Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Frenchie Onion Soup Bliss

Last week Mistah and I were at the grocery store and I noticed a sale on onions: buy one 3-pound bag, get one free. I love onions as much as the next person -- I start most meals with a glass of chardonnay, a head of garlic, an onion, and NPR -- but does anybody need *that* many onions? Still, they were free. And I love free. "Sigh," I said, "if only Dad were around to make us French Onion Soup."

My Dad became a cook after he recovered from kidney transplant surgery. He spent many of those convalescing days in front of the tv, and was drawn to the cooking shows; he became Rachael Ray's biggest fan.  She ate at the end of every episode! The food she had cooked during the show! Dad was smitten. (MB said to me then, "I watch cooking shows. But that doesn't mean I cook!") And one of Dad's specialties? French Onion Soup.

But none of this was helping me with my six pounds of onions. Because French Onion Soup is an ethereal thing that Dad made, and Dad was no longer here to make it, and I was bereft.

Still, I bought the onions.

I shared my onion travails with my family, and Mom -- bless her heart -- emailed me Rachael Ray's recipe.

An Ah-Ha moment! *I* could make French Onion Soup!

The ensuing email discourse:

Ellie: Yum! Thanks Mom. Going to have to buy sherry, which is an idea that delights me. Thanks!

MB: Awesome. I don't think I've ever bought sherry. On Frasier the brothers used to sip it out of those cute little stem glasses...

Mom: I have some cute little stem glasses, and some authentic onion soup bowls....

Me: I know you do, Mom. I'm making up an image of Dad sipping dry sherry from a cute little stem glass whilst making French Onion Soup in those awesome crocks........

Mom: um, I think dad would be sipping vodka, but I do have sherry in the fridge....

Me: I know, but I *made up* that image because I think it's awesome. Plus, he would think it really funny.

Which is all fine and good, and entertaining and heart-warming, that this is actually what Mom and my sisters and I email about every day, but still, I had bigger fish to fry: I had no soup crocks of my own.

But then? Look what I saw sitting in the window of the Homeward Bound Treasures, right in downtown New London, two bucks each:

Pretty rocking, right?

Bring it on, baby. I had the onions, I had the sherry, I had the crocks; I was ready.

A couple of years ago, Jacques Pépin came to New London during Sailfest, and did a cooking show/demonstration. Outside, under a tent.

And the very first thing he did, before he so much as crushed a garlic head, was pour himself a glass of cold white wine, in front of the audience.

Who am I to argue with such sound cooking technique?

I love you, Jacques Pépin.

 Okay, getchyaselves some onions*.

(*preferably, the "buy one 3-pound bag, get one free" kind.)

 And chop them.

 Chop a lot of them.

 Oh dear. Those are some pungent free onions.

 Stir . . .

 . . . whilst pretending to drink sherry. In a tiny, stemmed glass Dad would be proud of. Or at least Frasier would.

Okay, then really put the sherry in. This was a breakthrough. I am always going to cook with sherry from now on. It's so fun!

Beef stock? In.


You see this surface of the Vulcan we use for extraneous things, plus as extra counter space? Well, look at it now:

Cleared off because we are torching up the broilers, baby . . .

Whoo Hoo! It's like the Fourth of July under there.

And over there, on the other side of the Vulcan:

In . . .

. . . she  . . .

. . . goes!

Are you enjoying this as much as I am?

Because I am *loving* this.

Okay! Next! Toasted baguette.

Really, I'm having such fun.

Next! Swiss cheese. Rachael Ray told me to put shredded swiss (or gruyere) cheese on top, but I'm going the good old-fashioned, cheese-dripping-down-the-sides-of-the-crocks route . . .

Two slices each.

And then -- you guessed it -- innnnnn........

......they go! 

I've bragged about our Vulcan ad nauseaum. Two ovens? Six burners? I know: blah blah blah. But this night? It was better than ever. Because it's just so pretty in there!

And out they came! Annnnnnnd . . .  Mistah told me they needed more cheese . . .

. . . so more cheese they got . . .

. . . and back in they went. Lucky them: it's like a 1970s disco in there.

Done! And Hot.

And Bliss.

Double hot molton lava bubbly Bliss. With a little homegrown oregano sprinkled on top:

And how was it, you ask?

Oh, Dad. It was good.


Pat said...

Yummmmm...almost makes me want to be in Conn. in January, almost....
Love, Pat

Mom C said...

Love it Ellie, dad would be so proud!! love, mom

MB said...

LOVE! Especially the picture of you sipping the sherry! xo

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Double hot molton lava bubbly Bliss, indeed.

Ellie, this post rocks!!! I have always coveted the Vulcan, but now? With those 4th of July disco lights? Well, I am smitten. And envious. Although I don't really cook. But, this post is inspiring.

And your rocking crocks? Love them too -- so, so much. And I now have another place in New London that I must visit: Homeward Bound Treasures!

I'm sure Mistah was right about the cheese, because those rocking crocks of soup looked perfect!!!!!!!!

Yay for free onions and your dad and sherry in tiny glasses and Jacques Pépin.


Mistah said...

Yes, Beth, you are correct. I don't mean to brag, but I am always right about the cheese.

julie said...

I love this, El! the finished product is beautiful! I covet your Vulcan Range. She's a beaut.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Oh my God, I'm STARVING for that. I would go with a different cheese though, because swiss makes me hurl. Your vulcan is da bomb.com.

Love this, love you, miss dad.



Rachel Ray fan in Central PA said...

Oh, we were so meant to be friends...

"I start most meals with a glass of chardonnay, a head of garlic, an onion, and NPR" *that* is the only way to start any meal. And our new house has a stove like yours, so I feel compelled to start cooking with Sherry :)

Your dad would certainly be impressed...as would Rachel Ray!

Amy said...

I am literally drooling. Has been eons since I had a good French Onion Soup.

John said...

OK, here's the plan. We (my favorite wife and I) pack a few bags of onions. We pack a bottle or two of sherry. We take the train to the northeast. We deliver this stuff to you. We chop, dice, we clean...we do whateveryouneed. And then we eat. And drink a toast your dad.