Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Secret Love

Before I let the cat out of the bag on my secret love, I wanted to share with you all my new toy that FINALLY arrived yesterday (it seems like the things you really want to arrive always take the longest to get here).

Cuisinart® Chef’s Classic™ Enameled Cast Iron 7 Qt. Round Casserole

I'm very excited...I tried to convince Husband to buy me a (much) more expensive Le Creuset one, but since I'm really just starting with this cooking thing...he was probably smart to buy me this one...I'm very happy and look forward to trying new recipes in it! far as my secret love goes...there is this restaurant near my parents house called Burger Island...I would always go there and order only one thing...and they knew exactly what I wanted every time I went...

Fried Pickles!

Let me be clear...fried pickle spears...not the chips...the chips are okay...but the spears are heaven. If you've never had a fried pickle spear...I suggest you find out immediately the closest place to you that serves them and go now!

So...after getting inspired by a recipe for fried mozzarella sticks that uses panko bread crumbs as the breading, I made the decision that it is time to reunite with my secret love and attempt to make them on my own.

Expect to be reading about them soon...I'm adding pickles and panko (and ranch dressing for dipping) to my grocery list :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My Dad's French Onion Soup

I am going to start by asking your forgiveness...I really intended to take a picture of all the ingredients and all the steps when I made this...and I didn't...So, I'm sorry...please forgive me...

Growing up, we always had "traditional" meals...things we ate at least once a year for whatever occasion. My dad made French Onion Soup at the holidays...either Christmas Eve or New Years Eve. I love soup...and will not be limited by special, I asked my dad for his French Onion Soup recipe...of course then when I went to go look for Sherry or Madeira wine, I couldn't find them, so it got put on hold. I finally found Sherry at the "American" grocery store (I had checked 3 times already, I promise), Mas X Menos - that was a good day!

So, I started with the croutons...The bread here is good, but it doesn't last long, so I bought it the day of. My finished croutons - this is from one loaf (bagette). Make as many as you need...this worked out to be the right number for how I served the soup. 

Then, of course the onions...apparently my skillet isn't big enough so I actually had to brown the onions in three batches.

Then the beef broth...Dad says to use "good beef broth"...I figure Campbell's is, it's what I could find...not a ton of choices here. When I started browning the final batch of onions, I put the beef broth on to boil...timing worked out almost perfectly.'s where I forgot to take pictures of actually adding the onions, the Sherry and the White Pepper to the broth...but I'm sure you can use your imagination...The soup simmered for about an hour...then I turned it down to low to just keep it warm until we were ready to eat. Does it look yummy yet?

And again...I forgot to take a picture of the actual serving...If I make leftovers, I'll take a picture and post it later (maybe...if I remember). But it's pretty simple to do...and the last ingredient is Gruyere cheese...a lot of people will use something else...but trust me - Gruyere is perfect with it...

Here's the recipe...

My Dad's French Onion Soup

12 c. good beef broth
6-8 large onions - cut in rings
1-1/2 sticks butter - clarified
2 c. Madeira wine or Sherry
1 tsp. white pepper
French Bread
Gruyere Cheese

To make Croutons - 
Cut French Bread 1-1/2 inches thick. Bake on cookie sheet at 350 degF until dry (about 45 minutes)

For Soup - 
Sauté onions in clarified butter on medium to medium high heat until really brown.
Boil beef broth in stock pot.
Add onions to broth.
Add wine and white pepper. Salt to taste.
Simmer approximately 45 minutes.

To Serve - 
Fill oven safe bowl with soup. Place crouton on top and cover with Gruyere Cheese. 
Place under broiler for 6-7 minutes, or until cheese begins to brown.
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Chocolate Truffles with Sea Salt

This wonderful awesome treat comes from Pioneer Woman (click for the recipe). So simple to do - though expect your hands to get a little dirty. I made a few substitutions on the type of chocolate because of what I could find here...but it came out nice and dark and yummy! They were a big hit with husband and our friends - though husband wasn't crazy about the salt - he's not a salt person. You could always leave it off or substitute something else - we talked about trying to find white chocolate and drizzling a little white chocolate on top instead.

This is what you need...

And this is my final product...They aren't perfect looking...but let's be honest, who wants perfect?

These will likely be an addition to my holiday baking...though nothing can beat the caramels...Maybe I can figure out caramel truffles???
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