Thursday, August 24, 2006

Potluck Capital of the World

Victoria seems to me to have an above average number of dinner parties of a potluck nature. (These are not to be confused with potlatch parties which are on another plane entirely and I have yet to receive an invitation to one.) For last weekend's event - in a largely vegetarian household - I was assigned a starter or salad course, so I turned to the infallible Delia for inspiration.

In my treasured tome Delia's Vegetarian Collection I found a winner in her Red Onion Tarte Tatin: the onions turn sweet and joyful, and the crust - a butter pastry which I've never had much luck with - even worked. Here are the ingredients, translated into North American measurements. Purists with kitchen scales (and those wanting photos and the recipe's instructions!) should turn to the original recipe. (There's a quicker variation, based on a shallot tarte tatin recipe, using commercial puff pastry, at

2½ lb (1.15 kg) red onions (about 5 medium)
2 tbsp butter
1 teaspoon sugar
6 small thyme sprigs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the pastry:
3/4 c white flour
2/3 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c soft butter
1/3 c cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
And here's a ditty from Jonathan Swift to mutter as you cook:
This is every cook's opinion -
No savory dish without an onion,
But lest your kissing should be spoiled
Your onions must be fully boiled.
My next task will be juicing some of this year's apple crop - nothing nicer to dig out from a winter deep freeze than home made apple juice sweetened with summer carrots - but a lot of peeling and chopping ahead of me to get those apples into the juicer. So I was pleased and inspired to find a poem called Apples in a collection I've been reading (Saltations, by Jennifer Still - poet and co-founder of JackPine Press, which produces exquisite chapbooks).



Blogger Ariel Gordon said...

Hey Rhona...a friend of mine recently came into a windfall (literally) of apples and offered me half. I was grateful but not looking forward to a sticky evening of peeling and coring until she mentioned that she had a handy-dandy contraption that would do the job nicely.

Lee Valley, which should be right up your alley, sells them for about thirty dollars and they're a wonder.

But then I like contraptions, especially ones that work and are well designed. For instance, the postage machine at work that licks and seals envelopes always seemed rather wonderful - a machine with a tongue!

Anyways, I also wanted to let you know how much I've enjoyed your blog, browsing over from Brenda's site.

7:54 a.m.  
Blogger Rhona McAdam said...

Ariel, thanks for the idea! I guess you mean the apple peeler. A couple of people recommended them to me, and oddly enough I was given one for my birthday this year, but I'm not sure it will help me. It works beautifully on hard symmetrical apples - not so well on soft misshapen apples from my tree.

I agree with you about contraptions in general though. I like the idea of machines doing work like licking and sealing envelopes. I want one of those robots that vacuums and washes floors...

9:33 a.m.  

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