A fable on onions from The Brother’s Karamozov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the translation by Constance Garnett:
“You see, Alyosha,” Grushenka turned to him with a nervous laugh. “I was boasting when I told Rakitin I had given away an onion, but it’s not to boast I tell you about it. It’s only a story, but it’s a nice story. I used to hear it when I was a child from Matryona, my cook, who is still with me. It’s like this. ‘Once upon a time there was a peasant woman and a very wicked woman she was. And she died and did not leave a single good deed behind. The devils caught her and plunged her into the lake of fire. So her guardian angel stood and wondered what good deed of hers he could remember to tell to God; ‘she once pulled up an onion in her garden,’ said he, ‘and gave it to a beggar woman.’ And God answered: ‘You take that onion then, hold it to her in the lake, and let her take hold and be pulled out. And if you can pull her out of the lake, let her come to Paradise, but if the onion breaks, then the woman must stay where she is.’ The angel ran to the woman and held out the onion to her; ‘Come,’ said he, ‘catch hold and I’ll pull you out.’ And he began cautiously pulling her out. He had just pulled her right out, when the other sinners in the lake, seeing how she was being drawn out, began catching hold of her so as to be pulled out with her. But she was a very wicked woman and she began kicking them. ‘I’m to be pulled out, not you. It’s my onion, not yours.’”
Of course, on account of her greed, the onion breaks, and the woman falls back into the fiery lake. The moral? Share your onions. The other moral? One good deed can save millions.
The picture is blurry because KP was hurrying to eat it. Sorry.
Caramelized Onion Pizza
Adapted from Baking Illustrated
INGREDIENTS for the Basic Pizza Dough
1/2 cup warm water (about 110°)
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp.) instant yeast
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting (used all-purpose)
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
olive oil or non-stick cooking spray for greasing the bowl
For the Extras
3 cups pizza sauce, I use marinara
2 medium yellow onions, haved and sliced thin
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
¼ cup grated Parmesan
- Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room temperature water and stir to combine.
- Add flour and salt to the liquid ingredients. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.
- Shape into smooth round ball and cover with a damp cloth. Let dough relax for at least 10 minutes (no more than 30 minutes)
- Saute onions until caramelized. Stir in thyme and set aside.
- Brush rolled out dough round with oil. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce even over dough round, leaving ½ inch border. Scatter a third of the onions over the sauce. Add olives or anchovies if that is your thing.
- Slide on peel (covered with corn meal) onto pizza stone (which should have been heated for at least 30 minutes at 500 degrees) and bake for 8 to 12 minutes. Remove pizza from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan.
- Repeat with the two other rounds.
This pizza was fantastic. I am CRAVING another one right now having just run a few loops through the hills on Whidbey Island. The unexpected joy from yesterday’s late season snow was that today, as the sun shone and the snow curled back from the edges of the roads like lips from their teeth in smile, I felt Spring as verb. Pure verb.