Victoria seems to me to have an above average number of dinner parties of a potluck nature. (These are not to be confused with potlatch parties which are on another plane entirely and I have yet to receive an invitation to one.) For last weekend’s event – in a largely vegetarian household – I was assigned a starter or salad course, so I turned to the infallible Delia for inspiration.
In my treasured tome Delia’s Vegetarian Collection I found a winner in her Red Onion Tarte Tatin: the onions turn sweet and joyful, and the crust – a butter pastry which I’ve never had much luck with – even worked. Here are the ingredients, translated into North American measurements. Purists with kitchen scales (and those wanting photos and the recipe’s instructions!) should turn to the original recipe. (There’s a quicker variation, based on a shallot tarte tatin recipe, using commercial puff pastry, at Waitrose.com).
2½ lb (1.15 kg) red onions (about 5 medium)
2 tbsp butter
1 teaspoon sugar
6 small thyme sprigs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the pastry:
3/4 c white flour
2/3 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c soft butter
1/3 c cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
And here’s a ditty from Jonathan Swift to mutter as you cook:
This is every cook’s opinion –
No savory dish without an onion,
But lest your kissing should be spoiled
Your onions must be fully boiled.
My next task will be juicing some of this year’s apple crop – nothing nicer to dig out from a winter deep freeze than home made apple juice sweetened with summer carrots – but a lot of peeling and chopping ahead of me to get those apples into the juicer. So I was pleased and inspired to find a poem called Apples in a collection I’ve been reading (Saltations, by Jennifer Still – poet and co-founder of JackPine Press, which produces exquisite chapbooks).