Friday, February 26, 2010

french onion soup

French onion soup sounds really intimidating, right? 
You need onions.  And that's about it.

Okay, fine, you need a few more things:

But look what you get from it?  A steaming bowl of goodness.  That's what you get.  And not only that but there seems to be a piece of cheese covered bread floating around on top. 
Um, yes, please.  Let's get started!

French Onion Soup
Serves 4.
The soup itself can be frozen, thawed and topped with the cheese toast.
3 large onions
1/2 stick of butter
2 sprigs of thyme (optional)
1 bay leaf
1 cup red or white wine
1/2 cup bourbon (optional)
4 cups chicken stock
good melty cheese, sliced (like Fontina)
4 pieces of toast (day old French bread is great)

Halve and slice your onions very thinly.

Melt the butter over low heat in a large Dutch oven.  Add sliced onions, thyme sprigs and bay and cook very slowly for at least half an hour.  (If you have an hour, all the better)

About 10 minutes in...

About 20 minutes in...

About 30 minutes in...

See how caramel-y?

Okay, add the wine and the bourbon and deglaze.  Add the stock and bring to a slow boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes.

Toast your bread, put cheese slices on top and stick under the broiler until melty and bubbly.  Ladle soup into 4 bowls and top with cheesy toast.  Garnish with more thyme, if desired.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

GD Round 2 - rillettes de poulet

Onto another Round 2 recipe here in the GD kitchen!  This time we are taking more leftover roast chicken and turning it into an herby, homey, sophisticated dish that is great for lunch.   

Rillettes de poulet is just a fancy way of saying potted chicken.  Potted chicken doesn't sound that appetizing so we are going with the French version :)  Rillettes are taking shredded chicken and simmering it with chicken stock and fat and letting the natural juices come out and the fat soak in.  Sounds really healthy, right?  Ha.  Well, not so much but you can imagine the flavor that it imparts.  And it's not hard to do...
Basically, it's just chopping some shallots:

Melting some butter with the shallots and adding some tarragon and thyme:

Add the shredded chicken:

And some chicken stock:

And letting it reduce for about 15 minutes!
Pack it into ramekin, serve with some pickles and grilled bread and you are ready for lunch!

Rillettes de Poulet
Serves 3-4, depending on how much leftover chicken you've got.
2 sticks butter, divided
1 1/2 cups finely chopped shallot
3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
shredded chicken
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
crusty country bread slices

Melt 1/2 stick butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add shallots and saute until tender, about 4 minutes.  Add remaining stick and a half of butter and allow to melt.  Stir in tarragon  and thyme, then shredded chicken and chicken stock.  Simmer until chicken is very moist and tender and liquid is slightly reduced but some liquid still remains, about 15 minutes.  Season mixture to taste with salt and pepper.  Pack into ramekins or small glass jars. 

*The real recipe says that you have to chill and then bring back to room temperature before serving.  I hated it this way.  We ate ours still warm (not hot) with pickles and the grilled bread.*

Saturday, February 20, 2010

cream of broccoli soup

February is soup season.  It's freezing cold outside and all I want is a steaming bowl of something creamy and comforting.  Am I alone here?
Fresh broccoli and a dash of cream makes this soul-soothing contentment all wrapped up in a bowl.  And it takes under a half an hour from chopping to slurping!

(For some variety, add about a cup or two of shredded cheddar and stick it in a bread bowl - delish!)

Cream of Broccoli Soup
Serves 4-6.
Freezes really well!  Just whisk after defrosting and warm!
1/2 stick of butter
1 1/2 pounds fresh broccoli, chopped into florets
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons flour
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup cream

Melt the butter in a heavy Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add broccoli, onion, carrot and salt and pepper to taste and saute until onion is translucent, about 6 minutes.  Add the flour and cook for about a minute.  You want to cook until the flour is a blonde color to cook away that pasty taste. 

Add stock and bring to a boil.  Simmer uncovered until broccoli is tender, about 15 minutes.  Pour in cream, off heat. 

Puree soup in batches in a blender, taking care with the hot liquids.  Season to taste and serve!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

blue cheese and walnut crackers

I love the idea of homemade crackers and iced tea on the porch of an old Southern home.
Wait a minute, I did this! Last August, my mom and I took a trip to Mississippi for the baseball World Series and toured some old plantation homes. Our favorite one was a little old lady with a huge house and an immaculate garden. After our home tour, we stopped and had delicious homemade crackers and iced tea and chatted with her. She was the epitome of a Southern Belle. When we get out of the military, Mike and I are going to move back down South and I’m going to be just like this lady. She loves to cook. (I’m there) She loves to garden. (I’m getting there) She loves to entertain simply. (Yes, please) She wears pearls and pumps. (Yup, that’s me…) She wears the big old lady sun hat. (Oh, I want one!)
Homemade crackers and iced tea. I could do that. I just need that big old lady hat. *hint hint*

Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers
Makes a ton!
(Sorry, didn’t count. Again.)
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces blue cheese, crumbled, at room temperature
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
½ cup roughly chopped walnuts

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and cheese together for 1 minute, or until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour, salt and pepper and mix until it's in large crumbles, about 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon of water and mix until combined.

