Luckily this week we are back to normal with our guest post spotlight. All thanks and praise goes to the fabulous Marisa from Cook's Book. I was fortunate to cross her blogs path a few months ago and have been enjoying following her kitchen adventures. Marisa is not only a talented cook but also is quite a gifted writer.
Please check out Cook's Book you will find a new super cool blog to follow.
Guest Post Spotlight Thursday
The Many Layers of Onions
Many times I’ve cried over you, the most painful of tears. And still, after blinking away the hurt from my red and irritated eyes, I can never escape you; the pungency of your kiss sits foully on my tongue, your astringent scent lingering endlessly on my hands for days. In spite of it all, I find my love for you to be undying.
The obnoxious characteristics displayed in the rawest state of your demeanor are only natural; you were simply born this way. It seems that many are turned off by your presence, going so far as to request that you not show up at meals and crinkling their noses when you do. Perhaps you do come on too strong; maybe it is your cologne or the fierce intensity of your personality. But they don’t know you like I know you, Onion.
I know that beneath your many layers, you are really very sweet; you just need to warm up. Others who have taken the time to get to understand you realize that any meal is just not the same without you. Patiently caramelized in the natural sugars of your core or even sliced raw, you have such versatile qualities and flavor. Onion, you are much more than just a ferocious ball of tear gas. You are the aromatic base of all that tastes good in the world.
Love and onion breath kisses,
I am a firm believer that if a savory dish tastes good, it’s probably because it’s got onions in it somewhere. Ok, so maybe the love letter was a little exaggerative and extreme, but I really do adore them. Onions are a kitchen staple; from the common bulbous yellow variety to its flavorful cousins including shallots, leeks, and garlic, they serve as the very center from which all dishes can be built upon.
In classic French cooking, the mirepoix, made up of carrots, celery, and 50% onion, is the basis of all bases: stocks, soups, and sauces—they all start with this onion-dominant combination. There are many other similar flavor foundations used in different cuisines such as soffritto in Italian and sofrito in Spanish. All around the world, onions are where culinary masterpieces begin.
Food love and onion appreciation practically go hand in hand. Curious to find out how many onion lovers there would be versus onion haters, last week I posted a highly unscientific poll.
On Foodbuzz asking, “love em’ or leave em?” My response was 100% love em’! Those who left comments elaborated on why they value onions, all agreeing that the smelly layered vegetable provides great balance to dishes and incorporates flavor.
Some of those who participated in the poll admitted that while they still loved onions, they preferred to eat them cooked rather than raw. Tanantha from I Just Love My Apron said, “Cooked onion is sweet but when it’s raw, the pungent smell and flavor kill me.” Onions can definitely provide an overbearingly powerful kick to the senses. Others just aren’t into the crunchy, juicy consistency that raw onions have going on. Raven from Raven from RavieNomNoms Blog commented, “There is something about the texture of raw onion that just doesn’t suit me…but cooked in dishes, onions are fabulous!”
To avoid tears when cutting into an onion, here’s a tip: use a good quality sharp knife. A sharp blade won’t damage as many of the onion’s cells which will help reduce the amount of tear-educing vapors emitted. As far as getting the smell off of your skin, rub hands over a stainless steel surface like your sink faucet. I have also found that washing hands with toothpaste works!
It comes as no surprise that onions got nothing but love in a foodie forum, but onion hate is alive and real. There are people (you probably know at least one), who consider any food flecked with the slightest sliver or dice of visible onion to be “ruined.” The smell and taste are just repulsive to them. There are even Facebook groups devoted to their passionate despise: Onions Haters Unite and The Official Onion Haters Club. The comments are actually pretty funny.
Of course there will always be those who are adamant about their distaste for onions, but there are others that just might be able to be convinced otherwise. My boyfriend, once grossed out by the “slimy” texture of cooked onions and the tear-jerking smell of raw, fell for onions after some tasty persuasion led him to realize that the difference between a good and great dish can often be credited to the onions he so loathed. Now he actually relishes in recipes where onions are the star ingredient, like this caramelized onion flatbread with goat cheese, prosciutto, and balsamic reduction:
After slowly caramelizing for almost two hours, sweet onions mixed with fresh thyme are the topping for an incredibly simple homemade bread dough. When still warm from the oven, goat cheese is crumbled over the top of the flatbread to melt slightly, and is then hidden beneath a thinly sliced layer of prosciutto. The irresistible finishing touch is a fruity drizzle of balsamic reduction. This flatbread is the perfect snack for an onion lover and possibly a starting point for swaying those who feel otherwise. You might have to fight through a few tears, but trust me, it’s worth it!
Thank you, Lazaro! I am so excited to be a part of Guest Post Spotlight Thursday and appreciate you inviting me over for the day.
Caramelized Onion Flat Bread with Goat Cheese, Prosciutto, and Balsamic Reduction:
Yield: 1 half sheet pan
Dough (from the Tapas Cookbook, by Love Food):
- 2 2/3 cups white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for oiling
- 1 tablespoon dry white wine
- 1 cup warm water
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 large yellow or sweet onions
- Thyme leaves stripped from 3-5 sprigs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Goat cheese, crumbled for sprinkling
- 3 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into squares
- ½ balsamic vinegar, simmered to ¼ cup reduction
• In a large sauce pot, heat up ¼ cup olive oil and add onions. Over medium-low heat, cook for 1 hr 15 minutes-1 hr 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until onions are caramelized and golden. When the onions are just about done, mix in thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper.
• Preheat oven to 450 degrees. To make the bread dough, stir the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar together in a bowl, making a well in the center. Add the olive oil and wine to the water; the pour ¼ cup of the liquid into the well. Gradually mix in the flour from the sides, adding remaining liquid if necessary, until a soft dough forms.
• Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Shape the dough into a ball. Wash the bowl and rub the inside with olive oil. Return dough to the bowl and roll it around until lightly coated in oil. Cover tightly with plastic and let stand in a warm place until the dough doubles in size.
• Heavily flour a half sheet pan. Roll the dough out and transfer it to the sheet pan, rolling the edges to form a thin rim. Prick the base all over with a fork. Spread the topping evenly over the dough. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the rim is golden brown.
• Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. While the dough is still warm, add goat cheese crumbles; layer prosciutto slices over the goat cheese. Drizzle balsamic reduction on top of bread. Slice and serve.
For more good stuff click on over and say hello to Marisa at Cook's Book.