October 10, 2010
Patience is not one of my particular virtues.
As evidence, I will cite my rather aggressive driving style, the way I get bossy and dictatorial with indecisive friends, the fact that I never make it to someone’s actual birthday before giving them their birthday present, my intolerance of chronic whiners, and the extreme distractedness I feel in the days leading up to a party or concert or other much-anticipated event.
There are two zones of exception for my impatience, my classroom and my kitchen. With my students, it’s easy for me to be patient in a way that I just can’t muster with adults. And when I cook, the patience comes without effort, whether it’s whipping meringue, tempering lemon curd, or caramelizing onions. Something about the process of coaxing a chaotic jumble of raw ingredients into an elegant, composed, good-tasting dish calms me down and makes me feel much more patient than I actually am.
CARAMELIZED ONION TART
adapted from Food & Wine
for the dough:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
8 T unsalted butter, cold & cut into pieces
6 T ice cold water
¼ tsp. salt
Combine flour and salt, then use your fingers to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles wet sand. Drizzle the water over the flour mixture and stir until it just comes together. Press the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
for the filling:
2 lb. sweet yellow onions, peeled & thinly sliced
4 T unsalted butter
2 T crème fraîche, sour cream, or plain yogurt
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp. dried
salt & pepper
In a wide, heavy-bottomed skillet (I like to use my coated cast-iron), melt the butter. Add the onions and thyme and cook over medium-high heat until nice and soft, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the onions become golden brown, another 20-25 minutes. I find that covering the skillet for the first half of the 20 minutes, then leaving uncovered and stirring more frequently during the second half works well.
Once the onions are caramelized, remove from the heat and stir in the crème fraîche, sour cream, or plain yogurt, plus salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat the oven to 375˚. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll the dough out into a large circle (about 12” in diameter). Spread the onion filling all around the dough, leaving a generous border (about 2”). Fold the edges of the dough up and over the filling. Brush the edges with egg wash (optional):
for the egg wash:
1 egg beaten with 1 T milk
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the crust is nice and browned. Cool for a bit on a rack before slicing the tart into wedges and serving warm. Goes very well with a green salad for a simple dinner.