Posts Tagged With: onions

Onion Oregano Bread

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While at school, I think I earned the reputation of being the breadmaker.  For various events, I was always bringing (or offering to bring) homemade bread, simply because it’s something that 1) I miss a lot when at school and 2) I truly enjoy making.  Yes, it takes a long time.  I am aware of no-knead recipes and shortcuts, but I think the best part about bread is the process itself: MANUAL LABOR.  ELBOW GREASE.  Those are just whiny words for KINESTHETIC THERAPY.  (See, when I put it like that, the ordeal adopts a medical sound.  I could probably open a bakery an employ anyone who needs to vent frustrations and just have them knead my bread all.day.long.  Brilliant business model, no ?)

In any case, while home for winter break, I noted this recipe for Onion Oregano bread (from Bon Appétit, 2005) thinking it sounded tasty and would use two ingredients rarely lacking in my pantry: oregano and onions.  The original calls for fresh oregano but I used dried to great effect.  However, as summer is upon us, those with access to an herb garden should go pick a nice handful of oregano to use with this recipe – the flavor will be fresher, more intense, and a nice compliment to a grilled meal.

I left mine in a hot oven for a smidge too long, as the color is very dark.  Ideally, you want to lower the temperature of the oven just as the outside begins to brown so that you don’t have a charred crust and a doughy interior.  Lucky for me, the inside was perfectly cooked – just the outside was a little too dark for my liking.

Ingredients :

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups warm water (105-115F)
1 envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1 tsp sugar or honey
4 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp sa;t
1/4 cup chopped, fresh oregano
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp H2O
Directions :

Heat the olive oil in a heavy, small skillet over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion, sautéing until translucent.  This will only take about 5 minutes, but you are welcome to cook them longer.  I love caramelized onions, and I think this bread would be great if it called for an entire cup of onion, caramelized.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and let cool.

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In another bowl, pour 1 1/2 cups warm water.  In order to warm the liquid properly, I measure it then microwave it for about 45 seconds.  Then, I stick my index finger in the water.  If I burn myself, it’s too hot and must cool.  If the temperature is pleasantly warm – it’s go time.  If it’s still just lukewarm, microwave it again (in smaller increments).  Of course, if you possess a kitchen thermometer, then just use that.  🙂  The water has to be a comfortable temperature for a few reasons, the most important of whihc being that yeast will die if the water is too hot.  You will become a yeast killer if you throw these little dormant bacteria into water above a certain temperature.  If you murder the yeast, their revenge will be sweet – your bread will not rise.  However, if you find a good temperature, the little yeasties wake up and, like any organism, begin to feed.  This is why to the water mixture, you add 2 1/2 tsp of sugar or honey – that is the nourishment we, the baker, provide for the yeast, the workhorse of the breadmaking operation.  Once you’ve combined the water and sugar, and stirred until dissolved, add your yeast and stir a bit.  Then, let the mixture sit and watch what happens:  the yeast begin to eat and release waste.  That waste ?  It’s what makes bread rise.  Might be a little strange to think about, but breadmaking relies on yeast farts.  If you smell the measuring cup while it’s proofing – a word the might as well be missing the “r” as poofing is a more accurate term – you’ll notice a distinct odor.  That’s the combination of air and alcohol made by the yeast as they devour the sugar we gave them.

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But this is just the beginning.  While that yeast is enjoying itself, mix together 4 cups of flour and the 2 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl.  Stir in the onions and any oil remaining in the pan – there should be a little and if there isn’t, I’d add a slug of oil to the dough.  Grab your poofy yeast, give it a quick stir, and pour it into the flour mixture.  Add oregano and mix well.

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Knead briefly in bowl, just until everything comes together, then turn out onto a well floured surface (this is what the remaining 1/2 cup flour is for).  Knead until dough it smooth and elastic, adding more flour by tablespoonfuls as necessary to keep dough from sticking – about 10 minutes of kneading.  Kneading is essential to bread because it allows for the creation of gluten networks.  Gluten, found in flour, is responsible for creating the structure of bread.  Kneading rearranges the proteins in gluten (glutenin and gliaden – fancy little things), creating a setup that traps the gas released by the yeast, allowing bread to rise and contributing to its fluffy texture when baking.  There used to be a hysterical youtube video about this but I can’t find it anymore…it actually animated gluten.

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In any case, once you’ve kneaded the bread to a silky consistency, shape it into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl.  Let rise, covered for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.  (I usually went to class while bread was rising.  Made the time go by faster.)

Once risen, punch it down.  Ka-pow !  Turn out onto work surface (again) and divide into two even lumps.  Working with these, first stretch them into a circle.  Fold the top two corners down, making a triangle shape.  Roll the tip of the triangle towards you until the bread resembles a baguette shape. Roll to finish the seam.  Place both loaves on a well oiled cookie sheet, cover with a towel and let rise again until just about doubled in size – it should take about 45 minutes.  During this time, preheat the oven to 450F and add a bainmarie if you feel like it (essentially fill a brownie pan with a low level of water and place in the oven while it preheats.  It will create steam and crisp the outside of the bread).

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Brush the tops of the loaves with the egg and water mixture. Using a serrated knife, make three or four quick cuts in the  top of the loaves – this will help when the bread expands.

Bake the bread for 10 minutes at this high temperature before reducing to 350F.  Bake until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped, about 30 minutes.

