Sunday, August 21, 2011

Miscellanea: Sicilian Caramelized Onions and Homemade Pita Chips

Last month, my family came to visit. My father, who has recently been getting back in touch with his Sicilian roots, is a wonderful cook and I'll admit that I've always been a little daunted cooking for people who cook really well. At any rate, we decided to have a barbeque, invited a few close friends, and I cooked...for three days. This was certainly the most cooking in which I have ever engaged for a single event. Because the attendees to our barbeque ran the gamut of dietary concerns and preferences, I wanted variety. And variety there was. The menu (aside from the meat, which we left to my dad to grill):

  • homemade roasted peppers
  • Sicilian caramelized onions
  • homemade pita chips
  • tabbouleh
  • Amish slaw
  • Chorizo salad
  • watermelon and fresh mint salad
To keep this blog post short and sweet, I'll only blog two recipes (the ones that are hyperlinked have been blogged before).

First, the pita chips. My dad wanted to help me in the kitchen (something toward which I am usually averse), but for the sake of father-daughter bonding, I set him up with a bunch of pita bread, a knife, a small bowl of olive oil, and brush. Then I basically followed this recipe. I used whole wheat and regular pitas, and made a batch without parmesan for a dairy-free guest.

The onions are from a cookbook that appears to be out-of-print, or at least no longer available from Amazon (only used). Dad loved them.

Sicilian Caramelized Onions (from Simply Pasta and Italian (Parragon, 2003)--p. 42)
(Serves 4--you'll want to double the recipe if making it for a barbeque)

12oz baby or pickling onions (I used "Pearl" onions)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 fresh bay leaves, torn into strips
thinly pared peel of 1 lemon, cut into short, thin, sticks
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp honey
4 tbsp red wine vinegar

Soak the onions in a bowl of boiling water--this makes them easier to peel. Using a sharp knife, peel and halve the onions.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the bay leaves and onions to the skillet and cook for 5-6 minutes over med-high heat, or until they are well-browned all over.

Add the lemon peel to the skillet with the sugar and honey. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly caramelized.

Add the red wine vinegar to the skillet (be careful---watch for spitting!). Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring, or until the onions are tender and the liquid has almost disappeared.

Transfer the onions and serve at once.*

*I served mine chilled...and they are great. This also means you can make them ahead. :)