For my twenty-second birthday my older sister’s best friend gave me a copy of Adrienne Rich’s The Fact of a Doorframe. I’d heard of Rich often throughout my years studying literature but I had never actually sat down with any of her work. I tucked the book up on my “must-read” shelf and there it sat for the next two and a half years.
Then, one sweltering June night I was twenty-four and terribly heartbroken and feeling adrift and lonely and scared and looking up to my bookshelf for comfort I saw The Fact of a Doorframe staring back at me. Not even bothering to move to the couch I continued to read, cover to cover, until my bottom was asleep in my desk chair and my breathing was finally regular.
I found immense comfort and strength in Rich’s ability to change her life completely, reinvent herself absolutely, and still remain exactly who she had always been at her core. My copy of The Fact of a Doorframe is littered with red colored pencil markings, arrows, circles, exclamations from that night, and “Peeling Onions” still sits, hand-written on a piece of graph paper on my refrigerator.
Only to have a grief
equal to all these tears!
There’s not a sob in my chest.
Dry-hearted as Peer Gynt
I pare away, no hero,
merely a cook.
Crying was labor, once
when I’d good cause.
Walking, I felt my eyes like wounds
raw in my head,
so postal-clerks, I thought, must stare.
A dog’s look, a cat’s, burnt to my brain—
yet all that stayed
stuff in my lungs like smog.
These old tears in the chopping-bowl.
When I found out, a little over a week ago that Adrienne Rich had died, I was shocked at how immediately and how deeply I felt her loss. The only way I know how to deal with loss is to cook and eat, so this onion galette is my ode to Adrienne Rich and I hope it brings comfort to all of you.
Caramelized and Spring Onion Galette
Black Pepper Pate Brisee (tart crust)
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed and frozen or very very cold
- 4 Tablespoons ice water
Put all of your dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse two or three times to get everything mixed around. Then take your frozen butter and add half of it to the dry mix. Pulse about 5-6 times then add the remaining butter. Pulse 6-10 more times, or until the butter chunks are a little bigger than pea-sized. Add 2 tablespoons of ice water and pulse 2-3 times then add 2 more and repeat. You should still have large chunks of butter and they should be uniform throughout the flour. Squeeze a small amount in your hand–if it stays together it’s ready, if it crumbles apart you need to add more ice water. Turn out onto a clean surface and gently bring it together into a ball, being careful not to touch it too much. Once it’s in a ball, wrap it tightly and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
- 3 medium red onions
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 Tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
- 1 bundle (5-6) spring onions
- 4 ounces goat cheese (or any cheese you like–gruyere or feta would be great)
- salt and pepper to taste
Melt your butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Thinly slice your red onions (try not to cry) and put them into the pan with thyme, sprinkle with salt and cook over medium-low heat until soft–about 7-10 minutes, stirring often. If you feel like it’s getting too dry you can add a little bit of water to the pan. Once the onions are soft, turn the heat down to low and let the onions cook, covered, for 30-40 more minutes, stirring occasionally. After 30-40 minutes add balsamic vinegar and stir to coat. Allow to cook for about 10 more minutes.
Put your spring onions in a pan with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and quickly sautee them, tossing them the whole time. This should only take about 3 minutes–they should be wilted but still crunchy.
Remove your tart dough from the fridge. With the wrapping still on, work the dough a little bit in your hands to get it to soften up, then remove it from the plastic and turn it onto a clean, well-floured surface. Roll to about 1/4 inch thickness and place on a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread caramelized onions in the middle and crumble cheese on top. Take your spring onions and arrange them over the onions and cheese, then fold the edges of the dough up around the filling. If you are more fastidious than I am you can cut the dough so that its edges are cleaner to give the galette a more precise look. Cook at 400 for about 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Slice and serve warm.