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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Onion Onion Who Has The Onion

Like my carrots my onions in the garden are not doing
so well either, but be sure I will get more and try again, how can I face winter without onions. I have chives that I can't keep up too they are growing so quickly.

So what can one say about a food staple that also could have its origins in the Garden of Eden. Onions have a known history of over 5000 years. Believed to be first cultivated in central Asian, archaeologists, botanists, and food historians all conclude that the onion is likely from Iran or west Pakistan. The Chinese, Indians, Sumerians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all placed a high value on the use of the onion in food, medicine, used by herbalists and even in mummification.

We of course know the value of the onion in cuisine and there is not a world cuisine that does not use the onion in substantial ways. Part of the lily family along with chives, leeks, garlic and shallots. Green onions, scallions or spring onions are all the same, basically are immature plants that have not been allowed to form a bulb. Shallots too are part of this family, believed to discovered by the Crusaders who brought them back to England from Ascalon of ancient Isreal where the name is derived from. Yellow onions are the most common kind found in the local markets as they are the best "keepers" or hold well during winter storage. Pearl onions are baby onions allowed to grow into small bulbs.

Red onions are sweeter than yellows and will hold reasonably well, however they are not sweetest ones available in North America. There are three varieties that hold the sweetness test highest marks. First is Vidalia, any medium size bulb onion grown first in Tooms Co. Georgia. Believed to be an import from Texas, it is grown under strict control in a limited amount of Georgia counties. Named for the farmers market in Vidalia, Georgia. Some of these onions can be as sweet as apples. Best available between Late April and mid June but store well until December.

The next one on our sweet list would be Texas 10-15's, a hybrid onion developed at the Texas A&M University as a vegetable that would resist pink root disease which was the enemy of the Grano onion from which the 10-15 was taken. They are said to get their name because the farmer needs have them planted for spring harvest by October 15th of the year. Sometimes known also as Texas 10-20s as they grow best between interstate highways 10 and 20. 10-15s have a low amount of sulfur (why you cry while handling onions) giving them their sweet taste. No other onion makes a finer onion ring than the 10-15. However as with the Vidalia 10-15s have a low availability, April-June and in a very limited area, many cooks, chefs and even produce vendors have never heard of a 10-15 but if you can get them, cherish them.

Our final sweet onion is actually called that, Walla Walla Sweets. Available from June until August they are regulated by law to be grown in the Walla Walla (Native American for many waters) valley of Washington state. Best used in most cuisines Walla Walla sweets makes incredible onion soups. Said to have been brought to the area in 1800s from Corsica of Italy. Walla Walla Sweets store fairly easily and remain available until December.

Other sweet onions include Imperial Sweets from California, Oso Sweets from South America and of course Maui Sweets from Hawaii. Italian Reds are also considered sweet onions but are best used in a raw state giving color to salad and sandwiches as well as their special flavor.

4                           4                           leeks
1/4 cup                 60 ml                     butter
1 2 cup                 375 ml                   potatoes, pared and thinly sliced
4 cups                   1 L                        chicken stock
1 cup                     250 ml                   heavy cream
2 tsp                      3 ml                      salt
1/4 tsp                  1 ml                       pepper
1 tbsp                    15 ml                    minced chives

Trim the leeks.  Discard the root and the stem ends except 2 in, (5 cm) above the white portion.
Slice and wash the leeks.  Dice.

Heat the butter in an 8 cup (2 L) saucepan.

Sauté the leeks for 5 minutes.  Do not brown.  Add the potatoes and chicken stock.

Cover and simmer until potatoes are very tender.  Press through a sieve or food mill.

Reheat and add the cream salt and pepper.  

Serve garnished with chives.

Vichyssoise is usually served chilled.

 Onion Soup au Gratin
The world knows this soup by the name French Onion but the name in France is "soupe à l'oignon à la lyonnaise" there is no real way of knowing its origin but one story is that it was the creation of Napoleons chef while on the Waterloo battlefield, most likely created by the poor hard laborers of Lyon.

