Tag Archives: sweet onions

Juicy Lamb With Herbes de Provence (serves 6)

If you have a stocked pantry and meat in the freezer, then making a dinner like this one requires no thinking or trip to the supermarket. I use fresh herbs in my food as much as possible, however I do keep a few dried varieties on hand for those moments when the cupboard is bare or when I want the intensity that is characteristic of certain dried herbs. My favorite is a mixture called Herbes de Provence and one tablespoon can make a big impact.

Juicy Lamb With Herbes de Provence

Juicy Lamb With Herbes de Provence

Herbes de Provence is a combination of thyme, marjoram, rosemary, basil, fennel, sage and lavender. I think that lavender is one of the key ingredients and gives dishes like the one I made last night a beautiful perfume-y quality that goes so well with strong flavors like lamb.

So if shelf space is meagre in your kitchen, or you are like me and don’t like spending money on a ton of dried herbs that more often than not don’t get used up before they have lost their aroma, stick with the all-in-one Herbes de Provence. It is great in stews, grilled meat, fish and vegetables.

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You will need:

2 -3 tbs olive oil

sea-salt & freshly ground black pepper

6 lamb shoulder loin chops (about 1 lb each)

2 sweet onions, large dice, or 1/2 moon slices

2 ribs celery, including leaves, sliced

2 carrots, peeled & sliced

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 cup tomato puree

6 cups veggie or chicken stock OR 1 good quality bouillon cube & water

1 tbs Herbes de Provence

Method:

Preheat oven 400*

1 – Generously season the lamb with sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put large saute pan on high heat and add 2 tbs of olive oil. When it is very hot, add the chops in an even layer (you will probably need to do this in 2 or 3 batches depending on the size of your pan). Cook on each side until browned, adding more oil as needed. Remove to a heavy casserole or dutch oven.

sear lamb

Sear lamb

2 – Turn heat down to medium and add all of the veggies, as well as the Herbes de Provence. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

saute veggies with seasonings

Saute veggies with seasonings

3 – Add the tomato pure and mix well.

Add tomato puree

Add tomato puree

4 – Add the stock, or bouillon and water, and turn heat up to high. Bring to a boil.

add liquid

Add liquid

5 – Add the chops and place in the oven checking after 1 1/4 hours. If the chops are very tender, remove from the oven. If not, return to the oven for another 15 minutes or until done. Let the pan rest for 10 minutes before serving.

add chops

Add chops

Serve with whatever you like: rice, mashed potatoes, sautéed greens, salad, bread or pasta.

Cook

Cook

Salmon (or other firm fish) With Onions & Spinach (serves 2 FAST!)

This is the ultimate feast as far as I’m concerned: fish, onions, spinach. It was a revelation to express so much flavor out of 3 ingredients with a minimal amount of effort on my part. The reason for this recipe was a purely selfish one. I have been cooking using guidelines for my blood type which has constantly come under fire as I also have to consider the rest of the people around the dinner table, family and friends alike.

Salmon With Onions & Spinach

Most nights I end up compromising to satisfy everyone, but the rest of the time I prepare two dinners. I know this seems crazy on the surface, but I have to confess at this time that not only is my blood type A, I also possess that “A Type” energy! Cooking several dishes at once does not really phase me, in fact I enjoy the feeling of total concentration and absorption in my little culinary tasks.

spinach

This dinner was perfect for my blood type (read Blood Type Diet Experiment at the top of my blog to learn more), and I made enough for two. Everything about this was lovely, from the sweet brothy onions, to the rich flavor of the meat. I wholeheartedly recommend this dish for everyone who wants to have fish for dinner.

