How was your Thanksgiving? I ate way too much as usual, but it was worth it. My mom decided to stray from her tradition and ordered her very first Thanksgiving “turducken” from Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe in Rochester, Minnesota. If duck is involved, it’s pretty hard to disappoint me. It was really, really good and although I usually love turkey, I found myself avoiding the turkey pieces for duck.
My mom had a smaller gathering for her feast this year. My sister, Dianne and her hubby, Paul spent the day with her dad’s family and my younger brother, Lee spent the day in Minneapolis. That left my mom, Mike and me to enjoy all the delicious food.
Since she had a much smaller gathering for the dinner this year, we were able to bring a bunch of leftovers home with us, including extra stuffing and gravy made by Catering By Design.Everything was absolutely delicious and if you’re visiting or living in Rochester, the butcher shop and catering by design are right next door to each other, so be sure to stop in to say hi to them.
Although we love visiting with my family, it’s really nice to be back home. One of Mike’s and my traditions is to decorate our house for Christmas after Thanksgiving. We turn on Christmas music, enjoy extra mugs of coffee & tea and start hauling out boxes of decorations that our cat, Ollie can’t wait to get into.
We also like to enjoy a new recipe, separate from leftovers, because we’re ready to nibble on something different. This year, we made Balsamic Onion Mini Tarts with Goat Cheese and Thyme by Love & Olive Oil.
As you cook the onions with the salt, pepper and thyme, try not to rush the caramelization phase. The slower the process, the better the flavors and consistency will be. After adding the balsamic and sugar, the flavors become comforting and sweet and the aromas that fill the kitchen are nothing less than magical.
I have really enjoyed baking with my mini tart pans this year. Although a full sized tart pan would work just fine for this recipe, I like the smaller portion size after a week of overeating. You can even cut the six-inch tarts into quarters which make them small enough to be served like little hors d’oeuvres if you’re having a dinner party.
I imagine this “tradition” of ours to cook and decorate after Thanksgiving is common for a lot of people, but for me, it’s especially nice to have that time together, just Mike and me, after all of the family activity.
Since Mike and I started “sharing the holidays” and alternating between our two families, I can’t help but think about traditions. Contrary to popular belief, traditions don’t have to be old, something that never changes or something we always grew up doing. This inspires me.
Traditions can be new, something that changes and they can be something meaningful for you, separate from what you did as a kid. After a few years of doing a lot of the same things, although we love the familiarity of home, Mike and I can’t help but want to explore some of our own “traditions” together in the years to come. Maybe it’s hosting a Thanksgiving of our own, eating seafood instead of turkey, or planning a trip someplace new…
If you could do whatever you wanted over the holiday, what would you do?
BALSAMIC ONION MINI TARTS
2 tablespoons butter
4 white or yellow onions, very finely sliced
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 brown sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces soft goat cheese
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves or sprigs of fresh thyme
Note: Save extra thyme sprigs for garnish, if desired.
Two boxes of pre-made pie crusts
1. To prepare filling, melt the butter in a large, heavy-based frying pan.
2. Add the onions, salt, pepper and thyme and cook gently for about 30 mins until the onions are soft and transparent but not browned, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar and continue cooking for another 30 mins or so until the onions are almost dry.
Note: Don’t rush this stage; the longer and slower the cooking, the better the marmalade will be.
4. Remove the thyme. Set aside.
5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Roll the pre-made pie crusts and use to line several mini tart pans.
7. Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastry is set.
8. Remove from the oven and spoon the onion mixture into the cooked pastry cases and top with crumbled goat cheese.
9. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, and bake filled tart for 15-20 minutes or until the filling is hot.
10. Garnish with thyme leaves.
All Images © Regan Baroni 2016.