1                              1                        French baguette stick, about 3 in. (7 cm) in diameter.
3 tbsp                    45 ml                    butter
2 cups                   500 ml                  thinly sliced Walla Walla Sweets onions
1/4 cup                 60 ml                     all-purpose
4 cups                   1L                         mild beef stock
1 cup                     250 ml                  red wine
1 tbsp                    15 ml                    Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp                    15 ml                    Soy sauce
          Salt and pepper
3/4 cup                 180 ml                   grated medium Cheddar
3/4 cup                 180 ml                   grated Swiss cheese
1/4 cup                 60 ml                     grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 325 F (160 C).  Cut French bread into slices about 2 in. (1.5 cm) thick.

Bake in oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until bread is dry and lightly browned.  Set aside. Turn oven on broil.

Melt butter in a saucepan; cook onions over low heat, stirring occasionally until onions are a rich golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Sprinkle flour over onions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Add the stock, wine, Worcestershire, soy and salt and pepper; simmer for about 30 minutes.

Transfer soup into serving bowls and top each with a slice of toasted bread.  Combine cheeses and sprinkle over bread.

Place under preheated broiler until bubbly and lightly browned.

Beef Bourguignon
    1 pkg (14 g) dried porcini mushrooms
    3 lb (1.4 kg) boneless beef cross rib pot roasts
    4 Oz (113 g) thickly sliced bacon, chopped
    3 tbsp (45 ml) vegetable oil
    1 yellow onion, chopped
    1 large carrot, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 tsp (2 ml) each salt and pepper
    1/3 cup (75 ml) all-purpose flour
    1 bottle (750 ml) red wine
    1-1/2 cups (375 ml) beef broth
    3 sprigs fresh parsley
    2 sprigs fresh thyme
    2 bay leaves
    1 pkg (10 Oz/284 g) pearl onions
    1 tbsp (15 ml) butter
    3 cups (750 ml) button mushrooms
    2 tbsp (30 ml) brandy
    2 tbsp (30 ml) minced fresh parsley


Soak dried mushrooms in 1/2 cup (125 ml) hot water for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, trim fat from beef; cut meat into 1-1/2-inch (4 cm) cubes and set aside.

In Dutch oven, sauté bacon over medium-high heat until crisp; transfer to paper towel-lined plate. Drain fat from pan.

Add 1 tbsp (15 ml) of the oil to pan; brown beef, in 3 batches and adding remaining oil as necessary. Transfer to bowl. Drain fat from pan.

Add chopped onion, carrot, garlic, salt and pepper to pan; cook over medium heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with flour; cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Reserving soaking liquid, remove mushrooms and chop; add to pan along with soaking liquid, wine and broth. Bring to boil, scraping up any brown bits. Tie parsley, thyme and bay leaves together with string. Add to pan along with bacon, beef and any juices. Cover and braise in 325°F (160°C) oven until meat is fork-tender, 2-1/2 to 3 hours.

Meanwhile, in pot of boiling water, boil pearl onions for 3 minutes; drain and chill in cold water. Peel and trim, leaving root ends intact. In skillet, melt butter over medium heat; brown pearl onions, about 5 minutes. 

With slotted spoon, transfer to bowl.

Add mushrooms to skillet; fry until browned, about 5 minutes.

With slotted spoon, remove beef to separate bowl. Add pearl onions, mushrooms and brandy to liquid in Dutch oven; bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until thickened and onions are tender, about 25 minutes. Discard herbs. Return beef to pan and heat through. Sprinkle with parsley.
Polish Onion Buns
I can remember these being baked fresh weekly by Grandmother on Sundays after church or any special occasion.
1 cup of lukewarm milk
2 tsp yeast
2 tbps of sugar
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1/4 cup of melted butter
4 cups of white bread flour
2 medium yellow onions
2 tbps of oil
1/4 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese

Mix your sugar and warm milk, sprinkle with the yeast and allow to get very foamy.

Mix the flour, salt, eggs and your yeast mixture blending thoroughly. Add melted butter and mix into a smooth ball.

Cover and let it rise until it doubles in size.

Dice the onions, saute with two tablespoons of oil with a pinch of salt until soft and golden color. Allow to cool as the dough rises.

Line a baking sheet with a parchment paper.

Punch down your risen dough and roll to 1 cm thick. Cut 3 inch circles. With your finger or a shot glass make holes in the middle and put the onion filling in.

Arrange on your baking sheet, leaving them space to rise some more.

When you brush with all your dough them with a lightly beaten egg. Top with cheese.

Bake in preheat 350F oven for 17 minutes or until golden brown.

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