“These are the days of the endless summer
These are the days, the time is now
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There is no past, there's only future
There's only here, there's only now” ~ Van Morrison
This weekend .. as my husband I drove home from the garden .. we were dirty and sweaty .. the last glimmers of the day's light reflected off the corn fields. Little Z rode shot-gun on the console beside us .. his fur all wet from playing in the sprinkler .. his tongue flapping in the ac .. smiling a huge happy puppy smile. The only thing on my mind?
These are the days .. and how very thankful I am for them all
I thought today it might be fun to share a few highlights. Things that have been happening in our world
Listening to: Gone With the Wind. Twenty-nine(!) years ago .. I spent the summer in a hospital bed. My Grandmother helped pass the time by reading me Gone with the Wind. It's a story I don't want to forget
Smiling at: All of our friends
As the responses came in for last weekend's Spaghetti Saturday .. it was clear it would be the first we'd have to cancel. They were everywhere(!) At the beach .. sipping pink cocktails at pool parties .. dipping their toes in the river .. in New Zealand .. California .. Wisconsin .. Chicago .. running races .. and playing jazz at weddings.
Loving: Night walks around the neighborhood
Happy: For subtracting much from my life .. less stuff .. less self-imposed pressures .. less noise .. less negativity from others. I'm a better me with less
Enjoying: My grandchildren. One who's on the cusp of walking. The other collecting ants .. digging for worms .. asking for band-aids .. asking to visit Grandma and Pappa .. wishing for the moon (and an ice cream cone)
Proud: For building a life that I truly love
Pondering: Names for the newest additions to our furry family (English cream golden retrievers). We can't wait to bring them home the first weekend in August
One the short list? Harry and Sally .. Fred and Ginger .. The Professor and Mary Ann
As gardens brim with onions this time of year .. caramelizing them is a great way to put them to use. It's such a wonderful way to pull flavor from the simplest of ingredients
Few things will amplify the flavor of your dish in quite the same way. They're tender .. candy-sweet (yet savory) .. and can turn anything from a burger to a bowl of fresh pasta into something instantly gourmet
The biggest thing to remember? They can't be rushed. Bump up the heat and they're sure to burn. Take them off too early and while they may look authentic .. they'll lack the deeply caramelized .. hauntingly savory flavor
The only way to go about it is to grab your biggest pan .. set the burner to medium-low heat .. and let them cook. At this temp .. the sugars trapped within the onions will caramelize steadily .. never burning .. and instead grow ever more golden and delicious
Don't feel like hovering by the stove-top? Once the onions are going .. simply check on them every few minutes to give them a stir. Be sure to scape the sticky “fond” that builds up on the bottom of the pan and incorporate it back in.
A few tips and tricks?
One way to ensure the most even browning is to use a radial cut when slicing your onions. By slicing the halves on an angle (rather than straight down) .. you'll end up with pieces closer in size that will cook at the same rate
Halve the onion and notch out the ends
Start cutting thin slices at a low angle and follow the natural curve of the onion
Adjust the angle of your knife as you slice .. it should be at 90 degrees when you've reached the middle
Flip the onion over and repeat
You can certainly use water during the deglazing stage .. but wine sure does take them up a notch.
Many recipes call for butter only .. but on its own .. butter has a tendency to burn. Instead .. use something with a higher smoke point.
Now that you have a big batch of caramelized onions .. what are some ideas for using them?
A spoonful on slices of a baguette for a quick appetizer. They're great on top of pizza or steak .. in fajitas .. layered onto burgers and sandwiches (especially a grilled cheese) .. added to salads .. or even straight out of the pan
If you're feeling brave .. like my Dad and Granny .. you might even love liver and caramelized onions
ps: For more tips and tricks: Caramelized Onions – Common Mistakes and How to Avoid them [via Bon Appetit]
~ Adapted from Fine Cooking | Cook Fresh Spring 2015
How to Caramelize Onions
- 2 Tbsp clarified butter
- 2-1/2 lb. onions peeled, trimmed, halved, and thinly sliced lengthwise (see notes above)
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp + more as needed for de-glazing the pan white or red wine, vegetable or chicken stock, balsamic vinegar, or water
- In a 12" skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until it immediately bubbles when an onion touches it (~ a minute)
- Add the onions, sprinkle with salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until they've wilted completely and are beginning to stick to the bottom of the pan (~ 10 -20 minutes)
- Much of the onion's moisture will evaporate and the pan will begin to brown. The cooking time will vary depending upon the moisture content of your onions.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring and scraping the pan with a wooden spoon every few minutes. (If the pan begins to look like it’s burning, add a couple of tablespoons of the liquid, stir, and lower the heat a bit.)
- Continue the process of cooking, stirring, scraping and adding water as needed, until the onions have turned a uniform caramel brown (~ another 35-40 minutes)
- Add a couple of tablespoons of the liquid and scrape the pan well.
- If you're not using the onions immediately, let them cool in the pan, then transfer them to a storage container.
- Caramelized onions can be kept refrigerated for around a week or frozen for up to three months.