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*This is a Blood Type A Beneficial Dish*

You will need:

2 or 3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp ground cumin (optional)

2  6oz salmon fillets (or another firm fish that is Blood Type A beneficial – Cod, monkfish, trout, whiting, carp, red snapper)

1 large sweet onion (Vidalia), cut into 1/2 moons or very large dice

2 sprigs fresh thyme(finely chopped, including stems)

4 cups spinach leaves

1 cup veggie broth (or chicken broth, which is neutral for type A’s)

1/2 tsp coarse-sea salt (or 1/4 tsp if salt is very fine)


Method:

1 – Put large saute pan on medium/low heat and add the oil.  When the oil warms, add the onions, salt, and thyme, and saute gently for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. While onions are cooking sprinkle cumin on both sides of the fish (if using).

saute onions

2 – Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the salmon, cover and cook for about 8 minutes.

add broth and seasonings, then fish

3 – Add the spinach and cover. Cook for a further 2 minutes (until the spinach wilts).

Add spinach

Divide between two bowls, giving each person equal portions of spinach, onions and broth.

Day 3: Amazing Sand Sculptures On The Beach. (Also, promised Green Bean Side-Dish (serves 4-6)

Evening on the beach

The most memorable thing about Day 3 at the beach were the beautiful sand sculptures made by my kids, their friend, and my friend Celine – wow!

Celine’s buddha

We walked down to the beach before sunset because I needed to take pictures of these masterpieces, as well as to of course watch the sun setting on the watery horizon.

Part of an Etruscan City wall

We were a little scared that they might have been vandalized by rowdy kids (or adults!), but they were still thankfully still very much in tact, and the kids began working on them again.

Figure with snake

I was amazed at how much work they put into things that would be washed away overnight by the relentless rolling of the waves. They excavating, and dug with intensity, all the while discussing the ultimate story of the piece. 

Building an ancient sand city

One part was an Etruscan City, with tombs, buildings, and the essential wall that protected everything. The wall then extended to protect the buddha guarding the city, while the figure outside the wall battled with a snake.

Extending the city walls

I hung out watching the sand building, sipping my wine and chatting with my friends. Then, we all got to enjoy the great red ball that was the sun slowing dip out of sight and move to the other side of the world. And to think that this happens every single day.

Beach sunset

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Here is the recipe for the green bean side-dish I served with my meatloaf the other night (type meatloaf in search box to the right of the blog).

*This is a Blood Type A Diet Recipe*

This is a great way to cook green beans, and it seems to be a green that pleases even the most vegetable-phobic person!

Green Bean Side-Dish

You will need:

1 lb green beans, washed, and string-end snapped off

1 large sweet or yellow onion, large dice or sliced into medium/thin half rounds

3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

1 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (optional & omit for Blood Type A Diet)

1 tsp ground cumin (optional)

1 tsp sea-salt (I use Maldon sea-salt flakes)

several grinds black pepper (omit for Blood type A diet)

4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

Method:

1 – Put 1 1/2 cups water in big pot and place on high heat. When it boils, add the beans and cover with lid. Boil for 4 or 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to colander and cool down beans with cold water. Set aside.

2 – Put large saute pan (big enough for the beans) on medium heat and add the oil. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne flakes or cumin (if you are using).

3 – Turn heat up and add the green beans. Cook for 5 minutes on high heat, stirring often. Add more oil if necessary. Turn off pan and serve.

*You can cook everything up to the last step (# 3), and finish right before serving*

Green Bean Side-Dish

Divide between plates with a main dish of your choice.

Let’s do this again tomorrow

Pork Chops in Seriously Good Red Sauce (serves 6)

Pork Chops in Seriously Good Red Sauce

My day was so busy I didn’t think too much about dinner until it was time to make it. I would have to make do with whatever was available in my kitchen, as I wasn’t in the mood to go grocery shopping. The only protein I had was pork chops, and after that, the fridge looked a little like old Mother Hubbard’s pantry:bare!

important flavor ingredients

What saves me at moments like this is the fact that I always have onions on hand, and a supply of herbs in the backyard. That would have been enough to work with, but I also discovered a big can of crushed tomatoes and so settled on a rich red sauce. What made it rich was the cup of red wine I added to the mix. I had some red wine and was looking for an excuse to use it for something other than drinking it (too fruity for my plate). It worked perfectly.

