How to Cook and Prepare Onions

By: JohnBarnes

When only the flavor of onions is desired in a salad or a cooked dish of some sort, such as a dressing for fowl, hash, or any similar combination of food ingredients, the onion should be added in the form of juice and pulp rather than in pieces. Then it will not be possible to observe the onion when it is mixed with the food nor to come across small pieces of it when the food is eaten. To prepare an onion in this way, peel it, cut off a crosswise slice, and then grate the onion on a grater over a shallow dish. Add the juice and pulp thus obtained to any food that calls for onion as a flavoring.

When onions are to be used as a vegetable for the table, they require cooking, but first of all they must be peeled. This is at best a rather unpleasant task, because the fumes from the strong volatile oil are irritating to both the eyes and the nostrils. However, it may be done more comfortably by keeping the onions immersed in cold water during the peeling. Remove only the dry outside shells, and, if the onions are large, cut them in halves or quarters. However, as the various layers are likely to fall apart when the onion is cut, it is advisable to select medium-sized or small onions, for these may be cooked whole. After the onions have been peeled, they may be cooked in a variety of ways.

Perhaps the simplest method of cooking onions is to boil them. To allow the strong volatile oil to escape instead of being reabsorbed by the onions, and thus improve the flavor of the onions, the cover should be kept off the vessel while they are cooking. The water in which this vegetable is cooked has not a very agreeable flavor, so no use should be made of it. Peel the desired number of onions and if necessary cut them into halves or quarters. Place them in sufficient boiling water to cover well. Cook in an uncovered vessel until tender enough to be easily pierced with a fork, but not so soft as to fall apart. Then pour off the water, season with more salt, if necessary, and a little pepper, and add 1 tablespoonful of butter for each four persons to be served.Serve hot.

A cream sauce added to onions makes a very appetizing dish. In fact, most persons prefer creamed onions to any other method of preparation. Prepare the onions according to the directions given in Art. 49. When they are tender enough to be easily pierced with a fork, drain. Melt the butter, and add the flour, salt, pepper, and hot milk. Cook until the sauce thickens, pour over the stewed onions, heat together for a few minutes, and serve. If variety in thepreparation of onions is desired, baked onions should be ried. Select medium-sized onions, peel them, and then boil them whole in boiling salted water until they are almost tender. Drain off the water, place the onions in a shallow dish, brush with butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in a hot oven and bake until brown on one side; then turn them and brown on the other side. Serve hot.

When large onions can be secured, a very appetizing as well as attractive dish can be prepared by stuffing them and then baking them brown. Onions cooked in this way will appear.Peel the onions and cook them in boiling salted water until almost tender. Remove from the water and take out the inner portions of the onions, leaving the outside layers in the shape of a cup. Chop the portions of the onions which have been removed and mix with the bread crumbs. Melt the butter, add to it the chopped onion, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and celery salt, and stir all together for a few minutes over the flame. Add the milk, and if the 1/4 cupful is not sufficient to make the stuffing moist, add more. Fill the onion shells with the stuffing, place in a hot oven, and bake until brown. Serve immediately.

Parsnips are an important root vegetable, being closely allied to carrots. They are used to a certain extent during the summer when they are immature, but generally they are allowed to mature so that they may be stored for use as a winter vegetable. Parsnips have an advantage over many vegetables in that they have excellent keeping qualities and are particularly hardy, being able to withstand considerable freezing and thawing when they are left in the groundduring the winter. However, as they grow older, they develop a woody texture, as do beets and turnips, and so at the end of the winter require longer cooking than at the beginning.

In food value, parsnips are somewhat higher than other root vegetables, containing a large amount of carbohydrate, which occurs in the form of sugar. Although they are wholesome and nourishing, they have a peculiar, sweetish flavor that is due to the volatile oil they contain and is objectionable to some persons. Still, those who are fond of this flavor find that parsnips afford an excellent opportunity to give variety to the diet, for they may be prepared in a number of ways, most of which are similar to the ways in which carrots are cooked. In preparing parsnips for cooking, scrape them, if possible, instead of peeling them, so as not to waste any of the edible material. Then, too, try to obtain medium-sized parsnips, for they will be of much better quality than the larger ones. If uneven sizes must be used, the larger ones should be cut before being cooked, so that they will be similar in size to the smaller ones and therefore cook in the same length of time.

