French Onion Tart, Gluten-Free

French Onion TartIt’s the weekend guys, and I don’t know about you but I feel good. Ecstatic, even, although it’s not like I’ve got anything special planned out. But how great is the very thought of two full days crammed with nothing other than endless possibilities of having fun?

And here’s one way to have that fun and eat well too — my deliciously vegan French Onion Tart with a divine gluten-free crust.

I use so many onions every day in my cooking, usually as a flavor base for other ingredients, that I forget just how much of a star this good old veggie is in its own right. Caramelized onions are deep, rich, sweet, smoky and incredibly flavorful. But wait! Did you know that onions are also super-good for you? They contain cancer-fighting compounds and have anti-inflammatory properties. Amazing.

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Onion Tartonion tartI had been wanting to post this recipe forever because it’s so good and because I love you all so much, but I needed to find the time to make it during the day so Desi could get great pictures too.  Despite sounding so ooh la la, this is quite a simple recipe and you don’t need to go shopping for any fancy ingredients (not unless you consider nutritional yeast a fancy ingredient, but it is optional). Which makes it the perfect treat for a lazy weekend, when you want to spend less time in the kitchen and more time hanging out on the couch with your sweetie (or your dog or cat or all of the above), and a bottle of wine.

The gluten-free crust is wonderful, but if you’d rather make a wheat crust that’s perfectly fine too. Just follow the instructions for the whole-wheat crust in my Coriander Quiche recipe.

So on with the tart recipe then, and weekend here I come! Why aren’t there two of you in every week?

 French Onion Tart

French Onion Tart, Gluten-free
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Makes 1 9-inch tart
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: French
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • For the tart shell:
  • 1¼ cups gluten-free flour all-purpose flour (try and use something that’s gum-free. If you can’t find one, make your own with a combination of sorghum and millet)
  • ¼ cup cornmeal
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (should be solid. Refrigerate if needed for a few minutes if it’s liquid)
  • Ice cold water
  • For the filling:
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large onions, very thinly sliced. About 6 cups altogether.
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp cognac (optional)
  • 1 14-oz package of firm tofu, drained
  • ½ cup soymilk or other nondairy milk
  • 1 tbsp thyme, finely chopped (substitute with 1 tsp dry thyme if you can’t find fresh)
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional, it adds a slightly cheesy flavor which is nice)
  • 1 tsp dijon or whole grain mustard
Instructions
  1. To make the tart shell, mix the flour, cornmeal, salt and black pepper in a bowl.
  2. Cut the coconut oil into the all purpose flour with a fork or a pastry cutter until you have small pieces of the fat dispersed throughout the flour.
  3. Drizzle in ice-cold water and mix with a fork until the dough comes together in a ball. Add the water slowly because you don’t want a wet dough– it should be moist enough to just hold together.
  4. Press the dough into a flat disc and wrap tightly in cling wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, make the filling.
  6. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onions, sugar and a little salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions start to caramelize and become golden brown. This took me about 20 minutes over medium heat.
  7. When the onions are browned, stir in the thyme, then add the cognac to deglaze the pan and scrape up all the tasty brown bits stuck at the bottom. If you’d rather not use cognac, use vegetable stock or plain old water.
  8. Turn off the heat and set the onions aside to cool.
  9. In a blender, crumble in the tofu then add soymilk, nutritional yeast if you’re using it, mustard and salt to taste. Blend until you have a very smooth mixture.
  10. Scrape the tofu mixture into the pan with the onions and mix well.
  11. To assemble the tart:
  12. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  13. Remove the tart dough from the refrigerator and roll it out on a floured surface to a diameter two inches larger than the base of the tart pan (mine is 9 inches wide). Fold the dough in half and then transfer to a tart pan and open it so it lies evenly across the pan. If the dough tears, don’t worry. Patch it up once you have transferred it to the pan. No one will be able to tell.
  14. Run the rolling pin across the edges of the tart pan and remove any excess dough hanging over the sides.
  15. With a fork, prick the bottom of the tart shell in several places. Then cover with aluminum foil and fill it to the brim with rice or beans or pie weights. I keep some rice in a box and reuse it every time I need to blind bake a pie or tart crust.
  16. Bake the filled tart crust for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the foil with the rice or beans in it, and continue to bake the crust for another 10 minutes until it is quite dry.
  17. Remove the crust from the oven and increase the heat to 425 degrees. Brush the bottom of the crust with some extra virgin olive oil. Now scrape in the filling and smooth it.
  18. Return the tart pan to the oven and bake for 40 minutes until the top of the tart is golden-brown.
  19. Remove the tart to a rack and cool 10 minutes. Then unmold it — I do that by placing the tart on top of a mason jar and letting the rim slide off. Slide the tart off the base and onto the rack and continue cooling it for another 10 minutes.
  20. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 254 Fat: 10.3 grams Fiber: 4.5 grams Protein: 8.7 grams