The sauce is something that could easily stand alone, (without the meat) and would work great for a lasagna or a nice alternative for a marinara sauce.

So you see, you can make something seriously good without too many ingredients. All you need are the basics, and winging the rest can be fun.

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You will need:

6 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

6 Rib-end pork loin chops

2 large sweet onions, large dice

2 celery ribs, diced (including leaves)

6 fresh oregano sprigs

28 oz canned crushed tomatoes (I used San Marzano)

1 cup red wine

1 cup water

2 tsp sea-salt (I used Maldon sea-salt flakes)

several grinds black pepper

Method:

Preheat oven 450*

1 – Prep all veggies. Season chops with salt and several grinds of pepper. Place big saute pan on high heat and add about 3 tbs of the oil. When it is hot add pork chops in single layer, and sear on both side until golden brown. Add oil as necessary and continue to cook meat until everything is seared, transferring to a plate as you go.

Sear chops on high heat

2 – Turn heat down to medium and add the onions, and celery. Saute for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Saute onions & celery

3 – Add oregano and continue to cook for another 3 minutes.

add herbs

4 – Add wine and turn heat to high. Let the liquid bubble for about 3 minutes (the wine will reduce and intensify).

then wine

5 – Add the crushed tomatoes and water, and bring mixture to a bubble. Turn off heat and add pork chops to the sauce in an even a layer as possible (there will be some overlapping, which is fine)

add crushed tomatoes & water

6 – Cover with lid and place in oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes to rest and cool down.

Serve

Serve with whatever you have on hand: it is good with rice, pasta, potatoes, romaine leaves or even by itself.

Melted Onions with Cumin Seeds (serves 6 as side-dish)

Melted Onions with Cumin Seeds

I made a whole dinner around these onions last night, and, because they were so darn good, I thought they deserved their very own post.

scallions

Who doesn’t love slow-cooked, carmelized onions? I don’t know one person who would refuse such a delightful treat. I am a devotee of every variety in the onion family!

pearl onions.

Onions have been an important part of our lives since ancient times when bronzed Greek athletes would eat large quantities of them to enrich their blood and make them stronger, not to mention the fact that gladiators would rub their muscles down with raw onions to ensure a good performance!

cipollino Onions

I start almost every dinner with sautéing onions, and it makes the house smell sweet and mouth-wateringly delicious. Throw a couple of onions on the pan and it inevitably summons a crowd to the kitchen inquiring,  “when will dinner be ready!”

onions always part of my base flavors

In Ireland a favorite pub snack is a grilled cheese sandwich with a smattering of thinly sliced onions. If you have never tried it, now is the time. The crunch and tang of the onions in combination with the melting cheese and greasy bread is addictive.

Ramps (wild leeks)

Last night I bought two giant sweet onions just to have in the pantry, but, when I got them home, all I wanted to do was eat them both for dinner. if I were alone I would have cooked them up just how I did last night and simply piled them on a piece of toasted crusty bread, finishing it off with a shower of freshly cracked black pepper. Maybe next time…

big pan of sweet onions

If I remember in time, one of my favorite things to do with onions is to cook them in butter for a long time. It is nothing new and most people know how to do this. Sometimes sugar can be added to enhance the sweetness that comes from the slow-cooking. I was using sweet onions so didn’t bother.

Diced red onions

Darina Allen, Ireland’s foremost authority in the kitchen, makes a dish called melted leeks, which is basically the same thing, only using leeks. This is also nothing new, but I loved her description “melted” to describe what happened to them after a lengthy time on the stove top.

Grilled onions..

As I began to cook my big pan of  half-moon slices, I decided to add something new to the mix. I had bought a jar of cumin seeds to cook with some pork chops last week (see post “Crusty Pork Chops”) and still had the taste on my tongue. Why not flavor the onions with cumin seeds?

braising Vidalia onions.

