Preparation and cooking time: ~4 hours
So, here I am – back again from my hiatus and boy do I have some nice recipes lined up but before I go diving into those let me tell you a little about what I’ve been up to during my time away. Are you holding on to your hats people? Brace yourselves… I’ve been doing…
…Not a great deal at all. I’ve been eating fast food, I’ve been watching movies and I’ve been playing absolutely terrible, but incredibly addictive games on my cellphone. Yep – living the dream baby! Of course, that’s not all I’ve been doing – I’ve had a chance to spend some time with my wife and son and part of the “joy” (ahem) of eating fast food is that it frees up time normally spent on cooking and washing up so we can all be together. All in all a relaxing time! We’ve gone for some walks, taken some photos, one of which, taken by my wife, is shown below. I love the expression on my son’s face in this one – he just looks so happy!
My son was sick with bronchitis a couple of weeks ago which wasn’t pleasant at all. Poor little guy couldn’t lay down at all because he was too stuffed up so we had to sit up with him for a couple of nights while he slept upright in a sling strapped to us. He soon fought it off and went back to being the strong little trooper that he is though. I had a freak out when I discovered that my “contrôle technique” – a two-yearly examination which your car has to undergo in France – was actually due in January, not March as I’d thought. Managed to get an appointment for the test on the 29th of January – phew!
It snowed here, and then it melted away a few days later but on one of the most chilly evenings I noticed a rather worrying smell of gas inside our apartment. Heading out to our balcony I noticed the smell even more strongly. I even went down to the basement to see if I could figure out what was going on (note that this was at 2am!). In the end I decided that the safest thing to do would be to call the fire department who were very nice and told me not to worry, “it’s normal, there’s a gas cloud passing over Yvelines right now”. Ehm… a what? In any case, I found out the next day that there had been a leak in a factory in Rouen of the additive gas which is added to natural gas to give it the familiar odour and this gas cloud had been drifting all over the place – Paris, London – thankfully no need to evacuate our apartment in the middle of the snowy night though! That would have been very uncool – or rather very, very cool indeed, but not in a fun way – just in a toe-freezing, shivery way!
I promised you a brief write-up of the Secret Santa gift exchange as well! We had twelve participants and I hope everyone enjoyed themselves. There are a few “crinkles” to be ironed out for next time. Mainly that postage to some areas of the world is really, really expensive, and delivery of the gift isn’t even guaranteed so delivery costs are going to be something I’ll have to look at closely next year. People were didn’t give me quite as many cool gift photos as I’d hoped they would, so you’ll just have to take my word for it when I say that some cool stuff got exchanged, and I hope that the gifters/giftees can maybe chime in below in the comments and write a bit about their experiences! Thank you to everyone for taking part – I really enjoyed it! I will post a photo of my gift – as I mentioned before, a gift absolutely breathtaking in its generosity. Please excuse the poor photo quality, but pictured below is the gift of candies, Turkish delight, a fantastic hand-painted bowl, spice mixes and ingredients often used in baking in the middle east, tea, freekeh, photos from Jordan, a fridge magnet, coasters made from little mosaics of tile, sand art in a bottle, the ma’amoul mould (not shown) and a dead sea mud mask! Sawsan – thank you once again. I hope to post some recipes soon using the fantastic ingredients and spices you’ve sent me too!
That’s a little write-up of the last month. I’ve missed you all a great deal during my time away, and I hope you haven’t forgotten about me. I’ve been popping in here and there on peoples’ blogs in my absence, but haven’t commented a great deal, although I hope to get up to speed with that again very soon. A notable event which I thought I’d share with you is that during January, my YouTube channel topped 100,000 views. While relatively low compared to many channels online I see it as a fairly phenomenal achievement and really motivates me to try and create quality content for my followers through that medium.
As a thank you to everyone for helping me reach this milestone I’ve decided to run a little contest – with a difference. Each month I will post a photo of something which can be found in a kitchen. It might be a utensil, it might be a gadget, it might be an ingredient. Here’s the tough part though – the photo will be taken in such a way that will not make identification of the item easy. The fixed prize per month is a €20 Amazon voucher (or the equivalent in your currency and locale). Here’s the nice part though: if no-one wins one month then the prize will be carried over to the next month. Some terms and conditions apply – please refer to these before entering, but in the meantime please expand the box below to view the photo, the terms and conditions and the entry form. The answer (and winner, if there is one) will be announced when the next photo is posted in March!
