Goat’s cheese and red onion tart
Perfect as a starter or a main, this goat’s cheese and red onion tart is a great dish to serve at all occasions. The sweet and jammy onions are balanced by the thyme in the crisp pastry, whilst the creaminess of the goat’s cheese provides another textural dimension.
200g plain flour
150g cold unsalted butter, diced
a handful of finely chopped thyme
sprinkle of pepper
4 red onions
50g soft brown sugar (but have more to taste)
Goat’s cheese log
Add the flour, pepper and to the butter and crumble. It is important that the butter is cold so that it does not melt.
Add a dash of water to the crumble so that it starts to stick together. The less water added, the crumblier the pastry.
Once combined, wrap the ball of pastry in cling film, and put in the fridge to chill.
After half an hour, take the pastry out of the fridge, roll to a thickness of about 3mm, and put into a tart tin.
Prick the pastry with a fork and put a piece of baking paper on it.
Then pour baking beans or uncooked rice on top of the baking paper. This ensures that the pastry will not become soggy when topped with the onions.
In an oven preheated to 180C, put in the pastry and bake for 20 minutes.
Caramelised red onions
Cut the onions in half, and then slice them to a thickness of 1cm.
Heat the butter in a pan over medium heat, and once melted, add the oil.
Add the onions, and leave to soften, stirring regularly.
After about five minutes, add the sugar, a few grinds of pepper and salt, and three teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.
Leave the onions to further soften in the pan, but stir regularly so that the onions don’t crisp. If the onions ever appear to be drying out and therefore crisping up, add a dash of water.
When the pastry has blind-baked (been baked with the baking beans), remove the beans and baking paper, and top with the caramelised onions.
Slice the goat’s cheese and place evenly over the tart.
Put the tart back in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, so that the pastry is fully cooked, and the cheese has started to melt.
Serve warm or cold with salad and a glass of rosé.
Yoghurt with crème de marrons de l’Ardèche and toasted walnuts
Autumn may be upon us, but that doesn’t mean we need to give up our memories of the summer. This dessert reminds me of family meals in the Les Pyrénées. When you’ve had a heavy meal, the last thing you want is a rich, sweet pudding, which is why this dessert is the perfect compliment. The acidity of the Greek yoghurt and crème fraîche is balanced with the sweetness of the crème de marrons de l’Ardèche. Furthermore the toasted walnut topping gives a crunch, adding texture.
Crème de marrons de l’Ardèche is a sweet chestnut paste from the Ardèche region in South Eastern France. With a taste similar to chestnuts from the infamous caramelised chestnut stands in Paris and London, this paste is also delicious on toast.
Not only is this dish light and refreshing, it is also ridiculously simple.
400g Greek yoghurt
200g Crème fraîche
2 tsp icing sugar (optional)
2 tsp agave syrup (optional)
Crème de marrons de l’Ardèche (sweet chestnut paste)
A handful of walnuts
In a pan over medium heat, toast walnuts in no oil – you don’t want to fry them.
Regularly toss the walnuts in the pan so that they brown all over. Be sure to keep an eye on them, as you don’t want them to burn.
Once toasted, remove from the pan and put onto kitchen paper. Walnuts release oil when heated, so this action drains the oil, thus making the nuts crunchier, and the dessert lighter.
Set aside the walnuts for later.
Mix the Greek yoghurt with the crème fraîche, until fully combined. Ricotta and mascarpone also work well – just see what you have in your fridge! Having said that, I avoid using sweetened yoghurts, because you need at least a hint of sharpness to contrast the sweetness of the chestnut purée. I also refrain from using very runny yoghurts and creams to keep the mixture firm rather than sloppy.
If the yoghurt mixture is quite sour, adding icing sugar or agave syrup helps remove some of the acidity.
In shallow glasses (of the style pre-made desserts have come in, such as Gü) put in the yoghurt mixture a third of the way up. Then squeeze a criss-cross of the chestnut paste on top of each of the yoghurts. Cover with more yoghurt mixture until the glass is nearly full, then squeeze over more chestnut paste.
Chop the cooled, toasted walnuts into smaller (but still chunky) pieces, and sprinkle over the top of the yoghurts.
Instead of the chestnut paste and walnut combination, you could use lemon curd and pistachios, raspberry compote and flaked almonds, or dulce de leche and biscuit pieces.
Use the quantities as a rough guideline…always taste as you go along!