Month: December 2012

French Onion Soup with Parmesan Croutons

photo

Well, it’s finally snowed in Cleveland, and snow calls for one thing, and one thing only: a piping hot bowl of soup. There is nothing more comforting than a big bowl French onion soup, with sweet and tender caramelized onions, salty crunchy croutons and an ooey gooey layer of cheese. This recipe is a great way to spend a snow day at home, as it is very time consuming. But trust me, its well worth the effort and love.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 large French baguette

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

2 large vidalia onions, sliced lengthwise and then thinly sliced lengthwise

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 dried bay leaf

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 stick unsalted butter

2 tsp all-purpose flour

1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Chardonnay

1 1/2 cups water

4 cups vegetable stock

cracked black pepper to taste

thinly sliced Gruyere cheese

DIRECTIONS

To make the croutons:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Cut up baguette into 1-inch cubes and let sit out to dry for 30 minutes to an hour. Toss the croutons in olive oil and half of the parmesan cheese and spread evenly on a sheet pan. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the croutons and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, tossing halfway through, until they are firm and golden. Remove from oven and let cool. Croutons can be made up to three days in advance.

Diptic copy

croutons before and after

To make the soup:

Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add onions, thyme (leaves will fall off the sprigs during the cooking process), bay leaf and salt. Cook over medium heat for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring frequently, until onions are tender, sweet and golden brown.

Diptic copy 2

onions before and after– look at how much they shrink!

Add flour and stir for two minutes. Add wine and stir for another two minutes. Add water, vegetable stock and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes, until flavors are well combined. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Preheat broiler and ladle soup into oven-safe bowls. Top with enough croutons to cover the surface area of the soup and lay thin slices of Gruyere cheese on top of croutons. Broil soup in oven until cheese is golden and bubbly, 3-4 minutes. Soup will be very hot!

Diptic

the assembly of the soup process

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

photo

One of my favorite parts about the holidays is the massive excuse I have to bake and eat to my heart’s desire. In particular, I love using holiday flavors such as cinnamon and ginger to create that true cozy-up-to-the-fireplace feeling. I have developed the most amazing recipe for chewy ginger spice cookies that will take you right back to your childhood days of coming inside after sledding, brushing the snow off your jacket, rosy cheeks and all, ready for a giant mug of hot cocoa and a plate of fresh cookies. These cookies are great for a holiday party, dunking in tea, or sandwiching around vanilla ice cream.

from top left clockwise: dry ingredients, crystallized ginger, the refrigerated dough, fresh cookies!

from top left clockwise: dry ingredients, crystallized ginger, the refrigerated dough, fresh cookies!

INGREDIENTS

2 cups all purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves (I used just shy of a full teaspoon– cloves can be very overpowering!)

3/4 tsp kosher salt

3/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature

1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 large egg, room temperature

1/4 cup molasses

sugar, for rolling

DIRECTIONS

Combine first six ingredients in medium bowl. Mix in crystallized ginger and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat brown sugar, shortening and butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Add egg and molasses and beat until blended. Add flour mixture and mix with a spatula until just blended. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or tin foil. Pour sugar into a small bowl. Form dough into 1 1/4-inch balls and roll in sugar to coat completely. Place balls on prepared sheets and slightly flatten with fingers, spacing two inches apart.

Bake cookies until cracked on top but still soft to the touch, about 12 minutes. Cool on sheets and transfer to a cooling rack after 1 minute. Enjoy!

You won't be able to save these for Santa!

You won’t be able to save these for Santa!

PB&J: The Ultimate Food for Thought

viewer

While studying tirelessly for finals, I decided my room mates and I needed a really rewarding treat to get us through the days of misery… I mean education. Alas, I have found Bon Appetit’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars, and I’ll be the first to tell you that these things are addictive. Sweet berry preserves are sandwiched in between a chewy, buttery crust and crumble, topped with salty roasted peanuts. You almost feel as if you’re eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, just 100 times better. These bars are definitely the ultimate crowd pleaser, and provide the perfect sustenance to any studying student burning that midnight fuel. Note: I used blackberry jelly because that’s what I had in the fridge, but I would imagine raspberry, strawberry or grape would work wonderfully, too.

Foodie Gift Guide 2012

Since just about everyone and their mothers is making a gift guide this holiday season, I decided to hop on the bandwagon. Of course, all of my favorite and most lusted after gifts revolve around food, but each is specifically tailored to a different type of foodie or food lover. Hopefully you’ll be inspired to get your foodie friend one of these awesome gifts, and friends/ family if you’re reading this, please take the hint!

