a journal of tea-inspired foods and recipes
Nothing reminds me more of summer than onion dip. Not popsicles. Not the ice cream truck. Not watermelon. But onion dip.
This food memory takes me back to lazy middle school summer afternoons at my friend Kati’s house, where Kati’s mom would always make us a big bowl of onion dip – you know, that classic combination of Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix and sour cream. She’d serve it next to a Sam’s Club size bag of those addictive Lay’s potato chips and we’d go to town. That and a can of Coke would have likely been our lunch.
I can’t remember the last time I had onion dip; or a can of Coke for that matter. But a recent post on Laurie Peiper’s A Taste of Morning blog has given me a reason to change that.
The seasonal sweet onions Laurie found at the farmer’s market inspired her to share a good-looking recipe for onion marmalade.
She also shared a suggestion to use the marmalade to make onion dip – a much more sophisticated version than the one of my youth. As soon as I read Laurie’s recipe suggestion and saw her onion dip photo, my mouth started watering and I was overcome with summertime nostalgia.
I decided to try Laurie’s marmalade recipe, exploring ways to add my own tea foodie touches.
Laurie made her onion marmalade with red wine and balsamic vinegar. Based on what I had on hand, I tried it with a fruity Sauvignon Blanc white wine and golden balsamic vinegar. The golden balsamic I used is made from a sweet Muscat wine and is lighter in color and flavor than a traditional balsamic.
I also did a little exploring and tasting to find a tea I could add to the marmalade to give it a tea foodie spin. I pulled out three black tea options from my stash and brewed each to brush up on their flavor profiles.
Here’s what I tasted:
Keemun – This Chinese black tea can vary from being rich and earthy to soft and fruity. The batch I have is from World Market; I wanted to try something from their full leaf organic tea selection. It is, as its packaging describes, a medium-bodied brew that and smells and tastes ever so slightly of dried plums.
Yunnan – I have a 2011 Lao Shu Jin Ya (Old Tree Golden Buds) from Seven Cups Fine Chinese Teas. (Which it looks like they don’t have in stock any more, but they carry other Yunnan varieties.) This Yunnan is a black tea dressed up in beautiful, silky golden leaves. Its brew is sweet and musky, with an aroma of dried tropical fruit. It has an herbal sweetness to it that tastes a bit like a burdock root hard candy I have in my pantry.
Darjeeling – I have a first flush of this Indian tea from Mountain Rose Herbs. I use this Darjeeling as the base for my Zanitea Spiced Chai tea blend. It’s slightly floral, in a grassy kind of way, yet it has a nice boldness that stands up to strong spices like cinnamon and ginger.
I decided on the Yunnan, since its flavor profile seemed to match up best to the fruity brightness of the white wine and golden balsamic I had chosen.
I steeped the Yunnan tea leaves in a syrup of wine and sugar before adding the syrup and vinegar to cooked down onions.
The mixture then spends time roasting in the oven and comes out as the sweet, sticky goodness that is marmalade.
To be honest, it’s hard to tell how much of the tea flavor was actually infused into the marmalade. Wine, vinegar and onions are a pretty powerful combination to stand up to. But the marmalade sure does taste good. It’s very sweet, kind of fruity, not too sharp, and it retained a very fresh onion flavor.
Oh, and it’s fantastic stirred up in some organic sour cream, with olive oil kettle-style potato chips as a dipper. I even brewed the Yunnan as an iced tea on the side.
What’s your summertime food nostalgia?
Happy cooking and sipping!
(Adapted from the Onion Marmalade recipe posted on Laurie Peiper’s blog, A Taste of Morning)
Makes about 1½ cups
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1½ lbs. sweet onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup white wine
¾ cup sugar
2 teaspoons loose leaf black tea (try Yunnan, Darjeeling or Keemun)
¼ cup golden balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt and ground white pepper (to taste)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. [Note: Laurie’s original recipe calls for a 400-degree oven. But my oven runs hot and I found the onions started getting burn marks after about 30 minutes at 400, so I reduced the heat in this version of the recipe.]
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and toss until they are all coated with oil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook onions until translucent and lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Stir onions every few minutes to make sure they don’t brown.
3. Meanwhile, mix the wine and sugar together in a small stainless steel or enamel-lined pot. Bring to a boil, and cook at a strong simmer until the mixture is reduced to a syrup-like consistency, about 10 minutes. Remove syrup from heat, add tea leaves, cover, and steep for 4 minutes. Strain the syrup into a small bowl, and discard the tea leaves. Add the vinegar to the syrup, and stir in a pinch of salt and ground white pepper, to taste.
4. Place the cooked onions in a 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish. Pour the syrup mixture over the onions, and toss to combine. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring about every 15 minutes, until onions reach a thick, sticky consistency. Keep watching and stirring to make sure the onions don’t burn.
5. Allow the marmalade to cool to room temperature. Store in a sterilized glass jar with a good-sealing lid. The marmalade should keep for a few months in the refrigerator.