Caramel Quesadillas


Pull a dessert out of your ass, why doncha?

Don’t mind if I do. June is apparently a dessert month or something, since I’m doing a lot of these, and I don’t even have a pregnant wife or anything like that. At any rate, this time it is a dessert of my own concoction. The premise is simple: a sweet version of the quesadilla. I ran the idea past a friend of mine who is a pastry chef, and he said it sounded pretty good.

The idea is to mirror the savory quesadilla in its entirety. Toasted, crispy tortillas, gooey caramel in place of cheese, and roasted hazelnuts to complete the filling. On the side is a fruit version of pico de gallo, using fruits to reproduce the texture of your standard tomato and onion pico.

Ingredients

If it doesn’t have queso, is it still quesadilla?

Prep Time: ~1 hour
Serves 4-6

Tortilla:

4 medium-sized flour tortillas (about 6 inches diameter)
1/2 cup sugar + 1 tbsp for sprinkling
1/4 cup cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
3 oz hazelnuts toasted or roasted (about three dozen nuts or so?)

Pico de Gallo

1 medium sized Granny Smith apple*
2-3 dozen red seedless grapes**
1 tbsp fresh mint
2 tbsp honey
juice of 1/2 lime or 3 tbsp grapefruit juice***
1 kiwi (optional)
salt****
pepper****

*Or 1 1/2 small granny smith apples. Try to find apples that are as crisp and tart as possible.
**Red seedless grapes are the best because of their combination of sweetness and crispness. Their skin texture is tender and a good imitation of a tomato’s skin texture. You can also use plums, but make sure that they are very sweet and firm enough to be diced.
***I used lime juice, but grapefruit juice could add an interesting hint of bitterness
****You only need a tiny pinch of both, less than 1/4 of a teaspoon

Assembly

Pico de gallo becomes tastier over the passage of time as the flavors marinate together. Therefore, it is made first. Wash and assemble all the fruits. Dice the granny smith apple into roughly 1/4 inch (~3/4 cm) cubes.

Who is this Granny Smith, that people hated her so much they named the sourest fucking apple in existence after her wrinkled ass?

Follow it up by dicing your grapes into quarters. The work might seem tedious, but it is necessary to make sure the grape pieces are as close to the apple pieces in size as possible. Put both fruits into the same container.

What did Granny Smith do, pour acid on her grandchildren as a form of punishment?

If you have a kiwifruit, dice that as well and dump it into the container. Pick out a tablespoon or so’s worth of mint and slice it into fine strips. Put everything into one container, add salt, pepper, honey, and juice. Toss everything together and refrigerate for the moment.

I guess if you have grapples you can just use those instead of grapes and apples.

Now it is time to make the caramel. Measure out your sugar and place it in a heavy bottomed pan (not a non-stick one! you will ruin your nonstick pan). A lot of caramel recipes tell you to add water, but that isn’t really necessary. Simply keep an eye out on your caramel as it melts. You can stir it around, but not too much as that will form lumps.

I’ve found a way to turn white into brown! But Michael Jackson is unfortunately dead.

In a separate pot, bring your cream to the boiling point. Add vanilla extract and salt to the cream. Let the sugar melt until it is a deep amber but not brown color. Take the caramelized sugar off the heat. Stir it around to prevent it from solidifying, then pour the boiling cream into the sugar while constantly stirring. Ideally no lumps will form and you get your caramel sauce. However, if lumps do form, you will have to put the sauce back on low heat and stir until the lumps go away. At the end of the process you should have this:

Never lick melted sugar until it is completely cool, unless you wish to intimately discover how cooked human tongue tastes like.

At this time you are almost ready to move onto the tortillas themselves. Bring out your hazelnuts. If they are not already toasted yet, toast them (a small toaster oven is the easiest and most efficient. You can also do it in the conventional oven, or over the stove. Make sure you do not burn the hazelnuts if you use the stove).

