DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.” 

 

* [or Concasse, if you prefer the more conventional term. . . but I just loved the word “tracklement” ever since I read it on Lucy’s blog, and besides, “Tomato Tracklement” is just so much more alliterative.]

Last weekend was our Canada Day holiday, and this year I learned an important lesson.  No, it wasn’t “Canada is 141 years old” (even though it was).  Uh-uh, it wasn’t “Canada is a vast and picturesque, multicultural and welcoming country in which to live” (I already knew that one).  Nope, not even “Although Canada is a vast and picturesque, multicultural and welcoming country in which to live, a summer full of rain really sucks–almost as much as a typical Canadian winter.” And finally, nay, it also wasn’t “The Girls are still scared of fireworks” (really, talk about stating the obvious). 

No, dear readers, the all-important lesson I learned this past weekend was simply this:

Never (and I mean never) attempt to drive across the province at the beginning of a long July 1st weekend.

Elementary, you say?  Well, for some reason, the HH and I, despite 10 years of trekking from Toronto to Montreal and back on a regular basis, have never traveled that particular stretch of the 401 on the long Canada Day weekend.  This year, with my dad turning 87, we decided it was a necessity.  

Big mistake.

BIG.

The 500-kilometre (about 315 mile) drive usually takes us between 4.5 and 6 hours, depending on (A) time of departure; (B) weather conditions; (C) who’s driving; (D) number of rest stops; and (E) traffic.  This past weekend, our multiple-choice answer was overwhelmingly, “E,” or really, more like, “EEEEEeeeeee!!!”  To be precise, eight hours’ worth of “E.”

As we slid out of the city and onto the highway, I sensed a barely perceptible increase in the volume of vehicles on the road.  Then, within about five minutes, it became painfully clear: everyone and their canines were heading off to the cottage for the long weekend.  And us?  No cottage; no canines (The Girls were happily ensconced at the doggie daycare for the weekend); and no discernible movement on the roads.  I’d completely forgotten our route included a short span of terrain known as “cottage country” (also known, as the Barenaked Ladies recently reminded us in song, as “Peterborough and the Kawarthas“).  And there we were, the HH and I, motionless amid all the eager, impatient, fidgety and perspiring boaters, gardeners, waterskiers and Barbeque-ers, our wheels moving barely a quarter turn every 10 minutes or so.

Even if we could afford one, I doubt we would actually buy a cottage (and this has nothing to do with the fact that the HH is a role model for “don’t do it yourself-ers”).  Still, I do treasure memories of spending summers at various country houses when I was a kid.  My parents couldn’t afford a cottage, either, but in those days, rentals were abundant and reasonably priced, and didn’t require reservations a year in advance (one summer, in fact, I clearly remember my parents discussing the possibility of escaping the city on the very evening school let out; by the following afternoon, I’d tossed my report card in the closet, pulled my collection of comic books out instead, and we were on the road toward our temporary summer home).

In those days, my parents rented a house through July and August.  They’d pack up the family (my two sisters, our cocker spaniel, Sweeney, and I) in the back of my dad’s station wagon-cum-butcher shop delivery van, and off we went to our rudimenatry cabin in the woods, sans modern amenities or TV. Along with the other husbands, my father helped us settle in the first weekend, then headed back to the city (and his store) during the week, while the rest of us hung around with the moms and kids until the men returned each Friday evening. For five days a week, the wives managed to keep things running smoothly, demonstrating both independence and resourcefulness; yet every Friday, they mysteriously reverted to squeaky voices, soft entreaties and deference, much as early feminists must have done when their soldier-husbands returned from the front.  

In the intervals free from paternal presence, we children would run barefoot along the roadside, plucking thick, flat blades of crabgrass to grip securely between tightly pressed thumbs, then huffing and blowing our makeshift whistles, our postures in supplication to nature.  We’d seek out the other kids whose parents rented homes around the same lake, for day-long games of hide-and-seek, for building sand forts at the lakeside, or for throwing sticks to Sweeney and the other dogs (who, bored with our weak attempts at “fetch,” would lope off and sleep under porches, squirrel-hunt in the woods, or, toward evening, launch a stealth attack on the hotdogs piled on plates beside the Bar-B-Q’s).

