Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Onion Queen

Somehow I have found myself designated as the onion queen of the kitchen. I mean, nobody actually said, you're the onion queen, but more often than not, when there's a pile of onions to be peeled, chopped, thrown in the food processor or otherwise dealt with, I'm the one standing in front of them. It's slightly ironic, since I'm the slowest onion peeler around. The other women in the kitchen somehow are able to peel whole onion in seconds with nothing but their thumb and a paring knife. Me, I've got to have cutting surface and a knife. I'm way too clumsy  to be trusted not to stab myself or someone else while I'm struggling to peel an onion in the air. I cut off the ends of the onion then slice it in half and use my fingers to lift off the thin, papery layer.  It takes time, man.
My recurring onion duties actually probably derive from the fact that I don't mind shedding a few tears while I'm cooking. Cooking isn't baseball- you're allowed to cry. I'm happy to let the other women in the kitchen do things that won't irritate their eyes. So, the onion queen it is. I could do worse.
I've adapted  this recipe for onion jam from a recipe I got  from our dear family friend, Lisa. Lisa is sort of a surrogate mother to me and I don't see nearly enough of her. While I"m the queen of onions, Lisa is the queen of quick, non-fussy, very, very good food.  I'm sure she got this recipe from someone or somewhere. I just don't know who, or where. In the meantime, I'm very happy to keep on calling it Lisa's Onion Jam.

Lisa's Onion Jam

This isn't really a jam. It doesn't quite congeal. I like to call it jam anyway just to be contrary.
Also- unfussy. Want to use red onions? Go for it. Don't have demerara in the house? Use white or brown sugar. Play with the proportions and flavors. Go wild.

2-3 medium onions, thinly sliced
3/4  cup demerara sugar
3/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
a nice pinch of salt
pinch each of freshly ground black pepper, cloves, nutmeg (optional)

1. Saute onions in oil over med-low heat until they're nice and soft like.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer on a low heat for an hour, or more if you have the time. The jam is done when the onions are soft and the liquid is slightly syrupy.
3. Burn your fingers while trying to take the pot off the heat. Hop around the kitchen a bit, swearing all the while. Run your hand under cold water.
4. Try again, this time with pot holders.
5. Transfer to empty mustard jars. Why mustard jars? Why not?

The jam will keep for quite a while in the fridge. Eat with everything. Especially in a sandwich with cheese.


  1. on my way to the market going to pick up onions and make this tonight!

  2. Welcome, Coco.
    Please let me know how it turns out.