Spring Break Comeback!
After a couple months’ hiatus and a ski vacation in Tremblant, I’m back! I’ve worked through a few cooking winter blues and distracted myself with a new venture but more on that later.
We all get into ruts, in my case I’d rather refer to as Chef’s Block. Don’t think that I just spent the last couple of months ordering take-out in my pajamas; I was definitely cooking, but simply did not feel inspired. I was constantly at a loss for what to make and an effortless task began to feel like a chore. Although this gave my better half the opportunity to try new things in the kitchen and gain more confidence, I on the other hand was more than content to concede my chef’s knife.
Eventually I was faced with a week’s worth of meal planning for a bit of quality snow time up-north with Mother. I love cooking for my family – especially my mother – but due in part to my culinary hiatus, I was anxious about being responsible for the week’s menu. I finally settled on store-bought duck confit with cardamom roasted root vegetables, a bavette à l’échalotte, a curry, cheese fondue (because it’s an après-ski must!). We were spoiled by visitors with a duck gésier salad prepared by Gourmet Guy (a.k.a. my uncle) and a butternut squash stew prepared by my better half, but eventually we fell short of ingredients…
I rummaged through what we had left in the pantry of our rented cottage and found stale bread, onions, sundried tomatoes, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. In the fridge we had some leftover prosciutto, cheddar cheese and arugula. From those ingredients was born the caramelized onion and sundried tomato relish, which I used as a base for a pizza-like open faced sandwich. This relish can be just as good on it’s as a topping for chicken, pork, breads, anything!
Caramelized Onion and Sundried Tomato Relish
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cups sundried tomatoes, chopped
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Generously drizzle olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of a pan set on medium heat. Add the sliced onion, a pinch of salt and cook slowly until the onions are soft. Add the chopped sundried tomatoes and cook until the onions start to golden. Add the balsamic vinegar and allow its sweetness caramelize the mixture. Finally, season with salt and pepper to taste. Careful not to add too much salt especially if you’re serving this with cheddar and prosciutto that are already fairly salty ingredients.
Now it’s time to put together the open faced pizza-sandwich: Take a slice of baguette and spread some of the relish over it. Top with some arugula and a sprinkle of shredded cheese. Bake in a 400°F oven until warm and the cheese is melted. Remove from oven and serve it topped with a slice of prosciutto. As a general rule, I avoid heating through or cooking prosciutto because I find it alters its taste.
This makes for a great snack or soup and sandwich meal anytime! You can always shrink it down to scale and make yummy crostini hors d’oeuvres.