By Carolyne

Slice several large Spanish onions into thin rounds, about six to eight cups. For purposes of elegant presentation, cross-cut works best, as rings.

In a high-quality, heavy-bottom,  large, low, stainless-steel skillet, using Mazola Corn Oil (it’s cholesterol free – and I’m aware of the corn modification situation), and unsalted butter, a generous sprinkle of crushed dry thyme, a tiny bit of salt and two or three whole garlic cloves (mash them when soft; they become so very mild) – over medium heat, sweat the onions stirring gently so the mixture glazes, carefully scraping the bottom of the skillet.

Be patient, this takes awhile. Stay with the stove; adjust the heat as necessary until caramelization is complete. You don’t want brown or burnt onions.

When the onions are translucent and the white onion has caramelized in colour, stir in a tablespoon of brown sugar and a tablespoon of good real maple syrup.

If you have stored fresh figs in brandy or cognac, as I have noted in other columns, mash one into the skillet mixture for a divine addition for the palette of your gourmet friends.

When onions are perfectly “just” cooked (not mushy), and the pan is still very hot, add a half cup of your favourite brandy or cognac.

Carefully flambé and burn off the alcohol. Stir gently. Add freshly grated cracked black peppercorns. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Don’t continue to stir.

Under the broiler, brown four long, split fresh baguettes, sprinkled with your best olive oil on the cut side. Don’t let them dry out. Remove when the tops turn brown.

Using a long-handled fork with long tines, or using tongs, lift out the onion rings, and mound the split baguettes generously high with the caramelized onions and serve hot; split each long baguette in half lengths, cut wide angle on the diagonal.

Each half of half will be a serving. Serve on oval plates if you have them. Looks great on a dark chocolate or black plate. Decorate with a handful of fresh parsley and a lemon wedge. It is a large bread serving, covered mounded high with the sautéed onions.

As an alternative, making this delight even richer, sprinkle grated Mozzarella cheese on top and broil to bubble, for just a few seconds, only when ready to serve.

A tankard of your favourite beer will be well received with this delicious brunch. Good all year round, I also serve this treat for Christmas Day family brunch. It doesn’t need any accompaniment.

If you want to serve this amazing treat as a main dish meal, just serve a great salad on the side. The onion presentation is very filling.

Remember, first we eat with our eyes.

For a summertime treat, go back to my barbecue sauce recipe where you will find the barbecue potatoes and onions done in tinfoil papillote. Use onions cooked this way, on barbecued baguettes, served in this manner alongside your barbecue steak.

The working title for Carolyne’s Gourmet Recipes cookbook is From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks. This kitchen-friendly doyenne has been honoured and referred to as the grande dame of executive real estate in her market area during her 35-year career. She taught gourmet cooking in the mid-70s and wrote a weekly newspaper cooking column, long before gourmet was popular as it is today. Her ebook, Gourmet Cooking - at Home with Carolyne is available here for $5.99 US. Email Carolyne. Scroll down to the comments at each recipe column. Carolyne often adds complimentary "From Lady Ralston's Kitchen" additional recipes in the Recipes for Realtors Comments section at REM.


  1. A Very Special Onion Pie

    While the onions are cooking on the stovetop, using a 9″ spring form pan, cut a circle of store-bought frozen butter puff pastry.

    Bake the pastry in a hot oven in the spring form pan to help keep its shape, just until puffed and golden. Let cool completely. You can even make the baked puff pastry days ahead. It keeps for ages in a cool, dry place, even in a covered tin, until ready to use.

    When ready to serve, sprinkle the ready puffed pastry with roasted homemade bread crumbs and mound the caramelized onions onto the stored baked puffed pastry round. Cut in half both directions to have four equal size wedges.

    ALTERNATE: Prepare your favourite savoury egg custard. Add a half cup of fresh grated cheese after you remove the custard from the heat – gruyere, Parmesan, and or Romano.

    Mound the onions onto the puffed pastry, pour the egg-cheese custard over top and bake at 325 F just until the custard is set. Remove the spring form pan ring. Again, divide in four equal wedges.

    You might want to drizzle a little Almond Cream over each serving and add a handful of fragile microgreens to each plate.

    To make my Almond Cream, scald a cup of half and half cream and let it rise and fall three times. Continue to reduce to thicken. Remove from heat. Add a sprinkle of nutmeg, salt, fresh ground pepper, and a half cup of finely ground homemade candied almonds from your pantry jar. Stir gently to combine.

