Along with all of our brewing adventures, while we were waiting for things to steep and simmer, I started making French Onion Soup from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Uncle David and Auntie Wendy, if you are reading this, my family and I THANK YOU! Oh. My. God. This was sooooooo good. This, like the beer, took a long time, but wasn't difficult. I actually messed up a little because I forgot to add the flour as a thickener before adding the boiling beef stock. To fix this I just made up an easy roux and it worked out beautifully. The book said that it would take 2.5-3 hours to make so I started around 1:30 to make sure that I would have it done in time. I had plenty of time to spare. At the last minute you add grated onion, which was actually the most work (I probably need to work out more because my arms were tired), and slices swiss cheese. Then you top the soup with french bread and grated parmesan cheese before putting it into the oven for 20 minutes. Oh it was devine. I am so extremely pleased by the out come of this dish.
As soon as I saw the recipe in the book while I was flipping through it at Jen Jen's house during Christmas I knew I had to try this. The first and only time I had it was when Nick and I first started dating and he took me to Bouchon. It was so good, but so rich. Still, I knew I wanted it. The only problem I had was that I didn't have any ramekins. All the places I looked, even Amazon was selling them for around $30 for four and I needed six! I was worried that I would never get to make this dish because of the price of the dishes. I was unwilling to spend $60 on eight ceramic bowls just so that I could spend hours making a soup and then have to find somewhere to store said bowls. I did consider using my mom's dinnerware, but was afraid that they were not oven safe. It is also recommended to get soufflé ramekins that are unglazed at the bottom for quicker and more even heat distribution. So her bowls wouldn't cut it.
I lucked out. On Friday night Linda suggested that we go and have kebabs in Walnut Creek. Nick and I needed to go out to Jen Jen's to get the hockey tickets and parking permit so we went out there right after work and then to the restaurant. Needless to say, we were super early as our dinner wasn't until 7:30 and we were in Walnut Creek by 6:30. We didn't want to lose our parking space so we decided to walk around. It was my lucky night when we went into Cost Plus and saw these ramekins for only $3 for two! I was practically snatching them off the shelves. I already have little creme bruelee ramekins, but if I didn't, I would have gotten little blue matching ones to go with my large ones I was piling into my basket. The best part is that they are meant for soufflés. There is an entire section about soufflés in Mastering the Art. I can't wait to try some of those out.
Three large onions thinly sliced in three tablespoons of butter to sautee.
French Onion soup! This is the completed master recipe base. For the cheese, which I will show next, it is a separate recipe/variation.
Putting on rounds of bread
Before the oven
After the oven
I am beaming at how well this turned out. Even my dad, who is my biggest critic, liked it. There was that nice crusty top that you poke through so that you get the saturated bread and all that gooey cheese and onion. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Obviously, just soup was not going to be enough for us. Nick had said that at French bistros, French Onion Soup is commonly served with Steak au Poivre. It is basically a simple steak crusted in crushed pepper corns. Of course, Julia had this in her book so I took a whack at it. It didn't turn out nearly as well as the soup. I first tried crushing my pepper corns in a baggie with a rolling pin. That was a complete failure. My mortar and pestle that the Levie's gave me one Christmas is still packed away with the rest of my cooking stuff so I tried using the Magic Bullet to crush the corns. This was only semi successful. It ground some of the corns into a dust and left the others whole. Since the recipe said "coarsely crushed" I thought that this would be okay. Not okay. The filet mignon tasted alright, but we were biting in pretty much whole pepper corns. Bleh. I ended up cutting away the edges of my filet so that I could get the tender inside part. It was a waste of good meat! I will definitely try this recipe again because I can see the potential, but like Nick suggested, I should just put the muscle work in and use my pepper mill for a coarse grind.
To go along with the steaks I made my normal garlic green beans and rice. It was a pretty successful meal in my opinion with the exception of the overly peppery meat.
I like my meat a little rare so this was perfect for me.
During the time period that I was doing the beer and the soup, I let Emmy run around our backyard for a few hours. Our neighbor's are taking care of their kid's two large boxers. They love to talk. Emmy runs up and down the side fence "talking" at the top of her lungs. The other day the boxers actually came into out backyard. This has happened before, but not while Emmy was here. It was a good thing that I had taken her inside a couple minutes before because they came strolling into our yard looking for her. They are super calm and friendly dogs, but I don't know how Emmy would have taken to them coming into her territory. She might actually get along with them since they are so mellow. I'm going to ask if they can meet at some point so that their curiosity isn't so gigantic. Anyway, Emmy ran so much that there is a tred in our lawn that looks like a bike trail. She was so tired that once she came back inside she fell asleep for hours. In her eyes, it was a very good play day.
Cleaning her muddy paws. Look how pooped out she is!