Saturday, October 10, 2015

Traditional French Onion Soup

It's a gray day here in Atlanta and the thought of a proper onion soup will not vacate.
Luckily I have all the ingredients. A lot of recipes for onion soup call for broth
but traditionally it is made with just onions and water. It is a peasant dish after all.
Here is my recipe(Today I am actually only going to make a half recipe). I like  the little
hint of herbs that the thyme brings but it is not traditional that I know of. As always,
do what you like and tastes good to you. I wouldn't make a special trip to the market for
thyme but I have a garden full of it. The key here is to make sure you fully cook down the onions
until they are a rich golden brown. You cannot rush this process with high me.
Go very slowly.

2 tablespoons butter
7 or 8 Yellow or Red onions (7 to 8 pounds), thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 or 4 springs fresh thyme (optional)
6 to 12 slices of baguette or any country-style bread
1/3 cup sherry
Red or white wine vinegar (optional)
Red wine (optional)
1/2 to 3/4 pound Gruyère or Emmanthaler cheese, grated ( It is important that you use one of these two cheeses and not some generic "Swiss" me.)

In a large pot, with a capacity of about 7 1/2 quarts...there are a lot of onions to start out with.
An enameled cast-iron pot is ideal. Start the onions and butter over medium heat.
Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt, cover, and cook until the onions have heated through and
begun to steam. At this point we want to lose moisture so uncover, reduce the heat to low, and cook,
stirring occasionally. When the onions have completely cooked down, the water has cooked off, and the onions have turned a rich brown (think maple syrup)(this will take a couple of hours) add 6 cups of water and season with several grinds of pepper and the thyme if you are using it. Raise the heat to high and bring the soup to a simmer,then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes to give the water time to extract the caramel from the onions. Add the sherry.

Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. If the soup is too sweet, add some vinegar.
If you would like another dimension to the soup add a splash of red wine. (I do)

This is the the onion-to-liquid ratio that I like but it is OK to make it a little more delicate if you prefer by adding an additional cup of water or so.

Sometime while the onions are cooking down you need to place the sliced baguette in a 200F oven and let it dry out completely... 30 to 45 minutes.

When you are ready to serve, preheat the broiler and ladle the soup into bowls, float the dried bread
on top cover generously with the grated cheese. put the boils under the broiler until the cheese is melted and nicely browned. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6

The Bees Will Hate Me

Gardener's dilemma. I had a month before I had to plant my garlic so I planted buckwheat in the two beds. It's a good quick cover crop but I forgot that it bloomed in just a couple of weeks after planting. Now its blooming and the bees are loving it as there is very little other forage available. I need to turn it under and plant the garlic but I hate taking away the flowers the bees are enjoying so much. What to do? 

Friday, October 09, 2015

RIP Chef Paul Prudhomme

Chef Paul Prudhomme dies. He brought Cajun food to the world's attention back in the 1980’s.  He changed the way Americans eat and definitely for the better. I was lucky enough to meet and spend some time with him in 1988 while he was touring and promoting his spice blends. I was also lucky to get his original 1984 cookbook, Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen autographed by both him and his wife. You can be jealous if you want. That book and his later The Prudhomme Family Cookbook are two must have cookbooks if you seriously want to learn about Cajun and Creole food and cooking. The second book is more a collection of traditional Cajun recipes that he collected from his friends and relatives. You might not want to cook from it but it explains the roots of Cajun food very well.
I've got to figure out what recipe I'm going to cook in his honor this weekend.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Fooled Again

Fairly decent day yesterday but a little hot. Today is heavily overcast and forecast to rain. I got good work done in the garden yesterday after the days of rain that kept me out but I only got two hours in this morning before it started to sprinkle. I headed in thinking I was done for the day and changed clothes. I ate lunch and the sprinkles departed. I changed back into my garden clothes and the sprinkles started again. Screw it...I'm in for the day.

This overcast day is calling for chili so that's the plan. Madam will be unhappy but every once in a while I just have to have some chili. My chili has beans and  tomato sauce along with onion, garlic and ground beef. The standard seasonings, chili powder, cumin and chipotle chili. Nothing fancy but very tasty. Today I have a container of fresh salsa that is still sealed but past its sell by date that will wind up in the chili as well.

All you folks up the coast from me, say Norfolk and to the North better hunker down because is looks Joaquin is going to roll in over the weekend. It's a Cat 3 right now  but it could gain a little strength if it stays over water a little longer. Stay safe and Goddess' sake pay attention.