Monthly Archives: May 2009

caramelized onion dip

cramelized onion dip-finished 1

we’ve all had it. onion dip made from a packet of powdered stuff and dehydrated onions or prepared onion dip from the refrigerated case in the grocery store (my preference, consistency wise but with all manner of unpronounceable ingredients). but once you find out how easy it is to make your own from scratch, you will never go back, i promise you. unless the reason you are requiring the dip in the first place is that you have had a lot of adult beverages the night before and are really unable or unwilling to cook anything at all. this dip is made distinctively texan by the use of this special onion only available around these parts in the spring; the 1015. washington has their walla walla’s, hawaii their maui’s, georgia has their vidalia’s, and texas has their 1015’s. these are so named due to the recommended planting date of these super sweet monsters. and they are monsters–in the words of tiny elvis, “man, those are huge!” developed and introduced in the 1980’s,  the 1015 has been nicknamed the ‘million dollar baby’ dut to all the money spent developing it’s sweet flavor. not everything genetically modified is bad and here’s proof.

caramelized onion dip-1015 in bag

i LOVE the texas flag.

caramelized onion dip-1015 raw

let the caramelizing begin:

caramelized onion dip-cooking 1

melt butter and olive oil in a large skillet.

caramelized onion dip-cooking 2

add all your chopped onions and a pinch of salt. saute over medium low heat, stirring periodically to prevent from browning too quickly. i know these are SLICED onions. i decided after this first round that chopped onions would make the dip easier to eat (no strings when it comes time to scoop with your chip). be patient, this process takes a while. but you will be rewarded by ridiculously sweet onions.

caramelized onion dip-cooking 3

are they done yet? nope. too blond.

caramelized onion dip-cooking 4

what about now? no, grasshopper. you must be patient.

caramelized onion dip-cooking 5

surely, now they are ready. almost.

caramelized onion dip-cooking 7

nope. you must bring them to the brink of disaster and then…

caramelized onion dip-cooking 8

whoa! now i see, master. my patience will be rewarded. the whole process will take from 45 minutes to 1 hour.

caramelized onion dip-onions finished

mix all your other ingredients together while you are a-caramelizin’.

caramelized onion dip-dip in glass bowl

then add most of your cooled onions, reserving some for the top of the dip to impress your friends.

caramelized onion dip-onions in dip

caramelized onion dip-onions mixed in

caramelized onion dip-onions on top

caramelized onion dip-makes about 2 cups

(adapted from 101 cookbooks and multiple other sources)

2 1015 onions, chopped

1 tbsp butter

2 tbsp olive oil

pinch salt

3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt

3/4 cup mexican crema (or sour cream)

1 tsp onion or garlic powder

dash cayenne or hot pepper sauce

salt & white pepper to taste

caramelize your onions as noted above. mix all other ingredients in a bowl (yogurt through salt and pepper). add most of the cool caramelized onions to the yogurt mixture, reserving a few tablespoons to pile on top for presentation. chill for at least 4 hours and up to a day or two before serving. the flavors will meld and become outrageous. best served with salty, ridged potato chips. the salt counter-balances the sweetness of the onions and the thicker chip can stand up to the hefty nature of the dip.

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tip o’ the week-bakin’ bacon!

bakin' bacon1

we all know that it ain’t that hard to make..i mean, cook bacon. put it over a heat source, don’t burn it, and you’re home free. but having the ability to cook bacon when you have a crowd for breakfast and want to spend time with them or are making several other items simultaneously makes this method of particular interest. this way of cooking bacon was introduced to me by my mother-in-law, from here on in to be known as my MIL. she is a wonderful cook, although she will tell you she is not, and she is very patient in the kitchen, which (mostly) i am not, and perhaps most importantly, she likes to drink wine with me when we are cooking together, which makes it so much fun to be in the kitchen with her. plus i get the scoop on the family secrets, which is extremely important. she is very generous, will do anything for you and when i need help understanding why houston did or did not do something, i ask about family history. she knows it ALL, let me tell you. 

MIL

here she is making bouquets for my wedding–she’s the best.

bakin' bacon3

ok, so here’s what you do. preheat your oven to 375 degrees. line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil. this is important because the grease won’t soak through and when you’re finished, you just throw away the foil and put the pan back in the cupboard. without even having to wash it, you ask? yes. amazing! and i don’t have to keep a jar of grease under my sink to help with the war effort? that’s right. whoa!

next put a baking or cooling rack on top of the foil. i happen to have one that is non-stick. this also helps in the clean-up portion of the process. lay out your bacon slices on top. i like to add freshly ground black pepper and sometimes i even add brown sugar, like my MIL does. it’s real good this way.

bakin' bacon2

then bake for about 30 minutes or so, flip bacon (i use tongs) and pepper and/or brown sugar again. put back in the oven for about 10 minutes more, depending on how you like your bacon. we like it on the crisp side around these parts.

bakin' bacon 4

the evidence. see how clean it is under that foil? oh, yeah!

disclaimer: although i have named this new feature ‘tip o’ the week’, this in no way implies that this will be a weekly feature and any reference to that fact will be disputed for the rest of eternity by myself, the author of said tips. m, kay?

