This week we bring you another fantastic recipe from our resident home-cook extraordinaire, Deborah DeBord, who offers this scrumptious use for all the onions tumbling in these days. It was originally developed for a celebratory Nobel Prize supper party and sometimes she takes it to a friend’s table when asked to bring an appetizer. As she states, “The only-ever complaint is that folks have not left room for the meal to come. It’s that good.”

—Mi Ae

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Growing up a skipping stone away from NASA in Houston, I never thought it odd that my father dragged out camping mattresses for all us kidz to stare at the heavens. We bragged in turn about which astronaut’s car had been spotted at the Telewink Drive-In and double-dog dared Danny to flirt with the red-haired ‘hop on skates. We knew a constellation of stories and made up much better ones studded with bloody murder and pillaging pirates. Fireflies graciously replaced skeeters, and we rolled around until family come-home whistles and bells rang up and down the bayou.

I bring this brand of festive wonder to the table in honoring my friend, Nancy B., a Nobel Prize winner in physics. They say she might have found the actual beginning of the universe. And her husband Al’s work on the Hubble telescope brings us closer to other worlds. We start with this friendly warm cheese and wonder what is on the backside of the full moon. Life is so dang good tonight—my teeth hurt.

Baked Brie with Caramelized Onions
Serves 8 stargazers

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced fresh herb of choice (pungent is good)
5 plump cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
½ cup dry white wine, divided
1 teaspoon sugar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 (25-ounce) uncut wheel of good Brie with the rind, packed in its wooden box
2 baguettes, thinly sliced
Plenty of broccoli and cauliflower florets, carrot sticks, or any raw vegetable of choice

  1. Melt the butter in a deep, heavy skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions until they turn just tender. Add the herb and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the onions, stirring constantly, until they are golden, about ½ hour.
  2. Add the garlic and continue stirring for 2 minutes. Add ¼ cup of the wine and continue stirring for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle the sugar on top and continue stirring until it has caramelized, about 9 minutes. Add the remaining ¼ cup wine and stir until it has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and cool. (This can be done a day or two in advance and refrigerated.)
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°Fahrenheit. Remove the Brie from its box, but reserve the bottom of the box. Slice only the top rind off the Brie wheel, leaving the edible sides and bottom intact.  Place the Brie back on its box bottom, rind side down, and place it (box and all) on a baking sheet. Carefully pile the onion mixture on top of the cheese.
  4. Bake until the cheese has melted, about 30 minutes.
  5. Slide the box and all onto a platter and surround it with bread, veggies, itty-bitty knives, and plates all ’round.

Cook’s tips and tricks: Most of the prep work can be done at least a day in advance, leaving the cook much more rested for starry-eyed conversation.

—Deborah DeBord, Ph.D.
Picked at the Peak

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