Saturday 28 June 2008

Savoury Cheese and Onion Tart - useful for seducing vegetarians

I love the way this recipe has the word 'savoury' in front of it. What a lovely old-fashioned word it is. No one writes recipes these days that include 'savoury' in the title. But this tart (called a quiche these days) is indeed deeply savoury, with its topping of poppy seeds and halved stuffed green olives.

Savoury Cheese and Onion Tart. Photograph by Michael Le Grange;
 image © Random House Struik 2012
Anyway, this is a great recipe - another classic from my mom's Seventies cookbook. It's got far more Cheddar in it than any health-conscious cook would reasonably add to a quiche nowadays, but that's what makes it so delicious - and the grated raw onion in it adds a lovely punch and crunch. It's the ideal dish to serve to a vegetarian guest who's feeling hard done by.

This recipe was given to my mum by her friend the late great Val Horak. I've doubled it and tweaked it.

Savoury Cheese and Onion Tart

For the pastry shell:
250 g cake flour
a pinch of salt
150 g cold butter, cubed
2 egg yolks

For the filling:
400 g grated Cheddar
4 eggs, lightly whisked
2 small onions, peeled and grated
½ cup (125 ml) milk
½ cup (125 ml) cream
3 Tbsp (45 ml) finely chopped fresh parsley (fresh thyme is good too; use 1 T or 15 ml)
salt and milled black pepper

For the topping:
2 tsp (10 ml) black poppy seeds
10 pimento-stuffed green olives

Heat the oven to 180°C. To make the pastry shell, sift the flour into a bowl and add the butter. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. (Or blitz together in a food processor fitted with a metal blade). 

Now stir in the egg yolks, and combine to form a dough. (Add a few drops of iced water if the mixture seems too stiff). Put the dough in the fridge for 10 minutes to rest, then roll out and use it to line a greased quiche or flan dish. (If you're not confident making pastry, click here to read some of my top tips and tricks.)

Prick the bottom of the pastry shell and bake blind.

(Alternatively, if you're feeling lazy and don't mind a slightly soggy crust, simply press the pastry across the bottom and up the sides of the dish, using your fingertips, and then add the filling).

For the filling, mix together all ingredients and tip into the pastry shell. Cut the stuffed olives in half lengthways and press, cut side up, into the surface of the quiche. Sprinkle the poppy seeds all over the tart.

Bake at 180°C for 20-30 minutes, or until puffed and lightly browned, but still ever so slightly wobbly in the middle.

Serve warm, with a green salad.

A few anchovy fillets draped over the top of the baked quiche (or pressed into the uncooked surface) lift it to another level.

Serves 4 hungry people; six to eight as a snack.

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