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Tart things up a little bit for Easter

With Easter a week away, it is time to start thinking of some fabulous brunch ideas. This Caramelized Onion and Cheese Tart is a great, make ahead item that can be easily re-heated, or eaten at room temperature. You could make it up to two days ahead of time, refrigerate and let it come to room temperature before eating, or re-heat in a 350°F oven for about 20 minutes.

One of the biggest food trends of 2011 is pie – sweet and savoury – and one of the queries we are always asked about is pastry: how to make a good pastry crust. This is a good and easy introduction to a flaky, yet buttery pastry. It will make more than you need, and you can always freeze half for a later use.

One of the well-known secrets of a great crust is to keep the ingredients cold; this is why ice water is used to make the crust. We often pop the butter in the freezer for about 30 minutes so it, too, is really cold.  Finally, do not overwork the dough: just keep lightly bringing the ingredients together with your fingers, adding just a little water at a time. A teaspoon too much can really make a difference.

This crust can be can be used with both sweet and savoury pies.

In a bowl, combine flour, salt and sugar;

Using a box grater, grate butter into the flour mixture;

Toss together lightly, using your fingers;

Add water, a few tablespoons at a time, lightly kneading until the dough comes together;

On a lightly floured surface, divide dough in half and shape into discs;

Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour;

Roll pastry to fit an 8-inch tart pan;

Cover with parchment and fill with pie weights or beans and bake for 15 minutes @ 425°F;

Remove from oven, cool slightly and then fill with filling;

Return to oven and baked a further 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Caramelized Onion and Cheese Tart

2-½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup cold, unsalted butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

6 cups thinly sliced cooking onions
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
2 thyme sprigs, chopped
1/2 cup 35% cream
2 eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup gruyere cheese, grated

In a sauté pan heat olive oil and cook onions over low heat for about 45 minutes until they are well caramelized;

Add white wine and reduce slightly; turn onions out onto pastry;

Mix together well all remaining ingredients and then pour over onions;

Bake as described above.

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