I LOVE caramelized onions. They are velvety and luxurious. They add depth of flavor and elevate every dish to which they are added. AND I love them because they are a great example of transformation. Humans and raw onions have a lot in common. We both have very thin skin, are made up of many layers, have the ability to make people cry, and can take on many characteristics. The great thing about transformation is that the onion will always be an onion, no matter the changes it goes through in cooking. Humans will always be humans, no matter the changes we go through as we evolve in life. But slight modifications and subtle adjustments can yield big improvements for both parties.
When I started All Good Things, this was my mission statement: “ All Good Things is a place where I hope to encourage and inspire you to be alchemists. Alchemists, really?! YES! Alchemy is the process of transforming something common into something special. That is my goal in life; to make the ordinary extraordinary by doing that extra little bit, adding a special touch that only comes from me. I believe the kitchen is a perfect place for that transformation.
It is my wish for you: All Good Things - in your kitchens, in your homes, in your lives.”
I’m really trying to sharpen the focus of All Good Things and clarify my voice and point of view as I embark on the upcoming changes in store for my brand and business. I’ve been thinking a lot about those initial words. I'm pretty sure they were inspired by Paulo Coelho’s book The Alchemist. (Have you read it? Please take a moment to click on this link and purchase it for yourself or a loved one!) I love the idea of a safe place, a crucible, to change and grow. I want to really highlight transformation and my desire for us all to become better. Better humans. Better cooks. Better sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, children, artists…
“This is why alchemy exists," the boy said. "So that everyone will search for his treasure, find it, and then want to be better than he was in his former life. Lead will play its role until the world has no further need for lead; and then lead will have to turn itself into gold. That's what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
A raw onion can be intense. It has an edge, a bitterness that can sometimes overpower a dish. Onions have a high sugar content and can burn easily, but with low, slow heat, and a watchful eye, their sugars caramelize, creating a silky jam-like consistency. The onion transforms from something common into something special. Kind of like the lead turning itself into gold! I would like to think that we as humans, have a high sugar content as well, a special sweetness unique to each of us. Perhaps we just need our own overpowering edges softened, the attention of a watchful eye, and a low and slow process of transformation as we develop our sweetness and discover our own inner gold.
This week’s recipe highlights my beloved caramelized onion and is an easy, yet sophisticated recipe using very common ingredients.
Caramelized Onion Tart
- adapted from Epicurious
- 6 medium sized yellow onions, roughly chopped or sliced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 cup cream
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ready made pie crust (I'm a huge fan of Pillsbury. By all means, make your own crust, but I love a short cut! And Pillsbury gets it right every time!)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Roll the dough out on a floured surface and gently press into the tins. Trim the pastry to fit and reserve the left-over pastry to patch any cracks.
- To blind-bake the tart, line the pastry shell with foil and fill with baking weights or uncooked rice or beans. Bake until cooked, about 10 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and bake for an additional 5 minutes until lightly golden. If there are any cracks, patch with the left- over pastry.
- While the tart shell is baking, prepare the filling.
- In a large frying pan over low to medium heat, sauté the onion in the oil until very soft and light brown. Stir occasionally and stay alert so the onions don't burn! This may take up to an hour. Set aside to cool slightly. Beat the egg yolks with the cream. Add the nutmeg and season well with salt and pepper. Stir the onion through the cream mixture.
- Carefully fill the pastry shell with the filling, place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the filling is set. Serve warm or at room temperature.
This post is dedicated to my soul brother Sage, as he embarks this week on his six months of transformation and alchemy exploring southeast Asia.
“I'm going away," he said. "And I want you to know that I'm coming back. I love you because...."
"Don't say anything," Fatima interrupted. "One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.” -Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist