Monday, 17 November 2008

Sweet oniony goodness

I didn't used to be a big fan of onions. I wouldn't mind them chopped up in a sauce, but offer them to me on their own and I was likely to refuse, quite possibly pulling a face whilst doing so. Then I met N, and he showed me some magic things. The first was his onion gravy. Now gravy was another thing I would spurn, I think because I have never liked meat juices, and the out of the packet alternatives didn't seem to have anything to offer except cloying pasty saltiness. I was much more likely to smother my mash in brown sauce and mustard. Not anymore. N's onion gravy, made very simply with stock, fried onions and red wine is the business, I had it for the first time last Christmas and I've never looked back.

Which is how I discovered fried onions. Oh yeah! Veggie sausages with fried onions, makes my stomach rumbling just thinking about it, and would make me reconsider tonight's dinner plans if it wasn't for the fact that we have no more onions!

Why are we out of onions? Because last night I made a caramalised onion topping for the focaccia we were going to have with the soup. And it was delicious. I might have to make it again, soon, like as soon as the box comes with more onions on Wednesday!

It's really simple too...

caramalised onion topped focaccia - Serves two, generously. (It would probably stretch to four, but we're not sharing!)


250g strong white flour
10g course semolina (or 10g more flour if you don't have it)
7g yeast
5g salt
25g olive oil
160g water


4 small onions
1 tbsp oil
2tbsp balsamic vinegar
pinch brown sugar

Mix the dry ingredients so they are combined and then add the water and olive oil and form into a sticky dough. Knead for a few minutes until it becomes elastic and smooth, leave to rise for an hour in a warm place covered with a clean dry cloth.

Meanwhile make the topping: Chop the onions into round slices. Heat the oil over a low heat in a non-stick deep frying pan that has a lid. (I find this dish the best for the job, but a small saucepan with lid will do), add the onions and stir to keep the cooking even. The aim is to gently cook them so they go soft, and at no point get it hot enough to burn or char them. They should be translucent, then golden, rather than brown. Once the onions are very soft (about 20 mins) add the vinegar and sugar and stir to coat the onions. Place the lid on the pan and cook for a further 10-20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the onions are caramalised. Remove from the heat and allow to cool,

Preheat the oven to 200C

Once the bread has risen to twice it's size place on a baking dish and spread out into a rectangle, add the topping and leave to rise for 45 mins. Place in the oven on a middle shelf and cook for 25-30 mins, until the edges are just browning, but before the onions get too dry. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

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