Red Onions Cooked in Orange Juice and a Favorite New York Street Artist

De La Vega 7 (1 of 1)

Do you ever wish you could just have a blank slate of an apartment, as well as a blank check of a budget, and just decorate like you mean it? From my last couple of posts, you can probably tell I've been coveting well-designed living spaces lately.

De La Vega 6 (1 of 1)

Alas, mine is destined not to be one of them for the foreseeable future, but when I do buy (or find!) things with which to decorate, I'm usually thinking about my future home, or my future office. About the fact that one day I probably won't live in New York anymore (sob) and will want plenty of mementos of my time here. So that if people say, 'Wow, where did you get that?' I can smugly say New York City. Yea, I'm one of those.

De La Vega 5 (1 of 1)

And in that vein, I've been keeping my eye out for an authentic De La Vega for, oh, about three years now. James De La Vega is a street artist whose studio is only a few blocks from my apartment. Especially up here in East Harlem, you'll notice his works scrawled with a sharpie on the refuse sitting on the curb, waiting to be hauled off.

De La Vega collage

De La Vega 9 (1 of 1)

Ephemera never meant to last, just interjections into your experience of the everyday. Images of fish jumping out of their bowls with the words 'become your dream' scrawled below. Usually drawn on things like old mattresses, refrigerators with their doors torn off, or other objects I wouldn't dream of bringing into my apartment.

De La Vega 8 (1 of 1)

De La Vega 12 (1 of 1)

The other day R and I were walking the dogs when we saw It. A De La Vega drawn on a blue plastic cooler cover, complete with aphorism and fish, and even dated (!!) as though he knew someone was going to want to save that one.

De La Vega (1 of 1)

And that someone was me. I scooped it up, brought it home, and disinfected it before proudly propping it up on top of one of my bookcases, right next to the silk-screened image of Walter Benjamin's face that I acquired my first year of grad school (in fact, it's a silkscreen of that first photo that appears on his wiki page). Both will one day be displayed in my fantasy office, both vestiges from my time in New York.

De La Vega 13 (1 of 1)

This blog is also very much a product of my living in New York. I started it here, when I began learning how to cook for myself. Lately I've thought I should include more of the city in my posts, since it's so much a part of my life and since I've been feeling sentimental. Like these things need to be documented for future me.

Orange roasted onions 3 (1 of 1)

So. These onions. These onions were made for that dinner party I mentioned last time, given for a couple of friends with whom we (R, myself and the dogs) regularly go on walks in the park at night. One is a film-maker, the other a grad student. One is from Connecticut, the other from Serbia. I feel like they're people we could only have met in New York. One more gift from this incredibly generous city.

Orange roasted onions (1 of 1)

So. These onions. They come from what is quickly shaping up to be one of my favorite books: Olives & Oranges, by Sara Jenkins. She calls them her riff on sweet and sour onions, but she uses orange and lemon juice instead of vinegar. Just like my grandmother's Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage, I tend to prefer citrus to vinegar anyway. They're a bit like the Balsamic Roasted Onions I've blogged before, except they're done completely on the stove top, and the mixture of orange and lemon juices give them a different character than the balsamic vinegar. But both preparations turn out meltingly sweet onions that are a side unto themselves. I don't really have a favorite between them. Choose based on what you have around.

Red Onions Cooked in Orange Juice
Adopted from Olives & Oranges by Sara Jenkins

1 1/4 pounds small red onions (Jenkins suggests torpedo, but I couldn't find any and just used the standard supermarket variety)
Oil for the pan
Salt to taste
1 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 bay leaf, fresh if you have it, dried if you don't
Crushed red pepper flakes for sprinkling over the top

Peel the onions and cut them into quarters or thick wedges. Be sure to keep the root end intact so that they don't break apart. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onions, cut side down, sprinkle with salt and reduce the heat for medium. Cook the onions on each cut side for about 4 minutes per side. The onions should be golden.

Add the citrus juices and the bay leaf, then reduce the heat to low and simmer the mixture for about 30 minutes. The juices should reduce to a glaze and thicken as they cook.

To serve, sprinkle with a little more salt and the crushed pepper. Serve warm.


Anonymous said…
I have many of the same feelings about Paris as you do for New York. And what a great find! Now all you have to do is find a cooler to pu it on. ;)
Todd said…
You're right-- I do love this post. I cherish my De La Vega (found New Year's Eve 2007) as a great souvenir from my time living in East Harlem. It took two years to find one I could easily bring home. It's great to see your photo collection of all the ones you couldn't save :)
Albert Lee said…
Unfortunately he is only visiting NYC. Rumor has it that he's going to focus on Los Angeles and Singapore exclusively for the next 5 years.
Andrea said…
Albert, are you serious? That is horrible news for East Harlem! I'll really miss seeing his work around the neighborhood. I know it's meant a lot to the people who live here.

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