Friday, November 19, 2010

what's your excuse? or, cauliflower and caramelized onion tart

So I recognize that Kathleen is busy enjoying herself in San Francisco (although if she went with the misconception that California is sunny and warm all year round, she is probably also busy being disappointed about the fog and rain). And Mama and Papa are tearing up cabinets and are too busy to talk on the phone (weep weep), let alone make delicious dinners. And Xan is probably ... wait. What is Xan doing right now?

Nevertheless! I shall soldier on alone, keeping this little blog gasping like a goldfish whose bowl is being cleaned until you all get your act together and make some meals.

Last night I made a cauliflower and caramelized onion tart. There is a story behind this meal! I've been planning to cook this for about a week, and every time I was in town for something I would pop into a store that sells cooking equipment and search for a pastry blender. Nowhere, alas, nowhere had a pastry blender. I concluded (logically) that people here do not make pie dough with a pastry blender, so I asked Chris (my English expert on English ways) how English people make pie crusts. He did not know.

However! He has a mother, as so many do, and he phoned her up for pie crust instructions. And she told me that she uses her fingers to mix the butter and flour together. (Which results, for the unpiesavvy among us, in a less flaky crust. You see, the trick to getting flaky crusts in pastry is to keep the butter cold, and not fully mix it in. When rolling out the dough, you will ideally have little flakes of butter speckled throughout. Using your fingers to mix your dough warms the butter and thus the unflaky crust.) When I related this to Mama, she suggested that this is perhaps the source of her and Papa's disagreements about what constitutes a good pie crust. And then she left to do some shopping or put holes in a wall or something.

But back to the matter at hand! Unfortunately, I am still working out my oven, so the pie crust did not bake properly. (I think it either wasn't hot enough or the heat didn't transfer properly, because all the butter melted before the crust had baked, just like with my cinnamon buns, and it didn't go crispy, just sort of floppy. Tragic!) However, it was still delicious, as evidenced by my friend digging in voraciously.

(Or possibly saying, "no no please don't make me eat this I'll do anything", but I prefer the first interpretation.) We should all be grateful to her though, because it wasn't until she reminded me of the blog halfway through eating that I remembered to take pictures.

Sadly, this isn't an all-family recipe, because it is heavy on the cheese. The recipe gave the option of swiss, gruyere, or comte, and knowing nothing about any of these things I asked one of my friends, who is strongly opinionated about cheeses, and he proclaimed gruyere was clearly the best option. So this has a cup of gruyere, a third a cup of parmesan, and a half cup of milk (it was supposed to be cream, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.) . It also has an entire roast cauliflower and an onion. (and those are full of goodness!)

I must now work out how I'm going to use up an obscene amount of carrots. And also, you know, maybe do a big pile of reading about the neighborhood effect.


  1. xan is terribly sick, and his kitchen is out of order.

  2. oh dear! well, silver lining, this way papa can't get creative and make you spaghetti chicken soup full of goodness or anything.

  3. I have been eating regular chicken soup out of a can, microwaved.