French Onion Soup

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed it like I have but everything we do in life lately seems to be all about the new and improved, the bigger and better version of what has already been done.  Most movies are remakes of classics, technology is something we all must have the newest version of and the old version is usually only six months old.  Even restaurants and chefs have to try to do something new with the old and revered.  Maybe I’m just getting older but sometimes I don’t want the new and improved.  I want the classic, the thing that’s been tested time and again and can stand on its own merit.

I want French Onion Soup.

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I could have done this the easy way and gone to some restaurant, but I don’t think even they take the time to do it right, as it always seems bland and tasteless.  It’s a classic and deserves the respect and the time needed to make it wonderfully satisfying and flavorful.  I turned to the one person I knew that gave it that respect, the one person that started us all down the road of loving food.

I turned to Julia Child and Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

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Don’t be intimidated by this book or the fact that Julia is the guru of fine cooking.  She makes everything so simple to follow.  She also uses wine and cognac in this recipe, so if you’re anything like me, you like it already!

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To do this right it is a process.  You can’t skimp on the time or the effort it takes.  If you do you will lose the richness and the flavor it gives you.  This is one of those recipes where you will again take the first spoonful, close your eyes and savor the deep beef broth, the sweetness of the onions and the texture of the toast.  The only word you will be able to usher in a soft breath is “YUM”.

It’s that good.

Practice makes perfect

One of my favorite saying is from Julia Child, “Cooking is one failure after another, and that’s how you finally learn.”  I try new things all the time and sometimes they come out pretty darn good and other times they can be a dismal failure.  But I find the more I do things, the better I am at them.

Such was my semi failure in the kitchen today.

I wanted to make pâte á choux with a Limoncello cream idea.  I have made profiteroles before and they came out okay, so when I saw a step by step in my favorite food magazine I thought I would give it another try.

Everything was going beautifully.  I had all my ingredients ready to go and went step by step.  The water, sugar and butter boiled just like it was supposed to.  I then added the flour and stirred until it pulled away from the sides of the pan, just like it was supposed to.  Then the eggs were added…. and something went wrong.  I apparently missed the part where it said to beat the eggs first, but I beat the eggs in and it seemed to work okay.   According to the directions, this is supposed to be a smooth batter that drips from the spoon in thick ribbons.  Mine?….not so much.   It was a very thick and didn’t drip at all.   I even added an additional egg as it suggested if your batter was too thick.  No drip.  It stuck to the spoon like it was glued.

Well, this is what I found out after the fact that might help you when you make them.  Apparently even though it didn’t say any different, from asking questions, the best way to add the eggs are when they are beaten but also removed from the heat and beaten with a paddle mixer.   Add your eggs one at a time and the true test of the batter being correct,  when you run your finger through it, is the track that your finger created should take approximately 2 seconds to ooze back together.   If it takes longer, add another egg and test it again.  If it takes less time, throw the batter out and start over.  That was helpful advice too little too late, but I hope you have much better luck with it than I did!

So don’t worry if it doesn’t come out right the first time.  Have fun with it and just remember what Julia said and make it again. Chances are, the next time, it will be that much better.

Bon Appétit!!

Practice makes perfect

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
Total Time 21 minutes
Servings 3 dozen

Ingredients

PATE A CHOUX FROM FOOD AND WINE

  • 1 1 /2 cups water
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 200 grams all purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 8 large eggs

LIMONCELLO CREAM

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 4 Tablespoons limoncello (you could also substitute lemon zest and juice if you don’t want the liquour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1.  Pre-heat the oven to 400° F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large saucepan, combine the water, butter, sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderate. Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a tight dough forms and pulls away from the side of the pan. 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

  1.  In a bowl, beat 7 eggs and add to the dough in four batches, stirring vigorously between additions until the eggs are completely incorporated and the pastry is smooth. (**please note recommendations for adding eggs in post above) The dough should be glossy and very slowly hang, stretch and fall from the spoon in thick ribbons. If necessary, beat in remaining egg.

  2. Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe 1 1/2-inch rounds onto the baking sheets, leaving 1 inch between them.

  3. Bake the choux for 30 minutes until browned and puffed. Let cool completely. Using a serrated knife, halve each puff horizontally. Fill each one with Limoncello cream or filling of your choice.

LIMONCELLO CREAM

  1. Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, heavy cream, Limoncello and vanilla. Beat until fluffy. Pipe or spoon filling into Pâte à Choux. You could also add a raspberry or blueberry if desired.

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