This week has already been crazy at work (24 hours non-stop in the office on Monday-Tuesday, followed by a 5 hour respite, and then back again Tuesday afternoon) Since I left the office at a relatively civil 7:00 last night I thought I would take advantage of the hour and do some Shabbat preparation, other than the chicken soup which is always made on Wednesday night.
I am about to show you my red onion tarte tatin, but before I do I must tell you that this delicious tarte was also the ruination of my night (and Blondini's) - when I went to take it out of the oven I had one hand in the oven glove with which I grasped the pan part, and with my bare hand I grabbed the handle. This happened at about 10:30. 2 hours later I was still sitting with my hand under the cold tap, and I tried to go to bed by holding onto a bag of ice and then a bottle of vodka from the freezer but I was literally crying out in pain every time my hand slipped off the coldness. I ended up having to put a chair by the sink in the bathroom and just holding my hand under the water there, thinking that perhaps I'd fall asleep like that. Obviously I didn't, and at 3am Blondini called NHS Direct, who said someone would call me back in an hour. A nice nurse called back and asked me lots of questions and then told me to go to A & E because I might have caused some deeper nerve damage. Blondini had fallen asleep so I had to wake him up and then he took me to A & E, where we sat in a waiting room (I sat by the tap again) for 2.5 hours and I was finally seen and given enormous quantities of painkillers and a burn dressing. It feels better now but I am completely exhausted! It is my second all-nighter in 3 days, I am not cut out for this kind of thing!
So, back to the tarte tatin! It is adapted from a Delia recipe (and I note that she even reminds you to protect your hands well when removing the pan from the oven) - I have changed the pastry because she uses a cheese pastry which I do not like the sound of, so I have created my own spicy tomato pastry which I think goes very well with the onions. Since I also make this as a non-dairy thing, I have exchanged butter for oil.
Red Onion Tarte Tatin
1.2 kg red onions
1 tablespoon rapeseed/olive oil
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme plus a few small thyme sprigs
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
2.5oz hard tomor or other margarine
5oz wholewheat flour
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 teaspoon tabasco sauc
Salt and pepper
A little water
Begin by making the pastry - blend all the ingredients together in a food processor or by hand, and then when you have a nice orange dough, cover with clingfilm and refridgerate.
Then take the skins of the onions and cut the tops and bottoms off. Cut each onion in half, longways (from stem to root) and then turn the heat on under the pan. When it is hot, add the sugar and oil. I use a Le Creuset frying pan for this as it is heavy and can also go in the oven. Whatever you use, it needs to be usable in the oven and on the hob. When the oil and sugar are combined and really hot, add the sprigs of thyme and then start putting the onions, cut side down, into the pan. You want the onions to be as close together as possible, so when you have no more space start cutting up the remaining onions and fitting bits into the gaps. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle the vinegar over it and add the chopped thyme. Turn the heat down and cook gently for about 10 minutes. Then cover the pan with foil and put it into the oven for about 1 hour.
Protect your hands well (!) and remove the pan from the oven, testing the onions with a skewer (they should be cooked through but not totally soft) to see if they are done. Turn the oven up higher to about 190 and heat the pan on the hob to reduce all the juices in the pan. While this is happening, roll out the pastry, and when the juices are reduced (varies each time but probably 5 -10 minutes), turn the heat off and press the pastry down over the onions, tucking it in at the edges. Put it back in the oven on a high shelf and let it cook for around 30 minutes until the pastry is crisp.
Allow the tarte to cool for around 20 minutes and then turn it out onto a flat plate (cover it with the plate and flip it over, using oven gloves). If onions stay in the pan just lift them out with a knife and put them back in their space. You can refridgerate this tarte to use later and reheat - I just put it in the oven for 10-15 minutes to warm up before serving.