Posts Tagged ‘onions’

I love onions! Raw, sautéed, caramelized, yellow, Spanish, Bermuda, Vidalia, Texas Sweets, scallion, pearl, Crimini, Walla Walla…they can do no wrong. In fact, my family gave me the Lithuanian nickname: “Ponas Svogūnas.” (“Mr. Onion.”) I answer to it proudly.

I also love vodka martinis! So if I’m going to buy a top shelf vodka like Stoli Elit or Belvedere, I’m not going to ruin it with jarred cocktail onions, brined with cheap vermouth, found in the bar mixers section of my local supermarket. Who knows how long those nasty things have been sitting on the shelf?

No, I’m going to make my own cocktail onions to enjoy a proper Gibson!

The Gibson martini is simply one with onions instead of olives, and the story of its origin is somewhat unclear. According to one story, it was invented by Charles Dana Gibson, who created the popular Gibson Girl illustrations. Supposedly, he challenged Charley Connolly, the bartender of the private club, The Players, in New York City, to improve on a martini. Connolly simply substituted an onion for the olive and named it after Gibson.

Another story claims a man named Gibson dropped an onion in his water-filled martini glass to differentiate between his own drink and that of his colleagues, who were imbibing heavily.

Some stories about the Gibson don’t even mention an onion. (?)

And yet another story, now considered the more probable one, is that the Gibson martini was invented at the Bohemian Club in San Francisco in the 1890’s by Walter D. K. Gibson. There is documentation as early as 1898 to back that up.

Whatever story you want to believe, the Gibson martini was originally made with gin, not vodka, but that’s strictly a personal preference–and I don’t use any vermouth.

 

 

My first attempt at homemade cocktail onions was not a success. I bought pearl onions and did what the package instructions said: I dropped them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, then moved them to ice water to let them cool. Then a gentle squeeze on one end of the onion would make it pop right out of its skin. Easy, right?

Well, it didn’t work out that way. For one thing, the onions got soft…not what I wanted. I had to cut one end of the bulb with a knife. And even then, when I squeezed the onion, the part that popped out was about half the size of the original onion…there was a lot of waste.

 

 

After brining, they tasted OK, but they never had that crisp bite I wanted. They were mushy. I realized that boiling was not the way to go.

 

A lot of waste.

I knew there had to be a better way. Then I discovered already peeled pearl onions at Whole Foods. I have to be honest…I won’t use any other onions now. They’re big, plump, and exactly what I want.

 

Sure, these are much larger than the onions you find in a jar. But tell me how that’s a problem!

 

 

 

1 lb. pearl onions, peeled, ends cut off
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2  cups water
3/4 cup sugar (I like turbinado sugar)
10 peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt (per quart-sized Mason jar)
2 cloves garlic

 

Combine the white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, and peppercorns in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring it to a boil, making sure the sugar dissolves completely. Remove it from the heat.

 

 

Slice the ends off the onions.

I’ve found that if I allow the brining liquid to get inside the onions, especially these larger ones, they’ll get tastier faster…and who doesn’t want that? So I take a thin metal or bamboo barbecue skewer and push it through the center of the top of the onions, all the way through the center of the bottom of the onions. Now there’s a little “tunnel” for that brine to get in, and it can work its magic from the inside out!

Not skewering the onions simply means it’ll take longer for that brine to seep in…but that’s perfectly fine if you want a not-so-briny onion.

 

 

In a quart-sized Mason jar, add the teaspoon of salt and garlic cloves. Pour a little of the hot vinegar liquid in the Mason jar to dissolve the salt. Add the onions to the jar, as tightly as you can, then fill the jar to the top with the vinegar liquid.

Screw the top of the jar on tightly, and turn it upside-down a couple of times to mix everything together. If it looks like the level of the liquid has gone down a bit, open the jar and top it off with the vinegar liquid, then re-seal it.

Let the jar cool to room temperature, then move it to the fridge. You can use the onions as soon as the craving hits you, but they’ll taste better if you give them a few days to a week.

 

 

Many thanks to my friend, Arthur Shapiro, who suggested I write a bit about the origins of the Gibson. Follow Arthur’s blog, “Booze Business,” on Instagram and Facebook. http://www.boozebusiness.com

 

Cheers!

I love my onions! Raw, sautéed, caramelized, yellow, Spanish, Bermuda, Vidalia, Texas Sweets, scallion, pearl, Crimini, Walla Walla…they can do no wrong. In fact, my wife and daughter gave me the Lithuanian nickname: “Ponas Svogūnas.” (“Mr. Onion.”) I answer to it proudly.

