French onion tart and a budding winemaker

Léo, who is studying Viticulture/Oenology in Bordeaux, decided very recently that our life was incomplete without 200 grapevines in the garden to water, weed, feed, protect from potential bad-vine weather, fret about, protect from digging dogs, and generally mollycoddle. Grapevines are also very useful for further knackering already-knackered backs.

Our house was originally a farm (it still is I suppose, albeit slightly non-conformist), and the owners grew grapes to produce wine for their consumption, and for the farm labourers. The soil in the Landes is extremely sandy, and the climate very hot and dry in the Summer months. We chose (actually Luc and Léo chose; my ‘wine abilities’ stop at knowing how to neck it) the varieties of grape best suited to these conditions: Tannat, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Maseng, Gros Maseng, and Chardonnay. One of the major advantages of growing in a hot, dry climate is it’s much easier to grow organic (less risk of mildew etc.).

Wine has been produced in this area since Gallo-Roman times. There is a vinyard in Capbreton right on the Atlantic coast, La Domaine de la Pointe, that produces wine with iodised undertones, that come from the sea air and salty soil.

I receive instructions from Léo every day as to what I need to be doing vine-wise. I’m about to go outside with a magnifying glass to check for budding buds, and then stick my fist in the soil to make a totally uneducated guess as to the degree of humidity. Spot the neophyte!

I tend to eat a lot of quercetin-rich onions and apples in the Spring, as I suffer from allergies. Studies have demonstrated that quercetin acts as an antihistamine and lessens the respiratory side effects of allergies by reducing inflammatory response in the airways. It is also a zinc ionophore (transports zinc into the cells) and, as such, is being studied as a potential treatment for Covid-19.

Ingredients (serves 6)

Pastry (I used this one)

10g butter

1kg onions (peeled and cut into thin rounds)

100g smoky bacon

3 eggs

30cl cream

Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Fry the onions in butter (or olive oil) until softened, and slightly caramelised (approx 20-25 minutes). Prepare the tart tin (or individual cases) by greasing and lining with pastry.

Beat the eggs in a bowl and add the cream and seasoning, mixing well. Place the onions on the pastry, with a piece of bacon on top. Pour the egg/cream mixture over the top and bake for 25 minutes for individual tarts, or 35 minutes for a larger one.

6 responses to “French onion tart and a budding winemaker

  1. This looks and sounds delicious! I love how you use spelt and einkorn :0). Growing grapes to make your own family wine sounds so ideal! That’s a project I could get behind! Our soil is clay and the water basically pools on top like no other place I’ve seen~ probably not vineyard material. I’m sure my landlords would probably agree!

  2. Now it all makes sense to me. I had wondered why I was eating more onions, in the past two weeks, even consuming sliced, raw onions on crackers, with a dab of mayonnaise for my midday munch. It will be interesting to see how my annual allergy cycle develops, with this protocol in place. By the way, did your menfolk fell and hew those rather nice fence-posts I see neatly stacked by the plot?

    • Ah yes – your body is full of sense and knows what you need! The fence posts were bought, although the pile of wood in the background was all felled and split by Luc!

      • You have a very industrious mate, Madame, and that pile makes me wish we had a fireplace. I continued with the onion trend for dinner, with steamed onions, red peppers, and baby potatoes lightly salted (yes, Himalayan, merci), peppered, and buttered, though I do confess to being a bit heavy-handed with le beurre. M had Angus beef on a bun, with pommes frits. Yes, there is a substantial amount of contrast, in our abode. However, there was an offer to find some ready-to-go dough, so I could make your rather tempting tarts. Apparently, the photo of same stirred some interest.

        • He is very industrious – cutting down trees and making firewood is his absolute favourite!! Loving the contrasting dinners – sounds quite familiar. The only reason I put bacon on the tarts was to make them ‘edible’ for the ‘L’s ; I could quite easily have foregone.

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