I think the food you make says a lot about you.
In this case, I’m a dip and a tart.
On Saturday, I co-hosted a wedding shower for my friends Lindsay and Tim. It was held at our friends Emily & Paul’s house and we had a lovely low country boil. Emily and I made appetizers. Emily did the lion’s share of the appetizer cookery, but I brought two dishes along.
When selecting dishes for a large group, you have to take in mind several considerations. 1) There are a lot of vegetarians, so you need something veg friendly. 2) Some of these people are REALLY good cooks. You can’t bring nachos to a foie gras fight. Plus, Tim is one of the founders of the soon-to-be Small Batch Beer Co. Tim is all about flavors—both in his food and in his beer—so I had to bring my A game.
When all was said and done, our appetizer menu looked a little something like this. (I’m pretty sure every recipe is from Food52. No, they don’t pay me to say that. Because why would they. But if they WANTED to…. I would take their money. To buy food. To make more recipes. From Food52.)
- Devils on Hatchback (sub jalapenos, because there weren’t any hatch chiles…which made these bitches HOT)
- Serrano Ham and Manchego Croquetas with Smoked Pimenton Aioli (HUGE hit. Make these right now)
- Broiled Oysters with Sriracha Lime Butter (oyster fans, you will love)
- Roasted Fennel and White Bean Dip (to be continued)
- French Onion Tart (to be continued)
During the party, someone asked me what I made and I actually said, “I’m the dip and the tart.” I suppose it’s better than being the devil?
Anywho, as per ushe, I made two recipes I’d never made before for this event. Cause I live on the MOTHER-EFFING EDGE. (Or rather, I take JUST enough of a risk that I may fuck up and have to pick up a quiche at the store on the way to the party.) But thankfully, my risk was rewarded.
These recipes are really easy. And really great. Particularly the dip. I love a good dip. This one had such great flavor—the roasted fennel gave such depth. It was rich and creamy. Great on a crostini or a chip. And despite cutting off a chunk of my fingernail while chopping rosemary (cause, duh, I’m dippy), this was a huge success.
PLEASE NOTE. I did not serve anyone my fingernail. Nor was there any cross-contamination or accidental vampirism. I handled that shit like a pro. No Jamie from Top Chef All-Stars “I need to go get stitches” ish. I flipped my cutting board, got a new knife, cleaned up my finger, gloved my hand up and JUST KEPT COOKING.
And this tart. Let’s just say if you want to impress someone, make this tart. It takes some time but it is not hard. You make your own crust! You cut two pounds of onions, which makes you cry, bawl, and snot in your kitchen! You make the tart! You want to eat the tart, but you can’t cut through the onions because they’re all tangly! But that’s ok! It’s delicious! It’s yummy! And it’s pretty!
Just like a tart oughta be.
Serves 6 to 8
For the filling
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 pounds yellow onions, peeled & sliced thin
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed & stems discarded
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
- 2/3 cups Swiss cheese, shredded
For the Swiss cheese pastry crust
- ¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour | I found this at Whole Foods!
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- 1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
- 4 tablespoons very cold butter, shredded using a box grater
- 1 to 2 tablespoons cold seltzer | I wound up using about 3 ½ tablespoons of seltzer
To make the filling, heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 2 minutes. Cover pot, reduce heat as low as it can go without shutting off, and let cook until onions have cooked down and released a lot of their liquid, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the crust. Add the flour, salt, and paprika to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse once or twice to mix the dry ingredients. Add the cheese and butter, then pulse a few times until it forms a sandy-looking mixture. Add 1 tablespoon of seltzer, pulse again until a rough ball of dough comes together. If the mixture is too dry and crumbly, add more seltzer 1 teaspoon at a time (you may not need the entire 2 tablespoons…or you may need more like, 3 ½ tablespoons), and continue to pulse until you have a ball of dough. (Mine did not come together in a ball, but was moist enough to come together into a ball.) Turn the dough out onto an unfloured counter, flatten and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Remove cover from the pot of onions, raise heat to medium, add the thyme and season with salt and pepper. Let the onions cook, stirring occasionally to scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pot, until onions turn golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. When onions are golden and very tender, stir in the sherry vinegar. Remove from heat and, using a slotted spoon, transfer onions to a medium bowl.
Place the chilled dough between two sheets of parchment paper, and roll it into a 13-inch circle. Fit dough into a 9-inch ungreased springform pan. Fold down sides of dough, leaving a 1-inch high crust.
To finish the filling, add the egg and cheese to the bowl with the onions. Stir to mix well. Pour mixture over the tart crust and spread to the edges using a rubber spatula. Bake for 25 minutes, until slightly puffed and golden. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.
Roasted Fennel & White Bean Dip
For Roasted Fennel
- 1 Large or 2 small fennel Bulbs, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2-3 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 Cloves Garlic still in papery shell
- Salt and Pepper
For the Cannellini Bean puree
- ¾ cups Olive Oil
- 2 Garlic Cloves, Peeled and minced
- 2 ½ cups Cooked Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon Fresh Rosemary, Chopped
- 1 tablespoon Lemon juice, Freshly squeezed
- ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
First make the roasted fennel. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the fennel and garlic cloves in the olive oil and spread on a sheet pan. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 30-40 minutes, turning twice during cooking. Take out and let cool. When cool squeeze the roasted garlic out of their skins.
Start the cannellini bean puree. In a small frying pan heat 1/2 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic cloves and cook until lightly golden, add rosemary and cannellini beans and cook for one minute more. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Take it off the heat.
In a food processor combine the garlic bean mixture, fennel, roasted garlic, lemon juice, remaining ¼ olive oil and all but 3 tablespoons of the parmigiano-reggiano. (Or….top with a lot more cheese.) Puree until smooth.
Raise oven temp to 450ºF. Transfer puree into a small baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Feel free to add more. If your dish is near full, place it on a baking sheet, in case it bubbles over in the oven. Bake until cheese is golden on top, about 15-20 minutes. Serve with crostini. Enjoy!