It started with a day of good old fashioned farming…the exception being that we have no idea whatsoever how to farm. We scrutinize the produce we buy from local markets, ensuring each leaf of lettuce, cranberry bean and strawberry are locally grown without the use of pesticides; but what do we really know about growing and harvesting vegetables? Starting on an unseasonably hot day in May, we started our journey to find out. And so enter Rachel and I on our hands and knees in the dirt planting and watering onion seedlings. To be fair, we spent a measly 3 hours on the task, but boy did those 3 hours teach us a valuable lesson about locally grown produce: it takes work.
When a call for submissions was made for this month’s Foodbuzz 24 x 24 dinner, we knew exactly what we wanted to submit for our showcased meal. And so we planned our themed dinner, ‘Ode to the Onion’, as a tribute to our newfound appreciation for this humble food staple. After 5 tapas-style dishes each highlighting a different variety, the not-so-humble-onion took a well earned bow after its center-stage performance, including an encore of dessert!
And so here it is… 6 plates in total (plus a cocktail, of course), all featuring a different variety of onion:
Rachel and I woke up bright and early and got straight to work on our onion feast.
A few hours of chopping, slicing, sautéing, baking, shaking, grating, and sprinkling later, we had all 5 savory dishes plated and ready to be gobbled up by our hungry guests. But before taking a first bite, we had our first dose of onion in our guests’ hands in the form of a gibson martini. I’ll admit, neither of us are huge gin fans, but marketing at work, I happened to buy a bottle of organic Juniper Green Gin because surprise, surprise, it had a pretty bottle. Much our amazement, this icy cold gin shaken, poured into a martini glass and topped with cocktail onions and grapefruit seltzer was, well, downright delicious. We also learned, according to Jordan, that gin should only be consumed on nights you want to dance (we were happy enough sitting).
Onto the food… I’m a true believer that where people choose to eat says something about the food. Last night, not one person stood further than a foot from the kitchen table where we had set up our tapas feast. Here’s a look at each of the dishes (somehow the pizza missed its opportunity for a close-up):
Everyone dug right into the dishes and had rave reviews. General consensus- beggar’s purses took the cake, and the stuffed onions and leek tart were close seconds.
And just when we thought we have eaten just about every onion under the sun, it was time for dessert. Obviously, onion does not pop up in most people’s minds as an ingredient used in baking. In fact, we debated even trying. But for the sake of our Onion themed dinner we decided to give it a go. Since caramelizing onions brings out its sweetness, we knew we should start there. We also knew we wanted to incorporate our favorite ice cream, Batch, made right next to us in Crop Circle Kitchen by our new friends Susie and Veronica. We met this duo last year in a meeting for Crop Circle Kitchen. When we were asked to go around the room explaining what we did, Veronica stood up and explained “we are planning to make small batches of ice cream using local, organic and fair trade ingredients whenever possible and sell locally to small food boutiques and farmer’s markets.” I followed by standing up and saying “What she said, except pasta.” Now we get the pleasure of working alongside Susie and Veronica and on lucky days, try samplings of their delicious ice cream. My personal favorites are the vanilla, chocolate and salted caramel, but are they all good! Check out the Batch website by clicking here and pick up one of their pints in a number of local stores including City Feed, South End Formaggio, Foodie’s and Marshall’s Fenway Food Stand.
Sounds crazy, but the winning recipe was a vidalia onion caramel served over vanilla bean Batch ice cream and topped with toasted pecans. Frankly, the result wasn’t crazy at all. In fact, it was a delicious, rich caramel with just a hint of caramelized onions that complemented the sweet vanilla bean ice cream perfectly. In case you’re feeling adventurous and want to wow some guests of your own, here’s the recipe:
It’s amazing what you can do with one simple ingredient– from a flaky crust tart to a classic BBQ pizza, asian negimaki to caramel sundaes. Each highlighted the onion as the star ingredient and each dish was delicious! A huge thank you to Foodbuzz for supporting us to make this dinner happen and allowing us to share it with the Foodbuzz community. Also thank you to our dinner guests for being brave and eating onions for dessert. Cheers to a fantastic night of good eats!