Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sweet Onion Pie

Food confuses me. Until a few weeks ago, I assumed “pilates” was a Greek appetizer. Wrong-o. I also used to think “Sherbet was a tip on a hot stock. It isn’t

The food Costco sells confuses me even more. Costco is the world’s third largest retailer, yet still manages to convey the impression that it’s the county fair of food retailing. The demonstrators who hand out free samples are a big part of that mystique. Trained to remain calm under pressure, they never snap, as I would: “The pizza will be ready in five minutes. Don’t push, sir. SIR!!! Don’t push. 

“Ma’am? Could you please remove your son’s nose from the hot glass of my toaster oven? The pizza will be ready in four minutes. 

“Sir? Yes, you, bozo! Please don’t drool on my demo table. The pizza will be ready in three minutes…” 

Costco recently sold my sister a machine called - (I don’t want to be sued! Let’s reword this!). Costco recently sold my sister a no-name machine (nudge-nudge, wink-wink) that buzzes up fruit to make smoothies so dis-gus-ting (not the machine’s fault; my sister doesn’t know how to cook) that my sister never eats the purées she produces, instead turning them into fruit-based facials to eliminate wrinkles. She now needs another machine to eliminate fruit flies.

One chilly winter’s day, my pal Leslie and I took refuge in Costco. We made the mistake of shopping on a weekend lunch hour (Translation: Costco had free food up the ying-yang. I think Costco sells Ying-Yangs in a handy pack of 10 dozen, not far from the Doritos). Ravenous, we descended on the demonstrators’ samples like seagulls on a sandwich. 

After stuffing our maws with every morsel we could, Leslie and I  covered our heads with winter scarves, faked Russian accents («Что эта очень вкусный еда? Я должен пробовать его!»), and circled the store a second time to eat still more free food before spending $2,042.69 on groceries (or maybe $204 … decimal points also confuse me).

Leslie and I had sampled something like $1.41 worth of free food in tiny paper muffin cups. Any behavioral psychologist worth his Tostitos will name free food as the No. 1 factor guaranteed to drive crazed shoppers into a food-buying frenzy. 

I once heard an elderly man ask a Costco butcher how much salt was in Costco’s scrumptious roast chickens. “Salt? There isn’t any salt!” came the butcher’s assuring words. As the customer happily placed a chicken in his cart, the butcher added sotto voce: “They’ve been brined, is all.” The old guy froze, thought for a moment, and then shrugged. “Well, that’s okay, then.” I now rate Costco’s food super-confusing. 

What does this have to do with Sweet Onion Pie? I happen to know that Cougars hang out at Costco, where you least expect to find them. Oh, I’ve seen them in their push-up bras, false eyelashes, hair extensions, and kitten heels, trolling for younger men.

When they find an unsuspecting victim with no wedding ring and a $9.99 frozen pizza the size of a truck tire under his arm, the Cougar will “innocently” block his path, asking in a pained, weak voice: “I can’t lift this 50-lb. sack of onions. Can you help me?” 

The moment he does, he’s trapped. Ramping her push-up bra a tetch higher, the spider says to the fly: “Even though I’m single, I’m making Sweet Onion Pie tonight. Why don’t I just be very forward and ask you to dinner at my house as a way of expressing my thanks?” 

Mesmerized by her, um, conversation, the guy ditches the pizza and agrees to be there at 8. This isn’t confusing, at all. Ladies! If you’re single, you must shop at Costco! And learn to make this delicious main-dish pie that I’ve adapted from The Joy of Cooking.

Sweet Onion Pie:

Pastry to make one 9-inch pie (see Note)
3 tbsp. butter or margarine
2-1/2 lb. (1.13 kg) sweet onions, thinly sliced
3 whole eggs
1 c. dairy sour cream
1 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley and/or 1 tsp. celery seed
1 egg white, slightly beaten
3 or 4 crumbled, cooked sausages, drained and blotted of fat

Preheat oven to 450 deg. F. Line a 9-in. pie pan with pastry. Trim and flute pastry edges; prick base with fork tines. Transfer pastry-filled pan to freezer for 10 min. On a circle of parchment trimmed slightly smaller than the interior of the pie shell, place enough pie weights to keep the pastry from bubbling and breaking. Bake unfilled shell 10-to-12 min., until slightly browned. Cool shell thoroughly on wire rack. Do not turn off oven.

Melt butter or margarine in large, heavy saucepan. Add onions, stirring over low heat until translucent. Cover pot, sweating onions over lowest heat until cooked through. Set aside until thoroughly cooled. In a medium bowl, combine whole eggs, sour cream, and seasonings. Stir into cooled, cooked onions, combining well. Set aside.

Brush slightly beaten egg white over baked, cooled pie shell. Heap slightly cooled onion mixture into partially baked pie shell. Crumble cooked sausage over onion mixture in shell. Bake 10 min. at 450 deg. F. Reduce heat to 300 deg. F., cooking an additional 25-to-30 min., until crust is golden. Serve hot. Makes 4-to-6 servings.

Note: The Index to this blog has several excellent recipes for pie pastry filed under Pies: Pastry.

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