Thursday, August 26, 2010

Here we go...

After 10 years at my boring job, a false start into the world of Early Childhood Education, and countless hours of crying, soul-searching, and more crying, I’ve begun to accept what I have probably always known…that what I really want to do is cook. (And eat good food. And drink good wine. Both convenient by-products of my new path.)

So here’s the plan: I’m going to chronicle my attempts in the kitchen, for better or worse. I’m sure most of us have at one point or another told themselves with zeal, “today, I’m going to start a journal/diary/blog and it’s going to be a tome one day!” only to write half a paragraph and then never touch it again. I’ve done it a number of times myself. But this? This is going to be different (she says with hope).

I’m not going to lie to you…it’s been a month and a half since I wrote those first two paragraphs. A lot of cooking has gone on in those 45 days, but clearly, not a lot of writing. This blogging business is harder than I thought. But I’ve got to start somewhere, right? It may as well be with the caramelized onion crostata that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since I made it.

Caramelized Onion, Fig, and Gorgonzola Crostata

I want to eat this again. Soon.

My search for a fabulous onion tart recipe has been a disappointing one. I’ve tried many, but none satisfied me. One was too bland, one too oniony, one tasted of nothing but balsamic vinegar. Am I picky? Probably. So I decided to take matters into my own hands.

What flavors do I really want in my onion tart? Turns out caramelized onions, leeks, dried figs (brought back to life with a little sherry), gorgonzola, mascarpone, and a drizzle of honey over the top is EXACTLY what I want. The crust…well, the crust is a different matter.

Yes, I cheated with a pre-made pie crust. The beauty of a crostata though, is that it’s meant to look “rustic,” which is just a nicer way of saying that you don’t have to try very hard with your crust. And the less I have to try with pastry, the better. The bad news is that the crust was the only downfall of the recipe. Not horrible, but a homemade, flakier, cheesier crust is in order.

I admit it: pastry scares me. You have to be much more precise with baking than with cooking. There is a finite amount of liquid that can go into dry ingredients before you cease to have dough anymore. You just have muck. Research will definitely need to be done. I’m sure I won’t get it right on the first try. But the next time I make this, the crust will be a highlight. Fingers crossed.

Back to the good part: To make the filling, you have to be extremely patient with the onions. A scorching hot pan will not do you any favors here. Low and slow, as they say, is the way to go. That and a little sugar to help it along. In about half an hour, you will have a pan full of beautiful, sweet, caramelized onions. I could eat these by themselves. Throw in the leeks when the onions are almost done. Stir in the rest of the filling ingredients, season, taste, season some more. Pile it into your crust (no, this isn’t store bought…where would you get that idea?), and fold the edges up to partially cover the filling. When this comes out of the oven, it is golden brown and so, so yummy.

I would serve this as an appetizer, but I think you could also get away with serving it as dessert. Or both, if you’re having me over.

All in all, this was a total success. I wracked my brain trying to think of something that may have been missing that I could add to the filling, but I decided that it just needs more of the same. Some extra onion, some extra figs, and definitely more gorgonzola next time. The cheese got a little lost in the other strong flavors.

In any case, I could bypass dinner altogether and eat about half of it myself. And then probably regret it.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, these three flavors are meant to be together. And I believe that wrapping ANYTHING in pastry makes it even better:-D