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Monday, 14 July 2014

Caramelised Onion & Goat's Cheese Tartlets - A Cheats Canapé For Busy Days

Caramelised Onion & Goat's Cheese Tartlets by Sudeshna Ghosh

It is no easy task to be the editor of a food magazine! Yes because that job comes with the pressure of long working hours to keep with deadlines as well as in a way being surrounded by food all day long and having to do a lot of eating out too! All this can make it hard to find the time, energy and appetite for home-cooking! With that said, isn't this the case for most working women? The high pressure jobs, the long working hours, juggling home, kids and work as well as having to manage cooking at least one wholesome meal for the family every day can become too stressful, and are the constant complaint of all working women.

When asked about whether she finds the time to cook and serve a home-cooked meal, editor of BBC Good Food Middle East Magazine, Sudeshna Ghosh said: "Not as much as I’d like. It’s very important for me to eat – and feed my husband - healthy, wholesome and home-cooked food as much as possible, and I try to minimise eating out on weekdays – as much as possible, work commitments permitting. Having said that, I probably end up cooking at home no more than three or four times a week at best, given work schedules etc.,... I wish I could manage more." And this is probably the case for most.

With that said, Sudeshna also told me that over the past few years she had been consciously ensuring that she cooks and eats more at home and is therefore always looking for ways to produce delicious meals and entertain successfully at home (even on the busiest days). She has found a formula that works for her and her lifestyle and is always building on it. And this is exactly what she shares with us in today's video and post. Watch as Sudeshna shares with us her go to recipe for entertaining on busy days, as well as explain the approach to cooking that works for her, which may be useful to you too.

Below the video you will find a list of Cooking Tips For working Women (or let's include everyone and call it working people). These helped Sudeshna cook and eat at home more often, as well as enjoy cooking while she is at it. Hopefully they will be helpful to you too. Also included below are 25 links for quick and easy recipes as well as pies and tarts recipes for you to try at home :)

Cooking Tips For Working People 
Most working women would agree that after a long day at work, thinking what's to be served for dinner can get quite daunting. Perhaps the last thing anyone wants at that point is to cook, and most of us will just want to put our feet up and relax. Relax, this is normal, even for the biggest foodies, in fact ask any chef you know and they will tell you after hours they can't even think of cooking dinner, and most chefs will settle for a quick sandwich! However, we all want to find ways to enjoy a home-cooked meal and remain healthy. Especially when we have such busy and stressful days as Sudeshna puts it, then the least we can do for our body is to nurture it with a wholesome, healthy and home cooked meal. So here are the tips that worked for Sudeshna and helped her cook and eat at home more often:

  • Keep comfort food and complex recipes for the days when you are on a deserted island! (basically have more time on your hands), like weekends or shorter working days. Simple and fast recipes help when we are pressed for time and are still home-cooked and can be healthy and delicious too.
  • Dedicating the time for pre-preparing your ingredients, such as chopping, portioning and freezing is a great way to save time. All that is left to do on the day is really mix everything together and cook.
  • Hiring a cook to help with prep as well as cook for you on the days when you are extremely busy helps a lot. I have a cook who occasionally comes and cooks for us (for those days when my schedule is mad).
  • Sometimes we have to cheat a little and use shortcuts. "Just please note that I am not into processed packaged food, I believe in cooking from scratch using natural ingredients. But when pressed for time, little shortcuts are needed, and as long as they are not overly unhealthy and practiced in moderation. So, for example, even though I use packaged puff pastry in this dish (I prefer to avoid processed food as much as possible), everything else in the recipe is fresh, natural, and also healthy – very little fat, olive oil and so on! So, this isn’t the sort of thing I’d recommend eating every day, but now and again, when entertaining guests at short notice, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it."
  • When it comes to health it is all about a balanced approach to food. Find the recipes that work well for you and the healthy shortcuts that help you cook in less time, don't try and slave for hours in the kitchen after a busy day because eventually you won't be able to keep it up. Cook simple, wholesome food to make sure you eat healthy home-cooked meals as regularly as possible.

To Make
Sudeshna's Cheat Canapés
Makes 10 
Cheats Canapé for Busy Days
You Need

2 medium onions, sliced

Olive oil
Splash of balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt 
Grind of fresh pepper
1 ½ tsp of sugar (can be adjusted to taste)
Pinch of za’atar
400g puff pastry squares
100g feta cheese
1 egg, whisked
A handful of parsley or coriander, for garnish

Add olive oil to a frying pan, toss in the onions and start gently frying. Add the balsamic, sugar, salt and pepper. After about 5 mins, add the za’aatar, toss through and continue to cook on low heat for about 10-15 mins until the onions are softened and caramelised. Keep aside to cool completely (can be refrigerated to speed things up).

On a baking tray, place the puff pastry square, add a spoonful of the caramelised onion mix into the middle, crumble some feta over it, and fold the edges to make a small parcel. Brush the top with the whisked egg wash. Repeat with the rest of the pastry squares.

Bake at 180C for about 20 mins until the pastry has risen, and is golden brown in colour. Garnish with the chopped herbs of your choice and serve.

Tip If you have some onions and feta left over, just spread them over crackers to make a tasty snack. 

Sudeshna Ghosh

is Senior Editor of BBC Good Food Middle East, the region’s leading food and lifestyle magazine, and the newly relaunched website.

Passionate about food and travel, and a respected expert on the subjects in the region, she has lived and worked in media in Dubai for nearly a decade. Previously with Gulf News Magazines, she has also worked in television in the past, always striving to bring creative, relevant and positive lifestyle-based content to her audience.

Originally from Kolkata, India, Sudeshna lives in Dubai with her husband and two dogs. A love of experimenting with new flavours, and discovering new cultures and cuisines means that in her job, she can combine her passions with her flair for communication.

Sudeshna has mastered the art of (or as she puts it "is still trying to!") juggling a busy, high-pressure career with a balanced home life, ensuring she eats ‘good food’ as much as possible!
Facebook Page: BBC Good Food Middle East
Twitter: @BBCGoodFoodME  @GhoshSudeshna
Instagram: @bbcgoodfoodmiddleeast
Google+: +BBC Good Food Middle East

Relative Links
Quick & Easy Recipes from this blog for Working Women

Pies & Trats Recipes from this blog (Savoury & Sweet)