Saturday, January 11, 2014

French Onion Soup for the Newlyweds


Today I had schedule a class at "The Cordon Bleu" called "Knives Skills", super excited about taking that specific class, and start learning the different cuts and techniques without losing any part of my skin and/or fingers. Unfortunately the class never took place because it got cancelled.  

I was lucky enough to have an Open House the same day, and the Lead Admissions Representative after apologizing, he invited us to join them. I am not the type to miss an opportunity so I stayed. I got a tour of the whole school which is expanding, really soon it will have two floors, and a 45 minute demonstration by one of the Chef's at the school. The Chef prepared: French Onion Soup.

I was a little bit hesitant about asking the Chef if I could take pictures. I brazed myself for the "no" however I got... a "yes. I took as many as I could without losing the explanation, techniques and bits and pieces of food history, which is the best part of taking cooking classes. The "Tricks of the Trade" are not explained in a recipe but in a class.

I didn't know....

Kosher salt is less concentrated than table salt, and that's why on the cooking programs Chefs use more salt.
Putting baking soda with the onions breaks the onion bonds and makes a paste. 
The longer the soup sets in the stove boiling, the more flavors it will have.
Broth vs. Stock, broth has salt added to it, while stock does not.
Red onions are sweeter than yellow and white onion.

By tradition French Onion Soup is served in their wedding night in France. The Chef also told us that if the wedding night is successful the groom will order French Onion Soup in the morning, so don't be surprised if you get a smile or two when ordering French Onion Soup in the morning.

This soup was exquisite, and very easy to prepare. I selected the recipe from Ina Garten, from her book "The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook" because not only she is very scientific in her measurements but her recipes are very easy to follow. My cooking is lighter so instead of using butter I use olive oil, and the amount of salt and pepper depends on personal taste.



2 1/2 pounds of yellow onions, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick (8cups)
1/4 pound unsalted butter - for a lighter dish I use olive oil (quantity depends on individual taste)
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup of brandy or Cognac
8 cups beef stock - If I don't have any in the fridge, I buy low sodium stock from the store
1 tbsp kosher salt (more or less quantity depending on taste)
1/2 tablespoon freshly grounded white pepper (more or less quantity depending on taste)
1/2 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan cheese (more or less depending on individual taste)

In a large stockpot on medium-high heat, sauté the onions with the butter (I use olive oil) and bay leaf for 20 minutes, until the onions turn a rich golden brown color. Deglaze the pan with the brandy or Cognac and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

Add the beef stock plus salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, taste for salt and pepper, and serve hot with grated Parmesan cheese.

© The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

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