Thursday, November 01, 2007

Le déjeuner français

Yes, there was wine to be tasted, not to mention cointreau. Many tears were shed, thanks to the copious onion-slicing. Overall, French cuisine was pronounced by the children "okay, but not as yummy as Thai." Here are the two recipes our family contributed. Several of us (those who like onions, not surprisingly) absolutely loved the soup.

Soupe a l'Oignon

3 large sweet onions
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/3 cup vegetable stock
2/3 cup apple cider
2 cups of water
bouquet garni (parsley, thyme & bay)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
rounds of fresh French bread (declared "mega-croutons" by the kids)
1/2 cup of Swiss or Gruyere cheese

Cut onions in half, then slice thinly. Melt butter in skillet until sizzling. Add onions and salt in alternating layers. Leave on medium heat to "sweat" the onions for fifteen minutes. Then stir and cook, stirring occasionally, a further 45 minutes or so. Onions should be a medium brown. Add wine, turn up heat and cook down to a syrupy consistency. Add stock, cider, water and herbs, simmer 15-20 minutes. Add pepper and additional salt to taste.

Toast one side of French bread under broiler. Serve soup into oven-proof bowls, leaving at least 1" of head space. Place bread toasted side down in bowls, top with grated cheese. Broil briefly to melt cheese to bubbly consistency.

Serve with the rest of the bottle of white wine, of course.

Crêpes Suzette

(One of my friends growing up lived part-time in France. Her French mother used to make crêpes on Saturday mornings, and when I arrived for a visit there would always be a great stack sitting on the kitchen counter under a damp towel, waiting to be put into the fridge for consumption throughout the week. My friend and I often used cooled crêpes as kitchen frisbees. Serious fun.)

For crêpes:
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. grated lemon rind
1-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
6 eggs, well beaten
2 cups of milk
3 Tbsp. melted butter

Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Pre-heat griddle to hot but not smoking, dotting with a little extra butter. Pour 3-4 Tbsp. of batter into pan, tilting to create a very thin layer. When crêpe has solidified through (60 seconds?) turn and cook briefly on the other side. A slight golden brown in patches, at most, is all you need. Remove from pan and place on warmed plate. Can be refrigerated in stacks for a couple of days.

For sauce:
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
Juice of 5 oranges
Juice of 1 lemon
Grated rind of 1 orange
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1/3 cup Cointreau
A little extra Cointreau for flambéing

Melt butter, add sugar, then juices, 1/3 cup Cointreau and zest. Bring to a boil and simmer a few minutes. Add folded-in-half crêpes to pan two at a time and tilt or flip as necessary to soak in sauce. Fold into quarters, remove from pan and place on a warmed plate. Repeat with pairs of crêpes until all have been soaked. Place remaining sauce, warm, in a heatproof ladle, add an ounce of additional Cointreau and ignite with a match. Pour extra sauce over the stacked, quartered plate of crêpes at the table.

Those of you who are bloggers yourselves might appreciate (or not!) a nudge towards NaBloPoMo. I think I'm going to try to meet the challenge, though it'll be tough without a camera!

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