Tuesday, November 11, 2008

French Onion soup...

I don't know why French onion soup is so good.  It doesn't need those gobs of mediocre cheese and bread that you get in some restaurants, it's delicious all on its own.  It's just onions and broth and in this case a fair amount a of booze and for some reason when you cook it super slow it turns into a yummy sweet, savory, rich soup.  Oh I love it, the french are smart aren't they?  

I made this by caramelizing a leek, a huge red onion, a huge yellow onion and a medium yellow onion.  I cut all the onions in half then into 1/4 inch half moons, once they were cut up it was probably around 8-10 cups of onions.  Throw them in a pot with a couple tablespoons of butter, a little olive oil and a bay leaf and let them get caramelizy and light brown.  Don't rush this!  It'll take about 30-40 minutes.  I started with the lid on and took it off about half way through.

Now for the booze!  Add 3/4 cup brandy and let the alcohol cook off, then add a cup and a half of white wine and let the alcohol cook off again.  How will you know when the alcohol has cooked off?  When you can put your face over it and it no longer smells like a St Patricks day party or the Mummers parade you're good to go.  Add 4 cups of beef broth and 2-4 cups of chicken broth - until you think it's the right onion to broth ratio!  Cook for another 10 minutes or so and there you have it.

I don't have crocks so I couldn't top the soup with bread and cheese and throw the whole thing in the broiler.  I bet you that if I did have crocks I'd be tempted to grab the little handles with my bare hands, like I do with every other oven safe dish with a handle, so it's probably safer this way.  Just throw a few slices of baguette topped with a tablespoon or so of really good shredded Gruyere in the broiler for a minute or two and throw them on top of the bowl of soup.  And yes, I said a tablespoon, you don't need to top this with a half cup of cheese because the soup is great all by itself.

We had this for dinner last night with a salad of mixed green, boiled potatoes, blanched green beans, prosciutto, a soft boiled egg (by mistake but now I won't eat this salad any other way!), and a mustardy vinaigrette.  Very french, super simple and oh so good.  So good that I think I'll be having the same thing for dinner tonight!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Stuff it - Pork remix

Remember the pork shoulder from earlier in the week?  Ron just remixed it into yummy stuffed poblanos.  He shredded up the pork and mixed it with rice and a sauce he made with sauteed onions and garlic, chipotle, cumin and tomato sauce.  The mixture was stuffed in some poblanos and topped with jack cheese.  The stuffed poblanos, extra sauce and cheese went into a baking dish and into the oven for 45 minutes and they came out SO GOOD.  We had some rice with beans and corn on the side.

Awesome use of leftovers!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Leek Confit and Herbed Goat Cheese Toasts

I'm about to give you the greatest recipe ever.  Next time you're asked to bring an appetizer to someone's home bring this (but not if I'm going to be there because chances are I'll be bringing it!).  Herbed goat cheese is a super yummy, versatile and easy to make spread.  I originally followed this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis but by now I've made it so many times I just wing it!  

All you need are equal parts goat cheese and cream cheese (I use neufchatel because it's what I have in the house) a squeeze of lemon, some lemon zest, salt, pepper and finely chopped herbs (whatever you have on hand - I used sage and rosemary today because they're growing in my kitchen).  Let the cheeses come to room temperature and mix everything together - add a little milk or cream or even water by the teaspoon to thin out the mixture and make it spreadable.  That's it!  Easy right?

Spread this on some baguette slices that you've toasted in the oven with some olive oil, salt and pepper.  You can top the spread with whatever tickles your fancy.  A few of my favorites are chopped green and black olives, diced apples mixed with a little lemon juice and honey, diced roasted beets and now leek confit!  I bet roasted butternut squash and caramelized onions would be awesome on this.

I saw this leek confit recipe in Bon Appetit last month and new that I had to serve it with these goat cheese toasts!  Just slice up a couple of leeks and rinse them in a sink full of water to get out all of the grit.  Put them in a pot with a couple tablespoons of butter a little salt and water. Put the lid on and let them slowly caramelize for 25 minutes or so - stirring every once in a while to make sure they don't stick.  I LOVE caramelized onions so of course I love this too, they're buttery and sweet and go with the tangy goat cheese really well.  

Don't they look rustic and yummy?  Oh they are, they certainly are.

Salmon and Cauliflower Gratin

Salmon definitely isn't my favorite fish but it looked really good at the market the other day so we picked some up.  I planned on searing a couple of pieces for dinner one night and then making the rest into salmon cakes for another dinner but Ron liked it pan seared so much that I just did it that way two nights in a row!  

I just seasoned the fish with salt and pepper and seared it skin side down in some hot olive oil for about 4 minutes then flipped it over and cooked it for a couple more then threw it in the oven for a few minutes to finish up.  

I also made individual cauliflower gratins - I didn't use a recipe and they weren't that great but Ron made a really great one a couple of weeks back that you all should try.  It was an Ina Garten recipe so of course it was delicious!  Ron's mom made a dinner of salmon cakes, macaroni and cheese and stewed tomatoes a lot when he was a kid so this meal is a little nod to that!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes we did!

Thanks for stepping up people!  Thank you for knowing how important this election was and getting out to vote.

How exciting was this?

I can't wait to see what the Obama/Biden presidency brings for this country!  

I took this in October at an Obama rally in West Philly.  Look at all the kids!  Being a part of history is pretty cool.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Oh Fall - you're delicious!

Once the weather turns a little bit chilly all I really want to eat are soups, stews and anything slow cooked.  I was inspired (again) by Jennifer over at Last Night's Dinner who wrote about using an inexpensive chunk of pork shoulder for not onenot two but THREE very different meals.  We bought a 5lb hunk of pork for $11 yesterday at Reading Terminal, when we got home I threw half of it in the freezer for another round of meals in the near future!  

I seasoned the pork with salt and pepper and seared it in some olive oil then took it out of the pot and threw together a braising liquid.  I poured out almost all of the fat and sauteed a cup or so of onions and a clove of chopped garlic, added a good bit of red wine vinegar and chicken stock and a couple tablespoons of pickling spices, salt and pepper.  

I started the pork in the oven on about 250 but then we were running out and leaving the oven on makes me nervous so I transfered it to this beauty:

I love the way the house smells after you've had the crockpot going all day - isn't it the best thing to come home to?  Really I didn't need the oven at all, why I doubted the use of the crockpot I have no idea.  This was cooked perfectly, but the pictures I took just didn't show it!  Here is the clean bone after Ron and I grabbed our respective chunks.

For a side I wanted to use the brussel sprouts that have been sitting in the fridge since a recent trip home to Long Island.  I know that beans and greens are always yummy (check out my good friend Marybeth's beans and greens over at Junkdrawer).  I figured that shredded brussels and butter beans would be yummy too.  I sauteed some shredded brussels with shallot and garlic then added the drained butter beans, a little bit of red wine vinegar and some of the braising liquid and porky onions from the crockpot.  

I drained the rest of the braising liquid, poured it in a pot and added a little cornstarch slurry to thicken it up.  This was so good I couldn't help but eat it with a spoon like it was a bowl of soup.

I'm can't wait for leftovers.