French onion soup with beer

I had a bag full of onion and nothing to do this afternoon. I’ve also been having a craving for a good french onion soup. It was a perfect situation. Except for the cheese. I only had pre-grated Italian mix cheese. It worked but, really, you want emmental or gruyère for this.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 lb onions (about 7)
4 table spoon butter
1 table spoon white balsamic vinegar
3 french shallots
2 garlic cloves
1 bottle of dark beer
1 liter of beef broth
1/2 tea spoon dried thyme
1-2 bay leaf
baguette, cut into croutons
cheese, to taste
salt and pepper

ingredients

***

1. Peel and half all your onions.
onion1

2. Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Thinly slice the onions and throw into the pot. Stir to coat with the butter and add a generous pinch of salt.
onion2

3. Cook on medium low-heat for as long as they need to start getting some golden color. If it starts looking dry, add a bit of water and scrape the sugars from the bottom of the pot to recoat the onions.
onion3

4. When they are near the color your want (this was after a bit more than 1 hour) add the white balsamic vinegar.
onion4

5. Keep an eye on them, the extra sugar will finish caramelizing the onions very fast.
onion5

6. Add the diced shallots and the minced garlic. Cook until the garlic is fragrant.
aromates

7. Pour in the beer and make sure to scrape up all the sugary fond at the bottom of the pot.
beer

8. Add the beef broth. Simmer for 25 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
broth

9. When the soup is nearly ready slice the bread into croutons.
bread1

10. Put in the oven under the broiler to toast.
bread22

11. Ladle the soup into heat resistant bowl. Add toasted croutons and cover with cheese, to taste.
cheese1

12. Put in oven under broiler until cheese is melted and started to turn golden. Serve immediately.
cheese2

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Potage Crécy avec croutons à la croque-monsieur

That is, carrot soup with ham and cheese croutons.
Simple French food but good for the soul. The perfect thing to answer the recent weather.

Ingredients
2 table spoon butter (plus some for the croutons but that is optional)
2 small onions
1/4 cup basmati rice
4 cups carrots (two generous handful)
2 boxes chicken stock
1/2 tea spoon thyme
1 french baguette
Ham (about 10-12 slices)
Emmental cheese (to taste)
Salt and pepper
ingredients

***

1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot.
Only insisting on this because this is one of the few recipes where I wouldn’t swap it for olive oil. Really go for butter.
butter

2. Roughly chop the onions and toss them into the butter. Allow to sweat over medium-low heat for a few minutes. You want to avoid coloring them.
sweat-onions

3. In that time, clean (peel if your carrots require it) the carrots and slice into rounds about 1/2″ thick.
carrots1

4. Rinse the basmati rice until the water runs clear. Add to the pot with the onions and stir to coat.
rice

5. Add the carrots to the pot and stir to combine.
carrots2

6. Add the chicken stock (about 1 1/2 box). Save the remaining 1/2 box chicken stock for later.
Add the thyme, season with salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 20-25 minutes.
broth

7. When it’s about done, slice the bread.
Line your baguette slices on a cookie sheet line with aluminum (or parchment paper)

Mine was a day old and a bit dried so I brushed it with melted butter, but that is optional.
slice1

8. Add ham (1/2 slice per crouton) on each piece of bread.
slice2

9.Grate the emmental and add on top of the ham.
slice3

10. The soup should be ready by now, so take it off the heat. The rice should be falling apart and the carrots very soft.
Put the croutons in the oven on broil while you blend down the soup.
soup

11. By the time the soup is blended the cheese should be melted and just, just, starting to get some color. Take the croutons out of the oven.
slices4

12. Adjust seasoning on the soup. If it’s too thick add more chicken stock.
You can add cream, sour cream or crème fraîche at this point if you want, but I usually don’t bother.

Serve warm with the hot melty cheese croque-monsieur.
The soup should be filling but light and bright and the cheese and ham savory and satisfying.
serve

Chocolate Bread Pudding

I had people over for dinner and ended up with an extra baguette. I also had whole milk left from making a batch of rice pudding. So this served as a fridge/pantry cleaning decadent dessert.

