Valentines Day. The second most money spinning ‘special day’ of the year, following Christmas.
No sooner are the red and green decorations that signal Christmas taken down, than the red ones are hawked back out again, cut into heart shapes and displayed gaudily in shop windows.
I think that my own animosity towards Valentines Day stems from the fact that I have never received a Valentines card or gift in all my life (and I’m not counting the pity gifts from my mum). Obviously, as a moony teenager, all you want is some pink and red (and perhaps glittery) card from an anonymous beau. Flowers would be better still and chocolates best of all, particularly if they are heart shaped and caramel stuffed.
But no. No anonymous gifts were ever forthcoming. So, to spite the fat, pink symbol of Valentines Day, Cupid, I walk past his tokens of love and spend the money on food or cookbooks instead of overpriced teddy bears clutching pink hearts to their chests.
Paul and I don’t need to celebrate Valentines Day anyway: our anniversary is exactly 7 days before (not sure if Paul planned it that way, but some wives would insist on two lots of gifts!) and that is much more special occasion to celebrate.
Still, in spite of all my vitriol aimed towards Cupid and his money-spinning scam, I am a sucker for a food event (which you may have noticed by now) and, providing it doesn’t involve icing cakes in an artistic manner or doing anything in an artistic manner for that matter, I’m hot to trot. This particular food event, as I mentioned yesterday, is being held by Meeta over at Whats for Lunch Honey and no prizes for guessing what the theme is (as if this overly long and convoluted post didn’t give you some clue).
Plus, I have been asked by Andrew to review a relatively new British food magazine, called Country Kitchen, for his slot over at Paper Palate on the Well Fed Network and seeing as the theme for this month was Valentines Day, I thought I’d kill and stuff two proverbial birds with one poorly aimed stone.
So, I had planned on making a saucy dessert, made scarlet with raspberries and strawberries, perhaps something with cream or jelly, or a tart curd of some sort. Perhaps a simple Creme au Coeur. However, my desire for something savoury got in the way of all so I made a distinctly unpudding-like main course: Cherry Tomato, Goats Cheese and Onion Marmalade Tart.
The original recipe, entitled Love Apple Tart, had a slightly more Mediterranean feel than my taste buds were dictating yesterday, using anchovies and olives but I wanted something more bolstering. I wanted onions and I wanted Goats cheese!
What this picture doesn't show is our 'arts and crafts' (read botched) heart shaped mould, professionally fashioned by Paul from a cornflake box and some tinfoil. What this picture also fails to indicate is the collapsing of the tart whence it was moved from the pizza stone and onto a plate. Still, this teaches us two things: 1) use proper bakeware and 2) use round tart tins. Frankly though, it tasted delicious and if it's just for the two of you, then who cares if you're eating the tomatoes with your fingers and breaking bits of pastry off becauseyou can't wait for it to cool off?
CHERRY TOMATO, GOATS CHEESE AND ONION MARMALADE TART serves 2
500g Cherry Tomatoes, small vine ones have the most flavour
100g Goats Cheese, any kind, soft and crumbly or sliceable
2 Large onions, peeled and sliced
Salt and Pepper
Teaspoon Brown Sugar
Drizzle Olive Oil
Preheat the oven to 180c.
Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the onions, some salt, lots of pepper and the sugar. Let them sweat down over a low heat for half an hour or until collapsed, golden and a bit like marmalade. Leave to cool.
Whatever shape tin you choose to punish yourself with, you will need to line it with your shortcrust pastry which is then to be blind baked for about 15 minutes.
Remove the pastry crust from the oven and spread the onion mixture over the base. Crumble the Goats Cheese over the top of this then top with the cherry tomatoes. Grind over some more black pepper, a pinch of salt and a little olive oil (not too much because the Goats Cheese gives off a lot of oil).
Bake for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes start to pop but not collapse.
Leave to cool for about 5 minutes before attempting to unmould but I'll tell you here and now, you'll have issues so it's best just to serve it in the tin
Until I started food blogging, I had never heard of a Meme. I thought perhaps it was something to do with Mimes, but I wasn’t sure. Then I saw people who had been Meme’d and I longed for the day when, just as a fairy princess awaits her prince, my Meme arrived. Paul tells me that he was talking about memetics back in the heady 90s but then, he is always on the precipice of the zeitgeist.
Eventually, and with only a small hint to Jeff at C for Cooking (i.e. “you can meme me if you want”), here it is! My First Meme, entitled Five Things You Never Knew About Me (because you were too afraid to ask).
1) Paul and I used to be punks and that is indeed how we met, through a punk forum board and not, contrary to popular belief, through an online dating agency. What this means is that you can ask me or Paul about most any punk music and we can give you a brief (or longwinded) rundown of their history because we’re both punk anoraks. I also once held email conversations with Richard Hell and Arthur Kane from the New York Dolls, plus I interviewed Penelope Houston from the Avengers and Jennifer Miro from The Nuns. I would most like to converse with Morrissey.
I suppose this could constitute two things that you didn’t know about us already but I’ll be fair and let that one slide.
2) I have never tried duck although I bought some at the weekend to cook. Also, I would never eat Fois Gras. I would, however, give Fugu a try, reckless thing that I am.
3) I wish that Anthony Bourdain was my Dad.
4) I have written an article about Charles Manson movies published sometime this year in the Exploitation Journal. This ties in nicely with my love of horror films and grindhouse movies.
5) I used to think that Roughage was pronounced Roo-Ha. I have no idea why other than a juvenile confusion over silent ‘gh’.
I hope that this explains a lot. Perhaps it raises more questions than it answers. Either way, it's good.