Sunday, 17 February 2013

Our first fully veggie. Plants galore.

The very fabulous Roisin and Nick booked a party of eight (including the good people from @damagedgoodsrec and soon-to-be-superstar-writer @VickieDonoghue) but this time 'vegetarian' meant exactly that; so no fish. They also wanted an extra cheese course after dessert. I was happy to oblige. I love cheese, especially when it's a selection of Britain's finest from Neal's Yard. The UK now makes more types of artisan cheese than France. It is often fantastically expensive though; sometimes in excess of £45 a kilo.
I think veggies often get a bad deal in restaurants; so often an afterthought. The 'option' is invariably something unmentionable baked with cheese with the consistency of a dog-slobbered-slipper. I didn't want to do that. My starters are frequently vegetarian so no problem there. I wanted something unusual but not outlandish for the main course. I decided on a fennel and white onion tarte tatin. This was (another) Roux recipe (see below). I served the tart with something bitter: honey roast chicory and something very savoury: Jerusalem artichoke purée (not from Jerusalem and not an artichoke - great name).
The cheese was served with English quince jam, grapes, apples and a selection of my crackers and bread. See the post 'Crackers' for details and recipes.


Fennel and White Onion Tarte Tatin (serves 8)

Slice four onions thickly. Cut four fennel into four. Place in a roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic. Roast for around 25 mins @ 180°C until just tender and beginning to brown.
In a large frying pan heat 120g of caster sugar with around 100ml of water, adding more water if things get too sticky later. Over a low heat, bring the mix to a caramel. Remove from the heat.
Place the fennel slice in a pattern and in-fill with the soft onion. Over the veg sprinkle some thyme leaves, salt, pepper and a few teaspoons of freshly crushed coriander seeds (don't use powder). Over all this: a sparse grating of parmesan. I know - cheese and caramel, who'd have thunk it.
Cut a round of all butter puff pastry that's slightly larger than the pan. Place this over the veg, carefully pushing down the sides to seal in the goodness. A quick egg wash and then a few fork pricks to allow the steam to escape. Bake for about 30 mins @ 200°C so the pastry is golden and risen.
On a board or a large plate invert the tart. It's quite a pretty thing, so long as you like brown.

Did I take a picture? No. Bugger! Sigh.

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