How to Feed a Starving Artist – Our Famous Goats Cheese Tarte.

At all of our art retreats and workshops, we have one thing in mind: to remove any obstacles between you and your ability to paint as much as you can! There are many ways that we do this but one of the most appreciated is that we make sure there is plenty to eat. Our caterers provide evening meals and they are great at what they do using fresh, local ingredients and traditional recipes.

On arrivals day, Shirley prepares some special dishes so that no matter when you arrive, there will be fresh food waiting for your enjoyment.

She has been asked many times for her recipes so here’s how she makes the Caramelized Onions and Goat’s Cheese tarts.

“The quality of food seems to be better in France and that extends to their ready-made frozen pastry!” explains Shirley. “I use these as a great time-saver and they never disappoint.”




*Ready-made frozen puff pastry. ( Sold everywhere in French Supermarkets, ready to use, rolled in parchment paper, and ready to layout in the baking dish.)

*8 medium to large red onions

*4-6 Ripe figs, cut into quarters

*Goat’s cheese log cut into ¼-inch thick slices

*Black olives, pitted and cut in half

*Olive Oil

*Balsamic vinegar glaze

*One beaten egg-yolk for glazing



Before you do anything, take the frozen pastry out of the freezer and open up the package so that the pastry has time to thaw.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Once the pastry is thawed, carefully place it in a baking paper-lined 13-inch diameter tart pan. Prick all over the bottom of the pastry with a fork to prevent it from rising. Then, take another sheet of baking paper and cover the pastry with it so that it extends up the sides of the pan. Use baking weights, uncooked rice or dried beans as baking weights and pour them onto the baking paper, making sure they cover the entire base. Cut off any excess paper.

Bake at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes. Remove the top piece of baking paper and the weights and lightly brush the tops of the crust with the egg yolk.

Bake the pastry for another 5 minutes or until you see the edges of the pastry turning light, golden-brown. Remove from the oven.

While the pastry is baking, finely chop about 8 red onions. That may seem like a lot, but they do reduce when cooked.

Heat a generous amount of good olive oil in a pan and add the onions. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Cook them slowly until they are translucent and caramelized. At the last minute, add about 2 tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar Glaze and mix thoroughly.

Spread the onions evenly round the pastry shell.

Place slices of goat’s cheese all over the onions and then put a piece of fig on each slice of goat’s cheese. Then add as many black olive halves as you like, “et voilà!

Put back in the oven until the goat’s cheese melts a little and the pastry is brown but not burned, about 10 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces and serve.

If figs aren’t in season, arrange about 5 medium-sized, sliced tomatoes on top of the onions and then add the goat’s cheese on top of each tomato slice. Add chopped fresh basil and olives and put back in the oven till the pastry is browned and the goat’s cheese is melty. Prepare to be delighted!


In France, the supermarkets have entire sections devoted to cheese and often an entire aisle displaying goats cheese. When in doubt, go for the “log” for cooking.

Blogger: Shirley Hambrick

Shirley Hambrick is an award-winning stained-glass artist and painter. She has lived in Scotland, Spain and the USA. Shirley is part of the Workshops in France team and attended over 20 of these trips. She writes about her adventures.

Being Scottish, she was trained at Edinburgh College of Art and Design. Shirley teaches in the West Virginia area and you can some of her beautiful work here.

Check out more blogs about art workshops, tips and hacks for artists traveling in France and Scotland.

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