Thursday, April 28, 2011

Find your Caramelized Onion Zen


Caramelized onions are bliss.

Making them is not.

It takes one long torturous hour.

Do not be tempted to turn your heat up to high.

Your onions will burn.

Do not walk away from the stove to put a load of laundry, or feed he fish, or wash the dishes.

Don’t daydream.

An hour is a blessed eternal long time to stand in front of the stove. So get a stool and sit.

Dig your heels in; find your inner Zen or whatever, just don’t get so lost in your thoughts that you forget to turn the onions every couple of minutes during that hour.

An almost homogenized, glossy, melting mess of sweetness will be your reward.

So tell me what do you do with your caramelized onions?

Sometimes I make these fabulous Texas Steakhouse Hot Dogs but check back with me next week to see what I did with this batch of crave worthy, sweet, onion relish.

caramelized onions

Caramelized Onions
Quantities depend on how the amount of caramelized onions you wish to make. Average two large onions per person because the onions reduce a lot when cooked. If I'm coming to dinner I suggest you average four onions:-)Some recipes add a bit of butter and some use sugar. Cooking the onions releases the natural sugars in the onions so I opt not to add additional sugar.

TIP: To chop onions without the tears, chill them for 10 to 15 mins in the freezer before chopping.

Several medium or large onions
Canola oil
Salt to taste


Peel and chop the onions. You can cut the onions in half. Lay them cut side down and slice the onions lengthwise to desired thickness. I find it's quicker to just chop the root and top end off then slice into rings.

Use a wide, heavy duty sauté pan. Too thin a pan will cause the onions to burn. Coat the bottom of the pan with oil, or a mixture of oil and butter. Heat the pan on medium high heat. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with the oil. Spread the onions out evenly over the pan and let cook, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, sprinkle some salt over the onions.

Let cook for 40 minutes to an hour more, stirring every few minutes. Let the onions brown a little and then turn. You have to let them brown enough before turning but not so much that the burn. You may want to turn the temperature down a little if your pan is not thick enough and you find your onions are almost burning. Cook until the onions are a lovely brown colour. The caramelized onions can be stored in several days in an air-tight container in your refrigerator.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lemony Sweet Potato 'Fries'


These aren't actually fried but baked and yet they are everything that you just love about fries - only healthier and without the side of guilt. Freshly baked with a sprinkle of salt clinging to their still hot sides you won't be able to restrain yourself.

Because the idea of  peeling and slicing potatoes for a large family is about as exciting to me as watching paint dry, my first attempt at this recipe was with a bag of McCains.
Bad news bears.

Although I used a lot of oil and didn't overcrowd the pan they stuck to the foil so badly that I had to scrape them off,  leaving behind a charred mess. The end results were limp, soggy fries that were burnt on the outside and  undercooked on the inside.

As if that wasn't bad enough, I read the ingredients. It's second nature when you have a child with a food intolerance to do so even when the food is naturally gluten free. Once it has been processed chances are there will be additives and in this case there seemed to more stuff in there than the actual potatoes.

Sweet Potatoes, Canola Oil, Sugar, Potato Starch - Modified Contains Less Than 2% or Less of Annatto (color), Corn Starch - Modified, Dehydrated Sweet Potatoes, Dextrin [see above], Extract of Paprika (color), Leavening (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Malt Powder, Malted Barley, Wheat Flour, Dextrose, Maltodextrin, Medium Chain Triglyceride, Molasses, Natural Flavor, Rice Flour, Salt, Sodium Acid Polyphosphate [see above] Added to Maintain Natural Color, Xanthum Gum.

The highlighted ingredients make this food off limits if you are gluten intolerant. Luckily I found local frozen sweet potatoes that contained just one ingredient - sweet potatoes.

West Indian sweet potatoes have a somewhat different flavour than their almost day-glo orange American counterparts. The two most popular varieties aren't orange but yellow and a soft creamy white. Compared to the McCains, the local brand of frozen sweet potatoes produced a superior 'fry' that was lovely and crisp on the outside despite being baked in the oven as opposed to being fried. By themselves these are a lovely snack or they can be served as a side to a main meal.

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into fat chips

2 tbsp Taliani extra virgin olive oil with Lemon
2 tbsp sesame seeds
* coarse salt


1. Preheat the oven to 390°F

2. Toss the sweet potatoes in the oil, sesame seeds and salt and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, until tender within and crisp outside.

Yield: one generous serving