 vegan onion tart

 

Whole-Wheat Sourdough Baguettes

My dead oven sprang to life last week and I couldn’t wait for the weekend so I could put it to work again. I had the perfect job for it too: baking up a Whole-Wheat Sourdough Baguette. Or two.

Baguettes can be tremendously healthy eats, especially when made my way. These crusty hunks of French goodness contain no fat, are largely whole-grain, and the sourdough brings down their glycemic index, which makes them perfect for the diet-conscious, diabetics, and just about anyone who likes to eat consciously while eating well.

My sourdough starter, which has been going for a few months now, has matured beautifully and it adds tremendous flavor to anything I add it to. It was just amazing in these baguettes because it contributed a discernible yet mellow tang.

This recipe makes two loaves: one for eating, the other for sharing. Or for eating more, if you’d rather. This is a great bread for sandwiches or for dunking into soups. Or for just slathering some vegan butter over.

Here’s the recipe. Enjoy, all!

Whole-Wheat Sourdough Baguettes

(Makes two 12-inch baguettes)


Ingredients:

1 tsp active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water

2 cups sourdough starter (recipe here)

3 cups white whole-wheat flour or regular whole-wheat flour

1/4 cup vital wheat gluten (if you decide to skip this replace 1 cup of the whole-wheat flour with bread flour)

Up to 1 cup bread flour

1 tsp salt

Mix the yeast and the warm water and let stand for 5-10 minutes or until the yeast is all bubbly and happy.

Add the sourdough starter, mix it well with the yeast, then add the whole-wheat flour and the vital wheat gluten.

In a stand mixer set to low speed or by hand, mix everything. Then slowly, a little at a time, add the bread flour until you have a dough that’s not sticky. I needed just about 3/4th of a cup. You might need less or more.

Continue kneading by hand or in the stand mixer for 10 minutes. You should have a very beautiful, resilient, elastic dough.

Form the dough into a smooth ball. Spray oil to coat a large bowl, place the dough, top side down, in it, and turn over once so the top is coated in oil.

Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place for about two hours or until it has doubled in size.

Once it has doubled, punch down the dough to get all the gases out. Then divide into two, shape into balls, and let them rest on the countertop, covered, another 10 minutes.

Follow the shaping techniques in this step-by-step recipe post to form two baguettes.

Place the baguettes on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal, at least three inches apart. Dust them with some flour, cover loosely with a kitchen towel, and let them rise in a warm place for another hour.

Start preheating your oven to 425 degrees about half an hour before baking your bread. Place a pan in the bottom rack of the oven.

When you are ready to put the loaves into the oven, take a sharp knife or blade and score each loaf three times. The cuts should be diagonal and should be parallel to each other.

Just before you put the loaves in the oven, pour a cup of water in the pan you placed in the bottom rack. Then place the baking sheet in the oven and bake 30-35 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Remove the loaves to a baking rack to cool.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Sablé, Or French Shortbread

I am a sucker for shortbread, but then who isn’t? Especially when it’s elegant French shortbread, buttery and crumbly with just a hint of sugar. A Sablé.

