goat cheese cake with inedible onion greens and figs

“They’ll be like leeks,” my mom assured, handing me a handful of fist-sized onions. They dangled, like insignificant baubles, on the end of two-foot tapered lengths of green. “Just look at them…they look just like leeks.”Sawing off a piece of was, I imagined, only slightly easier than slicing a thin piece of plywood in half with a paring knife. (Okay, with a serrated paring knife.)

A cross-section of this onion green looked nothing like a leek. It was hollow, rigid and fibrous. But I thought that it might cook down and soften…like a leek.I tossed the slices generously with olive oil and gently roasted them for 20 minutes. They came out dried and even tougher than before.I then took these same half-roasted slices of onion green and started to pan fry them for a few minutes, and then simmered them for another half hour. It started to smell quite nice, of slowly cooked onions and oil and salt and pepper.

But it was still like eating a twig.“Well,” I told my younger cousin, who was watching the whole debacle with wide eyes and an air of well-justified skepticism, “maybe it will soften once I bake it again on the cheesecake.”

“Yeah,” she said. “Maybe.”

I think she was just being nice.I piled it on top of the cake (embedding it in the middle would make it impossible to remove were I to need to backtrack) and proceeded to bake the cake.

I let it cool, topped it with figs and dressing, and cut myself a slice. It went as you might expect.

goat cheese cake with inedible onion greens and figs

While I’m sure what I’ve written above is an effective disclaimer, to reiterate, apparently neither I nor my mom have too much experience with mature onion greens…

hazelnut crust

I would add some more oil to this crust. It was a bit dry and a bit too powdery. Edit Sept 27: Hilda suggested adding a bit of applesauce to the crust instead of more oil, which sounds marvellous.  

35 g red fife flour

15 g all purpose flour

15 hazelnuts, toasted and finely ground

pinch salt

15 g olive oil

10 g milk

Mix together all ingredients except for the milk and oil. Drizzle in the oil and toss to form a clumpy sort of dough, then add the milk and combine until just mixed.

 

cheesecake filling

15 cm length of onion green

80 g soft unripened goat cheese

 2 spoonful yoghurt

1 egg yolk

salt

pepper

few leaves sage and parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.

Slice the onion green into thin rounds (or really, please just substitute a green onion–there is quite a difference–or skip it all together). Put some olive oil in a pan and cook gently until you can begin to smell the onion. Add a whole generous cupful of water and gently simmer until the water is gone. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Cream the goat cheese until smooth, add the yoghurt, then the egg yolk. Season with salt and pepper and mix in the handful of herbs.

Press the crust into the bottom of a 12-cm springform pan; you will use only around 2/3 of it. Add the cheesecake filling.

Arrange (or do not) the onion greens overtop.

 

assembly

2 green figs

1 tbsp light-tasting oil

1 tbsp lemon juice

dash dijon, Worcestershire, honey

salt, pepper

Whisk together everything except the figs. Slice the figs into sixths or quarters. Arrange the figs on top of the cake and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

 

Edit Sept 27: And some additional onion green wisdom that I thought might be useful to share… Johanne mentioned that leaving the greens in water for a while can help with the toughness. Angie circumvented the whole how-do-I-eat-this issue by suggesting that the onion greens be used to infuse and flavour broth.

garden tart

This tart is based off one from one of my favourite food blogs, the Little Library Cafe. All the recipes take some inspiration from literature. Sometimes it is right out of the story (see Matilda’s massive chocolate cake), sometimes it is a reinterpretation or reimagination (this lemon and almond cake with “time”–or rather, thyme–from the Amber Spyglass).I enjoy all of the posts, but this one, Mr. McGregor’s tart, was one of my favourites – it takes the inspiration and then transforms it, projecting it into a seamless and perfectly natural extension of the literature. We go from his bountiful garden to a lush and generous tart, either of which Peter Rabbit would probably quite enjoy.The tart can feature whichever vegetables you have on hand, thinly shaved and sliced on top, and whichever herbs, mixed into the filling. It looks as though the layer of vegetables is quite fluffy, for the most part with all the leaves, but it is at a decent proportion to the tart base and filling. I think I might have put on a bit much, but the most enjoyable thing about this tart is how centred it is on the generous amount of vegetable piled on top. The layer of vegetables isn’t seasoned, however, when you eat it in a bite with the salty filling, the amount of seasoning is very good. Though, I might consider putting a slightly less dense layer of vegetables on the bottom…there I piled on the potatoes and peas and cucumbers and radish and zucchini. Hopefully it’s not too late to post a summer-y vegetable tart. I’ll bring it to Fiesta Friday, Angie’s (the Novice Gardener) weekly food party anyhow (a bit earlier than usual!). This week is co-hosted by Effie (Food Daydreaming) and Steffi (Ginger and Bread)  so I know it’ll be absolutely lovely (as it is every week!).  

garden tart

Adapted, with generous amounts of inspiration, from the Little Library Cafe’s Mr. McGregor’s tart.  

