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Where would cooks be without onions? One of the principal flavour-makers in the kitchen, stews, soups, casseroles, quick salads and sauces are all enhanced by this most humble but wonderful of vegetables, together with its tiny, milder cousin the shallot, which also plays an important role.Over the years, I’ve been given countless methods of how not to cry when preparing them. One enterprising person even sent me a battery-operated fan to fan away the fumes, but I can honestly say that nothing really works. For chopping, however, food processors have made things a lot easier, and now there aren’t as many tears as there used to be.
How to prepare onions
Slicing: if you want to slice them, cut off the root end, then peel away the skin. Slice in whole round slices and separate into rings, or else cut the onion in half first and then slice into half-moon shapes.
Chopping: rough chopping is as above, making about 3 cuts vertically across each onion and then 3 horizontally.
Chopping small (without a processor): this time leave the root intact, then peel away the skin from the top end. Now cut the onion in half and place each half on a flat surface, round-side up. Next, make cuts vertically from the root end but leaving the root intact to hold it together. Then make horizontal cuts across the vertical cuts whilst you hold on to the root end firmly. The last cut will be the little root bit and this can be discarded.
Oven-Fried Onions: Well, they’re actually roasted, but you get the same effect without having to stand over them. They are particularly lovely served with sausages and mash or for steak and onions. Serves 2. 8 oz (225 g) onions, peeled, 1 teaspoon groundnut or other flavourless oil,1 level teaspoon golden caster sugar. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C).
First of all you need to cut the onions into ¼ inch (5 mm) slices, then place them in a bowl, add the oil and sugar and toss the onions around to get the lightest coating. Then spread them out on a baking tray and place on a high shelf of the oven for 14-15 minutes – they need to be nicely blackened round the edges.
Kedgeree... to good to only have for breakfast.
Celery has such a lot going for it as a raw ingredient in salads, and because of that we rather forget how good it is cooked and served as a vegetable. This method is delightfully quick and easy, and tastes just wonderful.
This is a lovely spicy salad with Moroccan overtones – perfect for a buffet lunch, party or serving with cold cuts and spicy chutneys.
The golden rule of stir-frying rice successfully is to always make sure the cooked rice is absolutely cold. In other words, you can't boil it and stir-fry straight away because it goes all sticky.
I've always loved the fragrant flavour of spiced pilau rice, and could easily eat it just on its own, adding nuts to give it some crunch. However, it's also an excellent accompaniment to any spiced or curried dish.
Spiced Pilau Rice is part of the Delia Online Cookery School so you can watch this recipe being make by clicking on the video beneath the Method
This, thankfully, is a Thai recipe that doesn't require all the speciality ingredients that are sometimes so elusive. The list of ingredients seems rather long, but it is made in moments and has a lovely fragrant flavour.
Make the peppers ahead for an easy dish when entertaining. Stuffing vegetables with a mixture of rice, nuts and dried fruit adds plenty of flavour and a very Mediterranean element.
Dhal is simply the Indian word for lentils. The best kind to use for this are the red split lentils which most supermarkets stock.
This is a delicious, summery soup, but it can be made in the winter with two finely chopped leeks instead of the lettuce leaves. Don't be tempted to use stock, as this detracts from the fresh flavour of the carrots.