Have you noticed that onion and mushroom pizzas are all the rage these days? It seems that every pizza parlour around now features a caramelized onion pizza topped with mushrooms and pungent gorgonzola cheese. And who can blame them? The rich, sultry flavors of these three ingredients make for an surprising and exciting change from red- or white-sauced pizzas.
But we’re not here to talk about pizza. In fact, it was the glut of all these pizzas popping up on menus that made me wonder how the same flavors would work when painted on a different canvas… say, perhaps, a knot of whole wheat pasta?
Caramelized onions are, in my book, one of life’s greatest pleasures. From topping crostinis to starring in homemade onion dip, they enrich almost everything they encounter. I’ve been known to eat them plain, with no cares about the odorific consequences that might ensue. As I expected, they make an excellent base for this pasta sauce.
For most of my life, I’ve eaten corn one of two ways: from a can or on the cob. (And I’m talking about kernels of corn here, not the corn syrup, corn meal, corn starch, and other corn products that certainly make up most of the “corn” in the average American diet.) In the summer, there was no greater thrill than Dad bringing home a bag full of fresh Colorado sweet corn, and I still look forward to the arrival of corn on the cob every time the season rolls around.
But it’s really only in the last few years that I’ve started appreciating fresh corn as an ingredient, as something more than just a cob of kernels slathered with butter. Fresh corn has flavor and texture that give everything from pizza to fajitas a little something extra.
In this dish, corn is not just an ingredient, it’s the star of the show. With two of my other favorite veggies to support it.
Ginger has never really been something I’ve thought about very much. Occasionally, my dad would add some ground ginger to stir fry, or I’d use some in fall desserts. But the farmers near Durham have been showcasing mounds of baby ginger at their tables for the last few weeks, and my curiosity about this knobby little root grew with each table I passed.
And with fortuitous timing, I came across this recipe for ginger apple chutney. Combined with apples & onions, also plentiful at local markets, this seemed like a perfect opportunity to buy a chunk of ginger. The recipe wasn’t written as one for canning, but I suspected the acid content would be high enough for canning and checked with a deft canning blogger to be sure.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it in every post since mid-September: I love fall. Everything about it… almost. That cool, brisk air and the crunchy golden leaves fluttering down like pennies in a pool are spectacular elements of the season. But they are caused, of course, by our hemisphere tipping away from the sun for the winter, and our hours of sunshine diminish rapidly. Add in our “fall back” from Daylight Savings Time, and suddenly I’m driving home from work in the dark every day for the next four months. This lack of sunshine not only lowers my energy and productivity, it also seriously cramps my food-bloggin’ style.
In early summer, I discovered that I had a much easier time taking photos for this site if I essentially stopped preparing food in my dismally dark kitchen. A table in our office against the window (purchased by Brad some time ago as a study station for the rare moments he wants to study at home) has now become my destination for cutting boards full of ingredients. The natural light that pours into this room is vastly superior than the peaked light fixture in the kitchen. I’ve virtually stopped photographing in my kitchen all together, save for the occasional cooking-in-the-pot action shot or rolled-out-dough-on-the-counter.
So as the days get shorter, you can pretty much guarantee that if the sun is out and I’m not at my job, I’m probably trucking ingredients back and fort between the office and the kitchen.
A shift in the weather has finally come to North Carolina. After a disgustingly hot Labor Day weekend, the last few days have been gloriously cool. I’m thrilled for fall to arrive, but sometimes, I think the transition into the season is almost more exhilarating than the heart of the season itself. Just a few months ago, I ached for the warmth of summer. I couldn’t wait to shed my scarves, jeans, and sweaters and swap them out for flip flops and tank tops. But now, as we teeter on the outer edge of a long, hot summer, I can’t wait to don my long-sleeved tees, comfy socks, and tall, brown boots.
Buuuut it’s still a bit warm for that. But there are still plenty of ways to get ready for fall. One of them is to add this rockin’ dip to your TO MAKE IMMEDIATELY list. Take it to your next football tailgate, Halloween party, or movie night. Seriously, I urge you to find any excuse.
I’ve “made” onion dip before. A packet of onion soup mix and a tub of sour cream and shazam! Chip & dip time! But this is unlike any onion dip I’ve ever had. probably because it actually features the fine, fine flavors of real onion. A LOT of onion. This recipe yields about three cups, but it starts with four full cups of raw onion. Then, aided by the deep and sultry additions of balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, those crisp raw onions transform until their decadent, caramelized selves.