Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Brockway family effort: French Onion Soup

I received the following from sissy K this morning.

"Here is a photo essay of our first attempt at making French onion soup. Gen, Rachel, and I completed it in a couple of hours using Dean and DeLuca's recipe. Some of us insisted up on having more than just beef broth and so we sliced up the leftover prime rib. It was labor intensive but well worth it. Fun to make as well. . .

French onion soup? Onions, butter, and sugar.

Gen caramelizes

combine with beef broth

carnivores and vegans

add soup

Rachel gives it the taste test

Gen adds croutons

a little gruyere

cheese collars keeps the cheese from overflowing (Dean and DeLuca tip)


high five!"

French Onion Soup 

(by Dean & Deluca--click here for link)When accompanied by a wintry salad and a glass of Beaujolais, there is no better simple supper.

INGREDIENTS:1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter
2 pounds yellow onions, cut into slivers (about 6 cups)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 heaping tablespoon flour
3 1/2 cups beef stock, boiling
2 cups water
1/4 cup cognac
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 slices stale French bread (each about 3/4 inch thick)
1 1/2 pounds Gruyère or Emmenthaler (Swiss cheese), coarsely grated

DIRECTIONS:1. Melt butter over moderate heat in large saucepan. Add onions and sugar, stir well, and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until onions are wilted and light golden. Uncover and continue to cook for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until onions are brown and well caramelized. (Watch carefully, so the onions don't burn.)
2. Add flour to pan, stir well to incorporate flour into onion mixture, and slowly stir in boiling stock, water, 3 tablespoons of cognac, salt, and pepper. Boil for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to low, and simmer gently, partially covered, for 45 minutes. Uncover and simmer for another 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning and add the remaining tablespoon of cognac.
3. While the soup is simmering, in a preheated 400 degrees oven, toast the bread slices for 10 minutes, turning them once after 5 minutes (the croutons should be well toasted on each side).
4. Divide the soup among 4 ovenproof onion soup bowls (or any ovenproof soup bowls), each with a capacity of approximately 1 1/2 cups. Arrange the croutons on top of soup (try to make an even layer of croutons that tops each bowl). Sprinkle croutons generously with grated cheese, allowing some cheese to spill over onto the rim. Put bowls on a cookie sheet and place under a preheated broiler until cheese melts and forms a crust over the tops of the bowls. Serve immediately.
Note: Instead of grating all the cheese, you can cut some of it into wide, thin slices and drape the slices over the sides of the bowls. This helps to prevent the cheese from slipping off the rims of the bowls.

If you like it deep and rich, and with a gooey mantle, look no further.
Serves 4

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Game Time at Christmas

Important discovery: next time use the video camera if you want to get a good capture of both video and audio.
At least with the video you can get an idea of the friendly and enthusiastic banter. Hmm, banter may be too much of an understatement -- cacophony, yes that's it, happy cacophony! There are two other rooms at C&L's house and they were full, too.
Don't bother enlarging, this is a low quality video.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cranberry Orange Nut Bread and other notables :)

One of the local Tweeps/Peeps on Twitter gave me an excuse to search for a Cranberry bread recipe and I happened across this:

The photo is tasty enough, I can't wait to give the recipe a try.
Here are two of my long time favorite breads that I usually bake during the holiday season.  Not only are they moist and delicious, but healthy, too.  Just ask me.  :)
(click here for printable copy of both)

Carrot Pineapple Bread
~Florence Jansen

3 beaten eggs                              1 cup oil
2 tsp vanilla                                 2 C sugar
2 C shredded carrots                  1 small can crushed pineapple with juice

Sift together and add:
3 C flour                                     1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt                                     1 tsp cinnamon

Add 1/2 C chopped nuts.
Bake in 2 8x5 loaf pans, greased and floured, for 1 hour and 25 minutes at 325 degrees.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bread
~adapted from Florence Jansen

3 eggs                              1 1/4 C sugar
1 C pumpkin                    1/2 C oil
1/3 C water

Dry ingredients:
1 tsp salt                          1 3/4 C flour
3/4 tsp baking soda          2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg                     1 C oatmeal
12 oz chocolate chips