Pre-heat your oven to 400F and set it to broil. Prepare a sheet pan by covering it with parchment paper. Place two rounds of tortillas onto the pan. Take a knife and stab a bunch of pinpricks into each tortilla. This will prevent air pockets from expanding and ruining the shape of your tortillas as you toast them. Butter each tortilla on one side only and sprinkle sugar all over the buttered side.

These two tortillas are the most Mexican part of this dish that you will see, so savor the moment.

Broil each tortilla for approximately 5 minutes or so. I say approximately because the tortillas can go from completely white to thoroughly burnt within the span of thirty seconds, so you should start checking them at around 3 minutes. As soon as some parts of the tortillas start becoming dark brown, remove them from the oven.

When they are reasonably cooled, turn them over and spread the caramel sauce on the untoasted sides of both tortillas. Sprinkle one of the rounds with your crushed hazelnuts. Place one tortilla over the other to form the quesadilla.

If you didn’t turn your tongue into a slab of well-done meat by tasting the caramel while it was hot, you’ll probably enjoy what is about to come a lot more.

Serve the quesadillas while they are fresh alongside the pico de gallo.

The Result

This one is dedicated to all the vegetarians out there. So you can all get diabetes faster MUAHAHAHA

It’s pretty good. The first time I made this dessert I used plums instead of grapes, but I find that grapes are superior due to their tenderer skin and their sweeter flavor. Both parts of the dessert can be eaten separately or together.  The tortilla is a bit chewy, so the dessert is not for those with bad teeth. Where is the sour cream you ask? Well, you can use whipped cream or ice cream to replace sour cream for this dessert. I did not do it because I never liked sour cream anyways.

Conclusion

What is with all these desserts? I have no idea. They just keep popping into my mind so I make them. I think this one turned out rather well, but I don’t exactly have a large number of people to back me up on that, so you’re just going to have to make this one yourself. Tell me how it turns out, and if you have suggestions for improvement, tell me about it as well.

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Brioche Dessert Applications


Brioche is fantastic on its own, but it is also a great “utility bread” for making all kinds of other dishes, both savory and sweet. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for you, I have a tremendous sweet tooth, so after having made brioche my mind immediately went to all of the dessert applications that such a rich bread could have.

This blog will showcase two desserts that can be made with brioche. Both are fruit related and relatively simple to make. If you only wish to make these desserts and not the bread, feel free to buy the bread from a store. You can also substitute any rich, egg-heavy bread for brioche if you wish.

Sortie I: Brioche Pear Tart

Boobies.

A pair of pared pears does not a healthy dessert make. Appearances can be deceiving. In fact, health is not a peartinent factor in the prepearation of either of these desserts. Pearmit yourself these simple indulgences, or pearish after living a flavorless life.

Prep time: ~25 minutes
Adapted from Jacque Pépin’s “Fast Food, My Way,” episode 220.
Serves 4

2 large pears*
4 slices of brioche
~3 tbsp of butter
~4 tbsp of sugar
4 tbsp honey
salt
1/2 cup whipped cream

*This is if you are using muffin tins to make single-serve tarts. Use 1/2 pear per person. Try to find pears with the width slightly wider than your muffin tins themselves. You can also make a large tart with an oven-safe, non-stick pan. You will need 4 large pears or 5-6 medium-sized ones. If you do not have pears, apples and peaches can also work.

Cooking

This is a quick and dirty dessert. First, take your pears out. Peel and core them. If you are making single-serve tarts, the best way is to cut them in half through the cross section. Core the pear and trim the top half so it is as spherical as the bottom half. That way, you can layer a single piece of fruit onto each “crust” made from brioche. If you are making a large tart, dice the pear into 1-inch slices. I know in my photos I diced my pears, but in retrospect that is not the best way to prepare the pears for single-serve tarts.

lots of boobies

LOL WUT?

Place the pears into a non-stick pan (oven safe pan if you are making a large tart. The pan will hold the tart as it bakes in the oven). Add honey, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and a tablespoon of butter. Cook over medium heat, covered, for about 3-10 minutes depending on how ripe and soft your pears are. The crispier your pears, the longer you will need to cook them until they are tender.