I’ve shared with you before many shortbread recipes, including one for the classic Scottish Shortbread, and one of the chief differences between the two versions is that the French recipe usually includes egg. I subbed with some vegan cream cheese, which really helped with the wonderful texture of the cookies. I think the French version is also easier to make, especially with a foolproof recipe like this one which I adapted heavily from one I watched on America’s Test Kitchen.

It’s December and cookies are on everyone’s mind. To make your holiday cookie-making a little easier I’ve compiled a list of some of the cookie recipes that have featured here at Holy Cow! in years past. You can find them here, or by clicking on the page “Cookies for Christmas” just under the Holy Cow! masthead.

I have to run now, but hope everyone’s had a great start to their week. Also, I want to direct you all to the lovely blog Reduce Footprints that is running a guest post from me today on my Overstuffed Aloo Parathas.

Au revoir, all! And enjoy the cookies.

Sablés

(Makes 24 cookies)

Ingredients

1 stick Earth Balance “butter”, softened to room temperature

2 tbsp vegetable shortening (really helps with the great, crumbly texture so important in shortbread. If you’d rather not, just add 2 more tbsp of the Earth Balance

1/3 cup + 1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp vegan cream cheese, like Tofutti

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp salt (you can even skip this because the Earth Balance is already quite salty)

1/2 cup very cold soymilk or almond milk

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

4 tsp sugar for sprinkling on the cookies

With a handheld mixer or in a stand mixer with the paddle attached, cream together the “butter”, shortening, sugar and cream cheese until light and fluffy, around 2-3 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides a few times in between to ensure everything is evenly mixed.

Add the vanilla extract and mix in.

Take the bowl off the stand mixer, and add the flour and 2 tbsp of soy or nondairy milk.

Using a fork, mix, adding a tiny bit of soymilk as necessary, until you have a cohesive ball of dough. Don’t overwork the dough — stop mixing as soon as the dough comes together. I needed almost the entire 1/2 cup of soymilk because I was making these on a very cold, dry day, but how much soymilk you add will vary depending on your weather. In a very moist kitchen you might not need any soymilk at all.

Divide the dough into two halves. Using the palms of your hands, roll each half into a smooth log, about six inches in length and 1 3/4 inches in diameter. Wrap a piece of parchment paper around each log and twist the ends tightly, like a piece of candy.

Refrigerate both logs for at least an hour so they firm up. Mine never firmed up where I could cut them easily with a knife into rounds, so I’d advise even freezing them in the last 15 minutes of chilling so you can cut perfectly round cookies.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Take the chilled log of dough and using a very sharp knife slice into 12 round cookies. Repeat with the second log.

Place the cookies about 1-inch apart on a baking sheet (you can spray lightly with some oil, if you like, but I found these cookies don’t stick because of their high fat content). Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with some granulated sugar.

Bake, one sheet at a time, until the cookies are lightly golden brown around the edges. It took me nearly 25 minutes in my oven, but because ovens are highly quirky gadgets with minds of their own, start checking 15 minutes after baking. If the cookies are turning color around the edges, take them out. You don’t want highly colored cookies because they will be too tough which shortbread should never, ever be.

Transfer the cookies to a rack with a spatula and cool thoroughly before eating.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Caramelized Onion Tart With Olives

Holy Cow! is four — a grand old lady in Internet years– and to celebrate I have for you a savory, elegant treat: this golden Caramelized Onion Tart.

But first I want to say a big thank you to all of you– my wonderful, intelligent, passionate readers — who have stuck with Holy Cow! through the good food times and also through the slumps, pet illnesses, and cook’s block (there is such a thing, trust me.)

It has been a fun and educating journey– I’ve learned from you, shared with you, and told you stuff as if you were my closest friends.
You have tried my recipes, written to tell me when you loved them (or not), or you have just written to tell me that you love the blog. You have helped us keep going.
So thank you for becoming part of Holy Cow! and my world. You make it happen!
**

This Caramelized Onion Tart is just the kind of light, good-for-you food to treat yourself and your family to after all those Thanksgiving excesses. It’s a tarted-up pizza, so kids should love it too.