[learn_more caption=”Expand here to view the contest”]
Terms and Conditions:
- Only one entry per person
- Please guess only one thing
- The winner will be the person who gets the exact name correct
- In case of more than one correct entry, the winner will be randomly selected using Random.org
- Any entry not submitted using the submission form below will not be counted
- If you win but live in an area which isn’t served by Amazon then I’m open to suggestions for providing you with a voucher for an online store near you
On to the recipe though, and I thought I’d ease back into things with something very simple. I’m sure you already know how to make it, but since this is supposed to be an archive of things I make it would be remiss of me not to include it here. Besides – it’s a key ingredient or something I’ll be posting next so it all ties in nicely. Caramelised onions are fantastically good to eat – chock full of flavour and natural sweetness.
The only sad thing is that one huge sack of onions yields barely a handful of the final product, but onions aren’t expensive – at least not around these parts – so when you compare it to the cost of buying caramelised onions from a store the cost is pretty negligible.
I’ll be back in a few days with something tasty using these – until then, take care everyone! 🙂
[learn_more caption=”Video Recipe” state=”open”]
- ~40g Butter
- ~4tbsps Olive Oil
- Lots of (~15-20 or more) Onions
- Start off by peeling and chopping the onions. You may find that using a mandoline is the easiest way to do this.
- In a large pot heat the butter and the olive oil together on high and when hot, add in the onions and stir well to coat the onion in the hot fat. Sauté the onions at this temperature for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until they start to turn translucent.
- Turn the heat right down quite low (a bit above the minimum setting) and leave the pot on the stove. Stir the onions every 20-30 minutes or so. They will reduce in volume a lot and gradually start to turn more and more brown.
- Once they reach this stage – which normally takes a good couple of hours – you’re in the final leg. You’ll need to stir the pan more regularly as they will now start to caramelise quite quickly, although it can still be up to another hour or so from here.
- Finally, the sugars will start to burn on the bottom of the pan and the onions will be a deep golden brown. Taste the onions – they should have a rich sweet flavour. I actually slightly undercooked my onions because of what I wanted to do with them (see my next post), but the colour shown below, or a bit darker is ideal. Enjoy!
Hotly Spiced says
Hi Charles, so lovely to have you back. The photo of you with Wee William is just adorable. I’m so sorry to hear he’s had bronchitis. When my Archie was 15 months he had pneumonia very badly and I remember well how I had to stay up with him all night for many nights in a row holding him upright so he could breath – and these times shall pass! Lovely to have you back and thanks again for organising the Secret Santa. If you’re brave enough, I look forward to being involved next year. And Sawsan was just so generous and thoughtful – what a lot of incredible gifts; you must have felt very blessed, all the way from Jordan xx
Thanks Charlie – it’s good to be back! It’s very tough having a sick baby… they cry so much because they don’t understand it. Normally mommy or daddy will fix any problem and in these cases we can’t! 🙁
Secret Santa next year – I must say I would like to… although I’ll have to see how it goes!
Haha..just made some last week (I sometimes add thyme, or cinnamon, or sugar, depending on the mood)..always good to have these around..
Lovely picture with baby..he looks so happy..I wonder how it feels as a parent to see your little one sick..I’m already freaking out thinking about it..my baby will be here soon and this is one of the things I apprehend the most.
Hi Nada! It’s so tough when your child is sick… you want to take it all away and make him better but sometimes you can’t do anything except provide love and comfort! So heartbreaking though – you worry so much and then end up being so tired! It’s important to remember to look after yourself too :).
Anneli (Delicieux) says
Hello Charles!! So glad you are back. It’s funny because just this week it occurred to me I had not seen any blogs from you for a while so I came over to your site to see if I had missed anything. Needless to say all looked quiet. And then just like that, you are back 🙂 Love your story about the gas leak – hilarious!! Glad all is well. Lovely recipe too. I have been making them in my slow cooker, that works nicely too.
And just to add, I enjoyed the Secret Santa gift exchange alot although posting to Illinois cost as much as the gift itself again! But I would definitely take part next year anyway.
Hi Anneli – thanks a lot! It’s good to be back :). How big is your slow cooker? We only have a little one and I think if I made caramelised onions in that I’d end up with literally about 2tsps worth of final product, haha. So lovely though… I could just eat them with a spoon! 🙂
Eva Taylor says
Welcome back, Charles, so nice to read your blog again. I know you’ve had a relaxing time off, but I was sorry to read that William was ill, I can imagine how hard that is when they can’t communicate with words yet.
I enjoyed the Secret Santa gift exchange, but I bought something on Amazon and had it shipped rather economically to California so it wasn’t too bad for me. I’m sorry about not sending you a pic of the gifts, it totally slipped my mind. Do you still want one?
I adore caramelized onions and always have a stash in my freezer in small baggies for the right recipe, we often use it as the base topping on pizza instead of tomato sauce. My version has a champagne vinegar and white wine in it, which really gives the onions a lovely acidity (although Maria A_Boleyn thought it was too vinegary for her taste). Mine also gets baked for 2-3 hours with low heat, which makes the house smell amazing. http://kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com/2008/11/13/sweet-onion-confit/
I can hardly wait to see what you do with yours, Charles.
