June 24, 2011

Magnifique French Onion Soup

It wasn't until college that I started to enjoy and freely choose to order french onion soup. First of all, I don't generally like onions and only like cooked onions - but cooked for a long period of time until they become soft and sweet.  Also, when given the option between creamy tomato basil soup, chicken and dumplings or french onion soup, the latter always seems to receive the short end of the stick. But, really, who can pass up tomato basil soup?

As for why I tried to make this soup for the first time, I'm not entirely sure. First of all, it's summer. In Houston. It's hot. Ridicously hot. The thought of hot soup isn't really that appealing.  However, I think I had one of those random cravings that if you don't have it or anything similar, you will continue to think about it until you satisfy it. Well, there's nothing similar to french onion soup! 

This soup was easy and didn't require any extra trips to the store since these are basic pantry items, a big score! It does take some time - roughly 45 minutes but it's not continuous cooking time.  For a good chunk of the time, it's leaving the soup to simmer or the onions to slowly cook down.
French Onion Soup
Recipe adapted from here

3 large yellow onions, sliced
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup sherry
1 cup white wine
5 cups beef stock
White pepper
Parmesan cheese, grated
2 slices of toast
1. Clean your onions, ridding of the exterior skin. To slice them, I cut them in half and then slice into strips. 
2. In a pot large enough to hold the stock, add your butter except 1/4 tbsp and when it's halfway melted, add your onions. Let this cook on medium heat for a good 20-30 minutes until they get sparkley and dark brown. The heat is important here. If you have it too high, your onions will cook too quickly and mine tend to burn without getting to that soft, clear, carmelize-y state.
3.  Starting to look good!  Add in the bay leaves.
3. Next, add in the sherry. Sherry has a very distinct flavor. If you do not like it, cut back on the amount and you can add either more wine or beef broth.  Scrap the pan to get all the bits off the bottom.
4. Next, add in the cornstarch and give it a good mix so that the onions are coated well. 

5. Now, add in the wine and beef stock. Give it a taste, then add in salt and pepper as you see fit. White pepper works really well for this recipe.  Turn up the heat until it boils and let it boil for 5 minutes.
6. Turn up the heat until it boils and let it boil for 5 minutes. Then turn the heat back down to a simmer and let it sit for a good 15 minutes. Add in that last bit of butter to let it melt. Again, taste and add salt and pepper as necessary.
7. Turn on your broiler to low.  Put the number of ramekins you'd like to serve in a larger pan - so that it doesn't get your oven dirty if it overflows.  Pour ladels of soup into each leaving just a little bit at the top to fit your bread and cheese. 
8. I used normal white bread and tore them into pieces to loosely cover the top.  Add grated parmesan cheese on top. I'm sure you can use any type - french bread for a crisper topping.  I put them under the broiler on low for 3-5 minutes. Make sure you watch so that the chees doesn't burn.  Be careful taking this out. I served the ramekin on another plate so not to burn any fingers. Enjoy!

June 07, 2011

Hello My Precious!

No real recipe or restaurant review today, but I simply had to share my excitement of my first tomato plant and the subsequent tomatoes. Oh, look how pretty they are!  How proud I am!

How to eat the first pick? Simple and plain. No seasoning, not fancy smancy preparation. I simply wanted to relish in that first taste of fresh, sweet tomato yummy goodness.
For some reason, I can't bear to cook them and would rather eat them simply sliced. Sliced, sprinkled with a little bit of sea salt, quick spray of some basil infused olive oil and a few fresh basil leaves - also from my garden!

Perfect salad before dinner - or in my case, a great afternoon snack!