I make the crust part-whole-wheat and it is golden with crispy edges and a slightly more bready and delicious middle. If you want a super-crispy crust, go with an all-purpose-flour-only crust. You can also use storebought pizza dough.

There is some labor involved in this dish– you need to caramelize the onions to the point where they are golden and really, really sweet– almost like jam. It took me about 40 minutes, but they were totally worth it. And once the caramelizing is done, all you need is to assemble some stuff.

Here’s the recipe. Enjoy, all!

Caramelized Onion Tart with Olives

(Adapted from this recipe at Everyday Food)

Ingredients:

1 portion pizza dough (half of this recipe)

1 tbsp olive oil

3 medium-sized sweet yellow onions, sliced fairly thin

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1/2 cup pitted olives, like Kalamata

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced, then dunked into 1 tbsp olive oil (this keeps them from burning)

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet.

Add the onions and saute for about five minutes on medium-high heat. Add the salt and continue to saute until the onions begin to turn golden-brown, about 15-20 minutes.

Add the sugar, turn the heat down to medium, and continue to saute until the onions are deeply golden and very sweet. This should take about 20 more minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Roll out the pizza dough, about 11 inches long and 8 inches wide. Sprinkle cornmeal on a cookie sheet and place the dough on it.

Spread the caramelized onions in a thin layer on top of the pizza dough, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides.

Sprinkle the garlic on top, and use the remaining oil to brush the edges of the tart.

Sprinkle on some salt and pepper to taste.

Bake in a preheated 500-degree oven for 11-12 minutes or until the sides are golden and the tart comes easily off the cookie sheet with a spatula.

Cut and serve hot.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Gateau de Crepes a la Florentine

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Food, for those of us who love eating and making it, has to be gorgeously delicious, ravishingly beautiful, and, well, easy enough to prepare. And while French food definitely fits into the first two categories, those not used to making it day in day out often see it as being an intimidating test of patience and skill. All that marinading, julienning, chiffonading, friseeing, sauteing, flambeing…mais non!

But then again, we cooks do love a challenge.

Thanks to other wonderful Foodbuzz bloggers who voted for me and the support and prayers of my incredible readers, I advanced last week into the second round of Project Food Blog, Foodbuzz’s contest to select the next online food blog star. This week, Foodbuzz wants contestants to cook something that’s out of their comfort level, and from a cuisine they don’t usually cook from.

As a vegan, stepping out of my comfort zone is something I am used to. Over many years as a cook and as a blogger I’ve experimented, substituted and tested eggless, dairyless and meatless versions of dishes I used to love when I did eat meat and other animal products. A lot of these recipes have been family favorites, like my Dad’s Not-Mutton Mushroom Curry, or my husband Desi’s favorites like biryanis that are rich and packed with flavor without any meat or animal fat. At other times I’ve created vegan versions of breads seemingly impossible to imagine without eggs and butter fat, like my Vegan Whole-Wheat Challah and my Avocado Brioche.

But blue-ribbon-worthy French cuisine…now that’s a challenge for the hardiest cook. And who can resist it? On this blog you’ll find French recipes I’ve made or veganized, like the brioche, or my Tarte Tatin, my Whole-Wheat French Bread, and my coriander and sweet potato quiches. But there is one cookbook that has always challenged my courage as a cook, and one I’ve never dared to veganize from. Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

I had picked a copy of this classic years ago at a yard sale and all these years it has just stood there on the shelf, pretty much useless. Just about every recipe required a dozen pounds of butter, a side of beef, or 20 dozen eggs. Or so it seemed to me.

Then along came the Foodbuzz challenge, and I thought, do I dare?

