Caramelized Onions and Mushroom Tarte Tatin

I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t love a pie! Pies are not only delicious to eat but it’s also wonderful to cook them for your loved ones. Sweet pies are just heavenly topped with cream or ice cream but the savoury ones are bursting with flavour too. Pies topped with mashed potato or with another layer of shortcrust pastry are just so satisfying. Not to mention tarts, quiches, turnovers, samosas and even pies made from pasta are all rich and comforting.

The tarte Tatin is named after the Tatin sisters who invented it and served it in their hotel as it’s signature dish. When you think of a tarte Tatin, one immediately thinks of the classic apple tart. But they are wonderful with other fruits as well.  I have used a savoury version to highlight the manifold delights of this superb French classic. You can use any vegetable that you want or currently have in your pantry.  I had a lot of mushrooms and decided to use it with caramelized onions. I used fresh button mushrooms and some dried shitake ones as well. The sweetness of the onions combined with the spices was perfect!

To speed things up, I cooked the mushrooms and onions in separate pans at the same time. I served this tart with a simple yoghurt dressing. Just mix Greek yoghurt with some crushed garlic, chopped fresh coriander/mint and a squeeze of lemon juice. 

Puff pastry tastes great in this recipe as opposed to the traditional shortcrust pastry. Readymade puff pastry is very quick and easy. If you have unexpected guests and want to showcase your cooking skills, this dish will definitely do it.

PREP:  30 minutes  COOK TIME:  60 minutes  SERVES:  4-6


2 tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp olive oil

500 g onions, sliced

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp dark brown sugar

400 g button mushrooms

4-5 dried shitake mushrooms

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp cumin powder

Salt to taste

250 g readymade frozen puff pastry


Wipe the button mushrooms gently with a clean, damp cloth. Cut them into slices and set aside.

Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl. Heat 2 cups of water to boiling point and pour over the mushrooms. Cover with plastic wrap to stop the heat from escaping. Soak for 20 minutes.

While the mushrooms are soaking, heat a large heavy based frying pan and add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in it. Add the onions and saute for about 20-30 minutes until very soft and translucent. Stir in the salt and pepper and keep stirring for another 5 minutes until the onions are golden and caramelized. Set aside.

Make the mushroom filling separately. Strain the dried mushrooms and preserve the water. It tastes wonderful in soups and even to just cook your rice or vegetables in. Chop the mushrooms. Heat the remaining butter and oil in another frying pan and add the button mushrooms and dried mushrooms. Saute for about 5-10 minutes until they soften and add the red chilli powder, salt and cumin powder. Mix well and cook until they are completely done. Mix the caramelized onions into the mushroom mixture. Cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of about 3 mm. Cut a circle that is slightly bigger than the diameter of the frying pan that you are going to use. Place the onion-mushroom mixture on the frying pan and lay the pastry over it, tucking the edges snugly over the filling, down around the inside of the pan. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden. Remove from the oven and cool for about 5 minutes. Carefully invert the tart on to a serving plate or wooden board. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander and serve hot.

No-Bake Chocolate-Lemon Mini-Tarts

My first reaction to a chocolate flavoured with lime was disbelief. That was quite a while ago and since then I have come to love this combination. So, when I had some lemon filling left over from my cake (please refer my earlier post Lemon Cheese Cake), I decided to make these tarts.


The original recipe for the chocolate shells are from Hershey’s. I just used lemon filling instead of their cream cheese filling. It tasted amazing! I just loved the sharpness of the lemon against the rich chocolatey tarts.


You need to make only half the filling for the tarts. I already had some left over after using it as a filling for the cakes.


If you decide to make these, please let me know. They’re really simple – just mix all the ingredients for the tart shells and refrigerate. This recipe makes around 20 tarts.


