French Onion Soup

  • French, Onion soup, Gruyere

French Onion Soup is so hearty and delicious, it is hard to believe it is made of such simple ingredients. Onions, a good quality beef stock, a little wine, and gruyere cheese and you get a special treat.

French onion soup has always been one of my favorite soups, but I find that it can often be very salty. To avoid this, use a stock that is unsalted or at the very least low-sodium.  This way you have control over the amount of salt to use.

The soup is easy to make, but it does take time to caramelize the onions.  Don’t be in a hurry, the reward for your patience is a delight to your taste buds.

Ingredients:
3 lbs – onion
1 tbls – olive oil
2 tbls – butter
4 cups – beef stock unsalted
2 cups – chicken stock low sodium
2 – bay leaves
2 tbls. – flour
1/2 tsp. – sugar
1 tsp – salt
1 cup – red wine
1/2 tsp – black pepper
French baguette
12 oz. – Gruyere cheese

Directions:
Slice the onions in a food processor. In a large, heavy pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter. When the onions are all sliced, add them to the pot along with 1 teaspoon salt. Stir the onions, and cook about 2 minutes.

Once onions start to soften place the lid on the pot, and cook on a medium-low flame for about 20 minutes until the onions become soft. Be sure to stir occasionally to prevent the onions from burning.

Next add the sugar to help the caramelization of the onions. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the onions become golden brown. This will take about 15-20 minutes. Stir often.

In the meantime, combine and beef and chicken stock in  a small pot and heat on the stove until ready to use.

Sprinkle the flour over the caramelized onions and stir.

Cook about 3 minutes. Next, deglaze the pot by adding the red wine. Stir, scraping all the brown bits from the bottom. Cook about 1 minute to burn off the alcohol, then add the hot beef and chicken stock mixture. I prefer to use both beef and chicken stock for a more complex flavor.

Add bay leaves and black pepper and bring up to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook about 30 minutes. The soup will thicken a little with the help of the flour. When the soup is done, taste and add salt if needed.

Turn on the broiler of the oven. Slice the french bread into 1/2 inch thick slices. Drizzle a little olive oil and toast.

Ladle the onion soup into oven proof crock soup bowls and add the toasted french bread.

Top off with grated gruyere cheese.

Place the crocks on a cookie sheet and place under the broiler. Do not walk away, this does not take long. Cook until the cheese bubbles and starts to brown on the edges.

Carefully remove the entire cookie sheet from the oven. Wait a couple minutes for the soup crocks to cool a little. Handle using oven mits, and place the crocks on a plate to serve.

Enjoy!

 

French Onion Soup, Gruyere Cheese




Beef Braciole with Peppers and Onions

Beef, braciole

Beef braciole is a common Italian-American meal, stuffed with cheese, herbs, and bread crumbs, made into rolls and cooked in tomato sauce. Growing up my mother prepared it in the same manner.  The sauce was used to dress the pasta and the braciole were served on the side along with the meatballs. Braciole can be made of any meat you prefer, beef, pork, lamb, and even chicken. My favorite is pork, but today I decided to use beef with a simple breadcrumb stuffing like Mom used to do.

Braciole is not only a great accompaniment to spaghetti, it also makes a great main dish. Today, instead of cooking the braciole in tomato sauce, I am making it with peppers and onions.  This recipe is easy and fast.

Ingredients:
1 – lb. flank steak (sliced into four thin slices)
2 – cloves garlic
2 – green bell peppers
1 – medium onion
1/2 – cup dry red wine
1/2 – cup chicken stock
Salt
Ground black pepper

Ingredients for stuffing:
1 – cup panko
1/2 – cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 tsp. – Herb de Provence
1 tsp. – oregano
1/2 tsp. – black pepper
1/4 tsp. – salt
1/2 cup pecorino romano
1 tsp. – garlic
1/4 – cup olive oil
1/4 – cup water
1/4 – cup fresh parsley

Directions for stuffing:
Mix all the ingredients together. The stuffing should be moist enough to hold together when you squeeze it in your hand. Add a little more water if it needs it.

Assemble the braciole:
Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the steak. Spread stuffing down the center of the beef slices, leaving a one-half inch border all around.

Start at the widest end of the steak and roll tightly. Insert two toothpicks into the roll to hold it together.