And I did. I picked a recipe that looked complicated enough to be a challenge, but simple enough to veganize without taking away its true character. Gateau de Crepes a la Florentine. In plain English, a giant stack of  crepes layered with a creamy white mushroom stuffing and a verdant spinach and leek stuffing.

All of it then gets smothered with bechamel sauce and baked in a hot oven until it’s ready to devour.

Now before I give you the recipe, here’s a confession and, perhaps, a warning: this recipe is a test of patience. There’s all that crepe-making– 24 in all– and the two different kinds of stuffing to make, and the bechamel sauce. Top it all with the layering and the baking and there’s a whole weekend afternoon absolutely lost.

But when you dig your fork into all those layers and they just melt on your tongue, you’ll know it was well worth it!

Here you go, all. Enjoy!

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Gateau de Crepes a la Florentine

(Adapted from ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking‘)

Crepe batter:


1 cup cold almond milk

1 cup cold water

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

4 tbsp flax meal

12 tbsp water

4 tbsp melted vegan “butter,” like Earth Balance

1/2 tsp salt

Place all the wet ingredients in the blender, add the dry ingredients, and blend until mixed, no more than a minute. Scrape down any flour stuck to the sides and blend again for a few seconds until well-mixed.

Refrigerate for two hours.

To make the crepes, heat a crepe pan or a 5- or 6-inch cast-iron skillet.

Brush very lightly with oil. When the pan starts to smoke a little, take it off the stove with one hand (be sure to wear mitts if using cast-iron), and pour 1/4 cup of the batter into the center.

Very quickly, tilt the pan around so the batter spreads thinly and evenly and coats the bottom of the pan.

In about 60 seconds, you should see the edges start to brown a little. Gently, with a spatula, lift to see if golden-brown spots have appeared. If they have, flip over the crepe and heat on the other side for about 20-30 seconds. Remove the crepe to a rack to cool.

Repeat with the remaining batter. You should get around 24 crepes from the batter, but if you get more or less don’t panic. You’re going to layer it all and no one will know the difference.

Bechamel Sauce with “cheese”:

5 tbsp all-purpose flour

4 tbsp melted vegan “butter”

2 1/2 cups soymilk, heated to boiling

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

A generous pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg

1 cup grated vegan cheese, like almond cheese

Cook the flour and the “butter” in a heavy saucepan for about 3 minutes over medium-low heat until well-mixed

Turn off the heat. Add the heated soymilk, whisking all the time, until you have a smooth sauce.

Return to the heat. Add the seasonings and the cheese and whisk until the sauce is smooth again. Bring to a boil and turn off.

Spinach filling:

1 16-oz package of frozen, chopped spinach. Place in a microwave-safe bowl with 2 tbsp of water and zap for about 7 minutes until the spinach is quite tender.

3 tbsp minced leeks

1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp olive oil

Heat the oil. Add the leeks and saute for a minute. Drain and add the spinach and saute for another 2-3 minutes to let the moisture in the spinach evaporate.

Stir in 1/2 cup of the bechamel sauce and cover. Cook for another 8 minutes. Turn off.

Mushroom Filling:

1 cup minced button mushrooms


3 tbsp minced leeks

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup vegan cream cheese, like Tofutti or Sheeze.

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp almond milk

Mix the vegan cream cheese and almond milk until smooth. Add salt and pepper.

In a skillet, heat the oil and saute the mushrooms and leeks about 5 minutes or until softened.

Add the vegetables to the cream cheese and mix well.

To assemble the gateau:

Use a glass baking dish wider than your crepes. I just used my pie dish.

Oil the bottom of the dish. Then place 1 crepe on it and smear on some of the mushroom sauce.

Place another crepe above this and slather with the spinach mixture.

Continue to layer, alternating the spinach and mushroom stuffings, until you have used up all but one crepe.

Place the last crepe on top and pour over the bechamel sauce.

If desired, sprinkle with 3 tbsp of grated cheese.

Place in a preheated 350-degree oven and bake 30 minutes or until it is just starting to brown on top.

Remove from oven, cool for five minutes, then cut in and serve.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.