Showing posts with label caramelized onions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label caramelized onions. Show all posts

Monday, January 21, 2013

Caramelized Onion Smoked Cheese and Bacon Muffins #MuffinMonday

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it but I belong to an online community called Chowhounds.  Perhaps you’ve heard of it.  Or even belong yourself.  Chowhounds live all over the world and get together in forums categorized by either location or interest.  You can sign up to get emails about trending discussions with articles from Chowhound writers about a myriad of food related topics or you can go directly to the forums to interact. And it's all free!  I’ve received (and given) advice about ingredients and restaurants and cooking methods over the last couple of years, but my favorite part of Chowhound is finding out about new ingredients.

Last spring, just before I was headed to Providence to spend Spring Break with my daughters, I read about bacon salt in a Chowhound email.  It wasn't so new, just new to me!  All natural, smoky bacon flavored salt that is vegetarian.  I was so excited!  Because, as you have read here, both daughters (and many of their friends) are vegetarian.  When I cook for them, I miss the addition of bacon for depth and flavor.  Especially in dishes with beans.  Here, finally, was my answer!

Caramelized Onion Smoked Cheese and Bacon Muffins

This week’s Muffin Monday recipe was for a cheese onion muffin and I really wanted to add in bacon, but I have been sending these off to the office with my husband (apparently Sundays are their favorite day now) and several of his colleagues don’t eat pork.  Bacon salt to the rescue!  I made the batter with the bacon salt and then added the optional bacon into the batter once some of the muffin cups had been filled.  So, everyone could have a muffin!

5-6 slices or rashers smoked bacon (optional)
2 medium onions
Olive oil
2/3 cup or 150ml canola or other light oil
1 1/8 cup or 265ml buttermilk
1 large egg
3 cups or 375g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon bacon salt or substitute Maldon Smoked Sea Salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
150g mature cheddar
280g smoked cheese

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your 12-cup muffin tin by lightly rubbing it with oil or use non-stick spray to coat.  (My batter actually made 16 muffins, which makes me begin to wonder if my muffin tin is not a tiny bit smaller than normal size.  It’s been happening a lot lately.)

Grate your sharp cheddar cheese and cut the smoked cheese into cubes.

Fry your bacon in a skillet and drain on some paper towels.  Chop it into little pieces and set aside.

Slice the onions thinly and pop them in the bacon pan with a small drizzle of olive oil.  (You can leave some of the bacon grease if dietary restrictions allow but I washed the pan out and used just olive oil.)  Cook over a slow to medium fire, stirring frequently, until the onions are lovely and golden and caramelized.  Do be careful not to burn them.  Once they are done, take the pan off the heat and allow the onions to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together your flour, salt, smoked paprika, baking powder and baking soda.  Add in the grated cheddar and give the whole thing a good stir.

Whisk the oil, egg and buttermilk in a smaller bowl and add in about two-thirds of the cooled onions.  Stir well.

Pour your wet ingredients into your dry ones and stir a couple of times.  Add in the smoked cheese cubes and fold to combine.

If all of your muffins will have bacon, fold the chopped bits in as well, reserving 12-16 small pieces to add to the tops before baking.  If you are making some vegetarian (and halal) muffins, spoon some of the batter into the prepared muffin cups before adding the bacon.

Divide the rest of the batter between the muffin cups and top with some caramelized onions and then the reserved bacon bits (only on the muffins that have bacon inside, obviously – because then the muffin eaters can choose wisely.)

Bake in your preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Allow the muffins to cool for a few minutes then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Thanks to the flavored salt, smoked cheese and smoked paprika, these are cheesy and smoky and delicious, with or without the bacon!


The deliciousness of the crunchy outside is only rivaled by the cheesiness of the wonderful inside. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Tart

So yesterday I was hanging out on Facebook with my friend, Pastry Chef Online, Jenni Field, and she shared a caramelized onion jam link her fan Leah had shared with HER – because that’s the way Facebook WORKS, you all.  I call it research.  Anyway, I got to thinking that I hadn’t made caramelized onions into a tart for a very long time.  And then, that was all I could think about until I made them for dinner.  (And it was a busy day!)

If you are a fan of sticky onions and goat cheese and puff pastry, this will be your thing.  And best of all, it’s easy.  My daughters say I say that all the time, which apparently diminishes the sentiment (Not.) but it is true here.  It takes a while for the onions to slowly caramelize and get golden and sticky but if you know how to stir using that tricky, tricky implement, the spoon, you will be fine.  Also, can you fold a piece of paper?  Cut a reasonably straight line with a long knife?  Cool.  Then you can make the crust.  Follow along.

Ingredients for two large personal tarts  (Remember personal pizzas?  Like that but nicer.)
2 large onions
1 red chili (optional but highly recommended)
Olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Several sprigs fresh thyme (plus a few small ones for garnish)
3 1/2 oz or 100g goat cheese (more or less – your package size may vary)
2-3 tablespoons dry red or white wine
2 sheets ready-made puff pastry (about 15 oz or 425g together)

Preheat your oven to 425°F or 220°C.  Line your cookie tray with parchment paper.

Peel your onions and slice them as thinly as you can.  If you have a mandolin, go ahead and use it but a sharp knife works just fine too.

Slice the red chili too.

Put the onions in a non-stick pan and give them a good drizzle of olive oil.

Stir them around and then add the salt, sugar, chili and the thyme leaves off of all but four little sprigs, which we will use to decorate the tarts when baking.

Keep the fire low on the onions so they don’t burn but you do want them to start browning a little.  Stir frequently.  Put the lid on if you’d like, for the first 10-15 minutes. But keep checking on them and stir occasionally.

Meanwhile, fold over two sides of your puff pastry sheets.  Then fold up the opposite two sides.

Now fold the original sides one last time.  And then fold the second sides one last time.

Cut a skinny margin off of all the sides.  This should help the tart crust to rise fully in all its layers because a freshly cut edge seems to puff up more successfully than a folded edge.  Save the little scrappy bits.

Dock or pierce the insides of the raised sides with the tip of your sharp knife.

Transfer the tart crusts to your prepared cookie sheet.

Add the wine to the onions and keep the lid off now so the wine and onion juices can evaporate.  Keep an eye on them because this is where they start getting sticky and you don’t want them to burn.  Cook them down until they are fairly thick and look like photo two.

Cut your goat cheese log into eight circles. Or whatever shapes your cheese allows.

Divide the caramelized onions between the two tarts and try to spread them just inside the raised sides.

Lay four pieces of goat cheese on each tart and top with two small sprigs of thyme and the trimmed bits of pastry.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the puff pastry crust is puffed and golden.

Aren't they pretty?  

Serve, if desired, with a side salad.  Or just on their own.