PREP: 30 minutes


8 egg yolks, beaten

1 cup lemon juice

5 tbsp flour

21/2 cups sugar

115 gms butter (¼ lb)

½ cup hot water

Tart Shells

2 cups icing sugar

1 cup vanilla wafer crumbs

1 cup ground almonds

½ cup Hershey’s cocoa

¼ cup milk

Combine icing sugar, wafer crumbs, ground almonds and cocoa in a bowl. Sprinkle in milk, a little at a time, mixing until the ingredients are moistened and cling together. Shape into walnut sized pieces. Place in 20 paper-lined 11/4 inch muffin cups. Press the dough against the bottom and sides of each cup. Chill.

To make the filling, beat all the ingredients together with ½ cup hot water together. Cook in a double boiler, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and is of spreading consistency. Cool and fill the tart shells with the filling. Sprinkle some desiccated coconut on the top.

Onion and Thyme Tart

Simple to make and infused with thyme, this attractive tart makes for the perfect lunch along with a mixed leaf salad. The onions gives it a lovely flavour and the topping is creamy and delicious.

The dough for the base is not very firm but rather more pliable so that it can be patted out into the baking pan. No need to roll out the pastry etc. It’s really easy.

I used a little ghee to sautè the onions but you can just use olive oil or butter. This recipe is from Vegetarian by Nicola Graimes.


PREP: 20 minutes COOK TIME: 30-35 minutes SERVES: 6


1 tbsp ghee

1 tbsp olive oil

2 onions, sliced thinly

2 tsp fresh or dried thyme

1 egg

½ cup sour cream

2 tsp poppy seeds

¼ tsp ground mace or nutmeg

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the base

1 cup flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

3 tbsp cold butter

6 tbsp milk


Grease and flour an 8 inch round deep baking pan.

Heat the ghee and oil in a frying pan. Add the onions and cook over low heat until soft and golden. Season with thyme, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and cool. Preheat the oven to 220 C.

For the base, sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the milk and stir lightly to make a dough.

Turn the dough on to a floured surface and knead lightly.

Pat the dough into a 8 inch round and transfer to the prepared baking pan. Press the dough into an even layer and cover with the onions.

Beat the egg and sour cream together and spread evenly over the onions. Sprinkle with the poppy seeds and mace or nutmeg. Bake for about 30-35 minutes until the egg topping is puffed and golden.

Leave the tart to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Slip a knife around the sides and unmould on to a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

Fruited Chocolate Tarts

A chocolaty custard filling makes these tarts a lovely treat. I added coconut flour while making the shortcrust pastry and it gave off a nice aroma of coconut when they came out of the oven.

The base can be made in advance and frozen. The filling is also easy and can be made in advance. It’s perfect for the busy entertainer. This recipe makes 6 4-inch tarts.

This recipe is adapted from Famous Brands, Chocolate Classics.



PREP: 40 minutes COOK TIME: 30 minutes


For the shortcrust

200 gms flour

50 gms coconut flour

125 gms butter, cubed

¼ tsp salt

Cold water

For the filling

2/3 cup sugar

¼ cup cocoa

3 tbsp cornflour

¼ tsp salt

2 cups milk

2 tbsp butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

Assorted fresh or canned fruit


Preheat the oven to 180C.

Butter and flour 6 4-inch tart shells.

Place the flour, coconut flour and salt in a large bowl and mix well. Cut the butter into the flour and mix gently using cold water (a few tablespoons at a time), until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. When the mixture comes together, quickly form into a ball and cover with clingfilm. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling by combining the sugar, cocoa, cornflour and salt in a small pan. Blend in the milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly to boiling; boil and stir for one minute. Remove from heat; blend in butter and vanilla. Set aside to cool.

Roll the pastry out to a thickness of ¼ inch and cut into circles slightly larger than the tart shells. Place the pastry in the shells and flute the edges using your thumb and index fingers. Bake blind for 20-30 minutes until the pastry is cooked. Remove from the oven and cool.

When the pastry cases are cool, spoon the filling into the tart shells. Press plastic wrap over the surface and chill. Garnish with fruit just before serving.