Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Perfect Sunday- and how to a make a red wine, onion and blue cheese tart

I just had a birthday. A couple weeks ago, actually. It was delicious. I decided instead of throwing a big shindig like I sometimes do, which for me can lead to feeling stressed out and overwhelmed and can take on a bit of "must have fun" pressure, I actually just wanted to create my ideal Sunday (since my birthday fell on a Sunday this year) and not even really think of it as a birthday celebration. Luckily for me, I have a close (and yet so far away) friend from Australia who was slated to visit over the week of my birthday this year. If I could create an ideal Sunday it would definitely include having her around! (If you see her, won't you tell her to move to Boston?)

Other things my ideal Sunday would include?
  •  waking up early
  • doing a bit of organizing around the house (is it strange that this is truly one of my favorite activities?)
  • having a leisurely breakfast, either at home or at a diner
  • doing a little bit of baking in the morning- in this case a pie crust which I popped in the fridge to chill during the course of the day
  • stopping in for a fruit smoothie at a favorite local place
  • on the way to....attending a matinee of a new show at a local theater
  • and then spending the evening sipping wine with a couple friends, nibbling on cheese, and baking off a few tarts
Doesn't that sound perfect? OK, I understand that not everyone has the same love I do for organizing, or waking up early, or even making pie crusts. But to me? Bliss.

And what was that baking that I did?

Well, I made my new favorite cake, Chocolate Red Wine Cake

And I made some simple and delicious savory tarts. One of them had sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, and goat cheese, and some (yes, this is the one I keep talking about but not posting) had red wine caramelized onions and blue cheese.

 I also cracked open a few bottles of  my favorite Reds and Whites from Trader Joe's, and served a nice cheese plate a bit like this one.

And finally... for anyone wishing to know more about the oft mentioned red wine onion tart, which really, you ought to, here is the basic process:

1 pie crust:
Flaky Pie Crust (from Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into about 8 pieces
3 tablespoons ice water, plus more if necessary
I still adore the ease, flavor and flakiness of Mark Bittman's "flaky pie crust". All you do is combine flour, cold butter, a bit of salt and a bit of sugar in a food processor, pulse for a few seconds and then dump out on your work surface, combine into a ball [adding some icy cold water as needed] then throw into the fridge for a while to chill, and roll out a few hours later. Easy as pie. Really. And the flavor is spot on for a savory tart like this one. If you don't have the luxury of starting this project the day or morning before, you can of course use a frozen pie crust from the grocery store, though I have yet to find one I like as much as this simple from scratch version.

For the filling:
(my own recipe, and as usual, I measure with my eyes not measuring cups, so all measurements are estimates, feel free to adjust to your taste)
2 large red onions, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups dry red wine
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 ounce blue cheese, crumbled

1.Roll out the crust and place it in a tart pan, poking a few holes in the bottom of the crust before par baking for 15-20 minutes at 375, or until edges begin to brown.

2. In a heavy bottomed pan, melt the butter, then add the sliced onion. Cook until translucent, about 10 minutes.

3. Pour the wine and balsamic into the pan, cook until reduced so almost no liquid remains. Add the brown sugar towards the end. Taste before you go any further, the onions should be sweet and complex, if too sweet for your taste add more wine or balsamic, if too wine-y add more sugar or reduce further.

4. into the par baked shell, pour the onion mixture and spread to cover the bottom evenly. Sprinkle the blue cheese over the top.

5. Finish for an additional 10-15 minutes in the oven, allowing the cheese to melt.

6. Remove from the oven and let cool before slicing.

the blue cheese adds the perfect sharpness to contrast with the sweet reduced red wine and caramelized onions. 

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