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Side dishes. What to do about side dishes for Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season. I posted this cookbook review in March. Suzi and I have been using the book on a regular basis ever since. It’s superior. So superior, that we have bought a copy for our best friends in Knoxville. It’s a surprise and we’re visiting them for Thanksgiving. Side dishes? We know what to do. The Pearl Onion Tart Tatin for sure!

Sometimes a cookbook, even one 334 pages long, is very easy to describe. Onions Etcetera is magnificent, as perfect as a cookbook can be.

The first cookbook by the husband and wife team of Kate Winslow and Guy Ambrosino, surely there will be many more. Kate is the food writer, with a background at Gourmet and participation on other cookbooks. Guy is the photographer with credits in many cookbooks. This partnership has blossomed in Onions.

The subtitle for Onions is The Essential Allium Cookbook. Ah, we use onions and garlic and scallions and chives and we always ignore the fact that they are all part of that lovely family with the Latin name: allium.

Mankind has been cooking with alliums since prehistory, so long in fact that we often think of onion as, well, just onions. A bit more substantial than salt and pepper but just as elemental, as fundamental and therefore not deserving time in the spotlight.

Well, the spotlight is on in Onions. In two ways. First, there are the recipes, an amalgam of ideas from around the world for onions are a world food. Second, the photographs let onions radiate off the page. These are enticing food shots that compel you to try the recipes. This post ends with the shot of the Leek Tart with Feta and Dill. How can you not rush out and make it now? Tonight now?

Every member of the allium family gets attention in the chapters of this book:

  • The Keepers: Yellow and White Storage Onions
  • In the Pink: Red Onions
  • The Honey Bunch: Sweet Onions
  • The Lean Greens: Scallions & Chives
  • Dearly Beloved: Shallots & Leeks
  • The Little: Pearl Onions & Cipollini
  • The Early Birds: Ramps, Spring Onions, Green Garlic & Garlic Scapes

The distinctive flavors, textures and colors of each allium type are described. Then Kate’s recipes follow, cleverly exploiting those characteristics. That Leek Tart, for example, is paired with dill for amplified green color and then subtly paired with feta to just mute the color and smooth the flavor. It’s brilliant, both on the page in the picture and happily in your mouth.

What treats await you? Here’s the “hit list” Suzi and I have prepared to be the first recipes we try:

Escarole Salad with Oranges and Red Onion

Grilled Delicata Squash with Shallot Agrodolce

Pearl Onion Tarte Tatin

Rajas Con Crema

Red Onion Goat Cheese Galette

Roasted Onions Stuffed with Lentils, Feta and Prunes [from Afghanistan!]

Roasted Onions with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

Seared Duck with Cipollini and Cherries

Thai Cucumber Salad

Turkish Onion and Parsley Salad.

Oh, don’t worry, there onion rings, too. Good ones.

We’ve begun testing these dishes and I’ll post a couple of recipes in the coming days. That Red Onion Goat Cheese Galette will bring tears to your eyes. Happy tears. And the Rajas Con Crema is rich, creamy and the perfect match for a Mexican beer.

This is a book with recipes you can trust. We’ve simply followed the directions and, voila, we’ve had intensely satisfying fare. There are a hundred and fifty recipes in Onions. Over time, say a couple of years, we’ll be cooking most of them. We certainly want to share these recipes with our friends so every dinner party now is going to have an onion dish. Perhaps a side, like that Turkish Onion and Parsley Salad. Or, surprisingly, as a main course: the Roasted Onions Stuffed with Lentils, Feta, and Prunes.

Onions Etcetera has just been published. Find a copy, go to the supermarket, and buy onions. Bags of onions and bunches of scallions and garlic. Hurry home. Have an allium weekend. You want supreme food and don’t have time to visit Paris? Open the pages of Onion Etcetera and explore the world.