Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Oven baked onion rings

I have been contemplating my life quite a lot lately. After new year, first it was the decision to live more in the moment, to worry less and to enjoy the good things. I have really tried to live up to my word for 2014, 'cherish'. It's just little things, I try to be very aware of the moments when I'm really happy. Like the great feeling I have when I drive home from the gym in the evening, or when I snuggle up to the Culinary Consultant when we are watching something scary on TV and I have to move over from my sofa to his just to feel safe. If anyone told me a year ago I will be blogging about cuddling up with a guy on a sofa I would have told them they need to have their head examined. But that's the beauty of life, you never know what will happen or how the things you experience will change you as a person.

I was thinking about the choices I have made in my life, and how they have led me to where I am right now. Was there one specific point that committed me onto the path that got me here? I don't really think so, I think we make up our future all the time, with all the small actions and decisions we take in life. But the truth is, I wouldn't be where I am today unless I had decided to move to Cambridge. And I would never have moved here unless my supervisor hadn't invited me to come. And I wouldn't have worked with my supervisor if I hadn't applied for that summer job so many years ago. And there are so many other situations where I could have selected differently. I could have joined a different gym. I could have said no when asked out for dinner the first time. I could have told the Culinary Consultant he was crazy even thinking of buying a house together before our first anniversary as a couple. But nonetheless, here we are. In this beautiful house. I don't know whether I will be here in a year's time. Anything can happen. But there is no point in worrying about what is to come. One thing I do know for a fact, in a year's time I won't be in the same job I'm now. And that is a big relief. Actually, in just over a week, I won't be in this job anymore. And that is a thought I cherish. February 24th will come soon. And then there will be new changes and challenges again. I have to admit, I wouldn't mind a bit of smooth sailing for the next few years. No new jobs, but rather being happy in the one I got. No moving house, please. In general, no big changes. Just a bit of cooking, crafting and gardening. And taking time to smell the flowers. I'm not one for big adventures right now. That's not to say I won't wish for big adventures at some point in my life. But for now, I want to enjoy the things I wanted for so long and now have. 

Despite my wish for nothing new and shocking, one part of my life where I don't mind trying new things is in the kitchen. And when I saw these baked onion rings on Sally's baking addiction, I knew I had to try them. They sounded and looked great. And who wouldn't love a good onion ring? Note that you should start the prep a day ahead, so these are not quick, spur of the moment onion rings.
Onion ring production pipeline
Baked onion rings (serves about 4):
1 giant onion (or two large regular onions)
1 pint of buttermilk (or in my case home-made buttermilk)
4 egg whites
85 g (2/3 cup) whole wheat flour
125 g (3/4 cup) ground cornmeal
60 g (1 cup) breadcrumbs (original recipe says Panko, but I didn't have any and neither does Tesco apparently)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
nonstick spray (I used olive oil spray)

The howto:
The day before your big onion ring day, cut the onion into rings and place them in a large shallow dish. Pour the buttermilk (or home-made buttermilk, which you can make by adding 2 tbsp of vinegar to your pint of milk and let stand for a few minutes. It will start to look curdled and slightly disgusting but that's ok, that's what it's supposed to look like) onto the onions and let stand in the fridge over night (or at least 4 hours according to the original recipe, but mine were soaking for about 18 hours). Apparently soaking your onions in buttermilk will make them soft and tender. I should probably have tested this using a double blinded placebo controlled trial, but for now I will believe that soaking really makes a difference.

The next day, start by pre-heating the oven to 220 degrees C. Then prepare the coating. Mix flour, cornmeal, breadcrumbs and the spices. In a bowl, lightly mix the egg whites. Take a onion ring from the buttermilk, coat in egg white and mix in the coating until covered. Place on a oven sheet covered with parchment paper. Before placing in the oven, spray the onion rings with the olive oil spray lightly. Cook for 10-15 minutes, remove from oven, flip the onion rings, spray with olive oil spray and cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until your desired level of crispness. 

Before baking.
The verdict:
These onion rings certainly are healthier than your average onion ring. They are good, but I would not dare to say anywhere close as good as the real thing. But they have their own charm, the coating certainly is crisp, and you can taste the flavour of the onion much better than in regular onion rings where most of the onion flavour is completely masked by the taste of oil. They were great served with pulled pork burgers. But they are quite a lot of work, coating all the rings and I ended up with four or five oven sheets full of rings. Good thing I have two ovens! Next time I make them, I won't use the world's largest onion, so that I can fit more of the rings onto the baking sheet, that should make things easier.

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