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Cut and serve with dinner (or butter) and enjoy !  Bon appétit 🙂

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Grandy’s Vidalia Onion Pie

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Recipe cards are funny little things.  Passed on from generation to generation, it’s always surprising to me just how sturdy these pieces of paper can be.  My grandmother houses a multitude of these recipes, jotted down in different handwritings, that catalogue dishes spanning decades…some delicious, and others a little strange.  This one, however, falls into the delicious category.  Rather like a quiche, this “onion pie” is a quick and easy fix, can stand in for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and is delicious cold.

Golden delicious !

I made a few changes from the recipe on the card:  I added paprika and cayenne (a few shakes) instead of tabasco sauce, as I didn’t have any (my college kitchen is limited).  I also used course grain Dijon mustard instead of dried mustard (again, because I didn’t have any…it’s not an ingredient I use often…) and the taste was fantastic.  The little mustard seeds give bursts of flavor to the filling, so I actually wouldn’t make it any other way.

Directions :

Though the instructions are noted on the card, I didn’t follow them exactly (sorry Grandy !) because microwaving onions sounded…strange.  I might explode them.  My microwave is also not particularly clean, so I decided to just make the entire apartment weep and chop up 5 medium onions.

Yes.

That’s right.

All five onions, one small apartment = a very weepy lady.  When people came in to visit, I had to explain why it seemed like I had tragedy on my mind.

Chop chop chop.

In any case, I chopped the onions and placed them in a pan with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.  I cooked them until translucent – about 10 minutes given the size of my pan.

Tears of joy, I swear !

While those were sautéing, I mixed together the eggs, sour cream, and spices in a large mixing bowl.

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Once the onions were nicely clear (and  no longer making me sob), I poured them into the mix and stirred again.  Once everything was nicely incorporated, I dumped the contents of the bowl into the prepared pie crust.  You can feel free to make your own crust, but I cheated this time and used Trader Joe’s pie crust (which you press into a pan and score before adding your fillings).

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Smother the top of the pie with cheese – believe me, it’s worth it – and place in the oven.  Cook until the top is a nice golden brown or until the egg has set – it shouldn’t be too wobbly upon removal from the oven.

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I brought this to a meeting and it was promptly devoured…so don’t leave this “hot commodity” around or it might not be there when you return !  Trust your grandmother to have recipes that no one can refuse.

Bon appétit ! 🙂

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Golden potatoes in the oven (no grill required !)

I don’t know about you, but I love potatoes.

I used to dislike them, EVEN FRENCH FRIES.  But I guess one morning I woke up and realized just how much potatoes could be tasty.  So now…well…we eat potatoes all the time.  I think my favorite way to prepare them is plain and simple : just in the oven.  This is probably one of the easiest recipes I’ll ever put up on this blog because it isn’t even a recipe really – you don’t need to measure anything per se, you just need to plop everything together, open and close the oven door, and wait.   It’s brilliant.

Akin to homefries, these potatoes will have a crispy outside and a soft inside, bursting with flavor from the seasoning used.  They are good alongside eggs in the morning, or in a salad, or accompanying a steak…chicken…pork…whatever meat you like.  My roommates will just nibble them plain with no garnish.

Often, I make them with onions in the pan as well.  The same recipe works for sweet potatoes – I just don’t have photos for that – but literally, follow the exact.same.instructions for sweet potatoes and the end result will be just as delicious.

Ingredients :

Olive oil
Seasoning – I use McCormick’s Montreal Steak seasoning and I highly recommend it.
Suggested substitutions : garlic powder/salt, salt, pepper, cayenne if you like it hot 😉
Potatoes – as many as you think you and yours will eat.

Preheat the over to 425F.  Nice and hot.   On a jelly roll pan (I like to use this pan because it has slightly raised sides to prevent the potatoes from moving.  You can also just use a baking sheet – just be careful – or an oven/brownie pan that has really tall sides.  The potatoes aren’t particular), pour out enough oil to thinly cover the bottom.  Sprinkle with seasoning.

Wash your potatoes and cut off any suspicious-looking growths.  Potatoes like to sprout…and that’s all fine and dandy until you want to cook them…then those sprouts have got to go.  Place on a cutting board and cut into chunks.  I do this by first cutting them in half, then slicing each half into six pieces (one cut the long way, three cuts the short way).

Also – I tend to use yukon gold or redskin potatoes because they are softer/have a nicer texture.  You could do this with fingerling or other thin-skinned potatoes, but don’t go trying this with that ole Idaho potato you bought to try and be healthy.  Not a wise choice.  Chop all of your potatoes up and they should look somewhat uniform in size.  This will create a more even cooking time.

From here, you are just going to dump all the potatoes out onto the cooking sheet.  Give them a stir and if necessary, add more oil and seasoning to the bunch.  You should be able to look at those potatoes and know they are seasoned – that’s usually how I figure out if I’ve put enough on.  However – if you feel like you have seasoned them enough, stop.  You can always add more seasoning but you can’t take seasoning AWAY.  Good rule of thumb in the cuisine.

Place into the oven and cook for about 20 minutes.  They should begin to brown and some might stick to the bottom of the pan.  that’s how they get tasty and brown on the outside.  Still, about halfway through the cooking process, sometimes it’s prudent to open the oven door (carefully because it is crazy hot inside) and give the taters a stir – this just changes which part of the potato gets exposed to heat.   After about 20 minutes you’ll start to smell them.  They are done when soft – taste testing works but so does poking them with a fork.  Let them cool a little before eating as they will be SO HOT.  Also – if you feel like the potatoes are cooked but not browning (Maillard reactions OCCUR. NOW.) just turn on the broiler for a minute and watch your precious spuds because they will burn fast.  In the end, they should look kind of like this :

Look at those beauties !

Bon appétit ! 🙂

Categories: English | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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