Cook's Corner

Published 2:31 pm Wednesday, March 22, 2006

By By Lisa Tindell
I cannot enjoy a hamburger without onions. And, whoever heard of a hamburger steak without onions and gravy? Grilled onions make a summer meal 100 times better. Soups and stews wouldn't be the same without an onion thrown into the pot. Indulging in a fancy blooming onion at your favorite restaurant makes an ordinary dinner out seem special indeed.
Needless to say, I love onions. I like the purple (or red) onions on my salad. I like yellow or white ones sliced for my burger and chopped for my hot dogs. If Larry decides he's grilling something for dinner, you can bet I've got a dish of sliced up onions to be grilled along with whatever meat is being prepared.
In the late spring and early summer, nothing completes a great vegetable meal like a few green onions on the side of the plate. Even some restaurants make sure to place one on your plate as they serve your meal. I can remember sharing my onions as a child. When green onions were in season, my dad and I &#8220traded” off the parts. He gave me the green part from his onion and I gave him the &#8220pearl” from my onion. What a meal!
The aromas, the flavors and the taste of a really good onion just can't be beat! There are some differences in onions that you may not be aware of - I know I wasn't as well educated on the subject as I thought until I came across these tidbits of information.
According to the National Onion Association, onions vary by season. The domestic spring/summer fresh onion crop is available throughout their season, March – August. They have thin, light-colored skins and are available in yellow, red and white. Spring/summer fresh onions are known for their mild taste and are often referred to as sweet onions. The fall/winter storage onions are harvested and available from late August through April. Also available in yellow, red and white, storage onions have multiple layers of thick, dark, papery skins. Storage onions have an intense flavor and a higher percentage of solids. Storage onions are the best choice for savory dishes that require a longer cooking time for more flavor.
Onions should be stored in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place - not in the refrigerator. Do not store your onions in plastic bags, because lack of air movement will reduce their storage life.
I decided to share a few recipes that claim the onion as the main ingredient. I'm sure you'll find one of them tasty!
This first recipe is for a blooming onion that isn't battered and fried. It's really great! The herbs give it an extra zing. If you want your onion browned a little, open the foil during the last 10 minutes of baking. Watch it carefully at that point though. The petals will wilt quickly when exposed to direct heat. Prepare one onion per person as a side dish. There are only about 75 calories in this cooked onion, so it's great for the waist!
Herb Baked Onion Bloom
1 large onion (3 inches wide)
1 tbsp butter or margarine
1 tsp. dried thyme or oregano
One-half tsp. dried rosemary
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parsley or paprika, if desired
Cut about one-half-inch off top of onion; peel onion. Cut onion into 12 to 16 vertical wedges, leaving root base intact. Set bloomed onion on 14 X 10-inch foil piece. Top onion with butter, thyme or oregano, rosemary and salt and pepper, to taste. Wrap foil around seasoned bloom and pinch edges together tightly. Placed wrapped onion upright on pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes, or until tender and cooked but &#8220petals” still have body and stand upright. If desired, sprinkle with minced parsley or paprika. Baked wrapped onion may be held in warm location for up to 1 hour before serving.
I haven't tried this next recipe, but it does sound pretty good. I know that I like onions and I know I like balsamic vinegar, therefore this one must be delicious.
Caramelized Pearl Onions with Balsamic Glaze
2 (16 ounce) bags frozen white pearl onions, left frozen, excess ice removed
One-fourth cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Adjust oven rack to low position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Toss onions with oil, sugar, salt and pepper in medium bowl. Transfer to a cookie sheet with rim in a single layer. Roast onions until golden brown, about 30 minutes, stirring at 20 minutes and again at 25 minutes, adding garlic at this point. Meanwhile, bring vinegar to boil; simmer over medium-high heat, about 10 minutes, until reduced to one-third cup – it should be a thin syrup. Put onions into a bowl, add reduced vinegar and parsley; toss to coat. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
This next recipe should be as pretty as it is good to eat. Let me know what you think.
Orange and Onion Salad
6 large oranges
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
6 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup black olives
Chives and ground black pepper to taste
Peel the oranges and cut each one into 4 or 5 crosswise slices. Transfer to a shallow serving dish and sprinkle them with the vinegar, olive oil, and oregano. Toss gently, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Toss the oranges again, arrange the sliced onion and black olives over them decoratively, sprinkle with chives and grind on fresh pepper.
My mother has bought the onion sets to plant. I plan to help get the ground ready for them this weekend. In just a short while, we'll be eating fresh green onions and enjoying some wonderful spring and summer dishes topped with this delightful item.
When they come up and are ready to be harvested, you may want to keep a few feet away from me. That is, unless you like the smell of onion breath.
Until next week, Happy Cooking!

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