I also love my vodka martinis! So if I’m going to buy a top shelf vodka like Stoli Elit or Belvedere, I’m not going to ruin it with cheap vermouth, especially that nasty stuff they use to brine supermarket cocktail onions that come in a jar that’s been sitting on the shelf for about 10 years.

My first attempt at homemade cocktail onions was not a success. I bought pearl onions and did what the package instructions said: I dropped them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, then moved them to ice water to let them cool. Then a gentle squeeze on one end of the onion would make it pop right out of its skin. Easy, right?

 

 

Well, it didn’t work out that way. For one thing, the onions got soft…not what I wanted. I had to cut one end of the bulb with a knife. And even then, when I squeezed the onion, the part that popped out was about half the size of the original onion…there was a lot of waste.

 

 

After brining, they tasted OK, but they never had that crisp bite I wanted. They were mushy. I realized that boiling was not the way to go.

 

A lot of waste.

I knew there had to be a better way. Then I discovered already peeled pearl onions at Whole Foods. I have to be honest…I won’t use any other onions now. They’re big, plump, and exactly what I want.

 

Sure, these are much larger than the onions you find in a jar. But tell me how that’s a problem!

 

Once that time-saving ingredient was in my possession, I took my own pickled asparagus recipe (https://livethelive.com/2018/05/16/pickled-asparagus-the-new-season-has-begun-4/) and used it with onions. Awesome results!

 

 

 

1 lb. pearl onions, peeled
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2  cups water
3/4 cup sugar (I like turbinado cane sugar)
10 peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt (per quart-sized Mason jar)
2 cloves garlic

 

Combine the white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, and peppercorns in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring it to a boil, making sure the sugar dissolves completely.

In a quart-sized Mason jar, add the teaspoon of salt and garlic cloves.

 

Pour a little of the hot vinegar liquid in the jar to dissolve the salt. Add the onions to the jar, then fill the jar to the top with the vinegar liquid.

Cover the jar tightly and turn it upside-down a couple of times to mix everything together.

 

Let the jar cool to room temperature, then move it to the fridge. You can use the onions as soon as the craving hits you, but they taste better if you give them a few days.

 

 

 

I love me my onions! Raw, sautéed, caramelized, yellow, Spanish, Bermuda, Vidalia, Texas Sweets, scallion, pearl, Crimini, Walla Walla…they can do no wrong. In fact, my wife and daughter gave me the Lithuanian nickname: “Ponas Svogūnas.” (“Mr. Onion.”) I answer to it proudly.

I also love me my vodka martinis! So if I’m going to buy a top shelf vodka like Stoli Elit or Belvedere, I’m not going to ruin it with cheap vermouth, especially that nasty stuff they use to brine cocktail onions that come in a jar that’s been sitting on the liquor store shelf for about 10 years.

I looked at several do-it-yourself cocktail onion recipes, but I wasn’t inspired to try any of them until I found a package of already peeled pearl onions at Whole Foods one day. I have to be honest…I just won’t make them if I have to peel them.

 

Sure, these are much larger than the onions you find in a jar. But tell me how that’s a problem!

 

Once that time-saving ingredient was in my possession, I took my own recipe to make pickled asparagus and decided to try that with the onions. Awesome results!

 

 

 

1 lb. pearl onions, peeled
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2  cups water
3/4 cup sugar (I like turbinado cane sugar)
10 peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt (per quart-sized Mason jar)
2 cloves garlic

 

 

Combine the white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, and peppercorns in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, making sure the sugar dissolves completely.

In a quart-sized Mason jar, add the teaspoon of salt and garlic cloves.

 

Pour a little of the hot vinegar liquid in the jar to dissolve the salt. Add the onions to the jar, then fill the jar to the top with the vinegar liquid.

Cover the jar tightly and turn it upside-down a couple of times to mix everything together.

 

Let the jar cool to room temperature, then move it to the fridge. You can eat the onions as soon as the craving hits you, but they taste better if you give them a few days.

 

 

 

An easy way to marinate beef is to simply throw the meat in a bag and dump some Italian dressing into it. As simple as that sounds, it flavors the meat really nicely. But I’ve got a problem with anything that comes from a jar and was made in a factory, especially when it’s so easy to make my own marinade.
I recently bought some sirloin beef tips and after trimming the fat and silver skin (they always leave it on the meat), I cut it up into 1 inch cubes. I put the pieces in a Ziploc bag and then made the marinade…

For the marinade:
1/4 cup decent quality balsamic vinegar–not the expensive stuff
1/4 cup avocado oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

 

2 lbs. sirloin beef tips, trimmed and cut into 1″ cubes
avocado oil
3 onions, sliced into rings
2 sweet bell peppers, sliced into thin strips
splash of white wine

Combine the marinade ingredients and pour them into the bag or container with the meat. Mix it around so that every bit of the meat gets coated with the marinade. Seal the container and place in the fridge overnight.
Next day, remove it from the fridge and let it come to room temperature before cooking.

