Friday, April 16, 2010

French onion soup...deliciously DOable!!

French Onion Soup
Butter or oil 2 oz.
Onions, julienne 2 lbs.
red wine 4 oz
brown stock 1 quart
chicken stock 1 quart
sachet (1 clove garlic, 1 bay leaf, 2 sprigs parsley, 1 tsp. dried thyme) tied up in cheesecloth & kitchen twine
round crouton (stale bread rolls)
Gruyere cheese (sliced or grated)
Heat a heavy bottomed soup pot until smoking hot. Add butter/oil and onions. Onions should begin to brown immediately. Stir with a wooden spoon until onions are deep brown, but not burnt. Don't let onions or the caramelized residue stick to the bottom of the pot. Add wine, let reduce by half. Add stocks, and sachet. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 45 minutes to an hour until soup is rich & flavorful, season to taste with salt & pepper.
For the croutons:
Use stale rolls, slice round slices about 1/4-1/2 inches thick. Brush with butter or oil and place on sheet pan. Toast in the oven @ 300 F until fully crispy and lightly browned.
For service:
Preheat broiler. For one portion, fill an onion soup crock to the top with soup (about 10oz). Place croutons on top of soup, cover with sliced cheese, and place bowl on small sheet pan. Brown the cheese under broiler, SERVE!!
The best french onion soups are cooked over many hours, but in class we made this soup in about 1 hour, and it was still delicious!!Obviously, we used homemade stocks. But, feel free to supplement your store bought stocks or broths with bouillon or stock base to beef up the flavor in store-bought products. I have also made this soup with canned beef consume or even canned french onion soup...add caramelized onions to anything...and it will be delicious!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter: lingering over lunch

A celebration of all of the blessings in my life...fabulous food with some of my favorite people. The menu:
Radishes with sweet pea puree
Saute 1 clove minced garlic in olive oil (about 2 oz) until golden. Add one stem of tarragon and 10 oz peas. Cook & stir about 6 more minutes until softened. Slightly cool, and place in food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add 1 Tbs more fresh tarragon, season w/ salt & pepper. Cut radishes into 1/4 inch rounds. Place on paper towel and slightly sprinkle with salt. Let stand for several minutes, and then blot off excess water with paper towel (this softens the radish). Place a dollop of pea puree on each radish.
Carrot Soup:

Peel & cut 2lbs of carrots into 1/4 inch slices. Finely chop 2 shallots and saute in 3oz. olive oil. Add carrots & 1 potato (peeled, cut into 1/2 inch cubes), and season with salt, pepper, and 1 TBS coriander. Saute for 5-7 minutes, to achieve color. Add 3 cups vegetable stock, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer, approx. 45 min, or until tender. Adjust seasoning as necessary (if making ahead, saltiness tends to increase over time, so make allowances, as necessary). Place slightly cooled batches of soup in blender and process until smooth. Work in small batches, to avoid blender explosions. Strain soup through med. strainer, using a ladle or wooden spoon (without straining, this soup resembled baby food. After, it was silken & delicious). I made this soup the day before, and reheated for serving. Topped with sour cream (creme fraiche would work here too), lil' bit of salt & white pepper, and a cilantro leaf (to reflect the coriander inside...coriander is the seed of cilantro).
Salad with marinated Mushrooms, Snap peas & Pine nuts

Heat 2 oz. olive oil & 1 minced shallot in a saucepan. Saute for 2-4 minutes. Add 2boxes sliced mushrooms (I always prefer brown mushrooms...they have more flavor). Stir & Saute, about 5 minutes. Add 3 oz. sherry vinegar (substitute others, as per your taste), salt & pepper. Place in plastic bag and marinate for 4 hours. Blanche snap peas in boiling water for a few minutes, and cool in ice bath (to keep their green color). Pan roast pine nuts in a dry pan for a few minutes, tossing occasionally, but watch out for scorching! Place frisee lettuce in salad bowl and lightly toss in vinegriette (1 part vinegar, salt & pepper, 3 parts olive oil...season to taste). Top with snap peas, marinated mushrooms, and pine nuts. Serve!

Roasted Leg of Lamb
Preheat oven to 350 F. Start with 4-5lb. leg of lamb, bone out. Mix 3 Tbs. olive oil, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, and 1 tsp. dried oregano. Mix and rub allover leg of lamb. In a roasting pan on the 2 stove top burners, brown leg of lamb on all sides. After, discard all but 2 Tbs of remaining fat & cooking liquid. Remove lamb from pan, to rest on cutting board. Do not remove pan from heat. Add mirepoix (2 parts onion, 1 part carrot, 1 part celery) to pan. Lightly brown. Return roast to pan, add 2 cups dry white cooking wine (use an inexpensive wine!) 1 carton chicken stock, and cover with aluminum foil. Roast for 1 hour at 350 F. Roast for 1 hour covered. The last 30 minutes, uncover and roast for 30 minutes, or until internal temperature is 140 F (the lamb will continue to cook while it rests!). Meanwhile, reduce the cooking liquid & vegetables left in the pan on the stovetop over med-high heat. Serve sliced with vegetables and reduced cooking liquid (taste it!, and adjust as necessary). Serve with fresh orange slices and herbs (like those used in the cooking: thyme, etc).

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
In case you haven't tried them, fingerling potatoes are amazing! They have a nutty flavor that requires little preparation to make them taste fantastic! These were roasted in olive oil, minced garlic (2 cloves), salt & pepper while the lamb roasted. Same temperature as the lamb, 350 F. About 1 hour.

Recruit Help!
On Saturday, our easter lunch for 11 suddenly became lunch for 16! This commonly happens at our holiday celebrations, and it is my belief that holidays are for sharing with those you love! It always seems to be a parable for the fishes & the loaves @ our house...the more the merrier! So, as the executive chef, ask for help when necessary. I dont like to bake, but luckily I have friends who do! These are some of the yummy accompaniments...