By the end of the season, we’d worn ourselves out with outdoor games, our limbs buff and bronzed in variegated strips of earthtone after two months of shifting sleeve lengths.  All the books I’d brought were read and forgotten; I’d colored and drawn and written in my journal about my adventures; my younger sister and I had picked countless plastic sandbuckets full of wild blueberries from the hill at the end of town; and we were, finally, ready to go home.

One of my fondest memories is the drive back south, passing field after field of farmers’ corn as it just approached ripeness.  The long, elegant leaves swished and swayed in the breeze like our own welcoming committee, a troupe of Hawaiian dancers greeting tourists as they disembark from the plane.  By the time school resumed, we were eating fresh cobs of corn with our dinners, juice trailing down our chins and our cheeks flecked with wayward bits of yellow like reverse freckles on our tanned faces.

I reminisced about that incomparable corn as I contemplated Pancakes on Parade, the event hosted by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook.  I had already decided (though I love sweet pancakes and make them whenever there’s an excuse) that I wanted to do something savory for this event.  Corn cakes are a long-time favorite, and they seemed the perfect choice.  And while there’s nothing quite like a plump, fresh cob of grilled or steamed corn, juicy and sweet and eaten with the same enthusiasm usually reserved for long-absent lovers, sometimes it’s just impossible to acquire the fresh kind.   That’s when frozen, or even canned (heresy!) come in handy.

The crêpes are based on a recipe I created a few years ago for a brunch event.  This time, however, I decided to pair them with a sweet and tart tomato concasse, and the combination improved the overall effect considerably.  The tracklement cooks up really quickly, in just the right amount of time to serve alongside the crêpes.  Savor these right away, or wrap up for later consumption–they’d make a great snack if you ever find yourself stuck on the highway for eight hours or so.

Corn Crêpes with Quick Tomato Tracklement

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

A savory pancake with occasional bursts of sweetness in juicy corn kernels, these are great with the accompanying tomato concasse for brunch or light dinner. Or use with other savory spreads such as hummus or avocado mayonnaise.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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Frugal Frittata

April 22, 2008

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  

Whenever we visit my family in Montreal as we did this past weekend, I return to Toronto feeling a little discombobulated.  Since I was a callow young’un when I moved away from home (at 17), I never really got to know La Belle Ville that well before I left, so I always feel like a tourist when I return.  At the same time, these somewhat frenetic, drive-by junkets (never more than 2 days long) tend to be so micro-scheduled that our itinerary is often tighter than one of Madonna’s corsets. 

Regarding our “visits,” the HH once remarked, “I’ve been coming to Montreal with you for ten years, and all I’ve ever seen is a hotel, your dad’s house and your sister’s apartment.”  Unfortunately, too true, and this last trip was no exception.

Still, I do enjoy reuniting with family and friends, even if for a few minutes each during out revolving-door visits.  And despite my anxiety over a still-tentative back, the driving was fine.  By late Sunday, we’d arrived back in Toronto, picked up The Girls from doggie daycare (“Thank God you came back, Mum!  We thought you had abandoned us forever!“) and returned home to feed them–and us.

Striding into the empty house, setting down bags and opening windows, I felt the familiar combination of exhaustion, relief, and hunger that always occurs upon returning home after a long trip. A quick glance in the refrigerator revealed a sad inventory of the following: one carton of firm tofu; a lone zucchini (looking almost as tired as I felt); a bag of baby potatoes sorely in need of attention; a bunch of fresh tarragon (bought on a whim after I was inspired by Lucy‘s fabulous post on Leek and Flageolet Soup), and a pint of grape tomatoes, sporting an uncanny resemblance to fingertips that have lingered too long in a warm bath. (And isn’t it interesting how, even though everything here in Canada is metric and I always refer to liquids in those terms–I would never say “a quart of milk”–that I still think of those little cartons for berries or grape tomatoes as “pints”?). 

