October 25, 2009

Easy Onion Soup in Photos

Posted in Soups & Stews tagged , , at 1:18 pm by jenniec00ks

frenchonionsoup 014Phew. This took much longer than I thought, so I wouldn’t recommend this for a weeknight. It goes slowly, so I could watch some Texas football at the same time. I’m not claiming this to be terribly authentic, as it’s just a mish-mash of different french onion soup recipes that I’ve seen. It looks to be about 3 servings, and this soup is a LOT more filling than I thought.







Ingredients:

4 medium sweet yellow onions
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3/4 cup sherry
4 cups beef stock
4 tbsp butter
French bread + gruyere cheese if you want to be fancy, I used garlic/cheesy frozen texas toast.

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So peel the onion (the steps before Step 1) and cut it into thin slices.  I chopped it just like in Step 1, but I went all the way through to make half-moon shaped slices.  Then melt the butter over low heat and add the onions.  It’ll look like a lot, but lemme tell you, these things cook down like nobody’s business.

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I added the several dashes of dried thyme, roughly 1/2 tsp, and just kept the onions moving.  It took at least 30 minutes before I saw some color and added the 3/4 cup of sherry. If you want a strong sherry flavor to it, add it when the onions are golden, close to browning. By the time my onions got browned, all of the sherry had been cooked off. So after this, it took about 20 more minutes to get them browned, and once they become golden, it’s a fast track to brown, so that’s when you really need to watch them.

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Above on the left are the onions very close to golden, I didn’t get a picture of when they were brown because once they begin to brown, they move super fast.  Once they’re brown, add the 4 cups of beef stock.  Above on the right are the beef stock & sherry brands that I used, the Kitchen Basics stock was slightly stronger in flavor than the traditional broth. Since it was less than 50 cents more expensive than the Swanson beef broth, I decided to go with it.

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On the left is right after I’ve added the broth. Turn the heat up to help it come to a boil, then turn the heat back down to keep it at a simmer. After it’s simmered for about 30 minutes, it should look like the right side and be a bit thicker.  French onion soup recipes ask you to load the soup into oven proof bowls, top with the french bread and cheese, and then broil.  Since I lack the oven proof bowls, I just baked some cheesy/garlic flavored texas toast (frozen bread aisle) according to the box, and popped it on top!  Et voila!

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Yummmmm

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August 28, 2009

Spicy Seafood Soup!

Posted in Soups & Stews tagged , , at 10:45 pm by jenniec00ks

Yum yum yum!

Yum yum yum!

So I was just making myself a typical weeknight dinner (so Friday is sort of a weeknight!) and it was so good I decided to post it.  I found this recipe by Giada her latest cookbook, Giada’s Kitchen.  I sort of took the comments into consideration (about the Trader Joe’s frozen seafood mix, I happen to have just discovered Trader Joe’s after moving to Atlanta.)  I had a craving for tater tots, so I ate that with my soup instead of the garlic toast recommendation. Here goes!

2 servings that need an accompaniment (garlic bread, crusty bread, tater tots, whatever you’d like):

1 cup white wine (I used Starborough Sauvingnon Blanc, New Zealand, 2007, I’d recommend it.  ~$12/bottle)

1 cup Hunt’s garlic & herb spaghetti sauce (the kind I always use)

2/3 lb. Trader Joe’s Frozen Seafood Mix (Squid, scallops, shrimp)

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 dash of dried red pepper flakes (this is for a mild soup, 2 if you like it spicy)

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1. Heat the olive oil over low heat.

2. Add the finely chopped garlic, sautee for 2 minutes.  Do not let it brown!

3. Add the cup of wine and turn the heat up to medium.

4. Let it bubble for 3-4 minutes.  It should reduce by only about a third.

5. Add the cup of tomato sauce and stir in along with the red pepper flakes.

6. Let it come up to a simmer and let simmer 6 minutes.

7. Add the 2/3 lb. of frozen seafood, let it come up to a simmer again for about 2 minutes or until all the seafood is cooked through.  Shrimp turn pink and curl, squid turns from clear to opaque, and scallops get a whiter color and feel bouncy to the touch.