    If you love blue cheese, instead you could prepare my Warm Blue Cheese Dressing, drizzled over top of each serving. Again, you can make the blue cheese dressing a day ahead, reheat gently. Or use as a melon baller scoop because the sauce congeals beautifully when refrigerated overnight, and display the Warm Blue Cheese Dressing Balls, scatted on the serving plate..

    Served as a brunch meal on its own or as a side with my French Onion Soup, this Onion Pie is worthy of an award, you will discover.

    © “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks”
    Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience

    You can order “Gourmet Cooking – at Home with Carolyne” here:

    To order the ebook, “Gourmet Cooking – at Home with Carolyne,” it is available here for $5.99 US.
    Email Carolyne

  2. With the changing seasons upon us once again, soup’s on … to take off the chill in the air

    French Onion Soup (Mine – mid 1970’s)

    Melt a generous knob of butter in an enamel coated cast iron Dutch oven pot. Do not brown the butter.

    Slice 6 cups of Spanish onions into ¼” rounds, and sauté in the hot butter until onions are just barely cooked. Translucent, fork tender. Equal to pasta al dente. Stir often, using a wooden spoon. Add a whole, skinned but not opened, generous garlic clove, two bay leaves, salt, fresh ground pepper, and a teaspoon of dried, fresh thyme leaves. Less if you use bottled, dry thyme. It’s very powerful.

    When onions are nearly cooked, remove bay leaves, mash the garlic clove with a fork, and add a half cup of Asbach Uralt brandy; if you don’t have a high end cognac handy, use Winzertanz white wine; it’s marked a ten, but has a beautiful sweet but tangy nose. In addition to the cognac or its replacement, add two cups of your favourite white wine (my favourite for this is the Winzertanz).

    Add 6 cups of fresh or frozen homemade beef broth, ideally, otherwise use seasoned homemade chicken broth. Do not use store-bought, boxed, or tinned broth. It’s far too briny. You can use a homemade beef consommé, made using simmered beef bones, and a mire poix, strained. In addition you can add a beef broth cube or a chicken stock cube. Again, it’s important. I repeat: Do not use store bought broth; it’s just not healthy, no matter how many times you see tv cooks using it. .

    Simmer for a half hour. Rest and serve in onion soup bowls that can go under a broiler.

    Prepare crostini. Drizzle bread with olive oil, roast, grill, or pan fry. Tuck a large piece of the bread into the top of the soup bowl, to cover completely, then add a little drizzle of figgy jus from your black mission fig brandy marinating jar. Sprinkle generously with dry grated Parmesan cheese. Sometimes I like to use both Parmesan and Reggiano romano grated cheeses. Occasionally, I even use grated gooey Mozzarella cheese

    Place soup bowls onto a rimmed cookie sheet and put the tray under a hot broiler for just seconds till the cheese bubbles a little. Be very careful not to burn the bread and cheese.

    Serve with extra crostini, sprinkled with cheese, and bubbled under the broiler for just seconds, arranged on a help yourself family plate. ENJOY! You might want to make a plate of my old-fashioned “Cheese Dreams” as an accompaniment:

    A great treat to upscale the Cheese Dreams; add a few bacon lardon when you place the dreams under the broiler. Be careful because the fat in the lardon will spark. Lower the rack just a little if using lardon. You don’t want an oven fire. Just be careful and you should have success with it. The fat will marry with the cheeses, and create a wonderful aroma in your kitchen that might bring the neighbours asking what on earth are you making… beyond yum.

    Serve any time of day; this French Onion Soup with Cheese Dreams is always welcome year round, but family and friends who are football fans or ice-skating folks, will want seconds for sure. Make plenty.

    ALTERNATE: Creamed French Onion Soup.

    When you add the broth (either chicken or beef), peel and chop into quarters, a large potato. Simmer in the broth till potato is fork tender. In your kitchen machine, pulse the onion soup. Return to pot.

    In a large deep, unbuttered skillet, scald two cups of half and half cream. Allow to rise and fall three times. Reduce. Add pulsed onion mix to the cream to temper, and then pour the cream mix back into the soup pot. Serve as above, with crostini. If you have a covered soup tureen, this is an ideal way to serve this cream soup, with a large ladle. People can serve themselves. Add-on:

    Refer to REM link: Caramelized Onions, and just before serving on the baguette, drizzle a little of the Asbach Uralt brandy marinating jus from the Black Mission figs jar.

    For a full meal brunch or dinner, choose a wonderful Caesar Salad, and a plate of liver pate or my chicken liver recipe at:

    “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks”

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