It must be spring: The onion is bloomin'


From Box Elder, S.D., Pat Pfeifer writes: "I'm looking for a recipe to compare to the bloomin' onion which I had at the Outback restaurant in Kansas City, Mo. Also, the dip that went with it. Thanks for any help you can give."

From Baltimore, Erin Branham responded: "This is for the dip and the bloomin' onion that she had at the Outback restaurant. It can be found in Todd Wilbur's 'Top Secret Restaurant Recipes' cookbook. Enjoy!"

Bloomin' Onion

Serves 2 to 4 as an appetizer

1 egg

1 cup milk

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

1/8 teaspoon cumin

1 giant Spanish onion (3/4 pound or more)

vegetable oil for frying

Beat the egg and combine it with the milk in a medium bowl big enough to hold the onion. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, peppers, oregano, thyme and cumin.

Now it's time to slice the onion -- the trickiest part. First, slice 3/4 inch to 1 inch off the top and bottom of the onion. Remove the papery skin. Use a thin knife to hollow out a 1-inch diameter core through the middle of the onion. Now use a very sharp, large knife to slice the onion across the diameter to create the "petals" of the onion. Slice through the center of the onion to about 3/4 of the way down. Turn the onion 90 degrees and slice it again, making an "X" across the onion with the first slice.

Keep slicing the sections in half, very carefully, until you've cut the onion 16 times. Do not cut down to the bottom. The last 8 slices are a little difficult; just use a steady hand and don't worry if your onion doesn't look like a perfect flower. It'll still taste good.

Spread the petals of the onion apart. The onion sections tend to stick together, so you'll want to separate them to make coating easier.

Dip the onion in the milk-egg mixture, and then coat it liberally with the dry ingredients. Again, separate the petals and sprinkle the dry coating between them. Once you're sure the onion is well-coated, dip it back into the wet mixture and into the dry coating again. This double dipping makes sure you have a well-coated onion; some of the coating tends to wash off when you fry the onion. Let the onion rest in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes while you get the oil ready.

Heat the oil in a deep fryer or deep pot to 350 degrees. Make sure you use enough oil to completely cover the onion when it fries. Fry the onion right side up in the oil for 10 minutes or until it turns brown.

When the onion has browned, remove it from the oil and let it drain on a rack or paper towels.

Open the onion wider from the center so that you can put a small dish of the dipping sauce in the center. You may also use ketchup.

Erin's hint: "When trying to slice the onion into the petals, put one or two skewers (crosswise if two) in the bottom of the onion to prevent the knife from cutting all the way through the onion."

Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons ketchup

2 tablespoons cream-style horseradish

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon dried oregano

dash ground black pepper

dash cayenne pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Keep the sauce covered in the refrigerator until needed.

Tester Laura Reiley's comments: "The sauce is a very lively, horseradishy dip. It would be pleasant with a number of fried appetizers. With the onion, the trick is clearly all in the cutting. If dTC you don't cut deep enough into the onion, the petals don't get coated far enough down, so the base is just a mushy, slimy onion. If you cut too far down, the onion falls apart before you can even get it into the oil. I would say that you should cut it about a thumb's width from the bottom. The double-dipping in milk mixture and dry coating ensures that the onion has a crunchy, golden shell after it's been fried. This recipe really does resemble the bloomin' onion from the Outback restaurant."

Recipe requests

Audrey Oliver of Baltimore wants two recipes. "One is the butter crunch cookie made by Silber's Bakery. They were thin and crunchy, with an almost lacy look. The other dish is beef or a steak in Marsala wine sauce served at Thompson's Sea Girt Restaurant."

Joseph T. Hoskins of Rock Hall wants a recipe "for old-fashioned rhubarb cobbler."

Ernest A. Ling of Johnstown, Pa., wants a recipe for ring liver pudding.

Beth Woodell of Baltimore wants a recipe for white chocolate almond pie similar to that served at Louie's the Bookstore Cafe. "It had, I believe, an almond pastry crust, a white filling similar to a pecan filling in consistency, and a topping of coconut, slivered almonds and shaved white chocolate."

Cathi Coleman of Springdale, Ark., would like to have a recipe for a coffeecake that was on the Multibran Chex cereal box. "It used the crushed cereal and called for applesauce poured over it. It was a wonderful breakfast dish. Thank you for your help."

Michelle Harriage of Olympia, Wash., is seeking a recipe she enjoyed in Tucson, Ariz., in the 1980s. "There was a bakery which made an outrageous chocolate torte which they called divorce cake. It had a hard chocolate covering. I've tried every way to locate the bakery, which was near Eighth Street in Tucson. I'd sure appreciate your finding this torte. It must have been something if I still remember it 14 years later."

If you are looking for a recipe or can answer a request for a hard-to-find recipe, write to Ellen Hawks, Recipe Finder, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278. If you send in more than one recipe, put each on a separate sheet of paper with your name, address and daytime phone number. Important: Please list the ingredients in order of use, and note the number of servings each recipe makes.

Pub Date: 6/03/98

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