Buongiorno, bonjour and “g’day”! (don't you like how they're all the same thing? ~ who knew Australian vernacular was so cosmopolitan???).

Also, "a good day to you, sir/maam" for our American pals, "Ni Hao" to China, and "Здравствуй" to our Russian comrades, "etcetera etcetera and so forth"... (for Yul Brynner).

It’s your old pal Kit (Christof) Fennessy here. I've been writing this blog with your help for ten years, and there's over a hundred and fifty recipes, restaurant reviews of Australia and around the world, and general gourmet articles in these pages for you to fritter away your idle hours on.

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Now, what's on the bill of fare today?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Valentine Tart

Kit's Tarte Frommage et l'Oignon a la Mode Stephanie
(in a bogun voice) Cheese and Onion Tart

I can understand the ambivalence many hold toward a holiday dedicated to keeping the flower business single handedly going.

"Why do we need so many freakin' themed days?" they cry.  "One day it's Christmas - am I being Christmassy enough? My birthday? How am I tracking against my self-identified life landmarks? Father's Day? Mother's day? How am I as a parent? (I don't even have any kids - people should be thanking me!) Give me a break!  Do we really need another day showing up our inadequacies?"

The answer is, I'm sorry to say, a resounding YES!

Why? For those us in long-term relationships, it forces at the very least some kind of declaration of love. I envisage thousands upon thousands of apparently unappreciated people around the world, for one day at least, being given flowers, or taken out to dinner, and being told that they're loved or desired.

And crying in gratitude.

Not like it's like that at the Fennessy household, BTW.  But you get the gist.

As I went shopping yesterday, seeing the coy smiles on girls' faces, or the earnest expectation of men walking around with bunches of flowers, I felt myself touched. And not in the normal way (God you have a dirty mind).

I'm also an old romantic; being an descendant of John Valentine Fennessy.  So each year, for my wife, I like to cook something special on Valentine's Day. And for me, too, let's face it.

But this year, Valentine's fell during Lent: not only am I on the wagon (no bubbles!?), but Jane has given up meat.

Never fear! The answer is here. For Romance on the Run under trying conditions, here's my take on a very good Stephanie Alexander recipe from the Cook's Companion.

RECIPE: Kit's Tarte Frommage et l'Oignon a la Mode Stephanie
or (in a bogun voice) Cheese and Onion Tart

Short Crust pastry
unsalted butter 180gm
Plain Flour 400 gm
3 tablespoons of water

Leave the butter out of the fridge half an hour, then cut into small pieces. Sift flour and a pinch of salt onto a marble bench top (I've got IKEA wood ones, so I did the start prep in a large bowl). Work the butter into the flour with your fingers, make a well in the centre, add water, then work with a stiff spatula into rough clumps.

Now work the dough briefly with the palm of your hand, smearing it away from you. Once combined, combine into a flat ball, dust lightly with flower, wrap with cling wrap and refrigerate for half an hour.

Blind bake: While the onions of the filling (see below) are cooking, roll out the dough, put in an oiled 22cm flan tray (about 1cm above the edge) by rolling off the pin, then blind bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes (put some foil of baking paper on the dough, and weigh down with weights or brown rice or something that won't burn...).

One kg onions finely sliced
80 g unsalted butter
Tablespoon flour
Half a small tub of cream (150 ml)
3 eggs
100 g cheese (I used a Blue Castello, but you can use a good cheddar, gruyere, etc.)
Salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon of crushed cardamom seeds (or grated nutmeg)

Cook the onions on a low heat with the butter for 30 mins. It should be soft and golden. Pour off any liquid and combine with flour. Whisk together eggs and cream separately, add cheese, then mix in cooked onion, taste for seasoning and add the crushed cardamom.

Pour into blind baked short crust pastry case, then bake in a moderate oven for twenty to thirty minutes (until the filling has set and gone a nice colour on top).

Serve ~ warm with a green salad: I did a mix of leaves with fresh basil, avocado, cucumber, goat's cheese and toasted walnuts, with a garlic and mustard vinagrette.

I give it 7 out of eight tentacles. Best enjoyed with others.
SUPER BONUS!! - I recorded a new Radio Vapours episode for you to cook to!  Check it out here!!  Bon appetite!