Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 8

Winter in Los Angeles sucks. We get a boring average temperature somewhere in the high sixties for most of the "season." Maybe every now and then there's a little fluctuation here or there, or (cross your fingers) an actual cloud in the sky, but for the most part, "winter" weather in southern CA leaves you with a big empty whole in your heart where a white christmas should be. Then there are these mind bending weeks where it all of a sudden turns into summer outside. Birds chirp, flowers think they can start to bloom, I am having to pull out my sundresses- it's bullshit. I may have a little bit of pent up resentment towards my parents for YANKING me out of Toronto (I have heard there are four seasons there....) and displacing me in the middle of the desert, but whatever. Children should build snowmen, not pull cactus spikes out of their arms, ya know? Ok, so maybe 60 degree weather would be a blessing for people in other parts of the country that are blanketed under snow, but I would appreciate a little festivity and to be able to wear a winter coat without having to pretend that I am not sweating.

This is a food blog, FYI. I Didn't want to confuse you. I do have a point and I will (am trying) to get to it......

my point. 

Yes. That awesome screen shot taken from my phone is my point. 
Rain is a pretty big deal for a girl who misses anything resembling seasons. 
I am still not getting to my point.....
It is supposed to rain tomorrow (and the following day!!!!!!!) and today in class we started learning about soups. 
Soup goes wonderfully with rainy weather, so pretty much my world is coming together perfectly and THAT is my point.

(I could pretty much leave this blog entry at that seeing as how I have already written a novel about absolutely nothing. I need a filter. )

Today in class we made New England Clam Chowder, Consomme, and FRENCH ONION SOUP. 
All three of mine turned out delicious and I am now prepared for a weekend of grey skies. 

By the way.... I don't really measure when I cook. Some things are very important to measure out exactly right and I will do my best to specify what those things are. However, recipes are generally guidelines and the real trick to cooking is in the method. If anyone ever has specific recipe questions- email me and I will do my best to give you some real measurements. Well, that is if anyone besides my teacher and classmates actually read this- you guys can get them on your own. K.

One of the reasons I wanted to go to French cooking school....

French Onion Soup:
Onions (for 4 servings you should use about 2 pounds.)
Veal or beef stock
Bouquet garni: thyme, bay leafy, parsley
Salt to taste

Garnish: Shredded gruyere cheese, toasted slice of French bread, parsley.

'Emincer' your onions. This means to thinly slice them. I wanted to sound all French and fancy....
The thinner you slice the onions, the more surface area and sugar that will be exposed for caramelization.

TIP: When slicing onions, slice half of them against the grain of the onion and the other half with it. The onions that are sliced against the grain will become softer and mushier and the other half will have more fibers and keep their shape. This will keep the texture of your soup much more appealing. 

Heat some butter in a large pan over medium-low heat and begin to caramelize the onions. Add salt to draw out the moisture and enhance the flavor. This should be a slow process. Burnt onions will make burnt tasting soup and that is not very tasty. In class today I caramelized my onions for about 45 minutes and could have gone longer had time allowed. When the onions are beginning to brown sprinkle them with flour. This will help them brown quicker.

Add a few ounces of sherry and bring to 'au sec.' Add bouquet garni, water, and stock and bring to a simmer. You only need to use a few tablespoons of stock per cup of water. Do not boil. Reduce a little if necessary and let flavors concentrate. Season. (I had to salt mine pretty heavily to enhance the flavor of the onions.) You should be left with a sweet flavor with notes of sherry. 

Ladle soup into oven safe bowls. Top with shredded gruyere cheese and toasted french bread. I buttered my bread and broiled it in the oven for about 5 minutes. Top crouton with more cheese and place in an oven at 450 degrees F until cheese is golden and bubbly. You can also place soup under a broiler. 
Garnish with minced parsley. Enjoy.

This soup is really pretty easy to make and it is so delicious. I think the most important thing is to cook your onions slowly and let them get very, very brown. 

I am cooking this again tonight because I have a crush on a boy who really likes French onion soup...and let's be honest- you can never have too much of anything that is covered in melted cheese.
I find things are always a little different to cook at home in a real kitchen (especially with a stove from 1923.....) so if needed I will re-evaluate this situation and update tomorrow post- dinner.


Post dinner: Add more water! Restaurants in the US definitely go heavier on the broth that the onions. Other than that- delicious.

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