim the dough to the pan. Cover the dough with a piece of buttered or non-stick foil. Add baking beans to cover foil. You do not have to fill the pan to the rim. Bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the foil and the beans. Continue baking for an additional 15 minutes. Remove and cool until ready to use. This can be done in advance.

For the filling:
1. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add the butter and allow to melt. Add the onions and stir to coat with butter. Season with a small amount of kosher salt. Cook the onions until they are golden brown. You may need to add a small amount of water or chicken broth if the onions stick to the pan. This will clean the pan and allow the onions to brown further. Set aside when finished.

2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the egg, heavy cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the onions and cheese. Pour the mixture into the prepared tart shell and smooth the surface. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the filling is set and slightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before unmolding and cutting.

Make-ahead tip: Dough can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator; crust can be baked in advance.

Compost: onion skins, eggshells


OldRoses said...

Baking beads are used to keep the pastry flat while it's baking.

A said...

Oh, okay, thanks!

Sylvana said...

This sounds like it would be a yummy snack for get-togethers.

I'm pretty lazy about tart crusts. I make the dough on the dry side and press the crumbly mixture into the pan like you would a cheesecake crust. It works well enough for me! But I like your technique. I might try that for a couple of other doughs I have trouble with.