Like many Dear Readers, I have had the great fortune not to have gone through a war time rationing period. Still, it doesn't stop me from mad stockpiling certain items in my kitchen and pantry. My pantry shelves are full of chocolate (you can never have too much, unless of course you're a dog ;)), garlic, condiments, spreads and there is always a good supply of the holy trinity of baking: flour, butter and eggs.
One item that I only realised that I stockpiled was onions. So much so that when I was tidying up the kitchen bench, I found two bags of eschallots and one bag of brown onions that I hadn't even remembered buying. Was I sleep buying and getting in my car and driving to the shops to buy onions? I suppose that could be possible...
That reminds me, it's time for Celia's fun In My Kitchen for this month. I have some new additions to the kitchen including even more chocolate!
Amedei Chuao chocolate
The history of Amedei is one full of intrigue and mystery. It involves prejudice, snobbery and a long held grudge resulting in a triumphant product and the overthrowing of a Goliath by a David. It was Italy versus France set against a river of molten chocolate. Hollywood should make a movie about it. To read more about it, see this fantastic blog post. Anyway, Chuao is expensive stuff. Said to be the world's best chocolate, it is a bittersweet chocolate that has no edge or bitterness, just a beautiful smoothness and balance. Ferran Adria and Pierre Herme are fans and it's one of my favourite chocolates ever. I bought a kilo from Tania. I'm tempted just to chip at it and eat it straight...
The rest of the new additions to my kitchen are travel based purchases. Does anyone remember these sweets? I haven't seen them in years! Bought when I was travelling on the mid north coast.
If I were ever going to get a tattoo, it would probably be based on this design. They're simple paper bags that I bought from a shop in Franschhoek in South Africa.
Don't you just love trolling the supermarket aisles in other countries seeing what they have? My favourite aisle is probably the baking aisle as you can get great cupcake liners and decorations. These were bought at a supermarket in Johannesburg and they're rice paper cupcake decorations with edible pens!
I'm always on the lookout for props and the cups on the left and right were bought in the Blue Mountains at a vintage store (whose name escapes me) and the glasses in the centre from a shop called Lucky Fish in Johannesburg. I just liked the way that these felt in my hand so I bought them on our last day in South Africa and carried them home in my handbag like a complete nut case. And yes I did get odd looks from the people at the airport. I was tempted to tell them that I don't drink out of plastic cups on planes dahlinks but they might have thought that I was serious...
This was a purchase that is only going to stay in our kitchen temporarily. These were bought for friend Gina's husband Hot Dog for his help with some handyman stuff around our place. Notice the amusing beer second from the left? Although Hot Dog has trimmed his mullet due to societal pressures, we could not resist buying a beer with his former hair idol on the front.
These are the only things that I didn't buy myself. This lovely company called Chan's dumplings sent me a range of their frozen dumplings to try. They're a small company based in Melbourne and all of their dumplings are hand made and sold as "Yum Cha at Home" and include prawn har gow, potato prawns, siu mai prawn, scallop dumplings and shiitake dumplings. They also stock at the big supermarkets. My favourite was probably the siu mai prawns and the shiitake dumplings although I did fight Mr NQN for my share of the prawn har gows ;)
Oh yes, I was going on wasn't I? When I chanced upon my extra bags on onions, I decided to make a recipe that I first made about 15 years ago. It's been a good number of years since I last made it and I'm not quite sure why as everyone loves this tart. It's a simple puff pastry tart spread with cream cheese and an addictive layer of caramelised onions and sage. I used to make it for dinner parties way before the blog started and once it did, I felt like I should always try new recipes so this sort of fell to the wayside. Anyway, here it is in all of its simple glory. It's absolutely wonderful and yes, this does qualify as a "pushy" recipe darling Reader ;)
So tell me Dear Reader, what items do you stockpile? And what is your favourite chocolate in the universe?
Caramelised Onion & Cream Cheese Tart
An Original Recipe by Not Quite Nigella
450g/1 pound brown onions
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon oil
6 or so fresh sage leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 sheet of puff pastry
125g/4 ozs light cream cheese, at room temperature
Step 1 - Finely slice the onions using a knife or a mandolin. Heat a saucepan onto medium heat and once it reaches temperature, knock it back down to low (about 3 out of 10). Add the butter and oil and the onions and sage leaves. Slowly cook the onions and sage stirring them occasionally for about 45 minutes. You want to do this low and slow to bring out the sweetness of the onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside to cool (you can do this ahead of time and store them in the fridge until ready).
Step 2 - Place a baking tray or pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 220c/440F. You want the pastry to cook underneath so placing it on the preheated tray or stone helps keep it crispy at the bottom. Meanwhile, place the sheet of puff pastry on a sheet of baking parchment.
Step 3 - Lightly score a border on the edge of the pastry with a paring knife and dock the pastry in the centre with a fork (prick it with a fork to prevent the middle from rising). Then spread the cream cheese within the border outline with a palette knife. Cover with cooled, caramelised onions and baked for about 15-20 minutes until golden and crispy.