Monday, July 17, 2006

Quick French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup is pretty easy to make; it just takes a while. It's only carmelized onions, stock, toast and cheese which means you can change the proportions without losing flavor or quality. Traditionally its made with beef stock, but I used vegetable bouillon cubes because that's what I had. It ended up being a much more delicate soup, less hearty, but still good. To get the deep flavor, you need to carmelize the onions which typically takes about 35 to 40 minutes. However, I have a way to cut down on the active cooking time.

After slicing the onions (a task that would be easier if I had a mandoline slicer), you sprinkle salt over the onions and let them sit for about 20 minutes, longer if you want. Some of the water in the onions gets pulled out, you drain it, and the onions are carmelized in half the time. Carmelizing is pretty simple. You cook the onions slowly and stir frequently picking up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Don't worry if it looks like a lot of onions, they'll reduce. I made enough for 3 servings and got to use the soup bowls I bought at Goodwill over a year ago.

2 large onions
1/2 t salt
1 T butter
1 quart stock or broth
mozzarella or parmesan cheese

Slice the onions thinly and sprinkle the salt over them. Let them sit for 20 minutes. Drain the water out. Melt butter in pot over medium high heat. Toss in onions. Lower heat to medium and cook until golden brown. Pour in stock and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Put soup into oven safe bowls, top with a piece of toast and some cheese, and place it under the broiler for about a minute. Eat; use a potholder.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Quesadilla Night

Yale asked me to write about something he can make. Quesadillas are easy, quick, and satisfying. Plus we made them with avocados. And avocados are possibly the best food on earth. Eating an avocado every day is my idea of paradise. But quesadillas are pretty variable, you can really put almost anything in them.

Step one is of course to assemble your ingredients. The most important ingredient is the cheese. I used a queso chihuahua also known as queso menonita; the important thing is that its a good melting cheese, look for a semi-soft milk cheese. You could also try a queso asadero, jalapeƱo, or oaxaca (also known as quesillo). Or I guess you could just use monterray jack, fontina, or mozzarella, but what's the fun of that? We used avocados, onions, and tomatoes as well. And hot sauce, you will need hot sauce. The gin and tonic is also optional.

You want to slice the ingredients very thin. The onions work a little better chopped, but its not a big deal. Toss the (corn) tortilla in a hot pan and layer the ingredients on one half - cheese first. Dave likes to put his hot sauce in afterwards which does have the benefit of getting to see gooey cheese and less liquid while its cooking. But I didn't really notice a difference in how they cooked. Also with a good non-stick pan or griddle you don't need to use any oil. But if you want or need oil, use it very sparingly. Otherwise it'll get greasy.

When the cheese starts to melt a little along the edges bring the other half over and smoosh it down. The tortilla will break if its not warm. So you heat it up and make a glue with the cheese. Let it sit for a bit and turn it over when the tortilla starts to bubble up a little. Don't pick it up and try to flip it like a pancake. Instead lift up the open end with a spatula and flip it on the fold. Get it a little brown on both sides and eat!

Monday, July 03, 2006

How Small Is It Really?

I promise to blog about food I actually cook soon. But I thought I'd blog about my kitchen just to give everyone a sense of perspective on what I'm dealing with. Speaking of perspective, I normally don't view the kitchen from this angle, but it's something close to that. The top shelf is just over 6 ft tall which means standing on my tiptoes to reach a dish on the edge of the shelf. Or using my unstable stool to reach something farther back. Besides that, its icky lighting, icky white, and a horrible dishwasher that I just use as a dish dryer. Frankly, I'd rather have the extra cabinet space. Not that there would be room for a drying rack either though.

The kitchen is 3 1/2 ft wide at the sink (not including counter space) and then goes 7ft back; Dave informs me that standard prison cells are 9x5. I really want to take off the doors on the cabinets that are slightly open on the left. I put down contact paper, and I think it would look a lot better and open up the kitchen. Unfortunately, someone painted over the screws in the past (they also painted over contact paper on the shelves themselves). That bottom cabinet on the right is pretty much always open because that's how Remedios gets into the wall to hide. Getting and keeping her out of there would probably be harder than removing the screws on the painted doors.

Just so you know there are things I like about my kitchen. I like those two pans my Dad got me, the shelves my mom built (I helped), and the KitchenAid Mixer in the background. Oh and my Food not Bombs apron is totally cool. Plus I sold Cutco knives 3 years ago and still have them. And the cheapness ($500 a month plus electricity) doesn't hurt. I also like that I'm a 10 minute walk to Ballantine and a 2 minute walk to Bloomingfoods. Oh well - I will post about food next time!