Sunday, February 21, 2010

Creamy French Onion Soup

I've been nursing a cold/cough for about a week and a half. I'll put the violins's winter in the Northeast, and I guess it goes with the territory, so no telethons for me. What does one do when one has a cold? That's correct: Make soup. I didn't want the typical chicken soup, or tortellini en brodo that I made last week. I felt a bit more "gourmet" today, so I decided upon a French Onion. It's quite an easy soup to make, and honestly, the tears you cry while slicing the onions must have some beneficial effect on one's illness.

While the soup was in its final simmer, I buttered and toasted a piece of Italian (yes, Italian semolina) bread; then cut it into quarters. When ready, I placed the bread at the bottom of the crock; spooned generous amounts of onions and broth over; and then......the cheese. Hmmmmm. Considering I didn't have Gruyere on hand, I had to decide which of the ones I had might be complimentary to this soup. I chose a thick slab of Brie, then covered the whole deal with shaved Parmesan.

The Brie melted into the broth, leaving the Parmesan to broil a nice golden brown.....but the Brie created a creamy broth, and for my taste, was just awesome. I'd say, give it a try. If I hadn't devoured the bowl after removing it from the broiler......I would have taken a photo. You'll have to trust me on this one.

2 lb onions, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced
1 teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Pino Grigio
4 cups beef broth (32 fl oz)
1 1/2 cups water
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For each crock:
1 slice, buttered and toasted French or Italian Bread slice, then each cut into quarters
1 thick slice of Brie
2 tablespoons shaved Parmesan cheese

Cook onions, along with thyme, bay leaves, and salt in butter in a heavy stockpot over medium heat, uncovered, stirring frequently, until onions are very soft and deep golden brown, about 30 minutes, making sure they don't burn. Sprinkle flour over the onions, and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Pour in wine and cook, stirring, another minute. Stir in broth, water, garlice, and pepper and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 20 to 30 minutes, or until lightly thickened. Check and adjust seasonings.

Preheat broiler. Remove and discard bay leaves; place bread slices at the bottom of heat-safe crocks; then spoon generous amounts of broth and onions over bread. Top with Brie, then cover the top with Parmesan.

Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat until cheese is melted and bubbly, 1 to 2 minutes.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Boeuf Bourguignon

I watched "Julie and Julia" the other day, since I received the DVD as a Christmas present.  The beef bourguignon scene absolutely leaves me salivating, and so that's what I'm making today.  Adam flies in from Californina in a few hours, and will be leaving for San Antonio in a couple of days, where he begins his new new life with his new job.  I wanted to make something special for him, and this special beef recipe fits the bill nicely. 

I'm following Julia's recipe, since it would seem to be sacrilegeous to use another.  The beef is in the oven for the minimum designated time of 2:30 hours, and I'm now sauteeing the mushrooms and onions for later addition. 

I'd love to invite all of you for dinner, because the aromas wafting from my kitchen are incredible.  There's snow on the ground, the sun is shining, my kitchen smells delicious, and Adam is on his way.  Now, if only Eric were not working, this evening's dinner would be complete. 

Bon Appetit! 

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Comfort Cupcakes

Remember when I said that I needed to bake when I got home from Florida?  This blizzard we're experiencing provided the perfect motivation (not that I really need any to bake) for something with old-fashioned goodness.  Naturally, chocolate immediately enters my thoughts....and cupcakes are always a treat, since everyone gets their own, personal dessert to unwrap and lick those wrappers, since, well, some of the melted....and still a bit liquid....ganache remains on the cupcake liners as well as your fingers.  

So here's what I baked:
Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Buttercream Filling and Chocolate Ganache Frosting 

I used Rose Levy Beranbaum's "Perfect All-American Chocolate Butter Cake" recipe from her indispensable cookbook, "The Cake Bible."  The batter includes a cup of butter, eggs, and unsweetened cocoa, and produces the lightest cake result, yet rich enough to satisfy that chocolate urge.

The filling is one I've used in my Whoopie Pies, spooned into a pastry bag, then shot into the tops of the baked and cooled cupcakes.  

Nothing is better than a ganache glaze, so after bittersweet chocolate was melted and whisked with simmered heavy cream and a bit of light corn syrup added for shine, I spooned equal amounts over the tops of the cupcakes. 

(You can see my pot of coffee (Italian Roast) along with my milk frother in the background)

May I say, "Yum?"

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Home From Marco-La-La Land

...and that's just what one feels like in those beautiful surroundings......completely removed from life as we know it in the real world.  But, as the saying goes, "All good things must come to an end."  Sigh. 

Ok, back on Planet Pam, I immediately went to the ovens and baked a lasagna filled with ground turkey and bacon (yes, a little off the normal beaten path, but it was delicious!) and because Karen has been in withdrawals, a pan of Lemon/Lemon Bars.  On top of the shortbread base, I spread about 1/2 cup of lemon curd, then topped that with the egg/sugar/lemon juice/lemon peel filling.  After baking for about 20 minutes, the result was Karen-worthy, as "too much lemon" doesn't compute with my friend.

It's good to be home, but twist my arm, and I'd be back in sunny Florida as fast as you can say, Lemony Snicket.