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Cheddar Apple Galette with Red Onion Marmalade

December 9, 2010

Apparently it’s onion week. I never met an onion I didn’t like: white, green, purple, big or small, sweet or hot. In honor of onion week, here are some onion fun-facts:

  • There are believed to be various health benefits from eating onions, such as a boost to the immune system and a defense against osteoporosis. (Wikipedia)
  • Some followers of Vaishnavism, a sect of Hinduism, don’t eat onions or garlic because they are thought to be foods of passion and ignorance which “stimulate the central nervous system and can disturb vows of celibacy.”
  • In the Bible (Numbers 11:5), onions are one of the foods the crabby desert-wanderers remember fondly from Egypt. (Along with cucumbers, melons and leeks.)
  • In the days of wooden sailing ships, onions were prescribed to sailors at sea as prevention and cure for scurvy. (Lind’s A Treatise on the Scurvy, 1772) This is perfectly logical since scurvy comes from a deficiency in Vitamin C, which onions have in abundance. I remember learning as a kid that clumsy or forgetful sailors would be forced to eat raw onions as punishment, since their sluggishness was blamed on the scurvy.
  • This wouldn’t have been a problem for George Armstrong Custer, who loved to eat raw onions. In one letter, he teased his wife about his plan to eat a whole box of them: “Go it, old fellow! Make the most of your liberties! You are on the home-stretch now, and school soon commences;” in other words, “If you intend to eat raw onions, now is your only time, for ‘missus is comin’.'” (September 10, 1873 )

I’ve loved the apple/cheddar/red onion combination for a long time – mostly in grilled cheese sandwiches – but wanted to do something new with it, something in pie form.

First, the onion marmalade. If you haven’t gotten the hint by now, you must love onions. If you don’t, it’s probably not worth it to make this part of the dish. However, for an onion lover, this sticky concoction is a singular treat. Start with some red onions:

Slice and put in a pot with brown sugar, honey, cider vinegar and white wine.

Simmer on low for 30 minutes until the sugar is dissolved and the onions are soft. (I probably had the heat on too high, because mine was a little dry, but no matter.)

Add orange and lemon juices and simmer for another 30 minutes or so until you have a sticky substance. The citrus really brings out the sweetness in the onion.

Set aside and let cool.

Galette components are now ready to go: crust (from Smitten Kitchen), onions, Braeburn apples and mature cheddar. I’m cheating a bit and using my pie dish for this, since my baking sheets aren’t big enough, but usually you would lay your round galette crust on a flat surface and assemble it that way.

Spread a thin layer of onions on the bottom, about half a cup. The flavor of these was really strong, so even I might use a little less next time.

Arrange the apple slices in some kind of attractive pattern, but don’t stress about it too much. It’s all going to be covered in cheese anyway. (The “cheese” tag in the right column just keeps getting bigger and bigger.)

The cheese. This is a mature cheddar, probably labeled “sharp cheddar” in the US. It does need to be a pretty robust cheddar to stand up to the onions. I like my cheese like I like my men…strong but melt-able. Unfortunately, the comparison falls apart when you get into odors. Anyway, pile it on and fold the crust over it, pleating as you go.

Brush the crust with an egg yolk beaten with a splash of water. Then bake for 30-40 minutes.

Mine was done right at 35 minutes and I let it cool a bit. I think this is best if it’s just slightly warm. I had some extra ingredients, so I made a baby galette, which would make a fun, if labor-intensive, appetizer.

Delicious with a big salad and a glass of wine. I still can’t decide if this is dinner or dessert, maybe a bit of both. It definitely cracks open the door to onion dessert possibilities. My food guinea-pig (i.e. husband) took a bite and said, “this tastes weird,” but then he ate two more slices and had it for breakfast the next day, so I’ll take that as a sign to make more “weird” things in the future.

Cheddar-Apple Galette with Red Onion Marmalade

1 galette crust, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen (I used Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream)
½ cup of red-onion marmalade (See recipe below)
2 sweet and crisp apples, medium-sized, cored and sliced
1 heaping cup of mature cheddar cheese, shredded
1 egg yolk, beaten with a splash of water

1. Preheat oven to 400°F / 200°C
2. Roll out crust to a large circle. Transfer to a baking sheet or pie-pan.
3. Spread out a thin layer of onion marmalade on top, leaving a few inches of empty crust around the edge.
4. Arrange apples on top of marmalade, and cheese on top of apples.
5. Fold crust over the edge of the filling, pleating to keep a round shape. Brush crust with egg yolk.
6. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the crust and cheese are golden.
7. Let cool a bit and cut into slices.

Red Onion Marmalade

Adapted from Joy of Cooking (original recipe called for red wine and red wine vinegar)
Makes 2 cups, much more than you need for the recipe above.

3½ large red onions, quartered and cut into 1/4-inch slices
⅓ cup dry white wine
⅓ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup honey
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon orange juice

1. Stir together onions, wine, vinegar, sugar and honey in a pot. Cover and simmer, stirring often, for 30 minutes.
2. Add lemon and orange juice. Continue to simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring. Let cool.

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