Tag Archives: cheese

Caramelised onion and three cheese tart

It’s coming up to the end of the month. This means two things, the coffers are a little low but there are lots of random bits of food lying around. Rather than just go shopping this morning as I often do, I decided to carry out a thorough stock audit in an effort to use up all those bits and bobs that were lurking in the fridge and freezer, to not buy what I didn’t need and to use up any veg before it went off.

Caramelised onion tart

I found some rather nice casserole and things in the freezer and, about 1.5 kilos of onions (among other veg) which were right at the tipping point of ending up in the compost bin.

What do you do with that much onions? Well I guess soup is an option, but I wasn’t really in an onion soup kind of mood, however, I also discovered a packet of puff pastry, the ends of a few nice bits of unpasteurised cheese that were about to turn and a half used pot of creme fraiche. So I decided a tart was in order. This is going to be my husband and I’s lunch for the week, better than a few quid a day on a sandwich.

Serves 12 (or 8 big pieces)

About 1kg of onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 packet of ready-made puff pastry (or make your own)
Olive oil
3 eggs
150g creme fraiche
50g grated unpasteurised Comte (or Gruyère or similar)
50g Baronet, rind removed, chopped into smallish pieces (or Reblechon or similar)
50g grated unpasteurised cheddar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pour a good glug of olive oil into a large heavy bottomed frying pan and heat over a low-medium heat. Add your thinly sliced onions and cook gently, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft, sweet and golden, about an hour. Honestly, when you cook onions this way you’ll almost never believe they are onions when you eat them. I first read to cook them this way in the Moro Cookbook and seriously could not believe that you could or would want to cook onions for an hour. You really must use quite a gentle heat, so they don’t burn, and also a decent glug of oil. If you see the onions catching at all, turn down the heat and add a little more oil. You won’t regret the time it takes.

tart before the cooking

While the onions are cooking, make the savoury “custard”. Take your eggs and beat lightly, add in the creme fraiche and mix well until all combined, stir in the grated cheeses, but not the Baronet or similar, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. There is not a lot of the custard, but this is not a quiche, the onions are the main player.

Then roll out your puff pastry to fit your tray. I used a tray approximately 14 inches by 8 inches. Grease the tray with a little olive oil and then line with your pastry. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

When the onions are done spread them evenly over the pastry. Then pour on your custard to give a fairly even distribution. There is not loads so go sparingly and then spread around with a palette knife or spatula to cover the onions. Scatter the Baronet pieces. Pop the tart into the middle of your hot oven and bake for around 20 minutes or until puffy and golden brown on top.

ready to eat

The tart filling does puff up quite a lot while cooking but will settle pretty quickly as soon as you take it out of the oven. Serve hot with a green salad, some tomatoes and a chilled glass of white wine for a delicious lunch. Or, slice and chill then eat for a packed lunch, better than sandwiches! My estimate is that the total cost for ingredients for this dish was less than £4 and I cut 8 large slices for lunch, so not bad for 50p per portion.


A flash in the pan breakfast

When I tell people about Paleo eating one of the first things they usually ask is “but what do you eat for breakfast?”. Our current eating habits are so based around cereal products in the morning it’s often hard to image what you could eat that is quick and easy and doesn’t contain wheat, grains, sugar and milk whether it be toast and jam or cereal and milk. They also usually think it won’t fill you up.

I’ve pretty successfully ditched wheat based breakfast and there are a whole host of options out there. Anyway, I just thought I’d share this mornings’ quick and easy offering with you.

pan scramble

This took a grand total of 4 minutes to prepare, so no more “I don’t have time to cook” excuses, it takes at least that long to toast a piece of bread and spread it with butter and jam!

As always, if you are doing strict paleo just omit the cheese! I used raw unpasteurised Keen’s Cheddar as I have decided that unpasteurised cheese is healthy in small doses and it add’s great flavour.

½ an avocado peeled and chopped
2 or 3 slices of wafer thin sugar free, sulfite free organic (preferably) ham
1 egg
1 tbsp olive oil or ghee
small handful of raw cheese, grated

Heat a small frying pan and add the oil or ghee. Add in the avocado and mash up a bit which gets easier as it warms up. Add in the ham and toss until warm, then break the egg into the pan and scramble with a fork, mix in the cheese if using, season with salt, pepper, chillies to taste.