What a great idea (of course, I’m sure it has been done before!). The onions and cumin were perfect partners, working off each other to bring out the most flavor possible.

shallots & peppercorns

I cooked some pork tenderloin and a side of braised collard green to go with them and it was delicious. Cumin can be an acquired taste so was hoping my kids would not balk. I am happy to report that I got rave reviews. With all the food piled on their plate they were unaware that the star of the dish was the melted onions laced with cumin.

onions and bacon

This side-dish would be great on so many things; pork chops, grilled chicken, steak, any fish, tossed in pasta with a little broth and cream, on a grilled cheese sandwich, on a cuban sandwich (on any sandwich), in an omelette, the list goes on.

Buy a couple of sweet onions this weekend and experiment.

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You will need: 2 large sweet onions (or yellow onions and 1 tsp sugar), cut in half & sliced into medium-sized half-moons, 3 tbs unsalted butter, 2 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper, 1/2 tsp sea-salt (I used Maldon salt flakes).

1 – Put a big pan on medium heat (one that has a lid) and add the butter. When it has melted, add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add cumin, salt and pepper

2 – Add the seasonings and give a stir. Continue to cook like this for about 15 more minutes, adjusting heat if necessary and stirring occasionally.

3 – Cover with lid and continue to cook for another 30 minutes, or, until the onions are meltingly soft.

Melted Onions with Cumin Seeds

Serve with whatever you please (see above for suggestions)

I served the onions with pork tenderloin and braised collard greens (will post recipe in the future)

Magical Braised Short-Ribs with Optional Squash & Pepper Side-Dish (serves 4)

Magical Braised Short-Ribs

I had no idea when I awoke yesterday morning what I was going to make for dinner. When it is the weekend I get a bit more excited about the evening meal. It happened that we had some friends staying from out-of-town, and we wanted to take them to our local Farmer’s and Flea Markets. They could get a taste of the local breakfast fare, and afterwards, try to find a treasure amidst the mountains of offerings that ranged from world war 2 memorabilia to a full-sized stuffed grizzly bear, in a threatening pose!

As we walked around I wondered why I only came here when I had visitors in town. Dotted in amongst the dealers are countless vendors selling meats, vegetables and baked goods.

The ribs that swayed me

I stopped by one of the butcher stalls as we were leaving, and fell in love with some beef short-ribs. Usually I am not drawn to beef, but this cut of meat, sitting behind the crystal clear display glass looked luscious and tender. It was settled, I was compelled to make short-ribs for dinner.

And oh, they were delicious. It was tender beyond belief, and the broth was full of a rich sweetness. I cooked the last of my winter squash to go with it. I cooked it in a little curried cream and it was the perfect balance the hearty dish needed.  We ate in silent revery until we were all just a little too full – yum!

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For Short Ribs; You will need: 3 lbs beef short ribs, cut into 2 or 3 bone segments, 4 tbs olive oil, 2 celery ribs, including leaves, sliced, 1 med/lrg sweet onion, large dice, 1/2 lb white mushrooms, washed & left whole, 10 sprigs thyme, 4 tbs roughly chopped parse;y, 1 bouquet garni, 1 1/2 cups red wine, 1/2 cup dry Marsala wine, 1 tbs balsamic vinegar, 3 cups chicken broth (OR, 3 cups of water and 1 good quality bouillon cube).

For Squash Side-Dish; you will need: 1 winter squash, peeled , scooped & diced, 2 tbs oil, 1 tbs unsalted butter, 1 small yellow onion, small dice, 2 long skinny red peppers (Anaheim), OR, 1 green pepper, diced, 1/2 tsp of curry powder, (if your curry is very mild, use 1 tsp), 1 sprig thyme, 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream, 1/2 tsp sea-salt, (I use Maldon Salt), several grinds cracked black pepper.