Ingredients
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup cream
235g dark chocolate
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tea spoon salt
1 tea spoon vanilla
6 eggs
butter
1 baguette (1 or 2 day old. you don’t want fresh bread)
1 cup blueberries
ingredients

***

1. Butter a souffle dish (this one fits about 1 1/2 quart). Cut the bread into small cubes and fill the dish (about 6 cups).
cut-bread

2.  In a large pot, combine the milk, cream, sugar and salt. Heat until simmering but avoid boiling.
heat-milk

3. In the mean time, whisk the eggs in a large heat resistant bowl. You want them slightly lighter.
beat-eggs

4. Put the chocolate in the milk and remove from heat. Allow to stand for a minute.
add-choco

5. Then whisk until smooth.
whisk

6. Gently, while whisking continually, pour the chocolate cream into the eggs.Stir in the vanilla.
custard

7. Put the souffle dish in a large roasting tray. Pour over the bread. Allow to soak for 1 hour. If all the custard doesn’t “fit”, leave it alone for about 20 minutes. The bread will soak it up and you will be able to pour more.
This is why you don’t want fresh bread, it doesn’t soak up enough. And really, do give it at least 1 hour to soak up.
absorb

8. Add the berries. You could also mix them in with the bread at step 1. Don’t worry if any of the custard spilled during the previous step, that’s what that roasting tray is for, in part.
add-berries

9. Add about 1 tablespoon of butter in small dots on top of the whole thing. It will help the exposed bread caramelize.
berries

10. Turn the oven on to 325F. Add boiling water to the roasting pan. Put the waterbath in the oven for 45-50 minutes. The edges should be set while the middle should be still liquidy.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool. The cooler it gets the more set the custard will be. The pieces on top and near the edges will be slightly crispy and everything else very soft and creamy.

Eating it warm however, allows you to use the custard like a decadent chocolate cause, spooning it all over your serving. I’ll leave that difficult decision to you.
remove

Roast Pork Sandwich

A delicious use for roast pork left overs. I like mine plain, but you can add more toppings to your sandwich of course.

Ingredients
Baguette
Dijon mustard
Cold roast pork
sanfwhich-ingredients

***

1. Thinly slice the pork.
slices

2. Cut the bread to the size you want to eat. Slice in half and put some dijon mustard on one side. Add the meat.
noms

Chèvre Chaud

A delicious appetizer, with just enough variation on the theme to be interesting, yet simple enough that it can be scaled up with ease.

The pictures and quantities below are for one portion, scale up as you require.

Ingredients
1 coffee spoon Balsamic Vinegar
2 coffee spoon Port
1/2 tea spoon Sugar (optional)
1 Fig
Baby Spinach (to taste)
Baby Arugula (to taste)
1 tea spoon Dijon mustard
1 table spoon Cider vinegar
1 table spoon Olive oil
1 pinch Ras el hanout
1 small Baguette
Goat Chesse (to taste)
Sliced almonds (to taste)
1/2 tea spoon Honey
Salt and Pepper (to taste)

ingredients

***

1. In a small pot, pour about 1 coffee spoon of balsamic vinegar and 2 coffee spoons of port. Allow to reduce on a very low heat. To make a thicker syrup you can add about half a tea spoon of sugar.
port

2. In a sealed container mix the Dijon mustard with the cider vinegar and olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Shake until uniform in texture.
dressing

3. Cut the baguette on the bias. Lightly rub olive oil on both side of the bread.
bread

4. Toast the baguette slices.
toast

5. While the bread is toasting, wash and slice the figs. Grind the spices if you bought them whole.
prep

6. Assemble the croutons.

Left : Cheese topped with sliced almonds
Center : Figs, topped with the cheese.
Right : Cheese that has been seasonned on both sides with Ras el Hanout

Put back in the oven at broil until the cheese is warm and starting to melt.
assemble

7. Dress the greens with the vinaigrette. Drizzle a bit of honey over the crouton with the almonds. Drizzle the balsamic reduction over the crouton with the figs.

Serve while warm.
final