Faced with this unpromising array of tired, wizened produce, the HH responded with a characteristic reaction:  “Okay, let’s go out to eat.” 

Now, I do believe that anyone who knows me well would never describe me as “extravagant.”  In fact, I am rather moderate in my spending habits. Come to think of it, I am extremely economical as a  rule.  Well, actually, I’m even what you might call unbelievably frugal most of the time.  Parsimonious, even.  Oh, all right, fine, I admit it!  I am stingy!  I’m a tightwad!  I’m a total cheapskate

Really, I hate spending money unnecessarily. I will do my darndest never to pay a higher price for an article I KNOW costs less elsewhere. I actually find it fun to plan out a budget; I get a kick out of (literally) saving my pennies; I thoroughly enjoy scanning the grocery flyers so that I can plan out a shopping route worthy of a military operation. As a shopper, I experience a little frisson of pride every time I nab one of those funky sweaters I’ve ogled in the store window all season, now at 50% off (even if I don’t actually need a funky sweater and only manage to wear it once before stumbling upon it again years later, abandoned at the bottom of a drawer, at which time I pack it up to send to Goodwill).

As a result, there’s no greater crime in our house than spending money on a restaurant meal if it means throwing away otherwise perfectly good food.

And so, after having just spent a small fortune on travel, boarding The Girls, AND an opulent dinner last week, I was faced wtih my mission, and I chose to accept it: make use of all those leftovers in the fridge–even those shrivelled, elderly tomatoes. 

“No way,” I responded, “I can make something out of this.  No sense in wasting it.” (Yep, if ever there were a couple who embodied the phrase, “opposites attract,” the HH and I would be it).

Cooking tofu for the HH has become quite a challenge of late, as there are very few tofu-centric meals he’ll deign to eat.  And while he did adore my tofu omelette a while back, the prospect of cooking and flipping four of them just then was beyond the bounds of my remaining energy. 

I decided to try a frittata.  I love fritattas, and hadn’t had one in ages.  Besides, like George and Jerry propounding on salsa, I may like the final product, but love the sound of the word even more:  free-TA-ta.  Like some rollicking anthem a group of suffragettes might have sung as they turned on their heels and sashayed off into the sunset. 

My only real problem was the pile of slightly shrivelly tomatoes, too old to attract a suitor, yet still too fresh to start dispensing sage advice to the grandchildren.  Then I remembered a great recipe from Martha Stewart (who is, herself, still rather spry looking–even though, in fact, old enough to start dispensing sage advice to the grandchildren) for oven-roated tomatoes.  The slow heat renders them no longer really juicy, but not dry, either, dehydrated just enough to intensify the natural sweetness of the fruit. And with grape tomatoes, the oven time could be cut down considerably.

So, while the red grapes roasted, I parboiled the potatoes and zucchini, sliced into rounds.   For the base of the fritatta, I employed a variation of my original omelette mixture with a few modifications to create a more savory, firmer texture.  I added the chopped tarragon, which brought it all together with its intense grassy color, light flavor and slightly flowery aroma.

Overall, this was a perfect homecoming dinner:  simple, satisfying, evoking springtime and–much to my delight–highly economical.  And since this is so chock-full of veggies, I’ve decided to submit it to the weekly ARF/5-A-Day event, hosted by Cate at Sweetnicks.  You can check the full roundup every Tuesday!

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

Tofu Frittata with Potatoes, Zucchini and Oven Roasted Grape Tomatoes

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Hearty and colorful with healthy veggies, this dish makes a wonderful light dinner or showpiece for a brunch table.  Of course, you can vary the veggies to your taste (just keep the basic volume about the same).  If you don’t feel like roasting your tomatoes, just cut them in half and use them as-is. 

