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Astar's winter recipes - 28 April

Rich and Hearty French Onion Soup

Time: 1 hour
Cost: $12
Serves: 8

Shopping list

150g butter (or half butter and half olive oil)
6 large red onions - thinly sliced
2 large brown onions - thinly sliced
60ml port
60ml balsamic vinegar
2 litres chicken stock
125g bacon ends - cut into small cubes
Bouquet garni consisting of fresh sprigs of thyme, bay, and parsley
125g freshly grated gruyere cheese

Into a big heavy pot over medium heat melt butter until it starts to turn brown.
Add onions and cook stirring occasionally until they are soft and brown.
Add bacon and brown.
Add chicken stock and bouquet garni and bring to boil.
Reduce to simmer, season with salt and pepper and cook 45 minutes to 1 hour. The longer you cook it the thicker it becomes.
Remove bouquet garni and ladle into deep warmed dishes, garnished with a sprinkling of cheese.
It is traditional to serve this soup topped with oven baked baguette croutons and cheese then grilled. Personally I enjoy the soup undressed, accompanied with the onion tart and a crisp green salad.
Makes for a wonderful inexpensive late autumn lunch.

Tip: make the soup the day before as the flavours intensify beautifully.

Rustic Onion Tart

Time: 45 mins
Cost: $12
Serves: 8

Shopping list 
Thawed savory pastry - 1 pkt
3 large red onions - finely sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
Salt and black pepper
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 heap tbsp onion jam
1 tbsp freshly chopped thyme
1/2 to 3/4 cup gruyere cheese

Preset oven to 220degC.
To heavy based pan, add butter and oil and fry off onions seasoned with salt until transparent.
Stir in balsamic vinegar and pan fry several minutes.
Stir in onion jam along with freshly chopped fresh thyme.
Continue to stir until it is nice and thick. 
Allow to cool.
Place a piece of baking paper down on top of baking tray.
Roll out into a large circle about 1 cm thick
Into the middle of pastry, layer in a little cheese, then add caramelized onions spreading it out to within a good 1 & ½ from edges.
Fold the edges of the crust over so that a small circle of onions is still showing in the centre of tart.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of tart.
Bake a 230degC for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 180c for around 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
Remove from oven and let rest for a further 10 minutes.

Tip: if you make the soup the day before, then by the time it is heated up the onion tart will be ready. Cook the onions the day before or at the same time you are preparing the soup onions.

Orange and Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding

Time: 40 mins
Cost: $15
Serves: 6

Shopping list 
2 tbsp white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
Zest of 1 large orange
1 tbsp orange juice
8 slices toast bread (square cut)
125g dark orange flavoured chocolate - grated
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
3 large eggs

Preset oven to 180degC.
Into a small bowl mix together both lots of sugar.
Pour half the sugar into a separate mixing bowl and blend with butter, orange zest and juice.
Spread the butter mixture on one side of each slice of bread.
Cut each slice of bread in half diagonally.
Arrange the triangles in an overlapping pattern into a 20cm x 20cm baking dish butter side down.
Into a blender add, remaining sugar, grated chocolate, milk, cream and eggs and blend until thoroughly mixed.
Pour the chocolate mixture over the bread making sure it is evenly covered. 
Set aside in the fridge to rest for a good hour before baking at for around 35 to 40 minutes or until set.