Appetizer Course : Red Onion and Parmesan Tartlets

Wine Suggestion : Light Italian White (Soave, Orvieto, Vernaccia)

Think of the first course of a formal dinner as a prologue and these simple tartlets make a stunning starter. If you want to prepare them ahead, make the custard and cut the pastry rounds in advance. Then assemble and bake the tartlets just before you want to serve them.

1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup half and half
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
2 red onions, cut into 6-8 wedges each
1 egg yolk
1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 box prepared puff pastry, thawed
1 teaspoon capers, rinsed
1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C)

1. Cover baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a small sauce pan, bring the milk, half and half and garlic to a boil. Remove from the heat and let stand for about 15 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic.

3. Whisk the egg yolk and the flour to a smooth paste. Bring the milk mixture back to a simmer, then gradually pour in the flour mixture, whisking constantly until smooth. Heat gently for about 5 minutes, stirring until creamy.

4. Remove from heat, stir in the cheese and season to taste.

5. Roll out the pastry and cut into four 4 1/2 inch rounds. Place the rounds on the baking sheet and spread the cheese custard over them, leaving a 1/4 inch border around the edge. Arrange three onion wedges on each tart, then sprinkle with capers.

6. Whisk together the vinegar and oil and drizzle over the onions.

7. Bake the tarts for 15 to 20 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and golden. Serve hot or at room temperature, sprinkled with fresh parsley.

Serves 4