Feed me! When your garden gives you a bowl full of onions, make a tart. Tart crusts are one of the easiest things to make. Whether savory or sweet, a free form tart is less work than a traditional tart. Use locally grown or home grown seasonal fruits or vegetables for the filling. A word of advice, don’t talk to your plants.
The key to a flaky crust is to maintain some of the integrity of the butter or fat. Starting with very cold ingredients makes it easier to keep from over-working the dough. Numb, numb, numb. I mean, nom, nom, nom.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons butter or lard, chilled
- 5 tablespoons ice cold water
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 pounds onions, thinly sliced
- ½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
- 8 thyme sprigs
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 1 slice of bacon, cooked and chopped
- 2 tablespoons creme fraiche
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon of milk
- In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour and the salt. Combine the butter or lard into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle the water over the flour and stir until just incorporated. Press together to form the dough. Flatten the dough into a disk and wrap it in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the onions, thyme, and rosemary and cook over medium high heat until softened, about 15 minutes. Add the Kalamata Olives to the mixture and reduce the heat to low and cook, until the onions are brown, about 25 minutes longer. Add the bacon to the mixture. Remove from the heat and discard the thyme and rosemary sprigs. Stir in the creme fraiche. Salt and pepper to taste. Let cool slightly.
- Place a large pizza stone on the bottom of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Line a pizza peel with parchment paper. On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough into a 14-16” round and transfer to the peel. Spread the onions on top of the round, leaving a 1½ - 2-inch border. Fold the edge of the dough up and over the filling and brush the edge with the egg wash (egg combined with the milk).
- Bake the tart on the stone for 30-40 minutes, until the dough is golden brown on the bottom.
- Transfer the tart to a rack and let cool slightly. Cut the warm tart into wedges and serve.
Pair this with a bottle of Rancho Sisquoc Syrah from Santa Barbara county. This inky Syrah presents itself with a thick carnivorous texture and slow forming legs. The nose is full of oak and herbs. The mouth is ginormous and demanding with a distinct richness. Mature structure with well integrated tannins.
Movie night suggestion: A charmingly quirky little B-movie with bite. A slow young man nurtures a plant and discovers that it’s bloodthirsty, forcing him to kill to feed it in The Little Shop of Horrors (1960). This delightful horror-comedy was shot in just two days. Throughout the movie, we are introduced to a variety of weird and lovely characters including a man who eats plants, a sadistic dentist, a masochistic dental patient (early performance from Jack Nicholson) and a woman who can’t go a day without a family member expiring. An oddly absurd and captivating film with a bouquet of darkness and humour.
Film notes: The shooting schedule for this film was two days and one night.
More than just a screenwriter, Charles B. Griffith not only wrote the screenplay, he also stars as uncredited characters: the screaming dental patient that runs out of Dr. Farb’s office, the burglar that breaks into the flower shop, and the voice of Audrey Jr. He also put his family into the film. Grandmother is actually his grandmother, and the hobo that Dr. Farb tortures is Griffith’s dad.
The bums in the background on the street shots on Skid Row are real transients and filmed in the actual skid row area of Los Angeles.
Much of the comical dialog was ad-libbed.
Charles B. Griffith stood off-screen providing the voice of Audrey Junior as a reference for the actors. The voice of the plant was supposed to be dubbed in by another actor during post-production. The director, Roger Corman was notoriously cheap and since the plant voice got laughs, it remained in final print.