We are having a bit of avatar fun over at Twitter, my baking/cooking pals and I, just to shake things up a bit and confuse everyone each month as to who is who and all. Nancy came up with the great idea of each of us picking a different chef for each month, all of us making anything we each selected to make from that chef's recipes, taking a photo of our efforts, and using that photo as our avatar for that month. It has been a great way to learn new chefs and cook something in their repertoire.
February's avatar chef is Delia Smith, chosen by Nancy. I had never really heard of Delia Smith before this, which is the whole point of this little undertaking each month, to learn a new chef, so it was fun to look for recipes by her online. There are many many of them and it didn't take me long to come up with several options.
French Onion Soup won out...anyone who knows me at all will not be surprised. I love, love, love French Onion Soup. I order it whenever I can just to sample everyone's take on it. I make it at home for lunch often. I can't even count the number of different recipes I have tried because it always seems like I grab a new one each month to give it a go.
This recipe is excellent, absolutely wonderful. It has a suitably rich taste from the beef stock, the wine flavor definitely comes through so use a nice wine. It has just the right amount of garlic in it, which I thought was a good note. The cognac is a hint of flavor as there is not a whole lot in the recipe, so it does not overpower the onion mixture taste. Definitely a repeat, definitely on my top ten list for FOS.
French Onion Soup
Delia Smith (via Delia Online)
|1½ lb (700 g) onions, thinly sliced|
|2 tablespoons olive oil|
|2 oz (50 g) butter|
|2 cloves garlic, crushed|
|½ level teaspoon granulated sugar|
|2 pints (1.2 litres) good beef stock (see related recipe below)|
|10 fl oz (275 ml) dry white wine|
|2 tablespoons Cognac|
|salt and freshly milled black pepper|
|For the croutons:|
|French bread or baguettine, cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) diagonal slices|
|1 tablespoon olive oil|
|1-2 cloves garlic, crushed|
|6 large or 12 small croutons (see above)|
|8 oz (225 g) Gruyère, grated|
|Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).|
First make the croutons – begin by drizzling the olive oil on to a large, solid baking-sheet, add the crushed garlic and then, using your hands, spread the oil and garlic all over the baking sheet. Now place the bread slices on top of the oil, then turn over each one so that both sides have been lightly coated with the oil. Bake them in the oven for 20-25 minutes till crispy and crunchy.
Next place the saucepan or casserole on a high heat and melt the oil and butter together. When this is very hot, add the onions, garlic and sugar, and keep turning them from time to time until the edges of the onions have turned dark – this will take about 6 minutes. Then reduce the heat to its lowest setting and leave the onions to carry on cooking very slowly for about 30 minutes, by which time the base of the pan will be covered with a rich, nut brown, caramelised film.
After that, pour in the stock and white wine, season, then stir with a wooden spoon, scraping the base of the pan well. As soon as it all comes up to simmering point, turn down the heat to its lowest setting, then go away and leave it to cook very gently, without a lid, for about 1 hour. All this can be done in advance but, when you're ready to serve the soup, bring it back up to simmering point, taste to check for seasoning – and if it's extra-cold outside, add a couple of tablespoons of Cognac!
Warm the tureen or soup bowls in a low oven and pre-heat the grill to its highest setting. Then ladle in the hot soup and top with the croutons, allowing them to float on the top of the soup. Now sprinkle the grated Gruyère thickly over the croutons and place the whole lot under the grill until the cheese is golden brown and bubbling. Serve immediately – and don't forget to warn your guests that everything is very hot!