Beat eggs till frothy.  Add sugar gradually, beat till thick and lemon colored.  Stir in pumpkin, oil and water.  Blend well.  Mix and sift dry ingredients.  Add gradually to pumpkin mixture, blending well.
Stir in oats and chips.  Pour into 2 well greased and floured 8x5" loaf pans. (can also be baked in a ring or bundt cake pan)
Bake at 350 degrees for about 40-50 minutes or until loaf springs back to touch.
Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Friday, December 10, 2010

How to explain this thing called shyness

One of my early in life memories is me peering out at non-family members from behind the skirts of my mother and sisters and hearing them explain, "she's shy".  Perhaps it helped people understand my countenance, but it didn't help me at all.  What would've helped?  I have no idea.

I have "a friend" (yup, quotation marks. she's a friend who's not always a friend.) who believes that shyness is an attitude--that shy people just aren't trying.  How I'd love for her to experience the world from my perspective!  Yet, as much as I'd like to help others understand this thing called shyness, I'm unsure where to even begin.

When I worked my first job in a restaurant as a teen, I remember my mother being amazed and surprised at how out going I was with customers.  After musing this over, I told her that when I was working it was like I was performing a part in a play.  I could engage customers in small talk and have fun with my job with my uniform on, but once I was off the clock--same old me.

Today I don't need a uniform to make small talk and have fun with people, as long as it ends there.   If more is required of me, I don't last long.  It must be due to the mental effort it requires me to interact.  Now that I'm on a low dose of anti-anxiety meds things are better, but only fractionally.

Okay, trying to think how to sum up shyness:  It's like being betrayed by my own brain.  As if it's releasing the chemicals into my system that were supposed to be for emergencies only.  And anxiety on top of that?  {shiver} You can't believe the number of scenarios and paranoid delusions about how people "really" feel about me can play out in my head in mere seconds.  And this is why it's so exhausting:  Plowing through all that, because I really do like people and I love to share and laugh.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cranberry Orange Cookies

I found this cookie recipe here 2 years ago and keep returning to it--must have to do with the flavor combination.  But now that I've been browsing other cookie recipes the blog owner has put up since then, I may soon have a few more favorites.  
Page after page of tempting goodies--beware!

Cranberry Orange Cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 large egg
zest of one large orange (about 1 tbsp)
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350F and line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar, beating with an electric mixer until light. Beat in egg and orange zest. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the flour mixture, stirring only until just combined. Stir in the cranberries.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls (about 1 1/4-inch balls) onto prepared cookie sheets and bake for 9-12 minutes, until edges are very lightly browned. Cool for 3-4 minutes on baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 4 dozen.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Maybe it's crazy, but here's my idea

While N and I were enjoying our burgers and tots at WBC last night, Rob Drinkenstein's blog post began to work on my brain. Would it be possible to have a group of local restaurants get together and plan a progressive Sunday dinner as a Marion Polk Food Share fundraiser. (Or would that be too much with Chef's Night Out?)

Then my thoughts turned to "how many courses?", "how many tickets?", "should transportation be provided?".
We had a good time musing over which restaurant should do each course--including cocktail hour, of course.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ann Landers--Tips for Life

Remember Ann Landers?  She was one of my favorite things to read in the local newspaper in younger days.  I still have this list of hers taped inside my medicine cabinet.  It's a good list--worth keeping and sharing:

Tips for Life
1. Give people more than they expect, and do so cheerfully.
2. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you'd like.
3. Don't say, "I love you," unless you really mean it.
4. When you say, "I'm sorry," look the person in the eye.
5. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.
6. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt, but it's the only way to live life completely.
7. In disagreements, fight fair. No name-calling.
8. Don't judge people by their relatives.
9. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, "Why do you want to know?"
10. Call your mom.
11. Say "Bless you" when you hear someone sneeze.
12. Don't let a little squabble damage a good friendship.
13. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
14. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.
15. Marry someone you love to talk to. As you get older, good conversation will be one of the principal elements of an enduring relationship.
16. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
17. Read more books, and watch less TV.
18. In disagreements with loved ones, deal with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.
19. Never interrupt when you are being flattered.
20. Mind your own business.
21. Trust in God, but lock your car.