Friday, September 25, 2009

French Onion Soup

As promised, here is the French Onion Soup I made at the beginning of this week.

I bought a bag of onions a couple of weeks ago, so I wanted to use the rest of it. Onions are used in basically every recipe for extra flavor, and they're chock full of good vitamins. They have the flavanoid called quercetin, which protects against cataracts, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. They also contain 20% of your daily recommended vitamin C. Flavor and taste! What better reason to eat them?

...Well, I guess the tears.

So, I was cutting just 3 medium yellow/Vidalia onions and I was crying for at least 6 hours afterward. It was rather annoying. My nose kept running and the onions left their bite on the cutting board, so when my house-mate cut peaches, it had an undertone of onions. Whoops. Ah well, the soup came out good enough.

So, I made my own vegetable stock from scraps of carrots, lettuce, zucchini, broccoli, onions, and cilantro from the past two weeks. Just threw them in a pot of water and boiled with dried basil and oregano and sea salt. I did this first, then proceeded to make my French Onion Soup.

French Onion Soup (serves 4-5)
1-2 Tbs butter
3 yellow/ Sweet Vidalia onions, chopped into large pieces
2 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
3-4 or 5 cups vegetable broth (beef broth would probably taste better)
~4 Tbs or more of balsamic vinegarette to replace white wine (I'm a sophomore, I don't have access to alcohol...)
Oregano, basil, salt, and pepper to taste

1. Melt butter in stovepot. Layer in onions with sprinkles of salt. Don't pan-fry them. You want them to turn translucent and soft. Cook for some 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Pour in vegetable broth and garlic. Season with herbs and salt and pepper. Bring to boil, then simmer, covered for 1 hour, stirring periodically. Pour in balasmic vinegarette halfway through, maybe. Taste and adjust seasonings.
3. Once satisfactory, turn off heat, let cool a bit.

Now, you can serve it with some toasted bread with cheese melted on top! The classic way is to pour them into broiler-safe crocks, top with slices of crusty French baguette and Gruyere cheese, and broil until they look GOOOD. As you can see from my pictures, I didn't have that stuff, so I just used my Oroweat potato bread and grated parmesan cheese. Good enough. Oh, and the picture has ground turkey in it, but it's as good without as well. Enjoy this college-version of French Onion Soup!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A lot of Things I've Made

So, I've done a lot of cooking since the last post. What with school starting and all, there's been less time to post. I took pictures of the food and planned on blogging about them, but then a day would pass and then suddenly it'd be a week since I'd made that dish! Here's a listing of what I've done in the past couple of weeks:

Sesame Fish Sticks

Paprika Pepper Salmon

Cilantro Pesto Pasta (with Pork Fu and Lettuce)

I've done a couple of other random things, but didn't take a picture. I also made Sauteed Vegetables and Turkey in Bechamel Sauce, and today I made French Onion Soup. It's been fun trying out new recipes and experimenting at will with whatever ingredients I have on hand. I don't really have exact measurements for any of my recipes, but here is the basic ingredients for the Salmon and Pesto. To make them is fairly quick and simple - contrary to making the fish sticks, which required deep-frying. I put them in a low-rim pan and hot oil was spraying all over me! It was not fun, and I was in a rush to take it to my friend's Disney Movie Marathon. But, people liked it, so I guess it was worth it.

Paprika Pepper Salmon:
Salmon, Paprika, Pepper, Onions, Garlic
Pan-fry in olive oil until cooked through.

Cilantro Pesto:
1/4 cup Almonds, Bunch Cilantro Leaves, 3 Garlic Cloves, Enough olive Oil to desired consistency, Salt + pepper (to taste)
Blend in a food processor.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Vegetable Empanada

Cooking with friends is both fun and time-saving. Not only do you get a few extra hands in the kitchen, but you get enjoyable company that gets to taste the delicious product when the cooking's all done! This is what I finally got to do two weeks before going back to school. I invited five of my friends over to have a cooking/ice cream/crafts party. I said I'd make them vegetable empanadas for lunch, and then we'd make chocolate gelato, and then we'd crochet or do whatever else they wanted to do at my house. I always wanted to make empanadas (it's not just because I went to that Tapas place earlier!), and finding a baked version peaked my interest.

I didn't have any of the Mexican spices on hand, so I sub'd in a good amount of tabasco sauce. I also used whole wheat flour because I was low on normal white flour. I also made some other tweaks, which you'll find in the recipe below. One of my friends who came over was really helpful with the preparation. She helped make and roll out the dough. When she asked for a rolling pin, I gave her a wine bottle wrapped in a cookie sheet because I didn't have one. She laughed at my paucity of baking tools, but I was laughing too. I'm used to it. ;P

Baked Whole Wheat Vegetable Empanadas (adapted from here) Serves 8
3 carrots, chopped (I recommend using less. The carrot flavor overtook the empanadas)
2 medium zucchini, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 - 2/3 can of whole sweet kernel corn (low sodium, preferred)
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
3 minced garlic cloves
4 Tbs (?) Tabasco sauce
2 tsp (?) sea salt
2 Tbs flour mixed with 1/4 cold water
1 cup (?) shredded Mexican cheese
3-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1-1/2 Tbs baking powder
8 Tbs chilled butter
2 tsp soy sauce
1-1/4 cups ice cold water
1 egg mixed with 1 Tbs water


1. Boil carrots over medium heat until tender.
2. Mix tomatoes with Tabasco sauce and salt. Blend in the 2 Tbs flour-water mixture.
3. Saute onions, then add zuchinni and saute, then add garlic and saute, then add corn. Stir in tomato mixture, bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer 3 minutes; uncover and constantly stir until sauce is thickened.
4. Stir in carrots and cheese. You can add more salt, cheese, and/or Tabasco sauce to taste.
5. Remove from heat, cover, and refrigerate.
6. Preheat oven to 400°F. For empanada crust, combine 3-1/2 cups flour and baking soda. Cut in butter and mix into a coarse meal. Make a well in the center.
7. Mix soy sauce and water and pour into the well of flour. Stir with a fork until the dough rolls away from the sides of the bowl.
8. Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 30 seconds.
9. Divide dough into 8 pieces (we made 7). Roll into an 8" circle.
10. Spoon generous amount (3/4 cup) of filling into center. (You'll have extra leftover. You can set these out at the table if anyone wants extra.)
11. Moisten edges with egg-water mixture. Fold dough over into half-moon shape. Pinch and flute edges.
12. Transfer empanadas onto ungreased cookie sheets on baking pans.
13. Prick tops with fork multiple times and brush with egg-water mixture.
14. Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Let cool before serving.