In a large skillet, add a little olive oil and the garlic. Once the oil is hot add the braciole and brown it on all sides.

In the meantime, cut the peppers into medium sized slices, and slice the onion in half and then make thin half moon slices.

Once all sides of the braciole are browned, remove them to a bowl and set aside. Add the peppers and onion to the skillet, sprinkle with salt and black pepper, and sauté about 5 minutes until they start to soften.

Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen all the brown bits. Cook about one minute to cook off the alcohol then add the chicken stock and stir, then return the braciole to the pan.

Cover and cook on a low flame for 15-20 minutes until the peppers are tender. As the peppers cook down, the wine and chicken stock will make a delicious sauce.  Stir occasionally and turn the braciole to cover it in the juices.

Remove the toothpicks and serve the braciole over the peppers and onions, and pour some of the sauce on top.

Buon appetito!

Beef Braciole, Peppers, Onions, Stuffing




Pappardelle alla Bolognese

Pappardelle, Ragù alla Bolognese, Pasta

Pappardelle is a long, broad, flat, hearty noodle that makes it perfect for a bold ragù alla Bolognese.  This ragù originates from Bologna, Italy, and is typically served with tagliatelle, but any wide noodle works nicely with it.  It is also used for traditional lasagna alla Bolognese.

This sauce is satisfying and delicious.  It is easy to make and freezes well too.

Ingredients for the ragù:
1 – lb. ground pork
1 – lb. ground beef
1 – medium onion
2 – carrots
2 – stalks of celery
2 – cloves garlic
1 – cup red wine (can also mix ½ red and ½ white)
1 – 28 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes
1 – tsp. salt
1/2 – tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/2 – cup whole milk

Other Ingredients:
1 – lb. pappardelle pasta
1/2 – cup pecorino romano cheese (plus more for serving)

Directions for the ragù:
Peel the carrots, garlic and onion and cut off the tops of the celery stalks and rinse in cold water.

Now make the soffritto.  Cut the vegetables in quarters and add them to a food processor to finely chop them (you can finely dice everything by hand if you do not have a food processor). Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy pot on medium heat, add the soffritto. Cook on a medium flame for about 7 minutes until tender, stirring often to avoid it sticking to bottom of the pan.

Push the soffritto to one side of the pot and add the ground meat. Break it up with a wooden spoon and cook it on medium heat until lightly browned, stirring often.

Once the meat is brown, combine the meat with the soffritto and add the wine. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the alcohol has cooked off and the liquid has reduced by about half.

Add the whole peeled tomatoes to a blender and blend until smooth. Then add it to the meat mixture and stir. Add salt and black pepper.

Heat to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook covered approximately 1 hr. Stir occasionally to make sure the sauce does not burn or stick to the pot.

Now add the milk and stir to incorporate it thoroughly, and cook another 40 minutes.

Prepare the Pasta:

About 20 minutes before the ragù is finished, put on a large pot of water to boil.  When the water is boiling add 1 teaspoon of salt and add the pasta.  Stir to separate the pasta so it does not stick together.  Cook until al dente (a little bite) or according to the package directions.  Drain the pasta thoroughly.  In a large bowl add about half of the ragù, add the pasta and mix through.  Add more sauce if you want and about 1/2 cup of pecorino romano cheese.  Mix thoroughly.  Serve immediately.

Buon appetito!




Beef Stroganoff

img_1172

Beef Stroganoff is the perfect dish for a cold winter’s day. My mother used to make this dish, and it was always one of the family favorites. She used cream of mushroom soup in her recipe, but I have made my version without it. The combination of the beef and vegetables in a savory sauce gives you a warm, satisfying feeling. Give it a try, it’s delicious!

Ingredients:
1 – lb. sirloin
3 – large carrots
1 – cup diced onion
2 – garlic cloves
8 – oz. package of white mushrooms
1 – cup diced cremini mushrooms
2 – tbls. canola oil
1/2 – cup white wine
1 – 14.5 oz. can beef stock (low sodium)
2 – rounded tbls. flour
1 – tbls. Worchestershire sauce
1 – tsp. Dijon mustard
1/3 – cup sour cream
Salt
Ground black pepper
1 – 12 oz. package of wide egg noodles
1 -tbls. butter

Directions:
Put a large pot of water on to boil. When the water comes to a boil, add 1 teaspoon of salt and add the noodles.  Cook according to the package directions.  I suggest you keep the water simmering until the stroganoff is about 10 minutes from being finished, then cook the noodles.  Once cooked, drain the noodles and place them in a bowl and mix through one tablespoon of butter to keep the noodles from sticking.  Put aside until the stroganoff is ready.