Dump the dough onto a floured board, press it into a ball, and roll into a 12-inch long log. Brush the log completely with the egg wash. Spread the walnuts in a square on a cutting board and roll the log back and forth in the walnuts, pressing lightly, and distributing them evenly on the outside of the log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350˚.
Cut the log ¼ inch thick with a small, sharp knife and place the crackers on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 22 minutes until very lightly browned. Rotate the pan once during baking. Cool and serve at room temperature.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

red velvet cake

I have to be honest.  I don't care too much for red velvet cake.  But, as it's Valentine's Day, I have to make a red cake.  I mean, come on.  Plus, people have requested it.  And this recipe is the best I've had.  So, here we are!

Red Velvet Cake
Serves 8-10.
Adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook.

1 stick butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
4 tablespoons red food coloring mixed with 2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

Preheat oven to 350*.  Grease and flour (with cocoa, if you don't want white edges) two 8" round cake pans.  Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, and scrape down bowl between.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix cocoa, vanilla and red food coloring mixture until thick.  Add to the batter, mixing thoroughly until completely combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure all the batter gets the red color.

Slowly, add half the buttermilk.  Add half the flour and salt and mix until just combined.  Scrape down the bowl and repeat with the remaining milk and flour.  Beat until smooth. Add baking soda and vinegar (it will foam up) and beat a few more minutes.

Divide batter between prepared cake pans and bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then cool completely on a rack until ready to frost with cream cheese frosting.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

roasted red pepper soup

Wanna know what to serve with that onion tarte?  This soup is it.  It's creamy and delicious and oh-so-easy.  Packed with flavor from the roasted bell peppers and filled with nutrients, this is a yummy and healthy dinner to serve up in the cold February weather!

*I didn't feel the need to insult your intelligence with pictures of dicing and sauteing....I'm sure you've gotten the hang of it by now.  Plus, it's cold and I'm being lazy.  I'm sure you understand.  :)

Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Serves 4-6.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
6 cups homemade chicken stock
6 large red bell peppers, roasted
1 starchy potato, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and pepper

Melt olive oil and butter over medium heat in a large Dutch oven.  Add onions, carrots, garlic and thyme and saute until the onions are translucent, about 5-6 minutes.  Add the stock, bell peppers, potato and sugar.  Bring to a simmer over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are very tender, about 30 minutes.  Puree, using caution, in batches, in a blender.  Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve with homemade garlic croutons and enjoy!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

onion tarte

Onion tarte doesn't sound too appealing, huh?  Even if you call it a tarte instead of a pizza, like it really is?  :)
What about if it looks like this??

This tarte is great.  The onions get super sweet and caramel-y and the mustard really brightens things up.  It's great to serve with soup (like we did) or as appetizers for a dinner party.  It's homey but fancy and just plain delicious. 
Might sound strange to have a whole pizza with just onions, but trust me, if you call it a tarte, it transforms :)

Onion Tarte
Adapted from Gourmet 
Serves 8, as appetizers
One recipe pizza dough, or store-bought
Olive oil
3 pounds yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, shaved

Roll out the pizza dough into a big rectangle, 15"x12".  Lay on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a large heavy Dutch oven over medium low heat.  Add sliced onions and the salt and pepper.  Cover with a lid or a piece of parchment paper and cook until onions are very soft and dark golden brown, about an hour and a half. 
Preheat oven to 375*.
Brush the pizza dough with the mustard and spread onion mixture evenly over the surface.  Sprinkle with the cheese and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until tarte is golden brown.  Cut into diamonds (it's pretty!) and serve!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

wheat berry breakfast bowl

Have you ever heard of wheat berries?
Maybe not.
Wheat berries refer to the entire wheat kernel, except for the hull.  They are an excellent source of dietary fiber and are a completely organic whole grain.

Added to tons of fruits, toasted pecans and a dollop of maple syrup-spiked Greek yogurt, you have yourself a fantastic breakfast, packed with nutrients!  If you have the February blues, this is pure power, all in a delicious bowl!

Wheat Berry Breakfast Bowl
Serves 2.
Some of this can be made recommendation is to make a double batch on the weekend, and stick the rest in the fridge, un-assembled, so during the week, it's a go-to breakfast!
1 cup any combo of dried fruit...I used apricots, figs and apples
1 cup pecans, toasted
2 tablespoons butter
1 pear, cored and sliced
1 cup wheat berries, cooked
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup Greek yogurt

Chop up the dried fruit and the pecans and set aside.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and let it brown.  Add the sliced pear, wheat berries, and the cinnamon and saute for about 4 minutes, until the pear is carmelized.

Meanwhile, mix the maple syrup with the yogurt and whisk to combine.

At this point, all the ingredients can the stuck in the fridge and assembled whenever you need a fast breakfast!
Just pile the wheat berry/pear mixture on the bottom of a bowl, add the dried fruits/nuts mixture and dollop the yogurt on top.  Sprinkle with a bit more cinnamon and serve!

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