Rustic Caramelized Onion and Tomato Tartlets (and Little and Friday)
from Emily (who loves food)
For my birthday, my mum and dad got me a set of tartlet moulds. Perfect for individual serves of just about anything.
So, here’s today’s lunch – inspired by multiple trips to Newmarket’s ‘Little and Friday’ cafe (review at the bottom). Caramelized onion and tomato tartlets. These aren’t from Little and Friday’s new cookbook – they’re straight out of my head, actually – but the vast array of savory tartlets in the cafe’s cabinet certainly got me in the mood for some savory pastries.
Of course though, anything with pastry comes at a price heath-wise. You may as well eat a cookie with onion and tomatoes on top if you go for a regular puff or shortcrust base.
That’s where filo (or phyllo) pastry comes in – much lighter, and much healthier, it’s not usually made with butter or shortening. While it doesn’t have the crumble of regular pastry, it has a nice light crunchy-ness that is fantastic with light savory dishes.
Rustic Caramelized Onion and Tomato Tartlets – Serves 2
Prep time: 15mins Cook time: 15-20mins
- Two sheets filo pastry, room temperature (roughly 40x20cm in size)
- One yellow onion
- Tiny knob of butter
- 1/2 tsp of oil
- 1 large or 2 small tomatoes
- 4 tbs balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp dried basil (or fresh, which would be fantastic!)
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tsp good olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Heat butter and 1/2 tsp of oil in a frypan/skillet over medium heat. Finely slice the onion into half-moons, and tip into the pan, stirring to cook slowly (don’t let it get brown and crispy – you want golden and soft).
While the onion cooks, put the 4 tbs of balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp brown sugar in a small pot/saucepan over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Keep an eye on the balsamic while the onion cooks, and occasionally stir the pot until it’s reduced to about 1 tbs and is thick, dark and syrupy (roughly 5 mins). Remove from the heat.
Once the onions are caramelized, translucent, soft and smelling great, turn the heat down to low but leave them in the pan while you cut the tomatoes into 8ths (in half, in half and in half again). Gently place in a bowl – you don’t want all the seeds falling out – and pour over the balsamic reduction. Grate the clove of garlic over the tomatoes, then add the dried basil, olive oil, salt and pepper and stir very gently to combine. Set aside while you prepare the pastry.
Take the sheet of filo pastry, spray lightly with cooking spray and fold in half. Repeat the process so you have a small, tartlet sized rectangle. Place in the tartlet pan, and scrunch and fold the edges gently to fit – be careful, because the pastry tears easily. Repeat with the other sheet of pastry.
Tip the onions into the pastry shells, then top with the tomato segments, seeds facing up. Spoon over the deliciousness from the bottom of the tomato bowl, then add an extra shake of salt and pepper.
Bake for 15-20mins (mine took 17). If the pastry is browning too fast, tent it with tin foil. Serve immediately.
A wee bit about Little and Friday
So I’d read a lot about Little and Friday, a small cafe tucked in behind Newmarket, Auckland. As I understood it, the cafe sported a casual, quirky attitude – but the food and coffee was to die for. So, with Annabel in tow once again, we went there for lunch on my birthday to see if it lived up to it’s reputation.
We were back again a few days later.
Honestly, we couldn’t get enough of it. The food is decadent, but not pretentious – no piped rosettes in sight. There’s no menu, only cabinet food, and while there isn’t a huge selection, what’s there is varied enough for something to tickle your fancy. Divided down the middle between sweet and savory, on one side there’s an array of cakes and some award-winning doughnuts, and on the other savory tartlets, frittatas and rolls.
On my birthday, I ordered a vegetarian frittata and Annabel a ham and avocado roll, as well as a chocolate cake with raspberry and mascarpone that I made a bit of a dent in. True to form, we also got trim hot chocolates. While my frittata took a while to arrive post convection oven heating and side-salad scattering, the food was fantastic. Little and Friday certainly doesn’t skimp on the filling, and both frittata and sandwich were packed with fresh ingredients. The hot chocolates were lovely with the food; unusually bitter, they weren’t rich and cloying, and didn’t fill us up before the meal.
But it was the cake that stole the show.
We ordered the same one again when we went back, along with a lemon and coconut cake to go alongside. The chocolate number was decadent – sliced in half with raspberry coulis and mascarpone sandwiched in between, liberally topped with chocolate ganache. The coconut and lemon one was a bit lighter, more like a pound cake, but delightfully syrupy and equally slathered in frosting.
If you’re sensible, you’d share one of their cakes between two, but if you’re Emily (who loves food), half simply doesn’t cut it when you can have a whole.
Once again, the hot chocolates were good, if a little slow.
In terms of the cafe’s environment, it’s fun and relaxed, though this may not be for everyone. There’s no individual tables, but instead two large communal ones that you simply claim a space on. The cutlery is all self-serve on a little trolley, and the staff (most of them looked to be students like me) don’t wear uniform and have a very chilled out, casual feel. If you’re looking for crisp, clipped professional wait service, this isn’t the place for you. However, for us, the ‘studenty’ atmosphere was comfortable and fun.
I’d read beforehand that there’s usually a line, and this turned out to be more than true. Down to the cafe’s popularity and that chillaxed service attitude, if you go at food rush hour (or not, for that matter) be prepared to wait your turn.
Not that that’ll be enough to turn me away – Little and Friday has definitely made it’s way into my good books. Hopefully I’ll be able to scrape together a few dollars to buy myself a copy of their cookbook, for those days when the line is just too long.