Once the pears are tender (or almost tender), uncover and cook the pears down until they are golden and caramelized.

Best boobies you've never seen.

King Midas could do this instantly but you’re gonna need a few minutes on the stove.

As the pears cook, slice your brioche if it isn’t sliced yet. If you are making single serve tarts, cut circular shapes out of the brioche the size of the muffin tin tops. These circles will be the “crust” on which the fruit ultimately rests on. Otherwise, you will want to cut the brioche in such a way that you can lay pieces of it over your pan of fruit to form the crust.

Boobalicious boobies

Be careful not to stab yourself with the knife. Blood is not a required ingredient in this dessert.

Pre-heat your oven to 400F (~200C). Butter your brioche on one side and sprinkle some sugar over them. Spoon the pears into the muffin tin (or keep them in the pan) and place the brioche circles on top of the pears, with the buttered side facing UP. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the bread is toasted and caramelized on top.

Tantalizing boobies.

A fairly easy dessert, right? Even if it’s not as easy as your last night’s dessert of six sugar packets poached from the nearest coffee shop.

Remove the muffin tin (or your pan) from the oven when the bread on top is crisp and a bit brown all over. Wait a few minutes for the tin to cool, then place a plate or pan over the tin and flip it over to unmold. If you kept your pears in halves, it should be easy to remove the slices from the tins.

Serve lukewarm, topped with whipped cream.

Boobtastic boobies.

Fattening? Not unless you feed it to other people. MUHAHAHAHA.

 

Sortie II: Summer Pudding (Proper)

I know I’ve made summer pudding before, but this time I will show you the “proper” summer pudding, which uses berries instead of tropical fruits. It is as easy to make as the other one.

Ingredients

Delectable boobies.

You can use all kinds of berries, except for dingleberries. I would not recommend dingleberries.

Prep time: ~6-12 hours (mostly waiting)

~1 pound of assorted summer berries*
1/4 cup baking/castor’s sugar (not powdered sugar, but finer than granulated sugar)
1/4 cup berry jam/jelly**
Slices of brioche (3 per single-serve pudding)

You will also need: either some circular molds or spare mugs in which to keep the berries; some weights to sit on top of the puddings as they marinate; plastic wrap.

*The traditional mix is of red/black currants, raspberries, black berries, and strawberries. Depending on where you live, some of these berries may not be available for purchase. Use what you have. You can also use other berries, such as the blueberries that I have here.
**The flavor of jam depends on which berries you are missing. Where I live I am unable to acquire currants, so I used red currant jelly. Try to use a jam of a single flavor and avoid “mixed berry” jams. You want the jam to make up for the flavor of the berry you do not have, so it should be a concentration of a single berry flavor.

Assembly

Wash your berry mixture and set it aside. Slice your strawberries so that they are of similar size as the smaller berries.

Why were we talking about boobs again

It’s a pudding, but it’s British, so it’s not really a pudding, but it’s called a pudding, and so forth.

Over medium heat, measure out your sugar and jam. Cook until the jam has melted and add the berries. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the berries have released a bit of their juice, then take it off the heat. You do not want to fully cook the berries. The raspberries especially are prone to disintegration when cooked for too long. Let the berries cool.

Well, I mean, everyone likes boobs.

That is one expensive pan of fruit. For the same amount of money you can probably feed an Ethiopian family of four for a week.

Cut your brioche into circles that will fit loosely into the mugs. You do not want the brioche to fit too snugly because that would make removal difficult. You can also try fitting the inside of the mugs with a layer of plastic foil so that you can remove the pudding more easily, although that presents its own challenges.

Once your fruit has cooled, separate the fruit from the juice in the pan. Dip both sides of each brioche circle into the juice. You do not need it to soak thoroughly, simply to get the surface of each bread circle wet. Place one layer of bread, one layer of fruit (around 1 inch or 2 cm deep), another layer of bread, fruit, then a final layer of bread, making sure to soak each layer of bread. Cover the final layer of bread with a little juice. Cover the bread with plastic wrap, then place a weight (a can of soda or a bottle filled with water will do nicely) on top of the pudding. Let the pudding sit for at least six hours in the refrigerator.