Thanks Eva – I love the idea of adding vinegar, I think I will try it next time! Don’t worry about the photo now – the important thing was everyone had fun hopefully and it seems weird to be posting photos of it in February, haha. Hopefully next year, if I organise such a thin again, I can set something up so it’s more easy to share photos with each other – would be nice 🙂
[email protected] at Marina says
Hello Charles, welcome back! It is so funny: I was just thinking of you this morning and then I opened my e-mail to see your new post. Gives me goosebumps each time this happens. Mystery… 🙂
You and your Little Chef are so cute (sorry, but I can’t help to call him Little Chef. If you find it inappropriate, please, let me know).
Cars, ugh. Wasn’t there a time when we didn’t have it and were free of all headaches it causes us? I really think of getting rid of my car and rent it when necessary.
I can’t believe it: “a gas cloud passing over…”, that is scary! I would have a panic attack too.
Your caramelized onions have no sugar and no wine, I like that.
Congratulations on your first 100,000 on YouTube! 🙂 Well done, and I mean your video is always well done.
Hi Marina – not inappropriate at all… he totally will be my little chef one day! I hope he will share my love of cooking one day. I think Kristy does a fantastic job of inspiring diverse and healthy eating in her kids… I’m totally going to steal her ideas when William is old enough 🙂
In the end my car failed the test – urgh. There was a problem with one of the rear tyres, so I had to have all the tyres replaced. It passed the test after that though, no problem. It’s a very reliable car actually – my little Toyota. It’s my first car and I had to have the… what are they called… “glow plugs” I think (not spark plugs… these are unique to diesel engines apparently and pre-heat the fuel in the cylinder before the engine is started) replaced last year, and of course the tyres this year, but aside from that it’s never had any real problems!
Welcome back, Charles. First off, the most important thing I have to comment on is the picture of yourself and William. I swear the little guy is going to a model in his future. He certainly knows how to smile when his picture is being take.
I was amazed that your report of the gas smell got such a poor response.
Love the caramelized onions post. Isn’t it wonderful that they freeze so well? I still have some in my freezer and am determined to use them up in something amazing very soon.
Hi A_ – glad you like the photo… it was a very cute pic of the two of us :).
I guess they didn’t care so much about the gas cloud because probably they’d had a lot of reports about it. I’m glad I did call up in the end. I just find it incredible that a leak from a factory so far away from Paris could drift over here AND towards England as well… that must have been one huge leak! 🙂
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
Charles! Nice to see you back again in my RSS reader :). I love caramelized onions, these look so delicious. Hope William is feeling better!
Thanks Laura – it’s good to be back! William’s back to his usual old self now too, thankfully 🙂
[email protected] in disguise says
Welcome back Charles, it is a true pleasure to see a new post from you.
I love the picture of you and William, he does look happy 🙂 So sorry to hear he was sick, those sleepless nights are never easy. The worst part is seeing their pain and not being able to do anything to ease it. I am glad he is feeling better.
I am really happy you enjoyed my secret santa gift and I look forward to seeing recipes using some of the ingredients
Hi Sawsan, thank you! It’s good to be back :). Recently William was having some problems sleeping again… waking every 30-60 minutes crying! 🙁 I think it was teething maybe… he slept very well last night so hopefully it’ll be fine!
It’s such a pleasure to see you back and read you again, Charles! The caramelised onion looks delicious. I prepare onion confit regularly (although I know it’s not the same, but quite similar), I preserve it (I think I have posted the version with dried fig) and it always pleases every single guest.
It sounds like your Santa was very generous! I’m glad the “Santa operation” was a big success.
I have heard about the leak, but had no idea it affected the air in your area too. Luckily it wasn’t dangerous!
Of course, William looks perfectly healthy and happy! Difficult to believe has was so ill recently. I’m glad it’s over now.
Apparently lots of things have happened since your last post and I’m sure you have even more to tell us about and more recipes to share. I hope we’ll see you back “in action” again soon 🙂
Hi Sissi, thanks a lot 🙂 It feels nice to be back! I’ve got a stack of things which I made during my time away which I’m really looking forward to posting about, including another beetroot recipe, haha! 😀
I hope next year you’ll feel up to taking part in the secret santa exchange – it was very fun! We gave William some first solid food yesterday… mashed up avocado!! He didnt’ seem to mind it at all 😀
Mmmmmm!!!! I can smell these right now. They look sooooo good. They’d be great in your French Onion soup that I just made and loved. 🙂 I know I’ll be referring to this again and again, because while seemingly simple, I always forget how to make these.
I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed your time off Charles. It sounds like you spent it perfectly and I’m glad to hear William is feeling better. It’s never fun to watch your kids sick. I just love the picture of the two of you. He does look so happy. Such a beautiful little smile. Welcome back! I’ve missed ya. 🙂
Hi Kristy – they are super simple and keep for ages in the refrigerator! I didn’t realise that other people add all sorts of things to their caramelised onions… sugar, vinegar, etc. I wouldn’t mind trying these variations, but I do feel that “why make it more complicated than it needs to be?”.
Thanks for your warm welcome – it’s good to be back! By the way, did Mr. N and Miss. A have any luck growing the seeds? I bought a cotton plant from the same store (in the same format once) and could never make it grow (although I did keep forgetting about it and letting it go bone dry!!), so I hope they had some success :).
Chica Andaluza says
Welcome back Charles! Glad the little one has recovered, how worrying for you. And as for that gas cloud – we could smell it here in Bexhill on the South Coast. All day I kept saying to Big Man that there was a funny smell in the house and walking around and that night they confirmed on the news that we could indeed smell the gas from France (well, I am sure you can imagine what fun they had with that news report!). Yum to caramelised onions..am now craving onion soup 🙂
Thanks Chica! It must have been a *huge* leak… wafting all the way over to England! People were saying they were getting headaches, but then other places were saying the gas is completely harmless… yikes… in any case, it’s lucky that it wasn’t a leak of something more, er, “hazardous”!
Welcome back Darlin! It’s so good to see you posting again, but I’m so glad you had such a fun and relaxing break. Hey – fast food so you can spend more time with the family – no problem!!! Love, love, love he picture of you and William! you both look so happy. So sorry to read that he was such a sick little boy. I’m sure you and your wife were as miserable as he was. It’s heartbreaking to see such a young one so sick. 🙁 I’m so glad the secret Santa went well. I wanted to participant but I knew the season was going to be crazy this year and I was right. Your present from Sawson looks awesome! Talk about awesome – those onions! Perfect! I usually don’t have the patience to reach the caramelization stage, but you just inspired me to just leave it be and let it cook. These look wonderful!
Hi MJ! It was very relaxing indeed… I think I might even make it an annual thing. It’s important to get away and have a chance to recharge your batteries a bit!
I appreciate good food, but I sure do appreciate some rubbish, greasy junk every now and again :D.
I’m so happy that William is better now – you’re right, it was very tough. It was especially sad because I’d actually booked some vacation off work for the week after he got sick. I had to bring the vacation forward and spend it sitting up at night. Of course, I don’t mind – it’s for a good reason (the best reason!!) but it would still be nice to have had a chance to use the time to do fun things like going out and visiting places instead of being confined to the apartment!
Charles, it really is so wonderful to see you back…and my goodness, William has grown and he’s so handsome! What a great shot of you two. 🙂 You’re onions look perfect and I’m interested to see that you use both olive oil and butter to caramelize them. I’ve used one or the other but never both…and your way makes such good sense! From now on…
Thank you Betsy 🙂 It’s very good to be back! William’s enormous… whenever we see babies of a similar age, I can’t get over how tiny they are by comparison!!!
Nami | Just One Cookbook says
So sorry it took me a while to come here after receiving your update in email. Welcome back! I’m sorry to hear William was sick with bronchitis. My son was close to get one when he was less than 1 year old too (after a long trip from Asia). I’m glad to see his smile in the picture. My kids have been sick too this year and it’s been a lot of work when kids are sick. Mentally and physically. Hope you are well. Wow lots and lots of caramelized onions! Never made this much at once! It was kind of fun to watch. 🙂 I love caramelized onions!
Hi Nami – it’s tough… I remember reading on one of your posts that around this time of year your kids seem to take it in turns to bring back one bug after another from school – that must be really tough! William had two vaccinations yesterday and that caused him to have a bit of a temperature last night… he was crying during the night and right now I’m SO tired… looking forward to going to bed in a couple of hours 🙂
ah, you’re back! I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t even been blogging/ visiting blogs much. I hardly felt as if you were gone at all, since you’ve been still around our blogs 🙂 hope you’ve had a good break off from this blogging world, though must say am pleased to see you back.a nd caramelised onions are amazing even if simple 🙂 and sorry to hear about william being ill, hope all’s much better now 🙁 xxx
Thanks Shuhan 🙂 It feels good to be back! I must admit I wasn’t that active on peoples’ blogs. I left one or two comments here and there but generally it was a complete step back from my side!
Karen (Back Road Journal) says
Welcome back Charles, for your nice rest. I enjoyed seeing you and William in the photo. Glad to know that he has fully recovered…it is always hard to see little ones get sick. Congratulations on 100,000 visitors, that is terrific.
Welcome back) The video is great! )