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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fine (Faux) French Cuisine

DSC_0021 Saturday morning, we were treated to this winter wonderland as the sun rose. Never mind that it’s March and we finally had our first Winter Storm Warning of the season. We’re happy to have this view, any month!

Two of our favorite foods in the world are French Onion Soup and Creme Brulee. Not very patriotic of us, is it? But there you have it. Our cold, snowy Saturday provided a perfect opportunity for not one, but two favorite dishes for dinner!

This is probably the easiest recipe ever for French Onion Soup, and I know you’re thinking the onions won’t taste right without cooking them first. But they will! I promise. I was a doubter, too, before I tried it.

Crock Pot French Onion Soup

4 yellow onions, sliced thinly

4 Tbsp butter

6 cups beef broth

1/2 cup sherry

Provolone, Swiss, or your favorite white cheese

French bread (or we like ciabatta)

Turn the slow cooker on High, then put the butter in until melted. You could also just melt the butter and pour it in. Add onion slices, and toss to coat with butter. Add broth and sherry, turn it to low, and cook 6-8 hours, until onions are super soft and your whole house smells like onion soup. In a good way.

Place a slice of bread in a bowl, top with cheese, and ladle the hot soup over it. Alternatively, you can make it traditionally with a slice of bread and cheese floated on top, then broil. But you’ve already used a crock pot, why over achieve at this point?

By the way, you can make this on the stove, as well. Just cook your onions slowly in the butter until very soft, then add broth and sherry. You may need an extra cup or two of broth. Bring it to a boil to meld the flavors. This method takes about 45 minutes.

This serves 4, generously.

brulee For Valentine’s Day, I made my sweetheart his favorite dessert. I even bought pretty red ramekins for it. Oh, all right, I thought I needed them to brighten up the dreary winter. Now I use them every chance I get. Creme Brulee is so simple, yet people tend to hesitate to make it. Perhaps they’re looking at recipes with a calorie count. This recipe does not have that feature, so feel free to indulge!

Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee

(serves 5)

2- 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

5 egg yolks

4 Tbsp sugar

1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract, but that’s not as tasty)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk until light yellow.

In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the cream to almost boiling, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and slowly whisk into egg mixture. Slit the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds out using a small knife. Stir into mixture.

Pour mixture back into the same saucepan and heat over medium-low, stirring constantly, until it coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 3 minutes.

Place ramekins on a sheet pan large enough to hold them with space between. Divide the custard between the ramekins and bake for 30 minutes, until firm in center. Chill for an hour, up to overnight.

About an hour before serving, mix 2 Tbsp granulated sugar and 2 Tbsp brown sugar and spoon evenly over custards. Broil under high heat until carmelized. Chill until serving, when the custard is cooled again.

Although it sounds like a lengthy process, it really doesn’t require much hands on time. Probably 30 minutes prepping for the oven, then another 15 to broil and chill again. About 3 hours total, counting cooking and chilling. Every time the hubs orders creme brulee at a restaurant, all I can think of is that I could make like a gallon of it at home for the same price…this is under $5, even counting the vanilla bean, which I buy at Costco fairly inexpensively.

Bon appetit…and I mean nothing faux about that sentiment!



2 comments:

  1. Stephanie AsbridgeMarch 7, 2012 at 8:03 AM

    HI Megan,

    I love your Winter Wonderland scene! It's one of the fine perks of living here in Arvada: SNOW! That is, when it does snow. It's drizzling this morning, supposed to turn to snow. We'll see.............(she says skeptically)

    I'm going to try your recipes this weekend. I'll make my 72 year old cousin the creme brulee because our favorite little food place to get it went under. She'll be thrilled!

    Have a great day
    Stephanie

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  2. What a beautiful shot of your snow! I'm good with it as long as I'm inside--and the snow's gone by noon! Yeah--I'm a snow wimp. Sigh.

    Too funny about your favorite foods! Mr. Wonderful has been on a French onion soup kick for the last few months, and I've been experimenting with new recipes. And creme brulee is our absolute favorite! What time did you say dinner was? ;>)

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