Monday, April 26, 2010

Bien-être

Have I mentioned I wish I were French...they get to eat the most heavy, rich and delicious meals while living in the most beautiful country in the world and they only work 25 hours a week. I am a firm believer that their food habits - small portions packed with flavor- is what makes the French so beautiful.

Inspired on a strangely chilly Monday in April, I sought out a meal that would warm the soul and thrill the tastebuds. The stuffed mushrooms were just decadent enough to make a mushroom-ambivalent lady keep begging for more; and homemade french onion soup, well, is just about as good as it gets. I paired this meal with a nice baby green salad with carrots, yellow bell pepper, croutons, and honey mustard dressing. It certainly treated me right, and accompanied by a glass of wine and The African Queen, I couldn't have been more pleased.


...and of course any excuse to break out the Creme Brulee torch is a good one!


 
Stuffed Mushrooms, by The Pioneer Woman
  • 24 oz. White Button Mushrooms
  • ⅓ lb. Hot Pork Sausage
  • ½ whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
  • ⅓ cups Dry White Wine
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese
  • 1 whole Egg Yolk
  • ¾ cups Parmesan Cheese, Grated
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
Directions

1. Wash off your mushrooms and pop out (or cut out, as sometimes this is harder than it sounds) the stems. You will use both parts.
2. Chop the mushroom stems into fine pieces.
3. Brown and crumble the sausage. Remove the sausage to cool but don't clean out the pan.
4. Cook the onions and garlic for about two minutes over medium low heat in the sausage pan.
5. Deglaze the pan with wine, scraping up the good browned stuff and allow the liquid to evaporate.
6. Add the chopped mushroom stems and cook for two minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.
7. In a bowl, combine cream cheese and egg yolk. Stir together with Parmesan cheese.
8. Add the cooled sausage and mushroom stems. Stir it all together and refrigerate for about 15 minutes or until it's firmed up a little.
9. Spoon the mixture into the cavity of each mushroom so that it goes about the top some.
10. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.Allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.



French Onion Soup
  • 4 large onions, sliced
  • 2oz. slab of bacon cut into 1/2 inch cubes (If you can't find that, I just used cut bacon, about 6-8 strips. If you get the rind on, cut that off and fry that up too to put in the pot for flavor. And take it out later.)
  • Bouquet Garni (4 sprigs of Thyme, 4 sprigs of Rosemary, and 3 Bay Leaves tied together with twine or thread)
  • 4 cups chicken stock, make your own!!! or use the low sodium canned variety like I did because I'm not one who plans ahead very well when it comes to food inspiration
  • Salt, Pepper to taste
  • 1 baguette
  • 8oz. Gruyere or Swiss

Directions
1. Caramelize those bad boy onions until your house in so full of onion particles all your roommates are sniveling but it smells so sweet. Most importantly, use a NON non-stick pan and don't push them around too much. Let them get nice and evenly brown.
2. Meanwhile, cook up the bacon and rind in a frying pan until they are about half-cooked. Then save them on a plate. (When I did this recipe I just threw them in raw and they didn't get cooked. The flavor they added was nice, but it was sad to take them out and not eat them.)
3. If you have a glorious large dutch onion, you can carmelize your onions all in one pot, but if you are like me, you will transfer the onions to a bigger pot to commence with the soup. If you do this, be sure to pour a little stock into the onion pan to deglaze and get up all that brown goodness. They pour it all into the soup pot.
4. Add the rest of the stock, the bacon and the bouquet garni. Bring to a boil. Then, bring down to a simmer for about 40 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, cut your baguette into circles about 1/2 inch thick. Brush some olive oil on top and stick them in the oven until golden brown and a little crispy.
6. Shred the cheese, and remember don't skimp on the cheese - that melted goodness will treat you good.
7. Taste the soup every 10 minutes or so and starting after 20 minutes, you may slowly season with salt and pepper.
8. When the soup is done, pour servings into ovenproof bowls if you will use the broiler to melt the cheese, or into any old bowls if you will use a Creme Brulee torch. Place two bread circles on the soup and cover with shredded cheese. Broil or torch until it bubbles and turns a nice golden brown in spots.

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