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North Shore CSA newsletter

Veggie of the Week: Onions

cleaning onions
cleaning onions
 Onions are plants of the species Allium cepa, which originated in central Asia but has spread across the globe in hundreds of different varieties.
The key to the onion family's appeal is a strong, often pungent, sulfury flavor whose original purpose was to deter animals from eating the plants. Cooking transforms this chemical defense into a deliciously savory, almost meaty quality that adds depth to many dishes. The onion family accumulates energy stores not in starch, but in chains of fructose sugars which long, slow cooking breaks down to produce a marked sweetness.

Vegetable names in the onion family come from diverse sources. Onion itself comes from the Latin for "one," "oneness," "unity," and was the name given by Roman farmers to a variety of onion that grew singly, without forming multiple bulbs as garlic and shallots do. Shallot and scallion come via Latin from Ashqelon, the Hebrew name for a city in what in classical times was southwest Palestine.

Breaded Onion Rings

2 very large onions (2 pound total), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg
1 cup milk
1 3/4 cups plain fine dry bread crumbs
About 1 quart vegetable oil

Equipment: a deep-fat thermometer


Separate slices into rings, reserving small inner rings for another use if desired.
Stir together flour, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Whisk together egg and milk in another bowl. Spread bread crumbs out on a plate.
Coating rings in batches of 4, dredge rings in flour mixture, shaking off excess, then dip in egg mixture, letting excess drip off, and dredge in crumbs, shaking off excess. Transfer to sheets of wax paper.
Heat 1 inch oil in a 5-quart pot over medium-high heat until it registers 360°F on thermometer. Fry rings in batches of 4 to 6, without crowding, turning over once or twice, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per batch. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Cooks' note

Onion rings can be made 4 days ahead. Transfer, once cooled, to wax-paper-lined baking sheets and freeze until firm, about 10 minutes, then transfer to 2 large sealable bags and freeze. Reheat on 2 large baking sheets in a 425°F oven with racks in upper and lower thirds, switching position of sheets halfway through, about 8 minutes total. Transfer to racks to crisp 1 minute.

From the Interns

Cooking and food are everywhere at The Food Project. From harvesting veggies with Nahant native, Chef Peter Davis of the restaurant Henrietta’s Table, to weekly cooking competitions at the intern gatherings -- food is all around us.
While working in the fields, Chef Davis discussed how he used our produce to feed 70 people at one of our community lunches. “Mr. Davis graciously took time out of his day at work to come and harvest us.” Says Iliana Torres, who got a chance to work with Davis along with Keely Curliss, Anika Whitmore, and Bob Burns, North Shore Urban Farmer at the Ingalls land. Davis also uses our produce on a regular basis at his restaurant as he frequents the Lynn Farmers Market, which is on Thursdays from 11am-3pm in Lynn's Central Square.

Another aspect of cooking here at The Food Project is our weekly cook-offs. All of the Interns from the North Shore, Lincoln, and Roxbury come together to compete using dishes made by 3 or 4 people from each site. Each dish incorporates the veggie of the week. We then have 3 judges critique each dish on the taste, use of veggie, presentation, and amount of local ingredients. We thought we’d share a recipe that the North Shore Interns created using produce from our farms.

Grilled Scape Appetizer

Garlic bread covered with grilled scapes and roasted peppers topped with a cream sauce
1 1/2 oz (45gm) butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 glass dry white wine
salt and pepper
1 oz (30gm) flour
1/2 pint (280 ml) milk
1 head of garlic
3 red peppers
1 loaf of French bread or any other bread of your choice
olive oil

Sauce Recipe

1. Melt 1/2 oz (15gm) butter in a pan,
2. Add the chopped onions and cook gently until soft and golden.
3. Add 2 crushed cloves of garlic and cook for another minute or so.
4. Next season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Add the wine, turn up the heat and reduce the volume by about half then remove from heat.
6. In another pan melt the remaining 1 oz (30 gm) of butter.
7. Add the flour, stir and cook for about five minutes.
8. Now add the milk. If you've never made a white sauce before, the key is: take it slowly. Add just a little milk; stir well, then a little more until you’ve finished the milk.
9. At first the result will look like a pastry. After a little more milk it will resemble elastic dough. Beat this smooth. You'll end up with a nice thick sauce. Mix in the onion and garlic and you're done.

Scape Appetizer

1. First, slice the bread hamburger style.
2. Soak each half with olive oil.
3. Next grill the bread till it is a crispy brown.
4. Carefully taking the bread off the grill place it on a plate nearby, then rub one peeled clove over each half of the bread
5. Next coat the peppers and scapes with olive oil.
6. Grill them till they are black and soft.
7. Once they are done wash the black crust off the scapes and peppers.
8. Slice the bread into rectangles for small finger food portions.
9. Then cut the pepper and scapes into long strips so they fit onto the bread pieces. The pepper should wrap around the middle of each bread piece to hold the scape in place (which is lengthwise on the bread [the scape]).
10. Finally spoon the sauce over the bread. About a half spoonful.
11. Place the bread pieces on a plate and enjoy!

Written by Molly Colehower and Iliana Torres

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