Amuse Bouche: Know Your Onion! (And Your Cream, Spices And Herbs)

Here is an embarrassing story: last night, we dreamed about work. More accurately, we dreamed about blogging. In our dream, we wrote a post about onions and, ever-so-wittily titled it after a Shins song (oh, how 2002 of our subconscious!). When we woke up, we were astounded to realize that it actually wasn’t a bad idea for a post after all, so, in a moment that would undoubtedly make our elementary school teachers proud, we are, quite literally, making our dreams reality.

So anyway. Onions. We recently figured out how to caramelize onions and, ever since, we’ve been obsessed. Tarte flambe? Delightful! Turnovers stuffed with mushrooms, goat cheese and caramelized onions? Don’t mind if we do! Hell yeah, we’ll take an awesome blossom! Midway through our onion obsession, however, we came to the troubling realization that, while we know there are different kinds of onions, we don’t really know the differences between said varieties and, to be perfectly honest, most of the time, we guessed which type we might need for a given recipe. As you might imagine, the results were not always satisfactory. We set out to learn about the different types of onions and (insert 10:00 News voice) what we found out may surprise you.

We started reading the “Onion” entry in the truly excellent Penguin Companion to Food and, frankly, we were a bit confused. We know to use sweet onions for caramelizing and Spanish onions for sofrito, but we were at a loss for a recipe involving Bermuda onions, so we went Googling. And that’s when we found it. The Cook’s Thesaurus, perhaps the most useful food-related website of all time. TCT (oh yeah, we’re already on an abbreviation basis) lets you look up almost any ingredient and find a reasonable substitution. Where else can you learn that if you’re out of allspice, you can instead use equal parts cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and black pepper? Or that if you’re running low on sour cream, you can substitute “one cup cottage cheese plus two tablespoons lemon juice plus two tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise plus one-fourth cup nonfat buttermilk”? We’re all about things that make you feel like a culinary MacGyver, so go! Check out The Cook’s Thesaurus! Better yet, check it out and then leave a comment letting us know your favorite substitution.

Oh, and in case you’re still curious, it turns out you can use Bermuda onions in the same manner as sweet onions.

Tarte Flambe (Onion Tart) from The James Beard House [Leite’s Culinaria]
Penguin Companion to Food [Amazon]
The Cook’s Thesaurus [Official Site]

Amuse Bouche: Know Your Onion! (And Your Cream, Spices And Herbs)