Sunday, December 18, 2011

French Onion Soup

It’s officially time to pull the Dutch oven off the shelf where it quietly rested all summer – we’ve got some work to do. 

Onions are one of those things that have grown on me as my palate has become more refined - aka older and less picky – particularly caramelized onions.  A little butter, a little olive oil, a pinch of sugar, couple pinches of salt, some patience (cue GNR’s whistling) and wow, serious flavor.  I could eat them just like that and sometimes do, but what’s the point when you can add delicious broth and a gooey cheese topper?  Sometimes you just crave gooey cheese.  

A friend and I were talking about French Onion soup the other day.  **Side note: I’ve recently had it at Central twice now and theirs is quite good, but I have yet to find any in the city better than Bistro Bis’.  Its amazing.**  The funny thing about our conversation was that my friend is a vegetarian and had no idea that the base of this soup is beef broth.  She was going on about how delicious it is and we agreed that it was the perfect thing on a cold day and WAM – I broke the news to her.  We had a good laugh considering she also eats bacon when I make it and my homemade chicken nuggets (will have to post about those soon – way healthier and tastier than anything you could ever buy).  So yeah, moral of the story is, CMcD = vegetarian schmegitarian.  Love ya!  J

I don’t follow a recipe for this, so below is basically just a listing of what ends up getting thrown in the pot.  You may like beef broth only, or chicken only, or less broth more onion – that’s the beauty of cooking yourself, you make it how you like it….but I do think my version is quite good.  So put on your comfy pants and your favorite plaid flannel shirt (fitted and buttoned all the way please), grab a bowl and enjoy!  

Serves 4-6

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 large yellow onions, cut in half then into slices about 1/8” thick
Few pinches kosher salt
Couple pinches sugar
4 cups beef broth
1 ½ - 2 cups chicken broth
¼ - ½ tsp dried thyme
Few shakes garlic powder
1 beef bouillon cube


In a large dutch oven or heavy pot, melt the butter into the olive oil.  Add the onions and let them cook slowly on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally.  After about 3-4 minutes, add the salt and sugar and continue cooking and stirring until the onions become a golden brown color.  This will take about an hour or so.  Low and slow is the key, you don’t want them to get crispy at all.

When they’re golden brown, add the broth, thyme and garlic powder.  When warmed through, taste and determine if the bouillon is necessary.  I mix chicken and beef broth because I think the combination gives the soup a deeper, richer flavor, however I also like that punch of beef flavor, hence the one cube.  Be careful with added salt.  I try to buy low sodium broth so I can control the amount of salt myself.  The bouillon will add more though.  After the initial few pinches when cooking the onions, I didn’t need to add anymore.

Still early

Getting there
Sunday, December 4, 2011

Baking GALS Round 6 - Chubby Hubby Balls

Ok, so honestly, what got you to open this post – the name or the picture?  If the name, it may be time to question your moral character…no more than I am questioning my own right now.  Have no fear (or I apologize for the disappointment??) but there are no pictures of anything remotely inappropriate in this post.  These balls of sweet salty deliciousness (that’s what she said) were originally called Chubby Hubby Truffles, but of course I had to put my own twist on them.  J  Alright alright, mind-out-of-gutter, let’s get serious…

The blog I found this recipe on calls these Chubby Hubby Truffles because of their similarity to the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor.  Sans ice cream, obvs.  They remind me of Hersey’s Take 5 bars, if you’ve ever had those.  Either one – delicious.  Basically, you combine peanut butter with some sugar and crushed up pretzels, roll it into balls, then dip them in chocolate.  I tried to add caramel as it seemed like that was the one thing that was missing, but it proved a little more difficult than I anticipated, namely because the melted caramel was hardening faster than I could dab each ball with it (stop laughing).  At any rate, I got lazy and gave up.  They’re great either way though and for this Baking GALS round I wanted to make something a little more unique for the guys that are stuck away from home during the holidays.  Enjoy fellas and thanks again for everything!


Clothed - shew!

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
Peanut Butter-Pretzel Truffles (a.k.a. Chubby Hubby Truffles)
Yield: About 18 truffles
Prep Time: 20 minutes | Chill Time: 1 hour, total

1½ cups pretzel pieces
½ cup creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup milk or semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening

1. Put the pretzel pieces into a resealable plastic bag and crush into very small bits using a rolling pin.
2. In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter, butter, brown sugar and salt. Stir until all of the ingredients are completely blended and smooth. Add the pretzel bits to the peanut butter mixture and mix thoroughly. Add the powdered sugar and mix until completely combined.
3. Line a small baking sheet with wax paper. Using a small cookie scoop, or about 2 teaspoons worth of peanut butter mixture, gently shape into a ball with your fingertips. Place the ball on the wax paper-lined cookie sheet and repeat with the remaining peanut butter mixture. Place the baking sheet into the refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes.
4. When ready to dip the truffles, microwave the chocolate chips and vegetable shortening together in a small bowl at 50% power in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until completely melted and smooth.
5. Working one at a time, dip one peanut butter-pretzel ball into the melted chocolate and use a fork to roll it around, ensuring that it is completely coated with chocolate. Let any extra chocolate drip off and place back on the wax paper-lined sheet. Repeat with all of the peanut butter-pretzel balls.
6. Return the baking sheet to the refrigerator and again chill for at least 30 minutes. Garnish with a drizzle of melted peanut butter and crushed pretzels, if desired. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
**NOTE**  I found that this was not enough peanut butter for the balls to keep shape.  I recommend doubling what the recipe calls for.