I ate mine from the pan, saves on washing up!

chilli mills

I like a bit of a chilli kick in the morning and on the Frome Artisan Market this weekend I bought some new seasonings from The Wiltshire Chilli Farm. I love to support local business and they had an amazing range of very tempting seasonings, sauces, dips and more. I chose these lovely grinders as I know we’ll use them often. They were £5 for the Lemon Chilli Pepper and £4 for the Chipotle Chilli Salt which I thought was a bargain as the grinder was included too. I just hope they start doing refills! They were delicious and added a nice spicy kick to my breakfast.

Is cheese the bees knees?

Cheese, mmmmm, creamy and smooth or sharp and strong. I love it! But, in paleo circles all dairy is out. I was really interested that on the Whole 30 programme clarified butter or ghee is endorsed when made from organic, grass-fed, unsalted butter. I started reading up on why certain forms of dairy might be good for you.

What I discovered is that grass-fed (predominantly, most cows eat some grains, hay and silage in winter when they can’t graze in the fields), organically produced dairy has significantly different properties to intensively farmed, grain-fed dairy. For example did you know that grain-fed dairy contains Omega fatty acids 6:3 in a ratio of 25:1 which is totally unnatural and unhealthy for humans and cows alike. Whereas, organic grass-fed dairy is at an optimal natural level of 2:1 for Omega 6:3.

My purchases from Sagebury Cheese. L-R Keens Unpasteurised Cheddar, Unpasteurised Aged Manchego and Membrillo

My purchases from Sagebury Cheese. L-R Keens Unpasteurised Cheddar, Unpasteurised Aged Manchego and Membrillo

Pasteurisation, whilst it kills any potentially harmful bacteria also kills all the good bacteria (of course!) which in turn changes the properties of the milk and cheese. Surely we must rate these good bacteria otherwise the supermarkets wouldn’t be selling out of Yakult and the like, plus, in a bizarre twist, yogurt manufacture these days involves adding the good bacteria back in as we are all so desperate to eat it!

Unpasteurised cheese, or raw cheese as the Americans call it, contains calcium, phosphorus, protein, vitamin b2 and more. The Sunday Times reported in 2007 that raw milk contains 10 percent more B vitamins and 25 percent more vitamin C. Raw cheese is a nutrient dense food per calorie and is a great substitute for those that have trouble digesting milk as it does not contain the milk sugar lactose.

Cheese also contains large amounts of high quality protein. The process of fermenting actually increases the bioavailability of protein so your body synthesises cheese protein more efficiently than it does other forms.  A single ounce of raw-milk cheese has on average 10-12 grams of protein (depending on style of cheese).

Raw cheese productions begins begins minutes after the morning milking. Because the milk is so fresh, it isn’t necessary to pasteurise it. The natural heat involved in the cheese-making process preserves the beneficial enzymes in the milk which aid in the digestion of lactose and in the absorption of protein, calcium and other critical nutrients. There are many stories of how enzymes help both health and longevity.

It’s pretty tricky to find unpasteurised cheese in the supermarket these days, and to be honest I prefer to buy most things from smaller local producers. I was wandering down the amazingly picturesque Cheap Street in Frome today and so stopped in at Sagebury Cheese as I figured if anyone would have raw cheese they would. I was not dissappointed. I got myself some delicious Keens Cheddar, a delicious locally produced cheddar from Somerset, like cheddar should be and a fine piece of Aged Manchego, quite possibly my favourite ever cheese and a nice bit of Membrillo (quince paste) to go with it. Now I am all set for Easter weekend.

So, as a result of all my research, I have decided that we will continue to eat some cheese but it will likely be raw cheese and we will still keep it in small quantities. I am also raring to try some raw unpasteurised milk now and I found that Hook & Son, who were supplying Selfridges until the FSA (Food Standards Agency) got their knickers in a twist about it, offer a nationwide delivery service. Any Froomies fancy sharing a big delivery? I love the fact they offer gorgeous milk bottles you can keep, and you can freeze the milk.

Would you give raw milk or cheese a try? I’d love to know what you think. Leave me a comment below.

Further reading: