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Aliza Green is the author of five successful cookbooks, beginning with her authorial partnership with French chef Georges Perrier on Le Bec-Fin Recipes. She also co-authored ˇCeviche!: Seafood, Salads, and Cocktails with a Latino Twist with chef Guillermo Piernot, which won a James Beard Award for Best Single Subject Cookbook. Beans: More than 200 Delicious, Wholesome Recipes from Around the World, appeared as one of the New York Times' top cookbooks of the year. She has also authored Field Guide to Meat and Field Guide to Produce. Her newest book, Starting With Ingredients, has been hailed as dazzling and revolutionary. Green's food columns and articles appear in a variety of local and national newspapers and magazines, including in Fine Cooking, Prevention, Philadelphia Magazine, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and the National Culinary Review. She has conducted numerous cooking classes, had many television appearances, including NBC's Today Show, and radio interviews, and is a highly reputed television and print food stylist. Visit her website: www.alizagreen.com to find out what else Aliza is up to!


It's That OsoSweet Season Again
by Aliza Green

It’s time to banish those winter doldrums with OsoSweet onions, the first sweet onion of the New Year, used in appetizing recipes that showcase their versatility, mild flavor and crispy, juicy texture. Grown in the fertile, mineral-rich volcanic soils at the base of the Andes Mountains of Chile, these remarkably sweet onions enjoy a short season from January to March, when most other sweet onion varieties are not available. 

As a chef, one of the most important things to me has always been to know my ingredients and buy the best from people who care as much about quality as I do. And while I buy produce from my local farmers market in summer and fall, it can be a challenge in winter to find high-quality sweet onions that are firm and plump without soft spots or outer layers that have to be discarded. Every year, I look forward to this stretch of the season when OsoSweet onions come to market.

Prior to the OsoSweet onion’s arrival in 1989, Americans could only enjoy sweet onions in spring and summer like those from Georgia (Vidalia), Texas (1015’s), and Washington (WallaWallas). Following years of research, a team of renowned agronomists perfected the OsoSweet onion seed and identified the soils and the ideal micro-climate at the base of the Andes as the perfect growing conditions to produce these onions.

Although there are many wanna-be’s now for sale, the OsoSweet onion pioneered the winter sweet category and has maintained its high quality standards. Nobody else takes the care in choosing and packing their onions in old-fashioned wooden crates to protect the onions in natural bacteria-resistant wood that also allows for plenty of air circulation, thereby minimizing deterioration.

Due to their naturally high sugar concentration – up to 50 percent more than other onions – OsoSweets are sweet and mild without compromising the tangy onion taste that cooks expect.  Extremely adaptable, OsoSweets caramelize beautifully, and whether eaten raw on sandwiches and salads, stir-fried, caramelized, roasted, or steamed they add a wonderfully rounded depth of flavor to almost any dish. 

OsoSweet Onions are easy to digest, so no need to worry about “onion breath” and, even better, you can chop as many onions as you’d like without tearing. Because I care so much about quality and flavor , I choose OsoSweets as a “secret ingredient” to enhance my cooking.

Avocado and Orange Salad with OsoSweet Onions
Serves 4 to 6.

1 OsoSweet onion, thinly sliced into rings
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
Grated zest of 1 orange
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 navel oranges, pared of skin and white pith and cut into thin rings
2 firm but giving avocados, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (or parsley)

Place the onion in a bowl and cover with ice and water. Leave to soak for 10 minutes, then drain.

Prepare dressing by whisking the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, orange zest, and salt and pepper and reserve.

Arrange orange slices on serving plates. Arrange avocado over top and sprinkle with the onion rings. Drizzle the salad with the dressing and the cilantro (or parsley) and serve immediately.

OsoSweet Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes
Who doesn’t love mashed potatoes?  For most Americans, mashed potatoes are comfort food par excellence in winter. Adding caramelized OsoSweet onions, which work so well because of their extra-high sugar content, makes a good food even better. Many chefs use russet (or Idaho) potatoes for fluffier mashed potatoes. Their high starch content allows them to absorb more milk (or cream). Here we use gold potatoes, such as Yukon Gold’s or Yellow Finnish, which have their own buttery flavor and rich-looking color.
Serves 6.

2 tablespoons butter
2 OsoSweet onions, diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
Kosher salt, grated nutmeg, and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat butter in large skillet, add onions and brown well over moderate heat, stirring often until onions are evenly and deeply browned, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the potatoes and boil until quite soft, 20 to 25 minutes. Heat the half-and-half, sour cream, salt, nutmeg, and pepper till steaming and reserve.

Drain the potatoes well and transfer to the bowl of a mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat the potatoes to break them up into small chunks. While beating on slow speed, gradually pour in the hot milk mixture, beating until the liquid is incorporated and the potatoes are relatively smooth. Alternatively, while still hot push the potatoes through a potato ricer. Immediately beat in the hot milk mixture and serve.

Roasted Grilled Mahimahi with Salsa Criollo
Mahimahi, a powerful swimmer whose name means strong-strong in Hawaiian, is found off the Gulf Coast and Hawaii. This darker-fleshed firm, rich fish is high in beneficial Omega 3’s. Substitute farm-raised Chilean sea bass, Pacific black cod or sablefish, young bluefish, or salmon. Here it is grilled and topped with a sprightly Salsa Criollo. Any leftovers of this delicious grilled sauce can be used to top grilled chicken, pork, eggs, steak, or hamburgers.
Serves 6.

2 large OsoSweet onions
1 poblano pepper (substitute green bell pepper)
2 red bell peppers
1 bunch scallions, trimmed
1/4 cup olive oil + extra for brushing
1 cup roasted red peppers, purchased or homemade
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
2 1/2 pounds mahimahi fillet, cut into portions

To make the sauce, preheat a grill or broiler. Peel the onions and cut into thick wedges. Brush onions, green and red pepper, and scallions lightly with olive oil, then grill over a preheated charcoal grill, gas or electric grill. Alternatively, place on a shallow heatproof pan and broil. Cook the vegetables, turning occasionally, until lightly charred. Remove from the grill, cool, then trim and seed the peppers and cut away the root ends of the onions. Rub off most, but not all, of the blackened skins. Slice the scallions, dice the onions and the peppers and combine with the remaining ingredients.

Season the fish with salt and pepper and then brush with olive oil. Grill or broil the fish 3 to 4 minutes, then make a quarter turn and continue grilling about 3 minutes or until the fish starts to brown around the edges. Turn over and repeat, grilling only until the fish is firm and flaky.

Heat the Criollo Sauce until bubbling hot, arrange the fish on serving plates and spoon the sauce over the edge of the fish. Serve with rice or steamed potatoes. 

Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

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