Saturday, August 11, 2007

Cookbook of the week #1: The Onion Book by Carolyn Dille and Susan Belsinger

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This small theme cookbook is one of those little gems that not only contain a collection of recipes, but also information about the theme ingredient. This book is specifically about bulb onions, shallots, leeks and scallions. The authors have already covered garlic and its related species in another cookbook that I am itching to get my hands on. Besides recipes, there is information on the history of the onion, how onions can benefit our health, why they make us cry when we cut them, how to prepare them for cooking, and last but not least how to grow and store them. The recipes are not many, only 38, but they cover a number of onion species and different types of dishes and ways of using onions in cooking.

I don't remember ever having seen sweet onions like Vidalias or Mauis in the vegetable section of any Icelandic supermarket, which is a shame because there is a mouth-watering recipe in this book for an upside-down cake that uses sweet onions instead of the usual fruit or rhubarb.

I can get yellow, white and red onions, shallots, pearl onions, leeks and spring onions (scallions), so there is still plenty to choose from. I have chosen a simple recipe for rice with leeks and mushrooms. Unfortunately the recipe serves 8 people, but it can be reduced down to 2 servings, which is good because I have no intention of eating this dish for a week, however good it may turn out to be. Of course I am aware that reducing or increasing a recipe has its risks, but this one is so simple that it's going to be hard to mess it up.

Here is a sample of some of the other recipes in the book:
Green Onion Foccacia
Maui Onion Tart
Leek and Chick-Pea Soup
Onion Family Soup (with 3 types of onions)
Onion Tomato Pie
Steak Smothered with Balsamic Onions
Baked Onions
Orange and Onion Salad
Pickled Onions (I may try this one later)
Grilled Onions (yummmm!)
Sweet Onion and Poppy-Seed Loaf

I have already bought leeks and mushrooms, the rest of the ingredients are stuff I always keep in stock in my larder, and tomorrow I officially start the challenge.

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