The Onion

When I was younger, my brother often times played the role of the gourmet chef in our kitchen at home. He was, and still is, a master at the stove, the barbecue and basically anything that involves heat coupled with fine ingredients that causes anyone's mouth to drool.

There was one dish, however, that I had a tough time getting past: his scrambled eggs. Why, you ask? He would add an ingredient to his version of the classic breakfast treat that - in my opinion - should not come near, or be an addition to, one of life's breakfast staples: onions.

I remember my reaction as I took my first bite of the fluffy, lightly yellow colored goodness that lay on my plate. It was sprinkled with freshly shredded cheddar cheese that added a bit of color and a sharp bite to the dish. And then came an added sharpness to the bite. No, it wasn't sharpness, it was more like a crunch. A crunch that came from small, translucent white cubes that were dispersed throughout my scrambled eggs. They were hard and released a flavor that seemed to burn the tiny hairs in my little nose. What in the world?, I thought as I maneuvered one of the crunchy pieces toward my lips with my tongue. Upon unveiling the little creature I realized that it was, sure enough, an onion. Not my cup of tea. I finished the remainder of the scrambled eggs, picking out the little flecks of white cubes in the process.

Fast forward to present day and I can't really tell you when my taste buds changed their minds, but I'm almost certain it had something to do with my first experience in cooking French Onion Soup. I continue to enjoy the flavors and harmony of textures, and especially the taste of the caramelized onions in the famed French soup. I adore onions now; sautéed, roasted, and my favorite, caramelized.

I've seen recipes that instruct caramelizing onions in various ways: some with red wine vinegar, herbs and salt and pepper, others with olive oil, butter and a splash of sugar. I've found it best to keep it simple with a basic combination of olive oil, kosher salt, white pepper (you can use black if you wish, but I'm beginning to incorporate white more and more into cooking) and onions. Some like to add sugar as they say it gives even more caramely goodness and a bit more of a crisp texture, but I could take it or leave it. The process of the onions caramelizing produces plenty of natural sugars itself.

Here's my recipe for my most favorite way to devour onions.

Caramelized Onions
Yields 1 cup caramelized onions

2 1/2 tablespoons Olive oil
6 cups White onion, sliced crosswise in 1/4-inch half-moon slices
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon White pepper

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat until the olive oil is warm, or projects a glistening, shiny look to it. Add in the sliced onions and stir around to coat them evenly with the olive oil. Add in the salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to medium and let the onions cook in the pan, stirring occasionally. You'll notice the onions begin to turn brown, which signals the caramelization. Continue to cook the onions, stirring occasionally so the slices don't burn, until the onions are cooked down and have turned a dark caramel-brown in color, about 25 minutes.

Caramelized onions are great served atop many delectable items like pizza or bruschetta, and can be mixed into soft cheeses like goat or cream cheese for use in a dip. My decision for how I would savor my caramelized onions today? Atop scrambled eggs in my breakfast sandwich.

Whole-wheat toast, goat cheese, scrambled eggs, caramelized onions and sprinkled with dill (I would have used chives, but was out. Use chives.)



Book Review: Cooking for Mr. Latte

Embarking on the adventure of a new relationship can be exciting, scary, tummy twisting and heart thumping. Pair that with a passion for culinary adventures and a professional life dedicated to the romance of food, and you've got a foodie swaying in the joys of a new love + delectable eats.

In Cooking for Mr. Latte, Amanda Hesser (food writer for The New York Times) takes readers on a personal journey of her courtship with Tad Friend, a writer as well. Amanda's inner-voice call for refinement of her dining companion's food sense on their first date to Tad's impressive home-cooked meal for Amanda are just the beginning of a journey of good food, deep relationships with family and friends and the joys of sharing with the one you love.

And as any good culinary temptress would know, what's on one's plate plays an enormous part in the mood and memories that make the story, and so the author includes key recipes at the end of every chapter; totalling over 100 recipes with a recipe index at the back of the book! Some that stood out include: Almond Cake, from Amanda's soon-to-be mother-in-law, Elizabeth; Rigatoni with White Bolognese, from a dear friend, Heidi; and what she calls the 'baking project for two' Poached Peach and Almond Tart, a recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated and one that Amanda cooks with Elizabeth.

It was an enjoyable read to come along for the ride as the beau was integrated into the family and friendships and vice versa as Amanda was shipped off to weekend getaways with Tad's family. Though there were times throughout the book that seemed to take away from the relationship and focus more on the family and friendships, and even some of Amanda's solo travel, but that showcased Amanda's openness to invite even further personal relationships into the story. And speaking of solo, Chapter 6, 'The Art of Dining Alone', was brilliant.

A fun read for anyone who loves falling in love; with courting and culinary adventures in tow.


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