January 31, 2010

Say Cheese

Leftovers are a beautiful thing, especially on a Friday night at the end of a long week.  Refrigerator check: paltry pickings. Several kinds of cheese, leftover chicken, assorted veggies, enough to make a salad. On any other night that would seem a perfectly reasonable and fast alternative to cooking something from scratch.

There was something else - the balsamic onion marmalade we made from The Zuni Café Cookbook last weekend.  Nothing seemed immediately obvious, certainly not anything that could be teased into some semblance of a main dish.  But that marmalade was so good - jammy and tart and sweet all at the same time - that it seemed a shame not to use it somehow.
And so to one person dinner standby - the grilled cheese sandwich.  No reason not to make a gourmet version.  Rowe Farms bacon, some beautifully nutty Gruyère cheese, the marmalade, all nestled between two slices of Nuala's Irish soda bread, sparingly spread with unsalted butter.  I toast the sandwich slooooowly on a cast iron griddle over low heat.  A glass of wine is the perfect complement to what turns out to be a delightful dinner chez moi.

Balsamic Onion Marmalade
adapted from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook

Two medium red onions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp tupelo honey
1 small bay leaf
¾ c. red wine, such as Pinot Noir
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp sherry vinegar

1.  Combine onions, oil and salt in a medium saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.  Uncover and continue cooking until any moisture has evaporated, about 10 minutes more.

2.  Stir in the honey and cook for five minutes.  Add the bay leaf and red wine, bring to a simmer and cook until the wine is syrupy, about 45 minutes. 

3. Add the two vinegars and cook until the liquid is syrupy again.  Taste and adjust for salt, sweetness and acidity.

4.  Raise the heat slightly to evaporate the last of the liquid, about 5 minutes.  The marmalade should be glossy, with a deep rich colour.

Makes approx. 1 cup.  Keeps, well-covered and refrigerated, for several weeks.

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