I was invited to join in a Kitchen PLAY Progressive Party this month. Six bloggers are invited to participate in the party, and each blogger is responsible for a creating and writing about a different course (cocktail, amuse-bouche, salad, appetizer, entree, or dessert). I was delighted when I found out I had the amuse-bouche course. You know how I love to make mini things.
This month's Progressive Party is sponsored by the National Onion Association, and we all had to incorporate storage onions into our courses. Storage onions are typically available from August to May and have thicker skins and lower moisture levels than their spring counterparts. I chose yellow storage onions, which do well with caramelizing, baking, and roasting. (Most storage onions work well in dishes that require a longer cooking time.) They are also known for having strong onion flavor but only a mild aftertaste. While onions seem like an easy ingredient to an incorporate into a dish, the difficulty I had was in narrowing down what to make!
I finally decided I wanted to do something with puff pastry and caramelized onions. From there, the idea evolved into vol-au-vents (or puff pastry cups) filled with caramelized onions and goat cheese, topped with fig slices, and drizzled with black currant vinegar.
I made the smallest puff pastry cups I could, as an amuse-bouche should be bite-size. And because an amuse-bouche is just a small bite, I wanted to pack it with flavor. The buttery puff pastry provided a background for the sweet caramelized onions, tangy goat cheese, and fresh figs. The acidity of the sweet berry-flavored vinegar tied the little bite together.
These caramelized onion and goat cheese delights can be served at the start of a meal to rouse the palate or even as a little party hors d'oeuvre.
The National Onion Association is also sponsoring a wonderful giveaway at Kitchen PLAY. Simply recreate any one recipe from this month’s Progressive Party, post about the experience on your blog and provide a link to your post on Kitchen PLAY to enter. All qualifying bloggers in each course will be entered to win $100 (6 prizes total). The deadline is October 31, 2011. Please review the complete contest rules before entering. Good luck!
This post was sponsored by the National Onion Association, and I was compensated for creating this original recipe.
Amuse-Bouche: Caramelized Onion And Goat Cheese Vol-Au-Vents
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1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large storage onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons brown sugar
16 vol-au-vents, prebaked and frozen (see below)
1.5 ounces goat cheese
1 to 2 Black Mission figs, quartered lengthwise and then each quarter thinly sliced
3 tablespoons Cassis (black currant) vinegar
In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onions and stir in brown sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden brown, about 40 minutes. (Can be made up to 3 days ahead.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a large sheet pan with a Silpat mat, and place vol-au-vents on mat, spaced evenly.
Divide the caramelized onions among the puff pastry cups.
Top the caramelized onions with goat cheese crumbles, dividing the goat cheese evenly among the cups.
Place a slice of fig on top of the goat cheese in each cup.
Bake the vol-au-vents until the layers are golden and cheese is melted, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Transfer sheet pan to wire rack to cool slightly.
Pour vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring vinegar to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer vinegar until thickened and reduced by half.
Drizzle a little of the reduced vinegar over the figs topping each cup.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Vol-Au-Vents (adapted from a Daring Bakers’ Challenge)
7 ounces chilled puff pastry dough (1/2 pkg. of Dufour Classic Puff Pastry)
1 teaspoon water
Line a baking sheet with parchment.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to ¼ inch thick. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet, and refrigerate for about 10 minutes.
Using a 1 3/4-inch round cutter, cut out 32 rounds.
Half of the rounds are for the bottoms, and half are for the sides. Using a smaller round cutter (about 1 ¼-inch wide or a little smaller), cut the centers out of half of the rounds to make rings. (Stack the centers and any scraps. These can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scraps to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from the re-rolled dough for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides, as they will not puff as high. If you don’t need the scraps, freeze them for another use.)
In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg and water together to make an egg wash.
Place the bottom rounds on a sheet pan lined with a Silpat mat or parchment paper. Prick the solid bottom rounds with a fork (this is called docking, which will help keep them from puffing), and lightly brush them with egg wash.
Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere them to the bottoms. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise).
Refrigerate the assembled vol-au-vents on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)
Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a Silpat mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet of parchment on top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 15 minutes.
Transfer sheet pan to wire rack, and remove the Silpat mat or parchment sheet from the top of the cups. If the centers have risen up inside the vol-au-vents, you can gently press them down. (The side of a tart tamper works well for this.)
Let cool for 10 minutes on pan, and then transfer vol-au-vents to wire rack to cool completely.
Place cooled vol-au-vents in freezer-safe bag, and freeze until ready to use in above recipe. (If you want to make everything in one day, you can skip this freezing step, fill the vol-au-vents as instructed above while they are still warm, and return them to a 350-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.)
What's your favorite dish featuring onions?