23 June 2011

Onion tart : how could something that looked so good, not deliver?

Just look at this onion tart.

It looks as though it has behaved perfectly, no?

All baked to perfection, sizzling hot - and I have to report that it smelled utterly divine.

What I don't understand, is how it could have let us down so badly?

It was easy enough to make, with no real room for error or mishap.  Just take a whole shed load (900g, in fact) of common or garden brown onions (is that where I went wrong, should it have been another type of onion?), top, tail, slice and cook in a mixture of olive oil and butter for half an hour until they are as relaxed as a mother of twins at Champneys.  Or, to put it another way, transparent and soft.  Add to a mixture of cream and eggs, add some grated parmesan and cheddar, bung into your tart case and bake until done.

Why, then, did the cream and egg mixture separate out and rise to the top?  Why, then, was it so darned sweet that it had us all feeling more than a little bit bilious?

I know that long cooking in a frying pan until both transparent and softened, brings out the natural sugars in an onion.  However, there really wasn't anything in the filling mix that would have balanced that sweetness.  I can imagine that the addition of a little thyme to the egg/cream mixture would have been nice, but other than that, can think of no other alteration to this recipe that would have made any difference to the outcome.

As for what the eggs and cream were doing, going all floaty light and rising to the top of the onions, I have no answer.  Perhaps, being free range eggs and double cream, they both felt themselves better than the common or garden onion.  I feel sorry for the onion, in that case, but that won't make my dinner any more pleasant.

Ordinarily, I have a mixture of theories as to why a dish went wrong.  In this case, I have no idea.

Oh great and good out there, can any of you shed any light on this?  Only I'd kinda quite like to not have to throw away a good third of what should have been a perfectly good tart, again!


  1. Well now.....(Putting on Doctors white coat). *cough....cough* :).
    This comment, as all of mine are, just personal, just things that l have experienced in food and the cooking, there of....!
    I don't quote from cookery books, recipes. But, mostly what l learned from Mama, and by my own successes and failures.....! :(.

    Just the one thing then with this.....
    Onions....I would never fry onions for half an hour, l know the olive oil, (hopefully not virgin), is there to stop the butter from burning, even so, l would say half hour is far to long....
    And, as we all know, one ingredient in a recipe, can ruin the whole thing.
    So, again, just a personal thought. I would just brown the onions, briefly, then they won't fall to the bottom, and lay there, like the Titantic.....! You would need something there, for the other ingredients to cling to, that will be the onions....! :). And, yes, the pie looks really great......! :0).
    *I won't say anything about the 'Throw away' bit.....*. LOL.

  2. You know that throwing anything away breaks my heart, Willie. I even considered taking the remainder to the nearest Homeless person and offering it to them - but it was truly disgusting and being 98% onion, couldn't even feed it to the dog.

  3. Actually, I agree with Willie that 30mins sounds an awful long time to cook the onions and perhaps it would have worked better if they'd been a bit firmer? I'm imagining they were a bit soft and slimy by that point.

  4. You're absolutely spot on with the "softy and slimy", Mrs M. That's exactly the description that hubby had for them. So, 30 minutes was too long. Hmmmn. Well I did wonder, but not having ever made much with onion as being the star of the show, I didn't have much to go on. Well, apart from cooking onions for stews, curries etc.!

  5. Onion tart is one of my lifelong favourites... but I've never put cream in it. I've tried arty onions a few times, but ended up sticking with cheapo brown and there wasn't any worthwhile difference in taste.

    I also only pre-cook my onions for 15 minutes or so. Golden yes, soft no.

    I must confess though, my onion tart is very bland to other people. I love it, but it's not a crowd pleaser!

  6. This might sound peculiar but I think a few anchovies in with the onions would have helped - they melt in so you don't get anything but a salty, savoury note that helps balance the sweetness of the onions. And I would second the thyme idea as well.


  7. Jane : thanks for the confirmation on the type of onions! I think the general consensus seems to be that the 30 minutes' cooking was a bad idea, so that's a definite.

    Seren : Thanks for the anchovy idea! We really like anchovies, so that would have been a brilliant addition. Lovely!

  8. Ditto....Ditto....Ditto.....!


    Now where's my lemon tea, gosh it's early, sun's up.....! :).

  9. Willie - I have been watching Rick Stein on his Mediterranean Odyssey and yesterday he was in Sicily, last night in Greece. He was watching an old fella preparing some anchovies for curing and they looked gorgeous and completely different to the measly little anchovies we get here, in a tin. I said to hubby "I could quite easily live in Greece, I reckon, as everything Rick Stein has cooked or seen, so far, I'd eat". I'm liking the idea of emigrating at some point in the future! lol

  10. Yes, l still watch him, as you know he is one of my favorites. Missed a bit of Wimbledon, just to see him, think he's great.....And, Chalky, miss him when Rick's out of the country.
    Emigrating....Funny is'nt it, spent most of my life here, when l should be back home in Sicily.
    Where l love the life, the food, and, of course my family....But, there it is, nothing to stop me now really, But.........! Life itself.....!

    AND....I could still comment on your Blog.....
    (Dam....say's Jenny). LOL. :0).

  11. Well, that's the thing isn't it? If you're happy where you are and you've built a life for yourself (which you undoubtedly have!) then why uproot? After all, with modern travel as easy as it is - there's no need to emigrate. To be honest, I'd hate the temperatures out on the Med., I'm perfectly happy here in the U.K. with it's famously imperfect weather. :)


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