Back & Better Than Ever

Sometimes there is nothing more satisfying than a caramelized onion.  Last weekend I was planning a small dinner and wine party and I really wanted to “wow” the crowd with something a bit more sophisticated than expected.  In my search I stumbled upon—literally on—a recipe for a caramelized onion tart with gorgonzola and brie.  The concept was simple, a flatbread on puff pastry with the onions as a base and topped off with gorgonzola, brie, and a sprinkling of tarragon.  That recipe can be found here:  Thank you Elise and!

The dish was a huge hit, but not surprising, very unhealthy.

Fast forward to one week later.  This morning I woke up with a pantry full of nothing but leftovers and a grumbling tummy.  I had a batch of dough from last week in the fridge that needed to get used up, so I had the brilliant idea to make cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  It wasn’t too difficult; a little butter (1.5 sticks), some cinnamon, brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg.  What I didn’t account for was the 90 minute wait time before they could even hit the oven and another 30 before they’d be ready to come out.  It certainly wasn’t going to take 2 hours for me to make the icing, and my stomach was still begging for food.

With my open container of dough staring at me, I decided to make a variation on the onion tart I made last week.  I had two onions and about a pound of whole wheat dough which was all I needed to get started.  I’ve always got balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and a little olive oil on hand so I decided to dive in, skip breakfast, and savor an early lunch.

I was conscious to be somewhat healthier this time around so I cut the amount of olive oil used to sauté the onions, sprinkled with low fat cheese, and perhaps the most calorie saving choice, was using the whole wheat dough in place of the puff pastry.

My taste buds could not have been happier!  By the time the flatbread emerged from the oven, the cinnamon rolls were ready to go in, and by the time I was done enjoying my lunch and making the icing, the rolls were ready for dessert.

As far as wine goes, the sun is still out, so it has been a dry morning.  What I can say though, is that one of my great friends brought by a surprisingly good California Cabernet to the party.  I have no idea how much the bottle cost, and since it is bad form to ask, I won’t be finding out any time soon.  What I do know is that the label was “Three Wishes” and it was a 2006 vintage.  It was slightly sweeter than what I would normally associate with a cab, but only very slightly.  The bouquet opened up nicely after running through the aerator and it was not overly “oaky” as a lot of California wines can be.  It gets two thumbs up from me!

I know it has been a LONG time since my last post, but I resolved to post regularly with pictures.  A few things have changed since I last posted:  I am no longer vegan, I now live in Boston and go to law school at Northeastern.  But despite these changes, I will forever be grateful to what I picked up while vegan and still incorporate many ingredients I would have never come across had I not started out on that journey.

All of this being said I now give you the recipes I used in today’s post:  The cinnamon rolls, the caramelized onion flatbread, and the dough used in both.  I did want to note that this dough is my standard basic dough recipe I use for almost everything; it makes about 2 pounds of whole wheat dough and lasts for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.  Also, the caramelized onion recipe and technique is also standard and used wherever caramelized onions are required or desired.


Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls


  • One pound of dough, recipe follows
  • 12 tablespoons softened butter (1 ½ sticks)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the Glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Roll the dough out to a 12 x 16 in rectangle* with the long side facing you.  Spread the butter evenly on the dough leaving about an inch at the top unbuttered.  Mix all of the other ingredients together and sprinkle on the buttered surface.  Roll tightly and evenly away from you.  Seal the unbuttered edge against the roll.

Slice** into 9 equal sized rolls and place, cut side down in an 8 x 8 greased dish.  If the dough is fresh, wait 40 minutes and then bake, if the dough is refrigerated, wait 90 minutes before baking.

Bake for 35 minutes until golden brown

Combine the icing ingredients and spread over the rolls.  If too thick, add some milk, 1 teaspoon at a time until desired consistency.  Alternatively, if the glaze is too runny, add confectioner’s sugar, one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency.

*I find it much easier to roll the dough out onto a lightly floured silpat, or silicone baking sheet, to prevent the dough from sticking and tearing.

**I find that slicing can be difficult sometimes, smashing the rolls, or tearing them causing all of the filling to spill out.  I use a string of waxed dental floss, run it under the roll to where I want a slice, and bring both sides of the floss up crossing them.  Pulling tightly, the floss slices through the roll from the bottom making perfect slices every time.

Caramelized Onion Flatbread:


  • One pound of dough, recipe follows
  • Seasonings for the crust*
  • 2 medium to large white onions
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 oz. low fat shredded mozzarella or Italian blend cheese
  • 2 oz. crumbled gorgonzola
  • Tarragon or crushed fennel seed to taste and garnish


Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Slice the onions from root to tip in about 1/4 inch slices.  Heat the olive oil in a large deep pan on medium-high heat.  Add onions and cook for about 10 minutes or until wilted and starting to brown. Add sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and cook gently, uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until richly caramelized. Add a little water if the onions look like they are starting to dry out.

While the onions are caramelizing, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about a 1/4 inch thick.  Prick with a fork to prevent the dough from bubbling in the oven.  Sprinkle with seasonings if desired.  Bake for 10 minutes and remove from the oven.

When the onions are done, spread them evenly on the crust and sprinkle with both cheeses.  Top with tarragon or fennel if desired and bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and golden.  Let sit for 5 minutes and slice to desired size pieces.

* I use garlic powder, salt, pepper, and dried Italian herb blend to sprinkle on my crust before half baking the dough and topping.  This varies from crust to crust, but I generally use a thin even dusting of the blend, being careful not to over salt.

The Basic Dough:

  • 2 3/4 cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 packet or 3/4 tablespoon granulated active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/8 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 2 cups lukewarm water


Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  You may have to use your hands to incorporate all of the flour.  There is no kneading necessary. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for two hours.  The dough will rise and fall.  At this point, the dough is ready to use.

If not being used immediately, store covered in the refrigerator.  The dough should be allowed to vent for two days before sealing completely in an airtight container.

The cats really enjoy a warm oven


~ by thevintedlawstudent on January 21, 2012.

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