Imbolc with a Kitchen Witch: Goat Cheese & Balsamic Onion Tartlettes

With classic Imbolc ingredients like rosemary, fresh cream, red onion and goat cheese, these savory, from-scratch tartlettes add a touch of class to your winter Sabbat festivities.  So tie on an apron, light some frankincense and let’s get kitchen-witchin’!

Imbolc with a kitchen witch:  Rosemary Goat Cheese Tartlettes

The key ingredients in this recipe have special significance for the Imbolc holiday.

Fresh cream symbolizes the milk collected from livestock, which (in many regions) begin to lactate during the Imbolc season in preparation for spring babies.

Rosemary is an evergreen herb that defies the snow and pushes up new life even in the dead of winter.  For more information on the magical properties of this miraculous herb, check out the 10 Magical Uses of Rosemary.

Goat cheese included in the recipe symbolizes Imbolc’s general association with goats.  The good people of Rome used to sacrifice a goat to welcome the season of Lupercalia.  Personally, I’m good with the just using the cheese.

Nutmeg enhances clarity of thought, vision and wisdom—all virtues of the winter season.

Balsamic Vinegar symbolizes stored summer energy and the return of the light during Imbolc.

Ingredients

For the crust:

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup  (1 stick) cold butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup ice water (you may not need it all!)

For the filling:

1-2 tablespoons light olive oil (not extra virgin)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup mushrooms (optional)
1 star anise

1/2 cup goat cheese crumbles
3 eggs
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 springs fresh rosemary (for garnish)
sprinkle of nutmeg
Coarse sea salt
fresh ground pepper

Start by making the crust dough.  The secret to making flaky pie crust is to keep the ingredients cold and don’t over work the dough.

Before blending the dough, I recommend running cold water over your hands, or even keeping a bowl of ice water next to you while working the dough to dip them in as they warm back up.

Combine flour and salt, then cut cold butter into the dough.  Slowly add just enough water to form a ball.  The less the better.  Knead until it comes together.

Then let the dough rest in the refrigerator for at least a half hour, or ideally, overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Or whatever your go-to baking temperature is for your oven.

Chop onions and mushrooms.  A fine dice works nicely.

Roll out dough.  It may be hard as a rock when you bring it out of the refrigerator.  Don’t panic.  Let it sit for a few minutes, then roll it flat.  Cut into 6-inch circles (I turned a martini glass upside down to get perfect circles).  Then place into greased well-greased muffin tins (don’t forget to grease the edges, or you’ll have a hard time removing them when they’re done baking).

Unless you’re a crazy gourmet baker, this doesn’t need to be a perfect process, especially if it’s your first time.  Be gentle, but if you poke holes, just patch them up with a little dough and try to keep it even.

Pre-bake mini crusts for 8-12 minutes.  It really depends on your oven, so I recommend monitoring it closely.  You want to pull them out just when they start to get golden, and not a second later.

Fry onions and mushrooms.  Heat oil on medium heat in frying pan.  Add onions, balsamic vinegar, and star anise.  Cook until almost translucent, then add mushrooms (you can also cook the mushrooms separately if you’re not sure when to add them).

Whisk eggs, whipping cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  I actually like to do this in a pitcher with a pour spout.  You’ll see why in a moment.

Evenly divide goat cheese and onion/mushroom mixture into tartlettes.  Try to keep the mixture fairly consistently distributed so it cooks evenly.

Pour egg/cream mixture into tarlettes.  It’s way, way easier to do this from a pour spout than a bowl for me, but hey.  I’m clumsy.  Your mileage may vary.

Put tartlettes back in the oven and finish baking.  It usually takes another 10-12 minutes for me, but my oven runs really hot, so check it frequently with the oven light.  The surface should be puffy and lightly browned.  Enjoy!

 

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