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Nut Roast Extraordinaire

April 14, 2008

nutroastwhole.jpg 

Diet, Dessert and Dogs has moved!  If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  

* * *

The first nut roast I ever made–or ever tasted–was for the romantic Valentine’s Day dinner I cooked up for the HH and me this year. Well, let me tell you, the specific holiday notwithstanding, it was definitely love at first bite (of the nut roast, that is–shame on you for thinking otherwise!  Besides, after eleven years, love for the HH had already been firmly established; no biting there for some time, now). 

And now, Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe has decided to host a blogging event, A Neb at Nut Roast, to honor that venerable dish of nuts, veggies, and spices; that meal-in-a-brick; that loaf to beat all loaves: the Nut Roast!  As soon as I read about it, I knew I had to come up with something extra special.

When I first baked up the Valentine’s Day roast, I dutifully followed Johanna’s original recipe; and while it was delicious, that wouldn’t do on this occasion. As I concocted my recipe for a main course consisting primarily of nuts, I felt quite vindicated by the process.  You see, in recent years, I’ve been told countless times by friends and family alike that my atypical dietary habits are, in their opinion, a little nutty. Finally, I can confirm that they are, indeed, correct in their assessment. 

It seems some of my friends and family just can’t get past the fact that I don’t want to eat anything from fast-food restaurants any more, or that I don’t want to use little packets of “seasoning mix” for my salad dressings, or that I don’t want to pig out on May Wests and Twinkies these days (Oooh.  Scratch that last one.  I really, really DO want to pig out on May Wests and Twinkies, but just can’t because (a) they spark a sugar-high gorgefest, in which I consume more in one sitting than any human should eat of them in a lifetime; (b) they cause me to me feel woozy (as opposed to tipsy, which can be pretty nice, come to think of it) and unwell; and (c) they are able to stay “fresh” for unnaturally long periods of time–say, 17 years–making me wonder whether they are animal, vegetable, or miracle-gro.)

I’m sure most vegans have shared this experience:  you’re invited to a big bash–some kind of holiday dinner, rite of passage affair (such as a wedding or bar mitzvah), or any other festive event.  The host(ess) acknowledges your “bizarre” dietary preferences and even makes a genuine attempt to accommodate.  When the rest of the gang sits down to a four-course dinner of pâte en croûte, oxtail soup, bacon, shrimp and scallops Bordelaise, and Wasabi Beef Wellington, you are the lucky recipient of a plate heaped with steamed broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and green beans. Oh, and if you’re lucky, a white dinner roll. (Well, at least it wasn’t a paper plate).

Okay, rewind and play that scene again, only this time omit wheat from the picture.  Not even the skimpy little roll, this time!  So despite my friends’ best efforts, I rarely get to socialize with them over dinner these days. (I do have to commend them for effort, though. )

This nut roast just may upset the status quo, however.  It’s a toothsome, meaty and hearty dish that can be enjoyed by virtually anyone.  For omnivores, it offers an appetizing flavor in a package resembling meat loaf.  For vegetarians and vegans, it offers a mouth-watering serving of protein that will leave you satiated. In fact, it was so tasty, so hefty and satisfying, that the HH, a tried-and-true carnivore, enjoyed it immensely and asked for seconds. I found it even more appealing the second day, after the flavors had melded and developed a bit.

Before cooking up the loaf, I began by leafing through my various cookbooks from the UK and Australia (since nut roasts seem to be much more prevalent there–we tend to favor patties and burgers over here in North America), just to see what the generic ingredients tend to be. As Johanna noted, most nut roasts contain a combination of nuts (duh), breadcrumbs or flour, and, most often, eggs and/or cheese. 

nutroastmeal.jpg Since eggs and dairy are out for me, I realized I was setting myself a tougher challenge than first anticipated.  What the heck, I decided, why not go whole hog (“whole tofu”?) and make it even harder–why not attempt to create a delectable, enticing, egg-free, dairy-free and GLUTEN-FREE nut roast?  Why not, indeed?!

