Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for... Onion & Asiago Tart

10:09 pm: Whoo, this is a late one. 

I could blame my late "O" post on attending the District Art Show to see the incredible pottery, prints and photography of our children and their peers, but that's not really it. 

General fatigue and "Is it Friday yet?" syndrome is I think the actual reason I am baking an onion tart at 10 o'clock-ish at night. 

That tart shell came out just lovely, I hope the picture does it justice. A few bubbles but I am very pleased with it! 

The sauteing onions while delicious-smelling also made our eyes burn and tear up... although Christian was watching the "Doomsday" episode of Doctor Who again which I think is the real reason for the tears in his eyes. Speaking of Doctor Who, someday I'll try a souffle so I can call myself a "Souffle girl"! But, I digress...

And here it is: caramelized onions, Asiago cheese and pastry dough. I think it would make a nice appetizer or even midday snack. It may just be my midnight snack if I don't get this finished!

Onion & Asiago Tart

For the dough:
6 TB cold butter, divided
1 c. all-purpose flour, unbleached
1/4 tsp. salt

2 medium yellow onions, skins removed and sliced into rings
9 TB butter, divided
1 TB brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 c. all-purpose flour, unbleached
1-1/3 c. half and half
8 oz. Asiago cheese, grated

For the crust: put flour  in a large bowl. Slice the 6 TB of butter into small cubes. Work these into the flour using a pastry blender until the mixture is coarse and resembles small currants. Add ice water to the mixture 1 tablespoon at a time, using a spoon to toss the mixture together. Add water only until the dough is moist enough to hold together when you squeeze some in your hand. 

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead gently 4-5 times. Flatten the dough slightly with the palm of your hand and wrap the disk in plastic wrap. Chill the dough disk in the fridge for 30 minutes or until firm.

Unwrap the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to about 1/4" thickness. The dough should be roughly 13" in diameter. Lightly fold the dough over in half and then in half again, place in a 9" tart pan plate with the point of the triangle in the center and unfold to fit the pan. Gently fit the dough snugly against the sides and bottom of the tart pan. Roll a rolling pin over the top of the pan to trim off the excess dough. Fit a large piece of foil into the pan over the dough and gently fit it to the inside of the pan against the dough. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. If using a glass pie dish move the rack to the lower half of the oven; for a metal pan have a rack ready in the center. Take the tart pan from the fridge. Put pie weights or dry beans into the pan (on top of the foil.) Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the pie weights and foil and bake for 10 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let rest on a cooling rack.

Melt 5 TB of the butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add in  the sliced onions, salt and pepper and stir to coat  the onions in butter. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the onions and stir to combine. Cover  the pan and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are deep brown and soft. Remove pan from heat and set aside.

Melt the remaining 4 TB of butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. When the butter just begins to bubble, stir in the flour. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Pour in the half and half. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture just to a simmer and then simmer for 1 minute until it has thickened. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the grated Asiago cheese until it is melted and sauce is smooth. 

Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Pour the cheese sauce into the tart shell. Place the onions over the top of the cheese. Put the tart to the oven and bake on a lower rack for 10 minutes. (I did this because I wanted to be sure the bottom crust was thoroughly baked.) Move the pan to a middle rack in the oven and bake for 15 minutes more, until the cheese is bubbling and the dough has browned. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

The A to Z Challenge is an annual blogfest! Over 2,000 bloggers come together in the month of April and post on every day of the month (Sundays off) whatever theme or subject they choose for each letter of the alphabet. Check out the list of bloggers at the A to Z Challenge website

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for... Neapolitan Ice Cream Pie

In my informal pie poll, the one and only vote for ice cream pie came from Logan! 

Before I started this challenge he never cared for pie crust (I'm happy to report that, thanks to inundation of homemade pie crust into our house this month he now sort of likes it!) 

Not liking pie crust eliminated a lot of pie choices for him. When I first asked him about his favorite kind of pie, his answer was "none". 

Then I reminded him that a pie could have a crust made of cookies, or could be filled with ice cream. He gleefully replied, "Ok, yes. Both! That's my favorite kind of pie."

And his favorite kind of ice cream is Neapolitan: the tidy rectangular box of ice cream containing three, tidy rectangles of flavor... strawberry, vanilla and chocolate. 

I added sliced strawberries, crushed 'Nilla wafers and chunks of chocolate to the layers and made this creamy, frozen pie just for him!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for... Macaroon Pie with an Almond-Vanilla Crust

My first thought for "M" was Mincemeat, a real traditional mincemeat pie actually made with meat! Not just with the jarred fruit mince. I love a mincemeat pie.
But, mincemeat pie is a holiday, wintertime, snuggly sweater type of pie. Everyone here is ready to cast off all thoughts of winter...yesterday it was almost 80 degrees! (Tomorrow it's back down to 38.) We want to run out into the sun, to show off the pale, pale legs of Springtime in Vermont. No one wants to be reminded of Christmas right now.

So mincemeat will have to wait and instead I thought I'd try a pie version of a coconut macaroon cookie. 

Coconut = tropics = summertime... I'm safe.

I made the crust using crushed vanilla wafer cookies and toasted almonds, and that smelled pretty darn good coming out of the oven.
Then the shredded coconut mixed with sweetened condensed milk. Yum. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for... Lemon Curd Pie Bites

The logical choice for this pie was Lemon Meringue. Unfortunately, a meringue-topped pie is something I have never made before. In other recipes requiring egg whites stiffly beaten to voluminous clouds I have not had much success - and as a result I am a little bit intimidated by meringue! 

Someday when I have more trial and error time than I had yesterday, I will definitely muster courage to make a Lemon Meringue. 

For now I decided to make these little pies filled with tangy lemon curd.