A classic French onion soup > recipe

French Onion Soup > a classic French onion soup

Ingredients >
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 thyme sprigs
1 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
8 cups packaged mushroom stock
1 bay leaf
One 2-inch piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
¼ teaspoon dried savory
Twelve ½-inch-thick slices crusty baguette
½ teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups grated Gruyère cheese
1 beef bouillon cube (such as Knorr brand) or 1 tablespoon veal demiglace base

Procedure >
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and thyme and cook, stirring, until the onions begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Add ½ cup of the vermouth and, using a wooden spoon, scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook until the vermouth has evaporated, about 4 minutes. Add the remaining ½ cup vermouth, scrape the pan again and simmer for 4 minutes longer. Transfer the onions to a 3-quart stockpot and add the mushroom stock, bay leaf, Parmigiano-Reggiano rind and savory. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes.
2. Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet. Smash the garlic into a paste with the side of a knife and combine with the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a small bowl. Brush the baguette slices with the oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Place 1 slice of toast in the bottom of each of 4 ovenproof soup bowls. Preheat the broiler.
3. For the vegetarian variation: Remove the thyme sprigs, bay leaf and cheese rind from the soup and discard. Transfer 2½ cups of the soup to a small saucepan, season with salt and pepper and keep warm over low heat.
4. Add the bouillon cube to the remaining soup in the large pot and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
5. For the vegetarian variation: Ladle the vegetarian soup into an ovenproof bowl, top with 2 baguette slices and sprinkle with one quarter of the cheese. Place the bowl on a rimmed baking sheet.
6. Fill the remaining 3 bowls with the bouillon-flavored soup and top with the remaining baguette slices and cheese. Place the bowls on the baking sheet. Broil the soups, watching closely, until the cheese is bubbly and brown, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.
7. For the vegan variation: Omit the cheese rind in the soup, omit the cheese topping, serve with garlicky baguette toasts only.

Serves 4.

Festive Christmas recipes > spiced tea cake

Posted On November 8, 2008

Filed under Festive Recipes
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Ingredients >
350g self raising flour
140g unsalted butter, cubed
175g unrefined Demerara sugar
240mls water
140g mixed dried fruit
1 tsp mixed ground spice
11/2 level tsp baking powder
pinch if salt

Method >
Place the butter, sugar, salt and water into a saucepan and simmer for a minute.

Pour into a bowl and stir in all the dry ingredients, and mix well.

Spoon into a lined 1lb loaf tin and pop into the pre heated oven and cook for 40 minutes or until well risen and slightly firm to the touch.

Serve this cake thickly sliced and spread with butter.

Festive Christmas recipes > Christmas pudding

I love using Cider in my recipes, here it gives extra moisture and wonderful flavour to the dried fruits and grated apple in a traditional Christmas pudding. And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s another secret ingredient too, chocolate!

Ingredients >
115g/4oz raisins
115g/4oz currants
115g/4oz sultanas
55g/2oz chopped mixed peel
115g/4oz coarsely grated carrot
115g/4oz cooking apple, peeled and coarsely grated
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
100ml/3½fl oz cider
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp black treacle
115g/4oz muscovado sugar
115g/4oz plain flour, sieved
½ tsp mixed spice
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
115g/4oz ground almonds
115g/4oz vegetable suet
85g/3oz bitter plain chocolate, roughly chopped

Method >
Grease a 1.2 litre/2 pint pudding basin, cut out a small circle of greaseproof paper and use to line the base.
Place dried fruits, chopped peel, grated carrot and apple and orange zest in a large bowl, pour over the cider and allow to stand for about 10 minutes.
Add the beaten eggs, treacle and sugar to the soaked fruits and stir well to combine, then add the flour, spices, ground almonds, suet and chocolate and mix well together.
Pour the mixture into the pudding basin and cover with a circle of greaseproof paper.

Place a large piece of foil on top of a large piece of greaseproof paper then fold in the centre to make a pleat.
Place the pleated papers on top of the pudding basin and use a long piece of string to tightly tie the papers just below the rim of the basin.
With an extra piece of string, tie a long loop across the top – you can use this as a handle to help lower and lift the pudding in and out of the pan.
Place a heatproof saucer in the bottom of a large saucepan and sit the pudding on top.
Fill the pan with enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the basin then cover with a tightly fitting lid and bring the water to the boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 7-8 hours.
Check the water every couple of hours and add extra boiling water as necessary to maintain the water level.
Serve with clotted cream, brandy butter or lashings of custard.

Finely chopped left over Christmas pudding makes a great ice cream folded into softened vanilla ice cream, even the kids will like it. 

Serves: 8.