Okay, so I was feeling a little nutty myself by that point (which, truth be told, is not that rare an occurrence). My head still reeling, I set to chopping (carefully) and processing (attentively).

If I thought I liked nut roast before, I have now developed eternal, till-death-do-us-part, adoration. This oblong object of my undying affection was robust, with a perfect combination of savory, herbed, and “meaty” tastes in a dense, slightly grainy and moist loaf with a crisped exterior.  Solid without being stiff, it easily maintained its shape when sliced; and the flavors were much enhanced by an evening in the fridge. 

I imagine you could also shape this into patties and use it for burgers if you were so inclined. We ate it with a simple kale salad, but you could, of course, serve it with the more conventional mashed potatoes and gravy for a divine meal–one you’d be comfortable sharing with just about anyone, no matter what their dietary preferences.

Nut Roast Extraordinaire

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

nutroastslice.jpg

This nut roast provides a filling, satisfying main dish to a special meal (or any meal).  The Brazil nuts and added wine contribute to the robust flavor, but if you prefer, feel free to substitute other nuts, or vegetable broth for the wine.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  

 

cipollines.jpg 

There are times when I glance around my chaotic home office, and I despair a little.  Then my eyes glaze over and I fall into a reverie about the good ol’ days, when I used to be organized: desktop in order, with clearly demarcated “to do” and “done” piles.  Mail returned with great alacrity, and an empty “inbox” each evening.  Shoes and boots lined up like bottles at a county fair, erect and waiting for the ball that will topple them. Laundry folded, laid neatly in drawers (never left to languish untouched on the top of the dresser for days).

Ah, yes, it’s a lovely dream. In more recent times, what with papers to mark, driveways to shovel, cooking classes to teach, orders to bake, dogs to walk, blogs to write–well, I admit that I’ve become a little slack on the home front.  But seriously, do you really need more than four square inches of desk space to pay your bills online? Do you really need bookshelves to hold all your books, when the packing boxes they were moved in will do a perfectly acceptable job? Do floors really need to be washed all that often (speaking of, if your floors aren’t up to snuff, just get a puppy.  Presto! It’s like one of those zoomba roboty things that catches every spill–leaving floors spic and span–with no effort on your part!). 

Well, weird things are starting to happen now that I’ve cut chocolate out of my life.  Suddenly, my disorderly surroundings began to feel intolerable (I mean, it’s been this way pretty much since the day we moved in here), and I went on a tidying rampage: clear the mess on the desk! Fold that laundry! Line up those shoes! Tote that barge, lift that bale. . !  And then, I felt like cooking.  Cooking onions.

cipollinesinbowl.jpg

I had always considered onions to be a mere accessory to something else: an adjunt to the roasted garlic in a spelt pizza, a great starter ingredient for soups, or a bedrock for that slab of tempeh in a Tempeh Ruben. And yet, ever since the CFO came to visit a few weeks ago, onions have been tumbling around in the back of my mind. During her visit, she convinced me to buy a copy of Cooking Light magazine, something I’d never done before despite being an avowed magazine junkie (uh oh, I detect a pattern here. . . can the Week of Magazine Asceticism be far behind?). 

Guilty of judging a magazine by its cover, I’d always assumed the recipes within would be rife with “diet” or “lite” ingredients (usually chemically-enhanced or highly processed) as a way of creating these so-called lighter versions of strandard fare (geez, didn’t I notice it was called Cooking Light and not Cooking Lite?).  Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong!

As soon as I flipped open the current issue, a stunning photo of cipollinis beckoned. Now, I’d never even heard of cipollini onions before that moment but, like a new word you finally look up in the dictionary that subsequently pops up everywhere thereafter, these onions had entered my consciousness and I began to notice their presence in familiar places–old cookbooks, food tv shows, other blogs. Within a week, I’d seen them mentioned three or four times.  

