A Farmhouse Tart

Cheese-and-onion tart and green beans on a circa-1880 English china dinner plate.

Who can resist cheese (the lactose-intolerant among you excluded, of course)? Every member of our family practically drools at the mention of cheese, whether it’s an undistinguished Cheddar intended for a grilled-cheese sandwich or a particularly ripe Époisses de Bourgogne, of which I have a very fond, very pungent memory from a long-ago tour of Burgundy. That includes the elder of our two dogs, Daisy, an elderly chow chow who spends her days in a largely catatonic state until she detects the aroma of Brie, for instance, or Emmenthaler.

With this family passion in mind, my industrious spouse decided last night to make Mapie de Toulouse-Lautrec’s tarte aux oignons et fromage (that’s cheese-and-onion tart, fyi). Its spiritual warmth and elemental earthiness bore witness to the basic beauties of farmhouse cuisine, the luxury of sautéed onions suspended in a creamy golden matrix of baked eggs and Gruyère cheese. A glass of white wine plus a side dish of green beans cooked in butter with a dash of sea salt made it a worthy end-of-day repast.


SOURCE: Mapie de Toulouse-Lautrec’s La Cuisine de France (Orion Press, 1961)



Tart pastry (go to this post for the easy recipe)

1 pound (4-5) medium onions

3 tablespoons butter

3 eggs

4 teaspoons flour

1-1/4 cup heavy cream

1 cup grated Gruyère cheese

Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Peel and chop the onions very fine. Cook in boiling salted water for 15 minutes. Strain completely and sauté in the butter until golden.

Beat the eggs in a bowl with a fork and add the flour and the cream, beating continuously. Beat in the grated cheese and season with pepper. Do not add salt before tasting because the cheese may be salty enough. Finally stir in the onions.

Fill the tart with the mixture and bake 30 minutes until golden. Let cool for 10 minutes then serve.


10 comments on “A Farmhouse Tart

  1. The tarte is lovely, and the plate is divine.

  2. I’ve enjoyed both of your sites since discovering them. You’re a superb writer! In a few months, when I retrieve my things from storage in L.A., I’ll send you a recipe for a key lime pie from a 1950s cookbook I bought in a thrift store ages ago. It simply never fails to impress.

  3. Elizabeth F says:

    Dear Aesthete, your industrious husband’s good example has done the impossible. It has brought my husband back into the kitchen. Thank you (both)! I was just about to ask if you had any recipes for “Industrious husband”!

    My husband is missing rabbit. I have a recipe for Jugged Hare (this is not exactly rabbit), stewed with gravy, minced onion, lemon juice, current jelly, salt and pepper, from “The New Home Encyclopedia” (Odhams Press, 1932). It sounds lovely, but I was wondering, does Mapin de Toulouse-Lautrec (or do any kind readers) have a favourite rabbit recipe to share?

    • Rabbit! I shall start looking!

    • We’ll start looking for rabbit recipes! I haven’t had one of those for ages. Curiously enough one of our neighbors recently made rabbit stew, from a rabbit shot on his own property.

      • Elizabeth F says:

        Thank you so much for helping, Aesthete!

        I had forgotten about rabbit, which is a shame because it’s such a great dish; it’s hauntingly delicious, rustic enough for everyday, special enough for company, and so good for you).

        You’re very lucky if you can eat wild rabbit from your neighbour’s land. It’s worth getting a wild one. I suppose it will take longer to cook, but the farmed rabbit isn’t gamey enough for me.

        It’s all down to people’s preference. The farmed rabbbit will cook faster and be more tender, but it’s a bit too similar to chicken for me.
        Loving these posts!

      • Keep coming back!

  4. SDG says:

    Three of my favorite things. I come a family of cheese lovers. Wonderful writing as always. I’ll try this recipe. It seems simple and easy to follow.

  5. littleaugury says:

    This sounds yummy (and I do not use that word often or outside the food realm) I disliked onions for years-texture I think-but love them now. I remember my granMa standing in her kitchen eating a quickie version of your tarte- homemade hot buttery biscuit with finely chopped onions all inside & pepper.

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