Friday, May 13, 2011

A Tart at Heart

You could say the internet has been a boon to our marriage. And no, I'm not talking about getting drugs from Canada or watching videos of people getting way too familiar with the cameras on their laptops. (As I told our son when he got old enough…like when he was five…to disable any blocking mechanism we might install on the computer, "there are some pictures you just don't want to have in your head.")

What I'm trying to get at is that, at our house, we're information junkies. As a former journalist, Dave is never happier than when he's diving into the deep end of a pool of information on his latest fascination. Because of that he gets a ton of feeds about subjects he's interested in, from bread (Portland-based The Fresh Loaf is a big fave) to beer to cars to barbecue to cooking videos. Then he gets busy in the kitchen. 

Like last weekend. He'd spent most of Saturday making his sourdough bread, and because he absolutely hates throwing out any leftover starter he made sourdough biscuits for breakfast Sunday morning. On a Cooks Illustrated video he'd seen Chris Kimball and one of his lady friends (who seem to do most of the actual cooking, at least from what I've seen) making an onion tart. So with some of the homemade bacon he'd smoked the week before, that became dinner.

And, really, who needs more than that to make a happy marriage?

Bacon Onion Tart
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated.

For the crust:
1 1/4 c. flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick chilled butter or margarine, cubed
Ice water

For the filling:
4 oz bacon in 1/4-inch bits.
1 1/2 lbs. yellow or white onions (6 c. when sliced), sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick)
1 sprig of thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried
2 eggs
1/2 cup half and half or whole milk

To make the crust: Preheat oven to 375°. Spray oil on bottom and sides of quiche or tart pan. Put flour, sugar, salt in processor and pulse twice. Add cubed butter and do about 15 pulses until it looks fine. Add 2 Tbsp. ice water and process. If you can squish it and it holds together, stop. If there are too many flour bits add 1 tsp. water and process again for 5 seconds. Drop walnut-sized chunks into pan and spread evenly, pushing the dough up the sides. You can put plastic wrap on it and spread with hands to get it nice and even. Pinch dough off edges of pan to make sharp edges. Put pan with dough on plate and put into freezer for 30 minutes. Remove from freezer. Spray tinfoil with oil and gently press into pan. Cook's Illustrated advises you fill it with "pie weights"; I put a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil over the dough and pressed it into place and it worked just fine. Bake for 30 minutes.

To make the filling: While the crust bakes, cook bacon on medium heat until a little crisp. Save 2 Tbsp. bacon fat; put bacon on paper towel-lined plate to degrease. Put 2 Tbsp. bacon fat into nonstick pan. Get the bacon fat "a little hot." Put onions into bacon fat. Add sprig of thyme and a little salt. Cover and cook 10 minutes on medium heat. You want onions soft, not brown. Remove cover and stir, replace cover and put on low for another 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool a little bit.

Check crust. If it's still soft and moist, keep in oven. If not, remove tinfoil or weights and put back in oven 5-10 minutes until golden brown.

Put eggs in mixing bowl. Add half and half and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Whisk together. Add onions and bacon and stir until incorporated. Put into tart. Smooth and make sure onions are uniform throughout. Put into oven and bake 20-25 minutes. Should be cooked through and be firm when jiggled. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan.

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