Pin It Crippen Creek Chronicles: December 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Stockings Were Hung

It was 13 years ago that Kitty stitched in needlepoint the first Christmas stocking for our family. This week she completed her seventh stocking. Each stocking has approximately 3000 stitches and countless hours. If that, in and of itself isn't amazing, consider that when she started that first stocking, Kitty was in a battle for her life against melanoma. It did not seem possible that she would ever complete the first stocking let alone seven of them and plans to start on one for our grandson Luca for next year. There will never be room for any coal in these stockings because they are already overflowing with love, hope and gratitude. We wish each of you the happiest of holidays and a New Year filled with the gifts that truly matter.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

French Onion Soup

"Only the pure of heart can make good soup."

Is there anything more comforting on these frigid days than a bowl of piping hot soup? It's probably fair to say that whatever soup I happen to be eating is my favorite soup of that moment. But truly at the top of my list has to be French Onion Soup. We have had several requests for the recipe after posting a picture of it on Facebook, so here is my favorite version from a book called Taste by David Rosengarten.
The best we have ever enjoyed in a restaurant was at The French Cafe in Omaha, Nebraska.


Makes 2 servings

3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ pounds of yellow onions, peeled and sliced thin
Large pinch of sugar
2 tablespoons of flour
4 cups of beef stock
½ cup of dry white wine
Cheesecloth bag containing 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 12 parsley sprigs, 8 peppercorns, and 1 bay leaf
6 slices day-old crusty French baguette (enough to cover the surface of each soup bowl), cut 1 inch thick
1 large clove garlic, halved
½ cup finely minced onion
2-3 tablespoons of cognac or brandy
6 ounces Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced
1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

1. Place the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over moderately low heat. Add the onions, and toss them with the sugar. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally until soft. Uncover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
2. Add the flour, and cook, stirring for 30-60 seconds. Add the stock, wine, cheesecloth bag, and salt and pepper to taste, and cook, partially covered, skimming off fat occasionally, for 40 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 350°. Arrange the slices of bread on a baking sheet; brush both sides with melted butter, season with salt and pepper and bake, turning once, for 15 minutes, or until golden and firm. Rub each slice with the cut garlic.
4. Transfer the soup to individual oven proof crocks, each 4-5 inches across the top. Stir the minced onion and cognac into each crock, dividing evenly. Cover the soup with bread slices, fitting 3 slices into each crock so they cover as much of the surface as possible. Lay the slices of Gruyere over each crock, letting the cheese hang over the sides of the crocks. Sprinkle with grated cheese and drizzle with a little melted butter. Bake for 15 minutes, until the cheese has melted.
5. Run the crocks under a preheated broiler until the cheese is bubbling and lightly browned. Bon appetit!