Set against the slate gray skies of winter, the kitchen calls. With my hip pressed against the counter and the trusty wooden spoon I found in the back of a drawer in my first London home, I stand and stir with wafts of steam creating a makeshift heater. In the midst of the season of soup, I have swirled pots of stock until the freezer was brimming. Slowly caramelizing onions is a satisfactory substitute to soup-making; it is a long process that continues to warm the kitchen during the last of the chilly days.

De Scott Evans, A Plate of Onions, 1889
oil on canvas, 25.4 x 30.4 cm

The small canvas, A Plate of Onions, predates the other work by Evans adapted on this blog. Whereas A new variety try one epitomizes the trompe l’oeil style for which the artist was renowned, the onion painting illustrates his mastery of texture from the wispy roots to the crinkly skin and smooth pearly flesh of the vegetable. The painting is composed of an array of brown tones and the rotund shape of the onion is mirrored in the oval platter upon which they are grouped.

{Caramelized Onion Flatbread}

Yield: 4 servings

1 sheet frozen shortcrust pastry
2 large onions
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons seeded mustard
small bunch of fresh marjoram

Remove the sheet of shortcrust pastry from the freezer and allow to thaw. Meanwhile, slice the onions into crescents. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and add the onions. Stir well and add the salt and cook for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep the onions from burning. After 10 minutes, add the Worcestershire sauce and dried thyme. Stir well and continue to cook for an additional 5-10 minutes until the onions are completely soft. Mix in the sour cream and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 220C. Spread the seeded mustard over the pastry and place on a buttered baking tray. Cover the pastry with the onion mixture and slide into the oven for about 15 minutes until the pastry is fully cooked and the top is golden. Remove from the oven, cut into squares and scatter the fresh marjoram leaves over the top of the flatbread.