Dans la Cuisine de mon Père

Hesperis, or, Dame’s Rocket

If Marcel, my father, was still alive, he might be blogging along about food today.  Perhaps his French Canadian background pre-disposed him to a passion for food.  He just loved to eat and to cook.  What would he blog about?  Well, Pork Pie, no doubt.  Also known as ‘Tourtiere’.  It was a mainstay of his repertoire.  And he was famous for making Gorton, or ‘Cretons’, as it is more commonly known.  It too is made from pork, seasoned with onions, allspice, nutmeg, and bay leaf, and turned into a spread to be eaten on toast with mustard.  (The troops went wild!) ….. Homemade Baked Beans. ….. Blueberry Muffins were an ongoing research project, for which he would strive tirelessly for a more perfect result. .…. Where to get Oatmeal bread, baked in a brick outdoor oven by the side of the road on the way home from Rye Beach. ….. Who had the best fried clams. ….. Every so often he would indulge his craving and fill a deep heavy pot with oil and make Corn Fritters which we would have with maple syrup.  Or ‘maple flavored syrup’.  Back then we had yet to learn the difference. ….. Exquisite Potatoes roasted in the coals of a bonfire that he would make on a crisp fall evening as the stars were just coming out.  It is one of my first memories of a magical experience.  It captivated all of my senses and my whole being.  It still fills me with gratitude.
And I remember him coming across a recipe for ‘Tea-Fried Onions’ and deciding to try it.  I loved how like a curious, wide-eyed child he seemed.

Recipes involving Caramelized Onions are common these days, but I must say that I don’t care for the technique, which involves painfully slow cooking over medium low heat for up to an hour.  The results just don’t seem to warrant that kind of time.  I see nothing wrong with cranking it up and letting them brown readily.  Forget the coaxing.  The tannic effect of the tea here makes for an interesting quality to pair with other foods.  I like it with a fresh cheese, like a bocconcini, on foccacia.  It has an affinity also for potatoes, mushrooms, and spicy olives. And of course, it’s a natural for beef.
Deviation invitation:  Green, Mint, Lapsang Souchong, Earl Gray…….anybody game?

Recipe: Tea-Fried Onions

2 tbsp. oil
4 onions, sliced
salt and pepper
½ to 1 c. brewed black tea

Heat oil in a large skillet on high heat.  Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.
When they are evenly browned, add salt and lots of pepper.  Now stir in tea in small amounts, scraping the browned bits at the bottom of the pan, using as much tea as you like.





Happy Father’s Day, and I hope you enjoy this version of “Song for my Father”                    by Leon Thomas.

This entry was posted in Food, onions, tea and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Dans la Cuisine de mon Père

  1. donna says:

    Thank you Maureen, for your words, pictures and the video which gave me shivers…

  2. n says:

    Your memories of your father cooking made me reflect upon my own father and his skills in the kitchen. The truth is, he didn’t have any. I remember him breaking my mother’s favourite Corning Ware casserole dish trying to reheat cabbage rolls on top of the stove instead of in the oven. And then there was that time I was playing in the yard in the summer and he came tearing out the back door holding a burning frying pan which he dropped on the grass and sprayed with the hose. My mom was the big cook in our household. But my father, right up until the end of his life, always made the most perfect pot of tea. When I make tea, I pour boiling water into a mug, and then I squish the teabag against the side of the cup with a spoon. My mom does the same thing, but my dad always made tea in a pot, a very old pot that my parents bought in England in the 50s He’d warm the inside of the pot first with a splash of boiling water, pour it out, then add two teabags of Red Rose orange pekoe and more water. Being a slow-moving and introspective man, he’d sit quietly on a chair in the kitchen while the tea steeped. When he poured it out, it would be the perfect colour and a tea-infused cloud of steam would hover over the cup and then dissipate. He’d drink his with milk and sugar. It was his favourite beverage.

    I’m going to try the tea-infused fried onions as a salute to my father, who loved fried onions on just about anything.

    • Maureen says:

      Thanks n. These are cool pictures. Images of our parents’ cooking from the perspective of the child as an adult. Could make an interesting collection. More reflections welcome.

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