As a child in Yorkshire we seemed to go to a lot of point-to-points. Â I’m not sure why but it was definitely a feature of the winter months. Â Parked in a field somewhere, there were always other children I knew to muck about with and best of all, the row upon row of open car boots which signalled the picnics, an obvious highlight. Â Always hot sausages wrapped in a tinfoil parcel, soup of some description and of course the quiche. Â My mother made a cracking quiche which was transported from the Aga into the back of the car so as to be still warm for lunch. Â Crisp pastry, wobbly creamy custard and salty bacon, lovely.
Fast forward a couple of decades and maddeningly my children are not so keen on the old quiche, too much wobbly stuff in the middle apparently. Â What they are mad about however is this onion tart, probably because it is very much an onion tart as opposed to an onion quiche. Â I’m not sure it could hold its head up in the South of France as a pissaladiere but it is along those lines. Â Slow cooked melting onions with salty savoury anchovies on crisp pastry. Â Add black olives if you like, I sometimes do and sometimes don’t but I insist onÂ the criss crossed anchovies even if it seems a little dated and similar may well have graced a 1970’s cooking article.
So, this is a tart I make all the time, whatever the weather. Â It comes into play for lunch with a big salad, it has been on picnics (though no point-to-points yet) and has even made a star turn as a vegetarian main. Â Where I find it most useful though is cut into small squares and served before lunch or supper – let me tell you, it goes down a storm.
I served this recently before Sunday lunch and couldn’t believe the speed with which all the children hoovered it up, seeking out the bits with the most anchovy which surprised me. Â It may be one of the easiest warm canapÃ©s to serve with drinks too as you can make it ahead and then cook it just prior to serving – I promise your guests will love it.
As my family love the saltiness of the anchovies I boost this flavour by spreading a thin layer of anchovy paste on the pastry before putting the onions on top. Â This addition is of course entirely up to you, the tart is delicious without it. Â Either make your own pastry using a 200g flour to 100g fat ratio, or use ready made – half a 500g pack is about right.
2 large onions, or 4-5 normal size ones, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 egg, well beaten
2 tablespoons creme fraiche (or double cream if that is all you have)
250g (approx) shortcrust pastry, see introduction
Anchovy paste, optional, see introduction.
Preheat the oven to 200 and put a baking tray in the oven to heat up, this is to put the tart in its tin onto – the immediate heat will crisp the base. Â Melt the butter with the oil in a medium size pan, add the chopped onions and the salt and cook gently until soft but not coloured which will take about half an hour. Â Meanwhile roll out the pastry thinly and line a tin, around 18x30cm and put this into the fridge. Â When the onions are a soft sludge put them into a bowl to cool for 10 minutes then mix in the egg and creme fraiche along with some black pepper. Â If you are going to use the anchovy paste now is the time to spread a thin layer over the pastry then pour the onion mixture onto the pastry, level the surface and put in the oven (on the preheated baking tray) for 20 minutes. Â Cool for 5 minutes in the tin before carefully tipping onto a board and cutting up. Â Makes about 24 small squares but really this is up to you.