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berry hand pies

hand pies-fin blackberry

hand pies-fin strawberry

if there is one thing you should know about me, it’s that berries are my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE fruit. although i do have a soft spot for my childhood favorite, pears , followed closely by the fresh figs that my friend casey (my photog mentor) gives me every summer from her elderly neighbor’s yard. then there’s also ANYTHING citrus-oh gawd, we have these grapefruit grown in south texas called ruby reds–ever heard of them? we used to buy them by the case on the side of the road. the truth is, i wouldn’t be able to pick a favorite fruit, even if threatened with bodily harm. they are all unique jewels provided by mother nature. and we all must’ve done something right in our collective past lives to deserve them.

hand pies-blackberries

this week i had the motherload of berries on hand so they are the jewels of the week. i have been working on a dough for hand pies which, curiously enough, have different crust requirements than for a regular pie. i found a very good one on smitten kitchen, of course. it is light and fluffy, but has a nice flake to the crust. but, most importantly, it holds up to being hand-held, a definite requirement for ‘hand’ pies. don’t be intimidated by all the steps. you can make the dough a day or two ahead (or a month ahead if you’ve got freezer space!) and the refrigeration steps were something i was able to do while doing the laundry–no big deal at all.

hand pies-loaded, not closed

i made a batch of strawberry and one of blackberry. both came out great. i added a tablespoon of corresponding jam to each filling, which assisted in the thickening and sweetness processes. you could use any fruit you wanted, really. except maybe melon. i don’t think that would work at all.

hand pies- fork crimp

berry hand pies-makes 20-22, depending on size

adapted from smitten kitchen and martha stewart

for the pastry:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

16 tbsp COLD unsalted butter (2 sticks, cut into pieces)

1/2 cup sour cream (i use mexican crema because i have a crush on it-the stuff in the tub, not in the bottle)

4 tsp fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup ice water

For the filling:

2 cups of berries,  diced or sliced on the small side

1 tbsp flour

1-2 tbsp sugar*

2 tbsp blackberry or strawberry jam or preserves

egg wash:

1 egg yolk + 2 tbsp water

coarse or sanding sugar (i used an organic cane sugar–i like the natural color and the crunch!)

 

*more or less sugar is needed depending on how ripe or sweet your fruit is.

 

combine flour and salt in the bowl of your  food processor. add butter pieces and pulse gently for the equivalent of about 8-10 seconds. at this point, the recipe usually states to mix something until “it resembles coarse meal”. this always makes me laugh. i know what they mean, but have no idea what ‘coarse meal’ is. let me know if you do. combine sour cream, lemon juice, and ice water in a large measuring cup. with the motor running slowly add the the sour cream mixture into the food processor. do not process for more than about 30 seconds. squeeze a small amount of dough between your fingers. it should not be crumbly but should just  hold together, and not feel too wet. dump onto a counter or cutting board and combine into a dough ball without overworking. divide dough in half and wrap in plastic. flatten into a disk shape and refrigerate for at least an hour. at this point dough can be frozen for up to a month.

remove dough 1 disk at a time and roll out onto a floured surface until it’s about 1/8″ thick. cut into 3-4″ rounds. i did not have a cutter and so used a pint glass. a glass with a thin rim works best. place rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill for about 30 minutes. repeat with remaining dough disk.

at this point, i’d like to mention how much i love my refrigerator. i have never been so pleased or impressed with a single large appliance in all of my adult life. you would not believe how much i can cram into this thing without so much as the smallest reconfiguration or fluctuation of temperature. brace yourself people, it’s a double-wide. entire farm veggie co-op delivery? oh, yeah. super over-sized pizza box? heck, yes. several open bottles of wine, 3 layer or texas sheet cakes, prepared crudite platters or smorgasboards? bring it on. thanksgiving for 15 folks and their 2 turkeys and gravies and casseroles to match? uh, huh. and 2 half sheet pans full of chillin’ hand pies (plus everything else already IN the fridge) you ask? no problema, mis amigos:

fridge-double wide!

meanwhile, prepare your filling. simply combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl and set aside. easy, huh?

spoon 1 tbsp filling onto 1 half of each round. brush edge of round with egg wash and fold it in half, pinching edges to enclose the filling inside the dough. gently press edges with the tines of a fork. i love the word ‘tines’. we are almost done-are you hanging in there? place a slit or two in the top of the pies with a small knife, then brush egg wash on top. place pies back in refrigerator for another 30 minutes while you preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

bake for 20-30 minutes, rotating baking pans half way through baking time. i know the baking time has a large range, but i think you should pull it out of the oven when it reaches whatever your level of golden brown perfection happens to be. mine is evident in the photos above. allow to cool slightly on a cooling rack. and take half of them to your neighbor that you just wave at but have been meaning to talk to for a few years.

warning: the following mess will end up on your baking pan if you do not use parchment to line it. 

 

hand pies-last

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