Sunday, November 9, 2008

An Evening Affair

Adam and I decided to go all out last night and make a really good dinner. And, we did just that! We made a Caramelized Onion Tart and a Roasted Beet, Avocado, and Watercress Salad. Adam's brother joined us for dinner and brought over a fantastic bottle of zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley's Unti Vineyard. It paired perfectly with the rich flavors of the tart and beets and the creaminess of the avocados. The tart takes quite a while to prepare, but with the first bite, you will realize that every minute of the preparation was worth it. If you have a special event coming up, this is definitely a meal that everyone will enjoy and rave about all night.

Caramelized Onion Tart (Moosewood Restaurant New Classics)

It took a lot longer for the onions to caramelize than the recipe denotes. Be patient, it's worth the wait to get perfectly golden brown onions.

1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chilled butter
3 to 4 Tbs. chilled water (Adam ended up using about 6 Tbs. to get the right consistency)

1 Tbs. vegetable oil
8 cup sliced onions
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
6 large eggs
1/4 cup unbleached white flour
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups milk
1 cup packed grated Gruyere cheese

1. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Work the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter [or two knives if you don't have a pastry cutter] until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle on the ice water and form the dough into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, somewhat flatten the ball of dough by pressing down with your palm. Roll the dough into a 13-inch circle with a rolling pin. Lift the dough into a 10-inch pie plate. Fold the edges under and crimp the edges high, because the filling is generous. Set aside in the refrigerator.
2. Preheat the oven to 400.
3. Warm the oil in a large, heavy, preferably cast-iron skillet and add the onions and salt. Cook uncovered on medium-high heat, stirring often, for 15 minutes. Add the thyme and continue to cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. As they cook, the onions will release their juices and then start to caramelize, turning golden brown. Remove from the heat and set aside. In a blender, puree the eggs, flour, mustard, salt, and milk until smooth.
4. Spread the onions evenly on the bottom of the pie shell, cover with the grated cheese, and pour the milk custard over all. Bake until the filling is set and the crust is golden brown, about 50 to 60 minutes. Serve immediately or cool to room temperature.

Roasted Beet, Avocado, and Watercress Salad (Cooking Light, November 2005)

We cut this recipe into a third of what the recipe makes, which was plenty for 3 people. We did keep the whole avocado in there though, because how could anyone resist eating avocado? We used white wine vinegar instead of the sherry vinegar, but I would use plain white vinegar next time for a stronger bite and contrast to the other flavors next time.

6 large red or yellow beets (about 4 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tsp. finely grated orange rind
1/4 cup orange juice
3 Tbs. extravirgin olive oil
2 1/2 Tbs. sherry vinegar
3/4 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 large avocado, peeled
3 bunches watercress (about 9 cups trimmed)
3 cups orange sections (about 3 large navel oranges)
3/4 cup vertically sliced red onion
3 Tbs. chopped pecans, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Remove root and 1 inch stem on beets; scrub with a brush. Cut beets in half; place beets in a 13x9-inch baking dish. Add 1/4 cup water. Cover with foil, and bake at 375 for 1 hour or until tender. Cool; rub off skins. Cut beets into 1/2-inch slices.
3. Combine rind and next 6 ingredients in a small bowl. Toss half of juice mixture with beets.
4. Cut avocado in half lengthwise. Cut each half into 12 slices. Place watercress on a platter; top with beets, orange sections, onion, and avocado. Drizzle remaining juice mixture over salad, and top with pecans. Serve immediately.

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