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Living Well: Embracing the Season of Renewal


As the first hints of spring grace Whidbey Island, a sense of rejuvenation fills the air. The past week has gifted us with unexpected blue skies and balmy temperatures, a delightful surprise for March. It's moments like these that remind us of the beauty in embracing the changing seasons, marking the beginning of a new chapter in our journey to living well.


Here on Whidbey Island, where life is intricately woven with the rhythms of nature, the arrival of spring is met with celebration and gratitude. From the delicate cherry blossoms of February to the vibrant daffodils and tulips, nature's symphony heralds the arrival of warmer days. Despite the occasional defiance of winter's grip, the resilience of flora and fauna alike reminds us of the inherent hope in renewal.



In our close-knit community, the onset of spring is celebrated with gatherings that bring friends and neighbors together. Recently, the seaside village of Coupeville came alive with the jovial spirit of St. Patrick's Day. The town's Rec Hall played host to a festive affair, organized by The Shifty Sailors, the local Maritime Chorus, where laughter mingled with the strains of sea shanties and traditional Irish music. Decked in shades of green, revelers savored hearty fare and cherished moments of camaraderie, marking the onset of spring with warmth and joy.


Within our own circle, we too have embraced the season's arrival with open arms. Gatherings filled with laughter and conversation have become a cherished tradition, fostering bonds that strengthen with each passing season. Recently, a simple invitation for a small happy hour gathering blossomed into a vibrant soirée, with over 50 friends coming together to revel in each other's company. Amidst homemade treats and bottles of wine, connections were forged and memories made, embodying the essence of community and togetherness.



Of course, gatherings create the perfect opportunity to head into the kitchen to create something wonderful to share. As we bid farewell to the comforting embrace of winter stews and soups, culinary creations inspired by the freshness of spring take center stage. One such delight is the Spring French Onion Tart, a blend of caramelized onions, roasted garlic, and Gruyère cheese nestled on top of crisp puff pastry. This is what I chose to contribute to this past weekend.


Spring French Onion Tart


What you need:


  • 3 tbsp butter

  • 2 large yellow onions (sliced thin)

  • 1 head garlic (top trimmed off)

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed in the fridge overnight

  • 1 3/4 cups shredded Gruyère cheese

  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, removed from the stem


How to make it:


Preheat your oven to 400ºF. In a large cast iron skillet or dutch oven over medium heat, heat oil and butter until shimmering. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes. Reduce heat to low, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and continue cooking for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until onions are deeply caramelized. Remove from heat and let cool completely, preferably overnight.


Meanwhile, drizzle garlic with olive oil, wrap in aluminum foil (or parchment), and bake for 40 to 45 minutes at 400ºF until softened. Let cool, then remove cloves from their paper and set aside.


Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly flour a work surface and roll puff pastry into a large rectangle (about 10 by 16 inches). Transfer to the baking sheet. Use a knife to create a 1-inch border around the edges without piercing all the way through. Poke holes throughout the center of the tart with a fork to prevent bubbling while baking.


Reduce oven temperature to 375ºF. Scatter cheese over the tart, add roasted garlic, and top with caramelized onions and thyme. Brush the edges of the tart with milk or egg wash. Bake for 20 minutes, then increase the temperature to 400ºF and bake for an additional 6 to 8 minutes until edges are browned, puffy, and crispy.


Allow the tart to cool slightly before slicing. Serve and enjoy!


I must confess, this time, I didn't make it the classic way. Inspired by what I had in the fridge, I took a tub of whipped cream cheese and infused it with minced garlic and grated Parmesan cheese. This creamy concoction became the luscious base for my tart, spread generously on top of the raw puff pastry. Layered on this savory canvas were the caramelized onions, interspersed with slices of raw garlic for an extra punch of flavor. To crown it all, a sprinkling of Gruyère cheese added a touch of indulgence.


While any variation of the tart undoubtedly shines at a potluck happy hour, it also serves as a delectable lunch option when paired with a crisp green salad and a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.


Looking ahead, the promise of spring beckons with endless possibilities. From pea mousses reminiscent of summers in Italy to savory galettes laden with seasonal produce, the culinary landscape awaits exploration.



Yet the arrival of spring also invites us to embrace new beginnings and cultivate joy in our everyday lives. As we embark on this journey of renewal, let us pause to reflect on the simple pleasures that spring gives us.


I invite you to embrace its boundless energy and vibrant spirit. Whether it's through shared gatherings with loved ones or culinary adventures in the kitchen, let us revel in the joy of new beginnings. For in the tapestry of life, each season offers a chance for growth, renewal, and living well.

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