Preheat oven 325*

sear meat in batches

1 – Cut ribs as instructed above, and season with sea-salt and pepper. Put heavy casserole (the one you are going to use in the oven) on high heat and add 2tbs of oil. When it is smoky hot, add some of the short-ribs. Do not crowd the pan or the meat will not brown. When well browned on both sides, remove to a plate and continue to cook until everything is seared. You will need to add more oil as you go.

saute veggies

2 – Turn heat down and add the onions, celery and thyme to the pot. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for another 8 or so minutes.

add wines and vinegar

3 – Add the wine, Marsala and balsamic and turn heat up to high. Cook like this for about 7 minutes, stirring frequently. The liquid will reduce and intensify.

add broth and place in oven

4 – Add the broth (or water & bouillon cube), and bouquet garni, and bring to a boil. Add the ribs in even layers and cover with a heavy lid. Place in preheated oven for 2 1/4 hours. When done, take out of oven and let it sit on stove top for 15 minutes. (leaving lid on).

blanch squash

5 – When meat has about 20 minutes left in oven, start on the squash dish. Put pot of water on and when it boils, add the diced squash and cook covered for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

saute peppers & onions

6 – Put saute pan on medium heat and add the oil and butter. When it has warmed, add the onions and peppers and cook for 12 or so minutes, until vegetables are soft.

creamy pepper & squash side-dish (this would be good with so many other dishes)

7 – Add the squash and thyme sprig, and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Add the curry powder, salt and pepper and stir into vegetables. Add cream and turn heat down to low. Keep warm until ready to serve (you may want to thin it out more, and you can do so by adding a tbs of cream or broth until you are satisfied with the consistency).

The Magical moment (in other words; time to eat)

Divide meat into shallow bowls and top with juices and squash. You may also feel like another accompaniment, and I suggest, boiled potatoes, rice, or crusty bread. Divine with just about anything really.

Cheaters Style Sausage with Red Sauce and Spaghetti (serves 4-6)

OK – I admit to cheating sometimes. I think cheating is fine when you have a good reason? Last night was one of those nights; I cheated!

Cheaters Sausage and Red Sauce with Spaghetti (fastest dish ever)

Before you go getting any ideas, it is clear that I am talking about red sauce, right? 

Yes, I am guilty of always having a back-up jar of plain old marinara sauce to use in a pinch. Yes, I love making my own, and I do make it 95% of the time, but I hate to be backed into a corner when time is short, and I have a family to feed on the double!

The beauty of this dinner is that it is ready in 20 minutes, start to finish. The thing that saves it from being hum-drum is the addition of fresh herbs, although it would certainly raise no complaints if you didn’t have any on hand.

I make dinners like this when getting food on the table is more important than me lolly-gagging at my leisure in the kitchen.

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You will need: 4 mild Italian sausages, out of casing and pulled into bite-sized pieces, 4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 1 sweet or red onion, small dice, 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce, 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, 1 tsp freshly chopped rosemary leaves, 6 fresh basil leaves, salt to taste, freshly cracked pepper, 1 lb spaghetti pasta 9 I used Barilla brand), 1/2 – 1 cup warm pasta cooking water (you will have this when you boil the noodles).

1 – Put big pot of water on for pasta and when it comes to a boil cook noodles according to instructions. Before draining into colander, scoop out 1 cup of pasta water to use later in the finished sauce.

2 – While pasta is cooking, do the following; Put saute pan on medium heat and add oil. When it has warmed, add the diced onions, garlic and sausage pieces. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the chopped rosemary and several grinds of black pepper.

 

cook sausage on pan with garlic and onions

3 – Continue to cook for another 10 minutes, in which time the sausage will start to brown nicely.

Let the meat get nice and brown

4 – Add the tomato sauce (bought or homemade) and cream, and give everything a stir to incorporate. When it is warm, stir in the basil leaves.

add sauce, cream & basil

5 – When pasta is cooked, add up to 1 cup of pasta water to sauce to thin it out. Divide drained pasta between warmed bowls and top with generous portion of red sauce. you can also toss the pasta directly into the sauce and let everyone help themselves.