As much as I love onions, I’d never based an entire dish on them before.  (I’d only heard of such a travesty once, during my final PhD year. At the time, my friend Ginny’s husband was being called upon to chip in  at home for the first time in their 10-year marriage, as Ginny was overwhelmed with work and studies and often late for dinner.  One evening, after a long night’s studying at the library, Ginny returned home to find that her hubby had attempted to cook dinner on his own.  As she gravitated toward the heavenly scent of sauteed onions, her husband beamed with pride as he directed her to a huge frypan on the stove, lifted the cover, and revealed–a pan of fried onions!  That’s right: he could think of nothing to combine with them, nothing else to add, but he did know how to fry. Last I heard, they were getting a divorce.)

 
 

 

 This recipe combines buttery-soft onions with plump raisins and toasted pine nuts in an allluring, glossy glaze.  Once the dish was complete, it did look very much like the photo in the magazine.  It also tasted great, with the sweet-tart appeal of a good chutney. It was then I realized, much like Ginny’s husband, “what am I going to do with all these onions?”  As a side dish to some hunk of meat, they might seem sufficient on their own, but that wasn’t happening in my house. Don’t get me wrong–it was very, very good; just not good enough to stand on its own. cipollineraw.jpg So I decided to ladle the mixture over herb-roasted Yukon Gold potatoes and–voila–a lovely, light dinner was born.  

And, ironically, you really do need to be organized to make this dish.  Just to peel the onions, you must blanch, cool, squeeze, and pull off the skins.  This alone took me 30 minutes, before I even began to prepare the rest of the dish. 

Yes, cipollinis are lovely.  But heck, with my schedule, next time I’ll just use chunks of the good ol’ regular kind.

Because the potatoes provide the true substance of this dish, I’m submitting this as my entry for “The Potato–A Blog Event”  by Eating Leeds.

Roasted Potatoes with Sweet and Sour Cipolllini Onions

(from Cooking Light, Jan/Feb 2008 )

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This recipe offers a gussied-up version of the archetypal combination, roast potatoes and onions. We ate this as a main course, but if you prefer, you can serve these separately, as side dishes.

For the potatoes:

2 lb. (about 1 kg.) Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into quarters

2-4 Tbsp. (30-60 ml.) extra virgin olive oil

generous sprinklings of oregano, rosemary, parsley and thyme

salt to taste

For the onions:

1/4 cup (60 ml.) raisins

1/2 cup (125 ml.) hot water

2 pounds (about 1 kg.) cipollini onions

1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) butter (I used olive oil)

3 Tbsp. (45 ml.) water

2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) sugar (I used agave nectar)

1/4 tsp. (1.5 ml.) sea salt

1/4 tsp. (1.5 ml.)  freshly ground pepper

2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) pine nuts

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).  Grease a large roasting pan or rimmed cookie sheet, or line with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with olive oil.  Place in a single layer in the pan and sprinkle with the herbs.  Roast in preheated oven until done and a little crispy on the outside, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the onions:

Place raisins in a bowl and cover with the 1/2 cup hot water. Let stand 30 minutes or until plump.  Drain.

Trim top and root end of onions. Cook onions in boiling water for 2 minutes.  Drain, cool and peel. (The skins were supposed to slip off easily, but they were not not exactly cooperative).

Melt butter (or olive oil) in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions to pan, stirring well to coat. Stir in 3 Tbsp. water [I found I had to add more later on to keep the mixture from scorching], red wine vinegar, sugar (agave), salt, and black pepper. Cover, reduce heat and cook 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. [I found I needed more time than this before they began to really caramelize.]

Add raisins and pine nuts to pan. Inrease heat to medium, and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes or until lightly browned and liquid almost evaporates, stirring occasionally. 

Divide potatoes into 4 servings, and ladle the cipollini mixture on top of each.