Posts Tagged onions

Cook the books: spoiled for choice

So after a hiccup in the last couple of months, I bonded with the Mile End Cookbook after a marathon session with canning supremo over at Eat locally, Blog globally. We’ve both been playing with the Cook The Books challenge this year, so we thought we might as well play this round together. We were going to make the challah, perhaps with a side order of cinnamon buns (my last two attempts at those were good but not perfection), but we just kept going.

We ended up with two beautiful challah, a slightly sweet, plaited egg bread with poppyseed coating, and perhaps the best cinammon buns in the world (could that be the 2 sticks of butter that went into the filling?), as well as a raft of pickles that might take months to get through.

The list went like this:

Challah: Light, chewy, slightly sweet, but perfect with a sharp goat cheese or even the pickles (see below). I wish they were a little darker, but maybe my oven doesn’t heat as hot as it ought to heat. So you get a before shot not an after one.

Cinnamon buns: The real deal. Sticky, sweet, slightly nutty, with two sorts of sugar, pecans, maple syrup as well as all that butter in the filling. Eat locally took half the batch, and the rest was gone before lunchtime the next day.

Beets: Cooked in the brine rather cooked and then brined. A little much allspice/clove, but I think they will mellow down nicely.

Red onions: Crunchy, sweet, acid, salty and almost not tasting of onions at all, in a very, very good way. Amazingly pretty pink half rings

Mushrooms: Similar recipe to last time, but I used all olive oil for the post brining oil bath. I suspect they will last even less time than the last batch, which was gone within a week, stirred into salads and enjoyed.

And then I made two batches of horseradish, one with beets and one without. Both already seem good at clearing the sinuses, and the taste is far better than the store bought stuff.

Anyone got recipes that use lots of horseradish, or stuff to eat it with?

As for the book, I liked the stuff we did, with clear, easy to follow instructions. But there’s a lot of stuff (smoked meat, brisket, pickled tongues, sauerkraut) that just take a lot of time, so I won’t prioritize those. But hey, it was fun.

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Ode to the food processor

The first time I made a beet relish, a couple of years ago, I chopped the beets up very finely by hand, winning blisters on four fingers in the process. Last year I almost killed the smallest of baby food processors, loading onions and beets, one at a time, into its tiny bowl for chopping. I started to wonder if it was worth the effort.

This year, thanks to a gift certificate that translated into much of a smart new Cuisinart, things were different, and the machine made amazingly light work of a half dozen very large beets and the same number of gigantic onions.
Now why didn’t I think of that before?
After perhaps 30 minutes of peeling and chopping, followed by about the same amount of time of cooking, we had almost a dozen purple jars just waiting for cheese, meat or veggies to eat with.

Of course one relish is not enough for the main December canning session, so we went for apples too, peeling and chopping for a curried apple date chutney that knocked our socks off last time around. It starts as a bulky mass that fills a large preserving kettle and simmers down to an amber pulp with a delicate curry kick. I will cut the sugar next time though. Time will tell — chutneys always taste better after a month — but it seems just a notch too sweet.

The final adventure to round off the morning was an onion marmalade. Just four jars, but it’s a tried and tested recipe that went down well last time. My worry is that we were spoiled with the seriously yummy fig-onion-tomato relish from a few weeks back, and it may not match up to those exalted standards. There’s something to be said for the time it takes to caramelize onions.

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