A few days ago a friend of mine had a birthday party which involved music from the magnificent Praxis Bold, beer and, as you’d expect, cheese-tasting. It was a beautiful thing – profoundly bizarre, but in its own special way, also rather wonderful.
Evidently he didn’t manage to use all his cheese up, though, because yesterday evening I got a call while I was trying to come up with something to cook the vegetarian guest I had joining me for dinner and he offered me an entire wheel of Cornish Brie, as you do, as well as a “washed rind cheese”, whatever that means, called Oxford Isis.
Anyway, I’d been planning on cooking a Parmesan and Red Onion Tart, but have you ever seen a wheel of cheese? I figured that I was going to be eating Brie for the next six weeks and so should at least take a stab at using some of it up. So the tart metamorphosed into this instead, and it was beautiful. Honestly, it was way better than I expected it to be – it was light but simultaneously filling, mellow but hearty – I would cook it again tonight.
Actually, maybe I should. I’ve still got a whole lot of Brie.
This was a Nigel Slater recipe, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that it was good – he’s never let me down yet. To do it you need 6 small to medium red onions, some butter, about 125g of cheese, pre-rolled puff pastry (yes, I cheated), salt, pepper and thyme. It served five comfortably last night, with bread, salad and some mushrooms.
Peel your onions and then chop them up into large segments. Cook them in a decent amount of butter and a little bit of oil on a low to moderate heat in a shallow pan with some salt, sugar and thyme. You’ll need to cook them for at least 30 minutes, not letting them burn, until they’re sticky and translucent. You can’t rush it, but because they’re a key part of the dish, make sure you get it right.
While they’re cooking, put your pastry into a baking tray and then heat the oven up to 220 degrees. Dot it with chunks of cheese fairly liberally – Slater puts onions in and then arranges cheese around them, but I put cheese on the bottom, poured onions over and then dotted a little more cheese on top, and it worked for me.
Then put it in the oven for about 20 minutes, take out and serve with a reasonably bitter salad – something like rocket.
Like I say, this was great, and also incredibly easy, so I recommend it. It’s good for this season as well, because we’ve not gotten properly autumnal yet, and so sometimes you want something for dinner that’s not too hearty.