Marinated beef, ready to cook.

Marinated beef, ready to cook.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet until hot. You may not need to add oil, since the meat has marinated in it. Using tongs to shake off any marinade, place the beef tips in the skillet, and brown on all sides, constantly flipping them. Cook the meat until it is done: medium to medium rare. (Of course, a hardwood fire is great for cooking these, too.)
Remove the meat from the pan and place in a bowl to the side. In the hot pan, toss in the sliced onions and peppers. Cook until the onions and peppers are caramelized, and splash a little white wine to de-glaze the pan if you like. (The alcohol cooks off.) If there’s any left over marinade in the bag or container, you can pour it into the pan at this time.

Return the beef to the pan being sure to include all the juices that may have settled into the bottom of the bowl. Mix through until thoroughly heated and serve immediately.

I made a lot more...forgot to take the pic before devouring!

 

An easy way to marinate beef is to simply throw the meat in a bag and dump some Italian dressing into it. As simple as that sounds, it flavors the meat really nicely. But I’ve got a problem with anything that comes from a jar and was made in a factory, especially when it’s so easy to make my own Italian seasoning.
I recently bought some sirloin beef tips and after trimming the fat and silver skin (they always leave it on the meat), I cut it up into 1 inch cubes. I put the pieces in a glass container–a plastic bag would be fine–and then made my marinade.

Ingredients:

For the marinade:
1/4 cup decent quality balsamic vinegar–not the expensive stuff
1/4 cup avocado oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

 

2 lbs. sirloin beef tips, trimmed and cut into 1″ cubes

avocado oil

3 onions, sliced into rings

2 sweet bell peppers, sliced into thin strips

splash of white wine

Combine the marinade ingredients and pour them into the bag or container with the meat. Mix it around so that every bit of the meat gets coated with the marinade. Seal the container and place in the fridge overnight.
Next day, remove it from the fridge and let it come to room temperature before cooking.

Marinated beef, ready to cook.

Marinated beef, ready to cook.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet until hot. You may not need to add oil, since the meat has marinated in it. Using tongs to shake off any marinade, place the beef tips in the skillet, and brown on all sides, constantly flipping them. Cook the meat until it is done: medium to medium rare. (Of course, a hardwood fire is great for cooking these, too. It’s just a question of wanting to freeze your butt off outside or not.)
Remove the meat from the pan and place in a bowl to the side. In the hot pan, toss in the sliced onions and peppers. Cook until the onions and peppers are caramelized, and splash a little white wine to de-glaze the pan if you like. (The alcohol cooks off.) If there’s any left over marinade in the bag or container, you can pour it into the pan at this time.

Return the beef to the pan being sure to include all the juices that may have settled into the bottom of the bowl. Mix through until thoroughly heated and serve immediately.

I made a lot more...forgot to take the pic before devouring!

I made a lot more…forgot to take the pic before devouring!

This recipe is gluten-free. If you’re on a low-carb diet, you may want to skip the onions and peppers, since they’ve got natural sugars. The amount of sugar in the balsamic is minimal, when you spread it out over 2 lbs. of meat.

I love me my onions! Raw, sauteed, caramelized, yellow, Spanish, Bermuda, Vidalia, Texas Sweets, scallion, pearl, Crimini, Walla Walla…they can do no wrong. In fact, my wife and daughter gave me the Lithuanian nickname: “Ponas Svogunas.” ( “Mr. Onion.”) I answer to it proudly.

I also love me my vodka martinis! So if I’m going to buy a top shelf vodka like Stoli Elit or Chopin, I’m not going to ruin it with vermouth, whether it’s mixed in with the vodka or whether I find it inside a jar of store-bought cocktail onions.

I looked at several do-it-yourself cocktail onion recipes, but I wasn’t inspired to try any of them until I found a package of already peeled pearl onions at Whole Foods one day.

Once that time-saving ingredient was in my possession, I took the best ingredients of all the recipes I found, deleted the vermouth, and proceeded.

cocktail onions

Ingredients:

8 oz pearl onions, peeled

1/4 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon sea salt

2 tablespoons organic cane sugar

1/4 teaspoon brown mustard seed

12 juniper berries

6 black peppercorns

3 allspice berries

3-inch fresh rosemary branch

small piece (1/4″) dried chile pepper

 

Add all the ingredients except the onions to a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, making sure the sugar and salt dissolve completely.

Add the onions to the saucepan and bring to a boil again. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and allow the onions to cool to room temp in the liquid. Transfer the onions and liquid to a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and store in the fridge. It will keep in the fridge for a month.