Saturday, April 30, 2011

My End of Conference Haiku...

It's been great Denver.
Conference- people watching.
Blisters on my feet.

I have fallen in love. With a caramel macchiato. But I'm sure I spelled it wrong.

Friday, April 29, 2011

At the CEA Delegate Assembly in Denver! Lots of speeches, but fantastic people watching.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Random Quotes

I read this in the latest edition of "Where Women Cook."  I just love it.

I'm not a chef.  I'm not a cook.  I simply love good food.  And I love art.  I love gardening, people, animals, the outdoors, traveling, and discovering far off places.  And I love stories.  What is life after all but our own unpublished books of short stories with colorful chapters following one after the other?- Ronelle Van Wyk

Saturday, April 9, 2011

French Onion Soup

This took most of the afternoon, but it was so worth it.  I got this recipe from "Smitten Kitchen," who adapted it from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Onion Soup [Soupe à l’Oignon]
1 1/2 pounds (680 grams or 24 ounces or about 5 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
3 tablespoons (42 grams or 1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter

1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil

1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt, plus additional to taste

1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) granulated sugar (helps the onions to brown)

3 tablespoons (24 grams or 7/8 ounce) all-purpose flour

2 quarts (8 cups or 1.9 liters) beef or other brown stock*

1/2 cup (118 ml) dry white wine or dry white vermouth
Freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons (45 ml) cognac or brandy (optional)
To finish [Gratinèe] (Optional)
1 tablespoon grated raw onion

1 to 2 cups (to taste) grated Swiss (I often use Gruyere.  Mimi used provolone.) or a mixture of Swiss and Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon butter, melted

12 to 16 1-inch thick rounds French bread, toasted until hard

Melt the butter and oil together in the bottom of a 4- to 5-quart saucepan or Dutch oven over moderately low heat. Add the onions, toss to coat them in oil and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to real low and let them slowly steep for 15 minutes. They don’t need your attention; you can even go check your email.
After 15 minutes, uncover the pot, raise the heat slightly and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook onions, stirring frequently, for 30 to 40 minutes until they have turned an even, deep golden brown. Don’t skimp on this step, as it will build the complex and intense flavor base that will carry the rest of the soup. Plus, from here on out, it will be a cinch.
After the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle them with flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the wine in full, then stock, a little at a time, stirring between additions. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 more minutes, skimming if needed. Correct seasonings if needed but go easy on the salt as the cheese will add a bit more saltiness and I often accidentally overdo it. Stir in the cognac, if using. I think you should.
Set aside until needed. I find that homemade onion soup is so deeply fragrant and flavor-rich that it can stand alone, but that doesn’t we don’t enjoy the graitinèed top once in a while. Here’s how to pull it off:
Preheat oven to 325. Arrange six ovenproof soup bowls or crocks on a large, foil-lined baking sheet. Bring the soup back to a boil and divide among six bowls. To each bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon grated raw onion and a tablespoon of grated cheese. Stir to combine. Dab your croutons with a tiny bit of butter and float a few on top of your soup bowls, attempting to cover it. Mound grated cheese on top of it; how much you use will be up to you. [Julia Child, in another era, felt that 1/2 cup of grated cheese could be divided among 6 bowls. I can assure you that if you'd like your gooey bubbling cheese lid to be anything like what you get at your local French restaurant, you are looking to use more, such as a generous 1/4 cup.]
Bake soups on tray for 20 minutes, then preheat broiler. Finish for a minute or two under the broiler to brown the top lightly. Grab pot holders, and serve immediately.
* Porcini or mushroom stock are a robust vegetarian substitutions.
Toads in a Hole, bacon and orange juice for Saturday breakfast. Yay weekend!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Potato Soup

Potato soup is pretty darn good.  But you know what makes potato soup even better?  I do.  Making potato soup with a great big ham bone.

I baked a ham week before last and we've been eating from it blissfully ever since.  Every single morsel of meat has been stripped from the bone.  So last weekend, Dev's mom was in town, and I was contemplating what I should do with the ham bone I was saving in a ziploc bag in my freezer.  It was pretty chilly here, and I thought some type of soup would do the trick.  I looked around my kitchen....I had a couple of baking potatoes, the ham bone, some onions, some chicken broth....

Potato soup!  I have about a zillion recipes for potato soup, but did I look any of them up?  No.  I just made it up as I went along.  Here's what I did:

I put my small steamer pot on the stove.  It has a removable insert to steam veggies, but I took that out.  It's kinda like a tiny little stock pot.  I put a couple of glugs of olive oil in the pot, and chopped a medium onion (in a fairly large dice) and threw it in the oil.  Then I threw in the ham bone.  After a few minutes, I minced a clove of garlic and threw it in, too.  I let that sweat down for a few minutes while I peeled and diced the 2 russet baking potatoes I had.  I threw the potatoes in and let them swim around with the veggies for a few minutes.  Then I poured in enough chicken stock to make as much soup as I wanted, and added some white wine I needed to use up.  I brought it to a pretty energetic simmer and left it for about 30 minutes.  I wanted to cook the potatoes down and strip as much flavor out of that ham bone as possible.  After 30 minutes I fished the ham bone out and turned off the heat.  I let the soup sit and cool off a little.  I got out my blender and, in batches, blended the soup until it was silky smooth.  I could have stopped there, but I never use common sense.  I returned the blended soup to the pot and added a few tablespoons of whipped cream cheese I needed to get rid of, and a few splashes of heavy cream.  I stirred it until the cheese had melted in, then served it with grilled cheese sandwiches.  Dev and his mom both had plain cheddar grilled cheeses.  I had a smoked turkey, brie and mango chutney panini, cuz I'm fancy like that sometimes.

My gosh this soup was good.  It had the extra flavor from the wine and the ham bone, plus it was really smooth and silky from using the blender.  You could use this process to make any kind of veggie into soup- broccoli, asparagus, squash, whatever!  Change it up however you want to fit what you have on hand.

Pictures in Blog Posts

I read a lot of blogs.  Seriously.  A lot.

And I enjoy looking at pictures, just like everyone else.

But I also write a blog.  And even though it's become much easier to upload pictures than it used to be, it's still a pain in the butt.  I would love to post step by step pics of everything I cook on this blog, but frankly, I gots a day job, and sometimes (ok- most of the time) just writing the post is a minor miracle.  If you don't know me well, and you think I have no command at all of the Queen's English, I really do.  I'm a Literacy teacher, for crying out loud.  Sometimes I use bad grammar on purpose.  Cuz I'm a rebel.  But I digress....

My goal is to post a pic of the end result of the dishes I cook, but most of the time, if I didn't post because I didn't have a pic...I'd never post!

So- I'm trying to get better about my New Year's Resolution to post on the blog at least once a week.  Maybe getting my picture confession off my chest will help me be better at it!
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