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French Onion Soup From A Master Chef
Jan 30th, 2014 by

In France they just call this onion soup.

In France they just call this onion soup.

One of my favorite cookbooks is one I picked up in Paris more than 20 years ago. I got it in a small bookshop across from the Luxembourg Gardens: one of my favorite spots for coffee and a walk.

It’s written by French chef Paul Bocuse and it’s called “French Home Cooking.” It has the best French Onion Soup recipe: one that’s easy and pretty quick too.

Don’t worry about making your own beef stock just buy your favorite store brand. Although you don’t need individual soup crocks it’s fun to have them and you can probably pick up some cheap at a dollar store, the Christmas Tree Shop, Target, Sears or online at Amazon and eBay.

Stir the onions from time to time as they cook.

Stir the onions from time to time as they cook.

Ingredients:

  • Butter (2 ounces)
  • Onions (About two medium, peeled and sliced into circles)
  • Flour (About one ounce)
  • Beef Stock (or bouillon or even water. I’ve never used water but Mr. Bocuse says it works) (About 2 1/2 pints)
  • French Bread (Two slices per serving, toasted)
  • Gruyere Cheese (About 3 1/2 ounces grated)
  • Pepper (To taste)
  • Breadcrumbs (About an ounce)
  • Port (optional) (About 1/4 cup)

Preparation:

Melt half of the butter in a large saucepan.

Add onions, breaking them into rings. Cook until lightly brown or just starting to turn lightly brown.

Stir in the flour, scraping the bottom of the pan so the flour doesn’t stick.

When flour starts to turn brown add the beef stock and stir constantly. Cook over moderate heat for about 15 minutes. Stir in (optional) port about half-way through.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a soup tureen or in separate french onion soup crocks create two or three layers of the following: bread, cheese, pepper and sliver of butter.

Add soup.

Then top it off with breadcrumbs and more cheese.

Bake in oven for about 20 minutes or until the cheese and breadcrumbs have browned.

Serve immediately.

Find more recipes in the Recipe index.

Tomatoes Stuffed With Pasta Salad
Aug 8th, 2012 by

This view of the old port in Nice isn't too far from La Zucca Magica.

This view of the old port in Nice isn't too far from La Zucca Magica.

The recipe only calls for a quarter pound of spaghetti but still yields an abundance of stuffing.

The recipe only calls for a quarter pound of spaghetti but still yields an abundance of stuffing.

Here’s another recipe from La Zucca Magica, an Italian vegetarian restaurant in Nice. We had another version of this stuffed tomato when we ate there last month that was equally as delicious and had curry in it. I couldn’t find that recipe online and don’t think I’d do a good job of recreating it either.

I found this recipe from the restaurant on the New York Times site. I used four very large tomatoes but still had too much stuffing left over, which wasn’t a bad thing. It was great to eat all by itself outside the tomato too.

This was a great second course in a three course dinner I recently served that included a first course of cantaloupe gazpacho with crispy prosciutto and a third course of chard stuffed with risotto and mozzarella.

Mangia! Or should I say Bon Appetit!

Find more recipes in the Food section.

Chard Stuffed With Risotto and Mozzarella
Aug 6th, 2012 by

Nice is a fun city that does a great job of blending the old and the new.

Nice is a fun city that does a great job of blending the old and the new.

Guests at my house said this was one of their favorites.

Guests at my house said this was one of their favorites.

Here’s a recipe from one of my favorite restaurants: La Zucca Magica, in Nice. It’s an Italian vegetarian restaurant that has gotten much acclaim from guide books and the New York Times.

We didn’t have this dish at the restaurant but I made it when we got home using a recipe posted on the New York Times site. You can either take a look at that written recipe or watch the YouTube video of NYTimes writer Mark Bittman.

There are multiple flavors and textures that work well together in this tasty delicacy. The fresh healthy green of the soft swiss chard leaves; the savory taste of saffron; the bite of the lemon zest; and the sweetness of the Parmesan and fresh mozzarella cheese all make your taste buds dance.

I served this as the third course in a three course meal. Although none of the courses contained meat, the three courses were very filling. The first course was a cantaloupe gazpacho with crispy prosciutto. The second course was a tomato stuffed with pasta salad (I’ll post the recipe for that course next).

Until then, mangia!

Find more recipes in the Food section.

Cantaloupe Gazpacho With Crispy Prosciutto
Jul 28th, 2012 by

The French Riviera in Nice is a great summer spot with many wonderful flavors to explore.

The French Riviera in Nice is a great summer spot with many wonderful flavors to explore.

Our trip to southern France last week was inspiring, causing me to want to recreate several memorable meals we had in Nice.

This classic combination of sweet and savory is best delivered via soup spoon.

This classic combination of sweet and savory is best delivered via soup spoon.

So far I’ve recreated five of them. The first recipe I’m posting here was inspired by lunch at Le Comptoir where I was served a cold, gazpacho soup made from cantaloupe. The remaining four dishes were inspired by my favorite restaurant on our trip: La Zucca Magica (The Magic Pumpkin), which is a vegetarian Italian restaurant that combines fresh ingredients and flavors in fantastic ways. I’ll post those recipes over the next couple of weeks.

A Sweet and Savory Delight

Cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto is often served as an appetizer but I’ve often thought it a bit clumsy to eat. You either have to pick it up with your fingers or use a fork and knife to cut through the slippery meat.¬†This recipe blends the two complementary flavors together and delivers the sweet, savory blend easily to your mouth via a soup spoon.

Ingredients:

  • Cantaloupe (1 very large melon, or 2 small ones, peeled and cubed)
  • Water (1/2 cup)
  • Shallots (1 tablespoon, minced)
  • Lemon juice (2 tablespoons)
  • Sherry cooking wine/vinegar (1 teaspoon)
  • Salt (preferably Kosher, 1/2 teaspoon)
  • Prosciutto (1/4 pound, thinly sliced)
  • Olive oil (2 teaspoons)
  • Fresh mint (4 teaspoons, chopped)
  • Black pepper (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil (one for each bowl of soup).

What I did:

Place first six ingredients in a blender and process until smooth (don’t overdo it). You’ll need to do this in batches. Place in freezer to chill while proscuitto cooks.

Heal olive oil in a frying pan and cook prosciutto strips until crispy (about 5 minutes). Turn over as necessary. Drain on paper towels.

Ladle soup into bowls. Place sun-dried tomato in center. Place four strips of prosciutto coming out of the tomato like the rays of the sun. Sprinkle a little mint and pepper over the top of the soup. Serve cold.

Find more recipes in the Food section.

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