Friday, February 09, 2007

O is for...

O is for Onion.
Who: The Onion.
What: An underground bulb related to the lily. Classified as a vegetable.
When: Onions and their kin date back to the Egyptian age. Egyptians worshipped the onion, believing it symbolized eternal life. Onions have also always been a staple food in Indian cuisine.
Where: Onions are easy to grow anywhere there is sun. Plant in December for onions in May to June.
Why: Onions are an excellent source of Vitamin C and fibre. They are fat, sodium and cholesterol free.

Onions are available for purchase fresh, frozen, canned, pickled, freeze dried and powdered.

Also in the onion family: leeks, chives, garlic and shallots.

Onions contain sulfuric compounds that cause watering of the eyes when an onion is cut. There are many wives tales to remedy the situation - including freezing the onion, wearing goggles and holding a spoon in your mouth.

Soupe A L'Oignon

From Mastering the Art of French Cooking
by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck

6-8 servings

1 1/2 lb or about 5 cups of thinly sliced yellow onions
3 tb butter
1 tb oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
3 tb flour
2 quarts boiling brown stock
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
salt and pepper to taste
3 tb cognac
rounds of hard toasted french bread
1 or 2 cups grated Swiss or Parmesan cheese

Cook the onions slowly with the butter and oil in a covered saucepan for 15 minutes.

Uncover, raise heat to moderate, and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes stirring frequently, until the onions have turned a deep even golden brown.

Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 3 minutes.

Off heat, blend in the boiling liquid. Add the wine, and season to taste. Simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 minutes or more, skimming occasionally. Correct seasoning.

Just before serving, stir in the cognac. Pour into a soup tureen or soup cups over the rounds of bread, and pass the cheese separately.

Spinach Salad with Mushrooms and Roasted Onions

We vary the dressing we use on this, but our current favorite is President's Choice Blue Cheese Vinaigrette.

Spinach Salad:

Spinach leaves
Sliced Mushrooms
Parmesan Cheese
Roasted Onions

Toss the spinach and mushrooms together. Sprinkle with cheese and top with the onions. Drizzle with dressing of your choice.

Roasted Onions

for salad for 4

1 red onion, sliced into rings
2 tb honey
4 tb olive oil

Preheat oven to 350'. Separate the onion into rings on a parchment covered baking sheet. Mix together the honey and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the onions and toss together. Bake for 15 minutes, then stir and bake for another 10 or 15 minutes until slightly brown and crisp.

Leek and Pepper Frittata

4 eggs
40 g goats cheese
1 colored pepper, chopped
1 leek, white part only, cleaned, halved and cut into rings
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tb oil
salt and pepper

Whisk the eggs, cheese, a bit of salt and pepper, and 2 tb water. Set aside. In a medium pan heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the peppers and leeks and cook for a few minutes. Add the garlic and cook until the peppers are soft and the leeks are starting to color. Pour in the eggs. Cover and lower the heat to medium, let cook until set. Place under the broiler for a few minutes to finish setting the top if needed.

Serves 2 to 4, depending on how hungry your husband is.

Did you know? The word ONION comes from the Latin word UNUS meaning oneness or unity.

Previous Alphabet Posts:
A is for Artichoke
B is for Beet
C is for Carrot
D is for Dogs
E is for Egg
F is for Fondue
G is for Garlic
H is for Hamburger
I is for Indian Food
J is for Jamie Oliver
K is for Kaffir Lime Leaves
L is for Lobster
M is for Mushroom
N is for Noodle


Shaun said...

Sara - I love onion soup so much. Have you tried making Ina Garten's Fennel Soup Gratin? It's akin to onion soup, swapping out some onions for fennel. I'm going to make it next week. Also, I love the you leek and pepper frittata. I think leeks are undervalued and underused. A great introduction to the world of onions!

breadchick said...

Sara, I always love your Friday food letter! I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner but now I know! A Leek and Pepper Frittata

peabody said...

Mmmm, onion soup is darn close to my favorite soup of all time.

Susan said...

How interesting...thanks for the great post!

A bowl of your onion soup and a slice of that frittata would make the perfect Friday night dinner!

Susan from Food "Blogga"

peasantwench said...

How are we, in the great frozen white north, supposed to plant anything in December? I ask seriously, because I grow onions, but plant them early spring and harvest until October. I've heard of planting in October, for spring growth, but in December, isn't the ground like, rock hard? (Can you tell I still haven't figured out this whole garden thing yet?)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Love those red onions.
I just discovered an onion that you can cut as many as you want and there are no tears!
Honest to Pete - I chopped 10 really big ones and not one tear!

Sara said...

Shaun, no I'll have to look on the internet for the recipe, sounds good. Thanks!

Mary, Aw, thanks! Hope your dinner was good.

Peabody - I think onion soup, especially this one IS my favorite soup!

Susan - thank you very much!

PW - I know, I know. My information is certainly not for our part of the country. For me, that's what the grocery store is for!

Tanna - thanks, I'm going to check that out.