 

cheese and herb filling

To line and fill one long tart pan.

2 shallots

butter

105 g soft goat cheese

1 egg + 1 yolk

handful thyme sprigs, parsley, chives, and dill

1/2 recipe of chilled red fife and rosemary pastry

Preheat oven to 350F.

Chop the shallots finely and cook in butter until soft and translucent.

Beat the cheese and eggs together until smooth, then add the shallots.

Pick the leaves from the thyme, and chop the parsley leaves, chives, and dill. Add to the cheese mixture.

Roll out the dough 1/4″ thick on a floured surface. Drape into the pan, press in, and remove the excess. Spread the cheese mixture on the bottom.

Bake 35 minutes or until the filling it very set and perhaps lightly browned on top, and the crust is fully cooked.

 

assembly

handful young waxy potatoes

large handful snow peas

half young zucchini (younger the better)

half cucumber

a few radishes

young lettuce leaves

nasturtium leaves or pea shoots

parsley leaves, basil flowers, dill sprigs

Thinly slice the potatoes and cook until tender in salted water. String the snow peas and slice thinly on the bias. Use a mandoline on the thinnest setting to slice the zucchini, cucumber, and radishes. Chop the lettuce leaves, tear large nasturtium leaves and pea shoots into pieces. Pull the parsley leaves from the stem and pull apart the dill sprigs into small fronds.

Lay the slices of potato on the tart base, followed by the snow peas. Then layer on the sliced zucchini, then cucumber and radish. Finish by lightly piling some of the lettuce, nasturtium leaves, and pea shoots. Garnish with the parsley, basil flowers and dill.

Slice into pieces and serve.

lemon, lavender and thyme cake

I wanted a more hearty cake to go with the very light meringue frosting.

lemon, lavender and thyme layer cake

vanilla and thyme spelt cake

A riff off of the 1:1:1:1 ratio cake. Makes 3 5″ cake layers. As always, with only one cake pan, it’s best to mix the batter for each layer separately to avoid it becoming too tough.

175 g butter, room temperature

75 g granulated sugar

1/2 vanilla bean

handful thyme sprigs

4 large eggs (~200 g), room temperature

125 g all purpose flour

75 g spelt flour

2 tsp baking powder

generous pinch salt

3/8 – 3/4 c milk

1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream butter and sugar until light. Split the vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds, and add them to the butter mixture. Pick the leaves from the thyme sprigs and add those as well.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Divide the butter mixture, by mass, into three bowls.

Whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt. Divide by mass into three bowls.

Add one flour mixture to one butter mixture, and mix in 2 – 4 tbsp of milk (I think 4, what I did, was too much, and 2 should be sufficient) until you have a nice consistency for the batter.

Scrape into a 5″ cake pan, buttered, floured and the bottom lined with parchment.

Bake each layer for around 25 minutes or until an inserted skewer is removed clean. Repeat two more times for the remaining layers.

While layers are still warm, squeeze a bit of the lemon juice from the half lemon overtop.

 

lemon curd

Adapted from Baking by James Peterson. I think it has the perfect amount of sweetness. 

juice of 1 large lemon (~65 mL)

zest of 1 lemon

1 egg + 2 egg yolks

3 tbsp sugar

large pat of butter

Whisk together all ingredients in a small saucepan.

 

lavender meringue

Not adapted from anywhere in particular. I think I read somewhere that the proportions for a meringue should be around 2 sugar: 1 egg white. The meringue starts to collapse bit by bit, so if you don’t frost the cake immediately it won’t spread so glossily and will lose the fine texture. 

2 egg whites (70 g)

140 g granulated sugar

1/2 tsp lavender water

dried lavender flowers

Whip egg whites until stiff. Meanwhile, cook sugar and a bit of water to help get it started until it reaches ~240F (softball stage).

Whisk the eggs a bit to refresh them before adding the sugar mixture.

Slowly pour the sugar in while whisking. I like to finish it in the stand mixer because I’m not sure how capable I am of whipping the meringue to stiff peaks.

Once the meringue is at stiff peaks, add lavender water to taste and crumbled dried lavender flowers.

Use meringue immediately.