Not for the faint of heart.

The stream of life is carrying me along, pulling me into uncertainty, as it ebbs and flows and eventually takes form. It’s happening both in life and in the food I create. My need for security is being replaced by Patience. Presence. Time. These are things that I fight with resilience on a cellular level. I think we all do, to some degree. However sometimes, we get the opportunity to slow down, to savor, to relax into the current and be surprised by the result.
I write this as I sit patiently, waiting for onions caramelize. As my well-intentioned plan is being whisked away by the undertow and evolving into something else, entirely. If this sounds a bit esoteric, I apologize. It just happens to be where I’m at, in this moment.
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later on…
I encountered one minor barrier after another. However, what evolved is only redolent of French onion soup. Rather, it is a hop-infused, sweet, aureus onion soup. The onions were cooked down to nearly a jam, and used as a base for the broth, which was then topped with artisan bread, and possibly the best aged goat cheese I’ve ever had good fortune to sample.
Clementine - Aged Goat Cheese from Yarmuth Farms

Clementine – Aged Goat Cheese from Yarmuth Farms

I’ll offer a template of the recipe, however there wasn’t really one to follow. I started with general encouragement and inspiration from Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for onion soup, then transformed it with a bit of what was available to me in the pantry. I hope you enjoy it.
Much Love,
J
Onion Soup

Onion Soup

Onion Soup
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large yellow onions, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, center removed, minced
salt
6 cups chicken broth (or vegetarian chicken-flavored broth
1 cup beer
4 slices good thick country bread, or french bread
1 cup grated cheese (cave-aged Gruyère, or if you can find it, Yarmuth Farms Clementine)
Method:
Set a 4-quart stockpot, enameled cast iron, if you have one, on low. Warm butter and olive oil over low heat; add onion and garlic. Keep heat on low, and give a stir every 10-15 minutes, until the onions are golden and sticky. Be mindful of the heat, as burnt onion is not ideal. Once the onions have caramelized (this will take a good hour or so), add a tablespoon of flour. Stir for ~1 minute, then add 1/2 of the beer to deglaze the pan. Add broth and remaining 1/2 cup of beer. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer and let it bubble away for ~30 minutes. Taste for salt, then give it a few grinds of pepper.
Meanwhile, cut bread to the size of large ramekins, or other oven-safe bowls. toast bread on either side under broiler. When ready to serve, ladle soup into bowls, then top with bread and cheese. Place under broiler until bubbly and browning. Serve hot.

The Great Cookie Experiment.

While I love all things food, what really nails it for me is baking. I am always in awe at the evolution of a fanciful treat arising from just a handful of ingredients. Butter, flour, sugar, eggs. These are the beginnings of something wonderful. I recall watching a video clip recently of Dorie Greenspan, famed writer and owner of Buerre and Sel, as she spoke with pure exuberance about the wonder of such simple things as these. If you have two minutes to spare, click here: http://doriegreenspan.com/2013/09/post-11.html.

Dorie is simply adorable. As I was watching her speak to her love of baking, I found myself thinking that this woman and I must be psychically linked. Her passion for baking, for sharing her food is astoundingly similar to mine; her words echoed my own thoughts about baking. I was awestruck.

As I’ve written before, I often find myself in the kitchen wanting a little bit of sweetness, and not wanting one bit to venture out again for ingredients. I’d had a mind for shortbread ever since I’d enjoyed a nibble of a colleague’s vanilla shortbread earlier in the day. I was craving that richness, that simplicity. Of course, I thought I could do something a bit more lustrous. What came through was this: an almond shortbread, rich with flavors of caramel and not a bit too sweet. I added a touch of cinnamon, just to give the flavor a boost, however it might be nice with a bit of orange zest as well. Perhaps I’ll try that with the next batch, as this is sure to be a repeat.

Go on. Put your feet up with a mug of earl grey and a couple of these babies. You won’t regret it.

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Almond and Brown Sugar Shortbread

(Makes almost two dozen cookies)

1 c. unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for ~1 hour

1 c. brown sugar

1 tsp almond extract

2 c. all purpose flour

3/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 c thinly sliced almonds

Egg white, for brushing the tops

Sanding sugar (optional)

Tools:

Stand mixer

Rolling pin

Parchment

2-inch round biscuit cutter

Pastry brush

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar 2-3 mins until light and fluffy, scraping down sides once or twice to ensure all sugar is incorporated
  3. Add almond extract
  4. Combine flour, salt and cinnamon. Add to butter/sugar mixture in two parts, mixing well until combined.
  5. Remove from mixer and shape into a disk. Allow to rest for ~20 minutes in the refrigerator.
  6. Remove and roll to ~1/2 inch thickness.
  7. Using a 2-inch round biscuit cutter, cut disks from dough and place on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Place tray in refrigerator while working on second batch.
  8. Lightly brush tops of dough with egg white; sprinkle on almonds and sanding sugar, if using.
  9. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden and the almonds are toasted, rotating about halfway through
  10. Cool on baking sheet.

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Enjoy, and much love,

J