Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Using Local Ingredients in Season - Walla Walla Sweet Onion Tart with Bacon

The trend is definitely going in the direction of fresh and locally produced food. Walla Walla isn't exactly neighboring Redmond these days but we do share the same great state and that is close enough. I'd rather eat an onion from Walla Walla than from anywhere else in the world.

One of the reasons this particular onion has achieved such greatness is its sweetness. For once you can peel and chop an onion without crying your eyes out and any chef will tell you that is a bonus. But it is the flavor of the onion that sets it apart.

A recent sailing trip required some easy to serve picnic items and a nice onion tart fits that bill quite nicely. I found the recipe in a Food & Wine issue from November 2000 in a salute to the Evergreen State. It is so rich that you can and should use it for special occasions. The suggest that you pair it with a full bodied Semillion - from Washington State, of course!


2 sticks frozen unsalted butter

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 T sugar, plus 1 tsp

1/2 tsp salt

2/3 cup heavy cream

For filling:

1/2 pound thickly sliced bacon

3 large sweet Walla Walla Onions

salt and freshly ground black pepper

7 large eggs

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

1 1/2 T freshly grated Parmesan

1 tsp minced rosemary

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Make the Pastry: Work over a medium bowl, grate the butter over the large holes of a box grater: freeze. In another bowl combine the flour sugar and salt. Add butter and cut mixture with pastry cutter until it resembles coarse meal. Add the cream and mix with fork until a dough forms. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and pat into a disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.

Make the filling: In large skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp. Drain the bacon on paper towels and cut into 1 inch pieces. Pour all the three tablespoons of bacon grease off and add the thinly sliced onions to oil. Cook onion over low heat until tender and carmelized. It will take about 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper and cool.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll dough onto lightly floured surface into a 15 inch disc. Fold the dough in half and place in 11 inch tart pan. Trim the overhang. Freeze the tart shell until chilled, about 10 minutes.

Line the tart shell with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry starts to dry. Remove weights and foil and bake for about 3 minutes longer until golden. Let cool on rack.

Turn the oven down to 375 degrees. In a bowl, whisk cream and eggs. Stir in remaining ingredients finishing off with a 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Pour into tart shell and bake for 25 minutes or until the custard is set. Transfer to rack to cool slightly. Remove tart from pan and serve.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Indian Spiced Chicken Wings with Peach-Mango chutney

After a quick trip to Wenatchee where we scored a pile of beautiful fresh, ripe peaches I came to the realization that they weren't going to stay ripe for very long. We couldn't eat them fast enough singly so I had to look for other options. Usually a lovely pie would ensue but since I am trying to watch my desserts I had to think of something else.

As I gazed at the other contents of my pantry I saw a couple of nice mangos that I'd been saving for smoothies. They screamed to be married to my peaches in one way or the other and because they were mangos it was chutney that popped into my head. Ah Ha! That would use my peaches and keep them around for awhile at the same time.

The chutney recipe was easy to find and easy to make. Now the question was how to combine it with the organic chicken wings that were defrosting on the counter. I decided to make the wings with Indian spices and serve it with some garlic chips.

For the chips I took a homemade flour tortilla and cut it into several triangles. Early in the day I chopped a couple of garlic cloves and then poured about a 1/2 cup of vegetable oil over them in a small bowl. I let it sit all day allowing the garlic to infuse the oil with its flavor. These are so easy to prepare: just heat the garlic oil in a medium sized skillet over medium heat, when the oil is hot place the triangles into the oil, cook until brown, turn over for another second or two until golden and remove to paper towel. Immediately sprinkle with a little bit of garlic salt. Delicious.

For the wings I used the Albers Corn Meal recipe for oven fried chicken except instead of the usual spice suspects I broke into my Indian spices. Cumin, Coriander, Cardoman, Chili Pepper, etc. You should make it to your personal taste so it can be either mild or hot.


1 dozen organic chicken wings

2 T butter melted

2 large eggs beaten

2 T milk or water

1/2 cup Albers Yellow Corn Meal

1 1/2 tsp salt

3 teaspoons of your favorite Indian spice mix

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread melted butter in baking dish 13 X9 inches. Combine eggs and milk in medium bowl. Combine corn meal, flour, salt and Indian spice mix in medium bowl. Dip chicken into egg mixture to coat and then dip into corn meal mix until covered. Place in prepared baking dish.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until chicken is golden and done. Serve with peach-mango chutney and garlic chips.