Festive Christmas recipes > Rocky Road Brownie

Ingredients >
200g dark chocolate, chopped
100g condensed milk
50mls Baileys® Irish cream
25g butter, melted
75g dried cranberries
75g white chocolate, chopped
75g digestive biscuits, crushed
200g mini white marshmallows
100g white chocolate, melted for drizzling

Method >
Place the dark chocolate, condensed milk, Baileys and butter into a large bowl.

Melt in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
Beat until smooth then cool slightly, then stir in the cranberries, white chocolate, digestive biscuits and finally the marshmallows.
Line a Swiss roll tin with the baking parchment, and press the mixture into the tin.
Cover and chill well and leave to set.
Drizzle with melted white chocolate, then cut into thick fingers and serve.

Makes: 6 slices.

Festive Christmas recipes > Deep fried rice cakes

Ingredients >
425g/15oz potatoes, peeled
90g/3¼oz long grain rice
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
900g/2lb fresh spinach leaves
140g/5oz dry breadcrumbs
55g/2oz plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
Small bunch of mixed fresh herbs – parsley, chives, chervil, basil and oregano
300ml/½ pint mayonnaise
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
25g/1oz butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method >
Cut potatoes into even-sized pieces and cook in a pan of boiling water until tender. Drain and allow to cool.

Cook rice according to packet instructions.

Heat olive oil in a frying pan.
Add chopped onions and garlic and cook gently for a few minutes to soften, but do not allow to brown. Add the chopped basil and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Pick through the spinach and remove and discard any damaged leaves and all the stalks.
Wash the remaining leaves in several changes of cold water. Plunge the washed leaves into a pan of boiling salted water and blanch for about 2-3 minutes. Drain leaves, then refresh in a bowl of iced water.
Drain again, then squeeze spinach to remove any water.

Mash the potatoes in a bowl (do not add any milk or butter), then add onion mixture and cooked rice and mix together.
If the mixture is soft, add some of the breadcrumbs to ‘tighten it up’, otherwise the ricecakes may fall apart during deep frying.
Taste to check the seasoning.

Divide the mixture into 4 large (or 8 smaller) balls, then shape into round, flat cakes.
Dust rice cakes in flour, dip in beaten egg then coat in the remaining breadcrumbs. Chill for about one hour.

Remove the leaves from the herbs and wash well.
Dry in a salad spinner, or using kitchen paper, then chop finely. Stir chopped herbs into mayonnaise – this will give you a lovely green mayonnaise.

Fill a deep pan one third full with vegetable oil (or use a deep fat fryer) and heat oil to 160°C (325°F).
Deep fry rice cakes in batches for 3-4 minutes, or until heated through, golden and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm whilst you cook the remaining cakes.

Heat butter in a pan, add spinach and warm through gently. Season. Pile the spinach onto plates, top with ricecakes and spoon over some of the mayonnaise. Serve straight away.

Serves: 4.

Festive Christmas recipes > Honey parsnips and carrots

Ingredients >
1kg parsnips, that’s about 6-8 medium ones
1kg organic carrots again about 6-8 medium ones
115g good beef dripping, goose fat or lard
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
2-3 tbsp clear, runny honey

Method >
Peel the parsnips and top and tail the carrots. Split them in half from top to tail, then cut into eighths, leave the core in the parsnips.
Heat the dripping or fat in a baking tin in a hot oven, 220° C, Gas Mark 7, for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the parsnips and carrots, bring back to the boil and simmer for one minute maximum, or they will start to fall to pieces.

Drain well, then carefully lay in the very hot dripping, season well with salt and pepper and return to the oven.
Cook for 25 minutes, then carefully turn over and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes, until crispy on both sides.
Pour on the honey, and cook for a further five minutes to glaze. They will burn very quickly so keep an eye on them. Serve piping hot and golden brown.

Serves: 6-8.

Festive Christmas recipes > Roast turkey with apricot stuffing and honey glaze

Ingredients >
1 x 5 kg Bronze turkey, with giblets and the wish bone removed
2 Large carrots, peeled
1 Large onion, peeled
2 Sticks of celery
1 Leek
2 Bay leaves
2 Organic chicken stock cubes (Kallo)
½ Bottle dry white wine
½ Pint cold water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2oz Melted butter
2 Teaspoons cornflour
4 Teaspoons cold water

Method >
There really are only two ways to cook a turkey. Roasted and part roast and part steam, the latter I prefer for two reasons.
One is that not only does the bird cook much quicker, but also the meat stays very juicy and succulent.
The next thing to worry about is the stuffing, traditionally the neck is filled with one stuffing, and the cavity filled with another.
I just like to fill the cavity with one stuffing, the important point to remember is always stuff the turkey when it is fully defrosted, and make sure to cook through well.

Once the bird is cooked then simply glaze with the honey, lemon and mustard.

Serves: 8-10.

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