In the meantime, prepare all the ingredients. Trim the fat off the sirloin steak and cut into one inch pieces. Peel and cut the carrots into 1/2″ pieces. Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel and cut into 1/2″ pieces. Dice the onion and peel the garlic.

Heat the canola oil in a large skillet. Season the sirloin with salt and black pepper. Add the garlic and sirloin and cook until browned on both sides, then remove it to a bowl and set aside (leaving the garlic in the pan).

img_1155

Add the diced onion and sauté until the onion starts to become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and mushrooms and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Cook about 5-6 minutes, stirring often. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan, and cook until it reduces by about half, about 1-2 minutes.

Dissolve the cornstarch in a little water (about 3 tablespoons), stirring until smooth. Add the beef broth to the vegetable mixture, then add the cornstarch mixture and stir until completely incorporated. Add the Worchestershire sauce and Dijon mustard, mix well. Return the beef to the skillet and stir. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and let cook about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

img_1156

As it cooks, the sauce will thicken and the meat will become tender.  At this point add in the sour cream.

img_1163

Mix through and let simmer about 2 minutes.

img_1170

Serve over noodles.

Makes 4-5 servings.

Enjoy!




Chili Pie with Potatoes and Cheese

img_1124I created this recipe just for the Super Bowl. The combination of the Chili with the potatoes and cheese put together in a pie crust, meets the challenge of Super Bowl food criteria; it is filling, satisfying, and delicious. It is not finger food, but you will not mind taking out a plate for this.

I use the Pillsbury pie crust that you can find in the refrigerated section at the grocery store for convenience, but the Chili is homemade. It is easy to prepare, and to save time you can prepare the Chili the day before and assemble the pie on the day you want to serve it.

Ingredients:
1 – lb. ground sirloin
1 – cup diced green pepper
1 – cup diced onion
2 – cloves garlic minced
3 – tbls. tomato paste
1 – tbls. chili powder
1 – tsp. ground cumin
1/4 – tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 – cup chicken stock or water
1/4 – tsp. salt
1/4 – tsp. ground black pepper
1 – 15.5 oz. can black beans
1 – large Idaho potato
1 – cup Pepper Jack Cheese
1 – cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 1/2 – tbls. butter
Sour cream for serving

Directions:
Pour about 2 tablespoons of canola oil into a large skillet. Mince the garlic and dice the onion and green pepper, then add them to the oil. Sauté until they start to soften, about 5-6 minutes. Push the onion mixture to one side of the skillet and add the ground beef. Break up the meat into crumbles and cook until the meat is no longer pink. Stir often. Once the pink color is gone, mix it together with the peppers and onion.

Clear a small space in the skillet and add the tomato paste, cumin, cayenne pepper, and chili powder. Stir and cook about 1 minute, then add about 1/4 cup chicken broth (or water) to deglaze the pan. Combine the seasoning with the meat and onion mixture. Add salt and black pepper. Drain and rinse the black beans and add to the skillet. Stir to incorporate the beans into the meat and continue cooking for about 10 minutes on a medium-low flame, stirring often.

img_1103

In the meantime, place the pie shell in a deep pie plate. Peel the potato and slice it into 1/8″ thick rounds. Once the chili is ready, add it to the pie shell.  Real cheese lovers can add a little extra cheese to the meat mixture.img_1105

Top off with a layer of potato slices. Start from the middle and place the slices around in a circle, overlapping rows until you reach the edge of the pie pan. img_1106

Brush the entire surface of the potatoes and the rim of the pie crust with melted butter. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.

img_1115

Put the pie into a pre-heated 425° oven. Cook for 40-45 minutes. The pie crust should be golden brown.

img_1118

Remove the pie from the oven and top with the grated cheeses. Return it to the oven and turn the oven to broil. Cook until the cheese is bubbly and starts to brown. Watch the pie carefully as it will brown very quickly under the broiler.

You can serve this with sour cream, salsa, or guacamole.

img_1131

Makes 6-8 servings.

Enjoy!