Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Mini Onion Tarts and a Giveaway!!!
Congratulations, Shelby, on the four-year anniversary of The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch!
Shelby of The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch is celebrating her four-year blog anniversary and when she invited me to participate in her celebration, I had to say yes. I knew Shelby before her blogging days, knew she was a fine cook and an equally fine person and so it is my privilege and delight to join her and other bloggers in marking this special occasion.
In her true, generous Honeybunch style, Shelby is giving away a fabulous $50 gift certificate (see her post for details) to one lucky Canadian or U.S. commenter whose name will be drawn by Phil, her beloved Grumpy. The winner will be announced on January 8, 2012. So please leave a comment on my post no later than 5 p.m. on January 7, and visit the other wonderful bloggers who have linked to this event to see what delicious bites they have cooked up. Leave a comment with them as well to increase your chances of winning. Good eating and good luck!
Shelby asked us to write about someone who has made a difference in our lives, and my first thought was my sainted grandmother. She was the one who taught me to cook in her little two room house. She also taught me about God and she taught me about love and loyalty and she taught me about friendship because she was also my best friend. Then I started thinking of all my other family members and how important they are to me, and then I started thinking about my friends. I am not going to get all preachy here because this is a food blog, but just let me make one statement: I know God lives because I see Him in those who have blessed my life..
It's impossible to pick the one person who has made the biggest impact or has been the great influence because each one has made me a a better person than I was before. So I decided to go with the one friend I shared the most food history with, and she is Jane H. Jane and I lived next door to each other, we worked at the same offices, got into numerous harmless shenanigans together that she put me up to. She was the sister of my heart.
When it came to holidays and celebrations of any kind, it was Jane who'd decide we'd have to have a party. Before I knew it, our two houses would be abuzz as we spent hours pouring over cookbooks, magazines, and recipes, planning, making lists, discarding ideas, adopting new ones, and cooking!! When the day came, there didn't seem to be enough ovens or time and yet somehow it all came together. We'd open the doors to dozens of friends and family members and soon our guests would be eating and laughing and talking and eating some more, oohing and aaahing over the abundance and diversity we'd spread out. Such great fun we had. It seemed that we hardly cleared the tables and Jane would be dreaming of the next occasion.
Even after I moved away to New Hampshire, we talked to each other almost every day, and Jane was still planning parties and get togethers. It was like living next door to her again as we discussed recipes, food preparations and decorations. We were each other's go-to person.
As life would have it, my cherished friend, is no longer with us. It's only been a few short months but I still miss her as deeply as if I had only lost her yesterday. Even now as I looked for appetizer recipes for a family get-together for the holiday, I was thinking, I should ask Jane what she'd think of these. I'm sure she'd have something outrageous to say about making sure everyone ate one so we'd all have onion breath at the party. Then she would consider the monochromatic color scheme of my presention, (she loved beautiful things and beautiful presentation and it was she who did all the breathtaking decorating), she'd firmly suggest that I add some color to my all white plate.
And I'd have to report back and say, "Jane, these went over a storm! They flew off the milk glass cake plate (you know the one I have with the ruffly edge that looks like ribbon candy....I doubled it as an appetizer plate, you'd be so proud of my creativity). They were virtually all gone within the first 20 minutes of putting them out. One of the guests called them onion candy!"
And yes, for Jane...I did add vibrant green parsley sprigs in between the mini tarts to give some color. I had to smile when I overhead someone say..."Oh, how pretty!"
These can be made up to one day ahead, and reheated just before serving. Or if you prefer and time and oven space is at a premium, these can be served at room temperature.
2 tablespoons butter
1 to 2 large sweet onions (Vadalia or Walla-Walla), chopped small
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup water
2 large eggs beaten
1 cup half and half (or milk, or light cream, or heavy cream)
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
pinch of salt (optional)
1 package refrigerated two-crust pie crust, brought to room temperature
Preheat oven to 375*F. Spray a mini-muffin pan or mini-tart pan with spray release. Set aside.
I used a mini-muffin pan (24 mini muffins to the pan) plus a 12-mini muffin pan and used a 2 inch cookie cutter to cut circles of dough out of the refrigerated pastry crust. Any leftover dough, I rerolled and cut out more circles. I have a tart presser, but couldn't find it, so just used the end of a wooden handle oyster shell opener (!) and gently pressed the dough into the muffin openings. I used my fingers to pinch the dough up the sides if it needed it. In all, I made 40 mini tarts. You may need to adjust the size of your cookie cutter if your mini-tart pan has larger openings.
Melt the butter in a large skillet and add the onions and brown sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium high heat, for about three minutes. Add the 1/2 cup water and stir, for about five minutes or until the onions turn a golden brown, and water is evaporated. Allow to cool a bit.
While the onions are cooking, beat the eggs and add the half and half, Swiss cheese and black pepper and the salt if you are using it. Mix well. Add the cooled onions.
Using a tablespoon, use one scant tablespoon of filling and fill the tarts. These will puff as they cook so you don't want to overfill them. Bake for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the tart tests clean. Let them rest for five minutes before removing, or if you're not going to serve them right away, leave them in the pan to reheat.
To remove, I tried a slim knife, but found that a small spoon even worked better. The spray release used before baking helped these to remove easily, and I didn't lose a single one.