Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Macaronic: Gariotin, French Onion Soup, Steak and Macarons!

"I have a treat for you..." says Eric.

Mmmmmm.... He was wandering around the cheese counter when they were passing out samples of this little baby -- "Pardon me, but um... since you've busted one open...."

We couldn't stop ourselves. As I started to cook up the dinner -- a sort of half formed plan that centered on French Onion Soup, but also had something to do with strip steak and that sauce I made from the Pan Yummies (see below) and some um, macarons. More on that later...

So this is how dinner gets made in our house when we haven't carefully planned and plotted out every step.

First, open the cheese.

Second, "Would you like a Kir, sweetie?" "Why, yes, darling, thank you." I think briefly that perhaps I should drink it after I'm done with handling the sharp objects like 8-inch chef's knives. Nah.

Third, "Do you want to slice some bread for the cheese?"

Fourth, "Mmmmmm -- more cheese please..."

Okay, so as we're enjoying these unctuous little morsels of cheesy goatiness, I get going with chopping the bowlful of onions for the soup. The way that I make it it takes around three hours, but try it this way and you'll never go back. Slow cooked, caramelized onions that are succulent and sweet, with a texture that becomes almost velvety. The revelation about making good, real, yummy, umami filled Onion Soup that you'd kill for on a cold winter night comes courtesy of Cuisine of course. After this, you'll turn your nose up at all those onion soups that taste like dirty dishwater.

French Onion Soup
(Serves 6)

8 T. Unsalted Butter
12 cups yellow onions, thinly sliced (3–4 lbs.)
1/2 cup chopped garlic

1 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup dry sherry

3 T. all-purpose flour
6 cups beef stock
Bundle of fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

12 slices dry French bread
3 cups Gruyère cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

In large covered skillet, sweat thinly sliced onions in butter for 20 mins. over medium heat. Add chopped garlic. Cover and continue cooking for an additional five minutes.

Remove the cover. Cook onions over medium-low heat for 11/2 hours until caramelized, stirrign occasionally. Add the wine and sherry. Turn up heat to reduce wines until evaporated (about 10 minutes).

Add flour and stir. Cook to remove the starch of the flour (about 1–2 minutes). Then stir in the brown stock. Add thyme, salt, and pepper. Simmer soup for 40 minutes.

To assemble:
Preheat oven to 475°F.

Ladle soup into ovenproof bowls on baking sheet. Top each with 2 slices of dry French bread.

Combine cheeses. Liberally sprinkle 1/2 cup over top of each soup bowl. Pile it on right up to the edge. Bake bowls of soup in 475° oven for 15 minutes or until cheese is browned and bubbly.


So at about midway through the slicing is when I generally recall that this soup takes three hours to make.

"Um, honey? Why don't you go ahead and put that steak on...."

See, by now we've finished the cheese and all those onions are making me hungry.

He's put the famous sauce on it and then to make it thoroughly over the top, some Bleu d'Auvergne is also going on top...

And then we will eat it, while the onions caramelize.

Still caramelizing...

Still caramelizing...


"How about some salad?" "Yes, salad. Let's have the salad..."

Is this how the tradition of serving the salad after the main course came to be? Should Soup come after the salad and before dessert? Perhaps so.

At last though, when the soup is ready, we pull it from the oven and go diving in.


Okay, maybe we have to wait a bit... let it cool.

"What about those macarons?"

Oh this is a big weakness for us. Our local boulangerie, Bay Breads, makes fresh macarons that steal the souls of various fruits and nuts and turn them into devilishly delectable sweets.

Oh, they are so good. Okay, so they're not Laduree or Pierre Herme. At least I don't think -- since I've never tried treats from those fine purveyors, but dang, these are good.

I guess I'm on the trailing edge of the trend again, since they're making news in the New York Times this weekend. I want to make some from scratch and I've researched it extensively. David Leibovitz has this helpful advice to offer.

For now, I'm happy enough to just eat...

See those four macarons? I'm told that when the box left the counter (notice I didn't say "left the store") it contained TEN macarons. Of which, I only saw four. Four. Mm-hmmm. Right.

Is that soup ready to eat now....?

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