ENJOY!  I did.

April 15, 2009

Basic Beef Stew in Photos

Posted in Soups & Stews tagged , , at 8:45 pm by jenniec00ks

So you’ve got at least 2-3 lbs of potatoes left; why not throw them in a classic, hearty beef stew?  I got this recipe out of Bon Appetit’s Keep It Simple cookbook and cooked up a batch in preparation for a busy weekend.  I must warn you, this’ll take a couple hours to make, but it’s definitely worth it.  Stew beef is pretty much any lean meat, since it’ll soften after a few hours of simmering.

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First we’ll flavor the base of the stew.  I’ve got 1.25 lbs, cut up into 1″ pieces on my bacteria-resistant cutting board while I warm up 3-4 tablespoons of oil in a 6 qt. stockpot over medium high heat.  You probably want to chop up 8 garlic cloves now too – you definitely want to use a different, clean board for this so you can use it for the root vegetables later.  I realize the knife I’m using for the garlic was a bit excessive, but it was the only one handy at the time.  Anyway, just lay the knife flat on the garlic clove, and give the side of the knife (avoid the sharp edge) a good whack, and the clove should pop right out of the paper.  Then just give ’em a rough chop, they’ll become more of a background flavor once melded in and not a bite like in the garlic-ricotta mashed potatoes we just made.

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Sear the beef on all sides so it’s got a nice color, then get the garlic in for a minute or two.  Then it’s time for the 8 cups of beef broth (that’s 2 of those boxes you see me pouring, or ~4 cans) and some more flavorings: a tablespoon (each) of sugar, dried thyme, and Worcestershire sauce, then 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, and 2 bay leaves (dried or fresh).  You’re supposed to use beef stock; but use whatever you can find in the grocery store that day.  I’ve been meaning to try some of the premade boxed stocks that I’ve seen in a few supermarkets – if you have please let me know if they’re worth it.

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By the way, brands of products are completely up to you, but I’m usually on a budget.  I inherited some of my spices from my previous roommates, so what you see may not always be the most economical.  You don’t always need to buy a bottle of a spice/herbs – if you just need a bit for one recipe look for a bulk bin at your local grocery store.  I’ve seen bulk spices & herbs at the Sprouts, Central Market, and H.E.B. in Texas metropolitan areas.  Cover the pot, let it come to a boil, then lower the heat so that it can simmer for the next hour (keep it covered, no peeking!).  Time for the veggies:

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beefstew-031Seven carrots, an onion, and six medium sized potatoes.  I’d say I used about 14 oz. of carrots (look for them in a bag, they’re cheaper that way), 8 oz. onion, and 2.5 lbs of potatoes.  You need to wash and use a vegetable peeler on the carrots and potatoes.  To prep the onion, cut the top and bottom off, stand it on a flat end, slice it in half, and peel away the paper layers.  Chop all the vegetables up in about 1″ pieces, however you can get them in 1″ pieces since I forgot to take pictures to show you how I do it.  😀  Next time guys.

beefstew-032Next we need to saute the vegetables with some butter over medium-high heat until they’ve got a slight brown color to them – you might need to do 2 batches like I did.  It took me 10-20 minutes per batch to get the veggies golden.  Then it’s everyone in the stockpot for the next 40 minutes, but this time simmering uncovered.  Below are some before and after pictures – they don’t look terribly different but the smell that fills your kitchen over that 40 minutes is amazing!  I enjoyed the rest of an NCIS episode in the meantime.  When it’s ready, you can skim a little of the fat/oil off the top if it bothers you, but don’t forget to pull the bay leaves before you serve!  And this tastes just as good, if not better, up to 2 days later after the flavors have all melded (if it lasts that long).  Enjoy!  PS, you clicky and can see bigger pictures of these last two.

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Before...

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Ready to eat!