A very simple way in which to prepare parsnips is to mash them. Clean and scrape the desired number of parsnips and put them to cook in sufficient boiling salted water to cover. Cook until tender enough to be pierced with a fork, the length of time required to do this depending entirely on the age of the parsnips. When tender, drain off the water and force the parsnips through a colander or a sieve. Season with butter, salt, and pepper, and serve hot. Parsnips are sometimes cut into dice and then served with a cream, sauce. When it is desired to prepare them in this way, the accompanying directions should be carefully followed.

Clean and scrape the parsnips and cut them into dice 1/2 inch in size. Put these to cook in sufficient boiling salted water to cover, cook until they may be easily pierced with a fork, and then drain. Melt the butter in a double boiler, and add the flour, salt, and pepper. Stir in the hot milk, and cook until the mixture thickens. Pour this sauce over the parsnips, heat together for a few minutes, and serve.

Parsnips that are browned and sweetened with sugar seem to meet with greater favor than those prepared by other methods. To prepare them in this way, clean and scrape the desired number of parsnips, and slice them in thick slices, or, if they are small, cut them in halves lengthwise. Put them to cook in boiling salted water and cook until they may be easily pierced with a fork, but are not tender enough to fall to pieces. Melt some fat in a frying pan, and place the slices of cooked parsnips in it. Brown on one side, turn, and then brown on the other. Sprinkle with a little sugar and, if necessary, additional salt.Serve. In addition to beans and lentils, the class of vegetables called legumes includes PEAS, which, both green and dried, are used for food. In composition, there is a decided difference between the two varieties of peas, the green ones being about equal to green corn in food value, and the dried ones having a food value nearly four times as great. In each case, the food substance in the greatest amount is in the form of carbohydrate. In green peas, this is in the form of sugar, while in dried ones it is changed into starch. Peas also contain protein in the form of legumin, there being three times as much of this substance in dried peas as in green ones. The amount found in green peas is sufficient to be of importance in the diet, but the percentage of this substance is so great in dried peas that they may be used very satisfactorily as a meat substitute.

Numerous varieties of green peas are found on the market. A few of them are cooked in the pods, especially when the peas are very young, and are eaten pods and all, just as are string beans. Most of them, however, are allowed to mature further and only the peas are eaten, the shell being discarded. When green peas are purchased, they are always found in the pods. For the peas to be most satisfactory, the pods should be fresh and green and shouldappear to be well filled. Flat-looking pods mean that the peas have not matured sufficiently. After being purchased, the peas should not be removed from the pods until they are to be cooked. However, if it is necessary that they stand for any length of time after they are shelled, they should be kept in a cool place in order to prevent them from shriveling. Their cooking is similar to that of any other fresh vegetable; that is, they should be cooked inboiling salted water in a covered vessel until they are tender enough to be easily crushed between the fingers or pierced with a fork. With this preliminary preparation, they may be dressed in any desirable manner.

Dried peas, because of their nature, require a different kind of preparation from green peas. In fact, their cooking is similar to that of dried beans. They require long slow cooking and are improved if they are first parboiled in water to which a pinch of soda has been added. They are not used extensively except in the making of soups or occasionally for a purée or a soufflé, but as they are very high in food value and can be used as a meat substitute, they shouldhave a prominent place in the dietary of most families. Many of the ways in which dried beans and lentils are prepared are fully as applicable in the case of dried peas. When peas are young and tender, no more appetizing way to prepare them can be found than to boil them and then serve them with butter. Select fresh green peas with full pods, wash in cold water, and remove the peas from the shells. Put to cook in enough boiling salted water to cover well, and cook untiltender. Pour off all but a small amount of the water, using the part poured off for making soup or sauce. Add 1 tablespoonful of butter for each four persons to be served, and season with additional salt if necessary and a dash of pepper. Serve hot.