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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fall Soups

Famous Barr's Department Store French Onion Soup with my addition of homemade croutons

Serves: 16, Yield: 4 Quarts
5 lbs onions, peeled
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground
2 tablespoons paprika
1 bay leaf
7 (16 ounce) cans beef broth, divided (recommended Swanson's)
1 cup dry white wine 
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (such as Wondra) or 3/4 cup instant flour (such as Wondra)
caramel coloring (optional) or Kitchen Bouquet (optional)
2 teaspoons salt
French baguette (optional)

swiss cheese or gruyere cheese 
Prep Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 4 1/2 hrs
Peel onions and slice 1/8 inch thick, preferably in a food processor.
Melt butter in a 6-quart (or larger) stockpot. Add onions; cook, uncovered, over low heat for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
(The long cooking time makes the onions mellow and sweet.) Stir in pepper, paprika and bay leaf; saute over low heat 10 minutes more, stirring frequently.
Pour in 6 cans broth and wine. Increase heat and bring to a boil.
Dissolve flour in remaining 1 can broth.
Stir into boiling soup.
Reduce heat and simmer slowly for 2 hours.
Adjust color to a rich brown with caramel coloring, season with salt. Refrigerate overnight. To serve, heat soup in microwave or on stove top.
If desired, pour into ovenproof crocks or bowls.
Top with a home made croutons and a sprinkling of grated cheese. Heat under the broiler until cheese melts and bubbles, about 5 minutes.
Leftover soup can be frozen.

    One of my dear friends just made this soup and pointed out I needed to explain how to do the croutons.  Super Easy and SO worth it!

    French or Rustic bread is best, the nice thing about croutons is you can use bread you've stored in the freazer or slightly stale bread and they still turn our great.  Cut into cubes, drizzle with olive oil and lightly season with kosher salt. Place on a baking sheet, single layer in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes, keeping an eye on the coloration, they should brown slightly.  SO GOOD!

    by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen
    Linguiça, a garlicky Portuguese sausage, and andouille, a smoky Cajun sausage, are both available at most supermarkets.
    Yield: Makes 4 servings
    Active Time: 45 minutes
    Total Time: 45 minutes

    1 16-ounce bag dried green split peas (2 1/3 cups)
    12 ounces fully cooked smoked pork linguiça or andouille sausages
    8 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
    5 Turkish bay leaves
    3 to 4 cups coarsely chopped kale

    Combine split peas, whole sausages, 8 cups broth, and bay leaves in heavy large pot. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring often. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until peas are tender, stirring occasionally, 30 to 35 minutes.
    Transfer sausages to cutting board. Cut lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick half-rounds.
    Puree soup (including bay leaves) 1 cup at a time in blender until smooth; return to same pot. Add sausages and greens. Thin with more broth if necessary. Simmer soup until greens soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    I used Trader Joe's Sweet Italian Sausage and it was delicious!

    Golden Potage Soup Served with Wheat Toast and Brie

    My first job out of college was was working for Brenda Langton at the late Cafe Brenda in Minneapolis and then Spoonriver by the Guthrie and Stone Arch Bridge.  Some of my favorite dishes out of her Cafe Brenda Cookbook are soups. 

    Potato Leek Soup

    I got this recipe from the Alice Waters "The Art of Simple Food" Cookbook, which my Brother in Law Rob gave to me a few Christmases ago. This is one of my favorite cookbooks because of its simple yet sensitive use of great ingredients.   I'm always using something fresh in a way that brings out the truest flavors. I got my leeks from the Oak Park Farmers Market.

    Makes 4-6 Servings

    Trim off the root and upper tough end from 2 Lbs. of Leeks
    Cut the trimmed leeks lengthwise in half and slice thinly.  Rinse in a bowl of cold water, let the leeks drain. 

    Melt over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pot 3 T. butter
    Add the leeks along with: 
    2 thyme springs
    1 bay leaf

    Cook until soft, about 10 minutes and add: 
    1 lbs. yellow potatoes halved quartered and sliced into bite sized pieces
    Cook the potatoes for 4 minutes then add 6 cups of broth or water.
    (I used vegetable broth)

    Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are tender, but not falling apart, about 30 minutes.  Alice suggests to stir in 1/3 C. of heavy cream, but I left this out and was very happy with the simple broth. If you add the cream do not boil once it has been added.  She also suggests blending the soup before adding the cream, but I enjoyed the texture as it was.

    Garnish with parsley and fresh ground pepper

    Saturday, November 6, 2010


    Taylor's contribution to the test kitchen, a Sunday afternoon batch of Limoncello, you get the idea. 

    Taylor met a man named Dave at the Ridgeland Dog park who convinced him that Limoncello was his next project.  Taylor came home asking me to pick up 20 lemons at the store. Okay...

    The basic ingredients:
    Everclear 180 proof
    Lemon Zest

    Taylor made the simple syrup this weekend and integrated it into the Everclear/Lemon jug.  After 3 weeks we had our first taste.  I think it needs another week now that we added the sugar. 

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    Phyllo Dough Chicken Pot Pie with Bacon and Marjoram

    by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen
    Crème fraîche—a French heavy cream that's slightly sour—can be found in the dairy section of some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores.
    Yield: Makes 4 servings
    5 applewood-smoked bacon slices
    1 1/2 cups chopped onion
    12 ounces peeled whole baby carrots (about 2 1/2 cups)
    1 8-ounce package trimmed haricots verts or other slender green beans, halved crosswise
    4 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram
    1 3/4 cups low-salt chicken broth
    2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon crème fraîche
    3 cups coarsely shredded chicken from 1 small purchased roasted chicken (skin removed)

    1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3-ounce package), thawed
    Preheat oven to 450F. Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Chop bacon. Add onion to drippings in skillet; sauté until tender and golden, about 8 minutes. Add next 3 ingredients; stir 1 minute. Add broth; bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to mediumhigh and boil until vegetables are almost tender and some liquid is reduced, about 8 minutes. Stir in 2/3 cup crème fraîche, chicken, and bacon. Bring to simmer. Season with pepper. Divide among four 2-cup soufflé dishes.
    Unfold puff pastry onto work surface; roll out to 12-inch square. Cut into 4 equal squares. Top filling in soufflé dishes with pastry; fold edges down onto rims of dish. Brush top of crusts (not edges) with remaining 1 tablespoon crème fraîche. Cut small X in center of crusts; pierce all over with fork. Bake until crusts are golden brown and filling is heated through, about 22 minutes.

    Test-Kitchen Tip:
    You can also make one large pot pie. Place the filling in a 9-inch-diameter deep-dish pie dish. Set the 12-inch pastry square over the filling, then fold down the edges onto the rim. Baking time will still be about 22 minutes.
    I went ahead and used the large pot pie version which turned out great and with less work. The Philo dough added a nice texture and airiness to the typical puff pastry option.  I used half the sheet layer on the top and half on the bottom.  Definitely be sure to use enough cream or creme fraiche so it doesn't dry out.  If you don't have creme fraiche, plain yogurt and whipping cream substitute well. 
    Taylor is begging me to make this again.