Thursday, 20 June 2013
Thinking about French Leave: Alsatian Leek and Onion Tart, or 'Tarte Alsacienne'
In a couple of months I'll be off to France again for a some sun, good wine, good food and returning home with a motorhome full of French goodies and I'll be honest I am already in the mood for it. Although, it has to be said that the first part of our holiday is in south west France and I am a bit concerned that the weather is at least as bad if not worse as than it is here just now. Anyway, there is a bit of time for that problem to sort itself out and in the meantime I am going to be getting myself in the mood with the odd foray into French cuisine which if it's any good will no doubt reveal itself in some guise on this blog.
Being that I am on one hand quite predictable and on the other hand just a bit random I thought I would pick 'quiche' (how 'cliche') from the complete opposite area from where I am visiting, from Alsace in north east France. This recipe is based on the one from my 'Best Ever French Cooking Course' cookbook with the odd tweak, mainly turning this recipe from 'tartlette' to 'tarte' as I am not one for little quichy things. The whole tartlet thing strikes as too much pastry and not enough filling. Anyway, I'm rambling; here's the recipe:
Alsatian Leek and Onion Tart, or 'Tarte Alsacienne' adapted from 'The Best Ever French Cooking Course'.
Makes a 9 inch tart approx
For the pastry:
6oz plain flour
3oz cold butter
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp salt
2 - 3 tbsp cold water to bind
(or buy some shortcrust pastry - you'll need about half a block)
For the filling:
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1lb leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
2oz Gruyere cheese
1/2 pint double cream
salt and pepper to taste
Make the pastry by blitzing or rubbing together the flour and the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the salt and then the egg yolk. Use the cold water to bind the mixture, adding the water sparingly. Roll into a bowl and put in the fridge for half an hour to rest.
Or, use ready made shortcrust pastry.
When rested, use the pastry to line a prepared loose bottomed tart tin (my rectangular is 13 x 4 inch) and the same kind of quantity fills about a 9 inch round pan, ish)
Prick the base and return to the fridge to rest once more (for about 20 minutes).
Preheat the oven to 190c/375f and put a baking tray into the oven to heat up.
Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper/foil and baking beans.
Put the pastry case in the oven and cook for about 8 minutes or until the edges of the pastry look golden. Take the baking beans out and return to the oven for another 2 or 3 minutes to dry out the base of the tart. Transfer to a rack to cool and reduce the oven temperature to 180c/350f. and begin to make the filling.
In a large frying pan, melt the butter over a medium heat and then add the onion and the thyme and cook for about 3 - 5 minutes until the onion is just softened but not coloured.
Add the leeks and cook for 10 - 12 minutes until they are soft and tender.
Once softened, place the onion/leek mixture into the base of the tart.
Sprinkle the cheese over the onions and leeks and put the case onto the baking tray so you can transfer the full case into the oven easily once the cream and eggs are added.
In a bowl, beat together the eggs, the cream and the salt and pepper (to taste). Pour the mixture over the onions, leeks and cheese. Don't overfill.
Bake for about 20 - 25 minutes until set and golden.
Transfer the tart onto a wire rack to cool slightly. When cooled, remove the tart from the tin.
Serve warm, or at room temperature.