1. For the adventurous foodie who puts Sriracha on everything: KimKim, $10

photo copy

We all have that one friend who never thinks “spicy” is spicy enough. They may be addicted to sriracha, but I’ve found a new miracle sauce. KimKim is a Korean hot sauce made in Richmond, Virginia. I discovered this sauce at Union Market and after one sample, I was hooked. Its not as spicy as sriracha but has a hint of buffalo flavor. It’s perfect for dipping (plain or mixed with greek yogurt or sour cream), marinating (chicken, fish, steak, you name it) and drizzling over eggs, and your friend with the atomic palate will thank you dearly.

2. For the hardcore baker: Cuisinart Artisan Stand Mixer, Boysenberry, Williams-Sonoma, $349.95

Screen Shot 2012-12-07 at 1.12.12 PM

I have literally had this mixer on my wish list every year for the past 5 years. It does everything you could possibly ask out of a mixer, and if you get the right attachments, you could be making fresh pasta, ice cream and even juice! Your options are endless, and I love the boysenberry color for the holidays.

3. For the hardcore baker who has already baked their way through Martha Stewart and Carol Walters: Bouchon Bakery Cook Book, Amazon.com, $24.99

photo

I just purchased this book for myself and I’m already so excited to work my way through it. Bake some of Bouchon’s most popular pastries, cookies and breads, and you’ll feel like you’re learning from Thomas Keller himself!

4. For the student or YoPro in need of some lunch money: sweetgreen gift card, in stores or online, $15- $100

viewer

Sweetgreen just introduced gift cards and as a hardcore sweetgreen fan, I felt particularly obliged to endorse them. If you live in the D.C. or Philly area, grab one for your friends, coworkers or teachers. They’ll definitely thank you for it.

5. For the mixologist: Patron XO Cafe Dark Cocoa

Screen Shot 2012-12-07 at 1.14.36 PM

This is the newest addition to the Patron family, and I’ll be the first to tell you it’s going to become the favorite child. On the rocks, mixed into coffee or a frappe, the dark cocoa flavor is present enough to satisfy your sweet tooth while still feeling like you’re sipping on something sophisticated and special.  Serve it at your holiday party, or just keep it for yourself on those cold winter nights.

6. For the chocolate lover: Whole Foods Peppermint Bark, $8.99

Diptic

I love this peppermint bark because it has just the right amount of white and dark chocolate compared to peppermint. Its easy to break into any size piece and is great for those nights after you’ve eaten a heavy meal but want something sweet. This bark is the sole reason I fell in love with mint-chocolate.

7. For the entertainer: C Wonder Snow Flake Coasters, $12

Screen Shot 2012-12-07 at 1.14.54 PM

How cute are these?! If you’re from the northeast you can probably get about 4-5 months of use out of these coasters before it becomes seasonally inappropriate. If you live on the west coast or in the south, these coasters will at least help you feel like you’re celebrating a white Christmas or the first snowfall.

8. For the foodie who basically has everything: Gourmet Attitude Truffle Honey, Gilt Taste, $19.95

Screen Shot 2012-12-07 at 1.15.31 PM

The first time I had truffle honey I was in Florence and I fell in love. I was so happy to see this product on Gilt Taste. It goes great on cheese with crackers, or even drizzled over ice cream. Plus, your friends will think you’re super sophisticated and well-traveled.

9. For the wino: Architect Air Dry Wine Glass Drying System, Amazon.com, $14.35

Screen Shot 2012-12-07 at 1.15.45 PMI found this product on BuzzFeed’s 30 Gifts for Winos, and I immediately ordered one for my dad- the ultimate wine connoisseur. Its sleek, portable, yet amazingly useful for drying wine glasses, and goes well in any kitchen or bar.

So there you have it- my nine favorite products of the season. Happy gifting, and happy holidays!

iScream for Ice Cream!

I know it’s December and barely anyone is thinking about ice cream, but personally, I could go for this frozen creamy goodness any day of the year. I have been lucky enough to inherit my friend’s ice cream maker for the semester while she is abroad, and let me tell you, it’s been the best accessory in my kitchen. So far I’ve made Alton Brown’s Banana Ice Cream and Simply Recipes’ Peppermint Ice Cream, and I predict an influx of more recipes in the near future as final exams approach (ice cream counts as a healthy, motivational study snack, right?). I know everyone is on the foodie instagram craze right now, but I must admit, ice cream looks particularly appetizing on this iPhone app. See for yourself, and try one of these sinfully rich and drool-worthy recipes soon!

250364_3891075481756_343078153_n

The banana ice cream had an insanely natural banana flavor- no banana extract necessary here! Despite having real mashed bananas in it, the texture was smooth and rich. I actually felt like I was eating something healthy!

74223_4240924507763_612078564_n

Now this is just an all-around holiday people pleaser. The ice cream is so custard-y and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I had to use a significant amount more of the peppermint extract than what the recipe called for, to get that true peppermint flavor. Adding crushed candy canes on top really makes this dessert special, beautiful and perfect for the holidays.