Jennifer & Julia
One of the easiest ways I know of to add Vitamin C, fiber and a bunch of other healthful nutrients to my family's diet is to use onions in just about every dinner I cook. The pungent bulbs, members of the allium family, provide a dose of fiber, an even bigger dose of Vitamin C (one cup contains 20 percent of the daily value), plus Vitamin B6, folate, potassium, manganese and chromium, which helps your cells respond properly to insulin.
Onions are thought -- though not conclusively proven -- to help guard against many forms of cancer, reduce risk of heart disease and fight inflammation in the body. All for just 64 calories a cup.
So we soften or brown them in olive oil to form the base of sauces, add a slice of raw Vidalia to a sandwich and chop a handful or so into every salad. Not just for the nutrition; they just taste great!
Onions figure large in the French cuisine described in Julia Child's landmark "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," the nutritional aspects of which I write about in this week's "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column. One look at the book's technique for dicing an onion, though, convinced me that my sloppy chopping wouldn't pass muster.
In the spirit of Julie Powell, whose experiment in working her way through Child's cookbook in a year (and documenting her progress in a blog) is chronicled in the movie Julie & Julia, opening on Friday, I decided to try preparing a diced onion Julia Child's way. (Lesson learned: To get a nice dice, start with a sharp knife.)
The technique's pretty simple: Cut the onion (or shallot) in half, through the root. Lay one half cut-side down, with the root end on your left. Cut slices perpendicular to the root, slicing close to the root but not through the root. Then cut horizontal slices, your blade parallel to the cutting board, again stopping just short of the root. Finally, turn your blade perpendicular to the board and make downward cuts to create a dice.
Why bother learning to dice an onion? Or, for that matter, to braise a meat or make mayonnaise? From a cook's point of view, dicing an onion properly allows it to cook uniformly and to look pretty on the plate.
From a nutrition-conscious point of view, learning to cook things right can enhance our overall enjoyment of food. Taking time to relish the careful preparation of food shifts some of our pleasure away from the mere shoving of food into our mouths and help us savor what we eat all the more, in appreciation of the work that went into the meal. It's the opposite effect of sticking your snout into a bag of chips and inhaling.
As Julia Child would say, bon appetit!
Posted by: jeebers | August 4, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: floof | August 6, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: petweis | August 7, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Jennifer LaRue Huget | August 11, 2009 7:38 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.