Let me tell you a story of friendship and the internet, while we share a slice of this rustic caramelized onion tart with cheese crust. For the story of how I came to share it with you has more to do with the internet than you can imagine.
Back in the early 90s I got connected to the World Wide Web, and my mind was blown, metaphorically speaking.
For those of us witnesses to this new marvel of communication it just seemed like a door to the world had opened right in our own home, and we were eager to go out and explore.
And a new wave of people came into my life: readers, colleagues, clients. And many good friends.
In the beginning being a “cooking site webmistress” was quite a lonely endeavor. There was very little networking, and most of the cooking sites I followed then have since disappeared. And then food blogging came around, and I not only joined the format, I joined the culture.
Blogging, my friends, is a completely different world. There is a very strong community, a sense that we all rise together or fall together. A sense of friendship. I have been very lucky to have found a great group of like-minded bloggers who have been so kind to welcome me, and I am amazed at how supportive and selfless they are.
So the other day we were talking amongst ourselves — or rather chatting — and wondered how it would be if we could all get together. Mind you, this is not an easy proposition, seeing as we live in different countries, and continents. We imagined we could, and we’d have a potluck.
A food blogger’s potluck has to be the best kind of potluck. And here’s the dish I’d bring, because let me tell you, I can’t just bring any old thing, these are people who live for the good food.
If you love French onion soup, you’ll love this, although it only has the onions and cheese in common. And the sherry, because it is the sherry that makes this dish. And for it I picked my favorite brand, you already know it: Holland House. Their quality cooking wines are so good you could almost drink them — don’t, they have salt added by law.
The result is a crispy crust filled with a creamy, gentle onion filling with the kind of sweet that comes from slow, gentle caramelization, topped with sharp cheeses.
- 1¾ cups of whole-wheat flour
- ¾ teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- ⅓ cup of oil (corn, soy or peanut)
- ½ cup of milk
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- 3 lb [1.4 kg] of white onions, halved and sliced thinly
- ½ cup of Holland House Sherry
- 1 tablespoon of garlic salt (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon of freshly-cracked pepper
- ½ teaspoon of grated nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- 1 cup of Gruyère, grated
- ½ cup of sharp Cheddar, grated
- In a mixing bowl mix flour, salt and baking soda.
- Add oil and milk.
- Mix until all the ingredients are incorporated completely.
- If the dough is too dry add water by the teaspoon until it is workable but not soggy or sticky.
- Knead lightly until the dough is smooth (about 1 minute).
- Wrap in plastic film and let it rest at room temperature for at least 10 minutes.
- Heat the oil over low heat in a large pan with cover.
- Add the onions and stir until they are coated with oil. Cover and simmer over for 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Increase heat to medium and add the Holland House Sherry, simmer until the sherry has mostly evaporated. Cover and simmer over low heat for another 15 minutes, or until the onions have turned caramel brown and are very tender.
- Season with the garlic salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Remove from the heat. Mix in the flour and cool to room temperature.
- Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until you have a circle big enough to cover the bottom and sides of a 9" [23 cm] pie pan.
- Cover the pie pan with the dough and tidy up the sides.
- Heat oven to 350 ºF [175 ºC].
- Bake the pie crust for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven.
- Fill the pie crust with the onion, top with the cheeses.
- Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.
- Serve hot.
For a vegan or vegetarian version, use your favorite cheese substitute (I've found some pretty good vegan ones), or skip the cheese entirely. The onion is sublime on itself. Use your preferred milk substitute for the crust. I have done it with almond milk too.
Whole wheat dough is very fragile, and not at all elastic like regular dough, I've found that the best way to spread it is doing it between two plastic film pieces. There's going to be some patching too. Don't worry too much, that's why I called it "rustic".