After completing your puddings, you should still have some juice and fruit left over. Save these for now. They will be useful when it is time to plate.

Right? Boobs?

Bury the berries beneath the brioche bread.

After six hours (or however long you’ve managed to wait) has passed, you can plate and serve. If you layered your mug with plastic wrap, simply pull the pudding out gently and plop it upside down onto the plate. If not, place a plate over the mug, flip the mug over, and tap on the mug until the pudding drops down. Sometimes the top slice of brioche is still stuck in the mug. If this is the case, take a spoon and gently edge the brioche slice out by its edges. It should still remain intact. Top the pudding with more fruit and juice. Serve either as is, or with whipped cream or ice cream.

Titillating.

The fugitive berry made a run for it, but was shot in the back.

Conclusion

Thus ends this tale of two desserts. One warm, one cold. One French, the other British. Both ended up being devoured by ravenous gnashing teeth, to re-emerge as identically brown, very un-food like pastes which were flushed into the capable, well-maintained sewers of the city of Seattle. But that is another tale, which will most likely never be told. It is a reminder that although every meal begins differently, they all end in the same way.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. Until next time, make sure to eat enough fiber to stave off constipation. That shit is never fun. Like, literally.

Brioche


When I first started researching recipes on brioche on the internet, it became immediately apparent that there are not many bakers any more who have the cojones (or ovarios) to make this bread by hand.

What is so special about this bread that it makes eunuchs of all these bakers? Well, most people who have tried to make this bread talked about how difficult it is to knead butter into the dough. The butter seeps out of the dough and makes an oily mess all over the work surface. This, apparently, doesn’t happen with bread machines. But just when all hope was lost, I came across this youtube video:

Brioche by hand. The emasculation of bakers everywhere averted by an Asian man with the voice, mannerisms, and body shape of Julia Child.

This video is great because unlike many other bakers on the internet, he is willing to actually show his kneading process in detail and for a fair length of time, which is absolutely crucial for a video designed to teach people how to make and develop their bread dough properly.

So without further ado, this blog is about how to make brioche by hand, using the recipe adapted from the youtube video above.

Ingredients

Brioche, for when you must have rich, buttery bread. Side effects include obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and a slight increase in overall unattractiveness to the opposite sex. Batteries not included, utensils sold separately.

Prep & Wait time: ~12 hours (mostly waiting)

3 cups all-purpose flour[1]
2 tbsp milk
2 tsp salt
4 tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tbsp yeast
1 cup (2 sticks) butter[2]
5 eggs, + 1 more for eggwash

Tools that you will need: A rolling pin or rolling pin-like object, a dough scraper, or otherwise small rectangular sheet of plastic/metal that can scrape sticky dough off a work surface, some parchment paper.

[1] Bread flour might work, but haven’t tried it. Brioche is so rich it’s practically half cake so all-purpose flour should be fine. You will also need a tablespoon or two more for dusting your work surface.
[2] Non-negotiable. You can kick and scream about it being unhealthy, but if you’ve ever bought cake or brioche or whatever from a bakery they’re pretty much using as much if not more butter.

Baking

The most important thing to get right when making good bread is to get the dough right. And to get dough right while working by hand, you must practice making bread many times. But do not worry! Even if your dough does not come out perfect, you can still bake it, and the end product will still be tasty.

Dough or dough not, there is no try. Well you’re WRONG, Yoda. You have to keep trying until you can dough it right.

Begin with a large bowl and a smaller container. Crack all five eggs into the smaller container and measure out two tablespoons of milk into it. You do not need to beat the eggs. In the larger bowl, measure out all your dry ingredients: flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Keep your butter in the refrigerator for now. Use a spatula to mix together the dry ingredients until homogenous.

Dump your eggs and milk into the dry ingredients. Mix with your spatula until you get a sort of shaggy looking mass.

OK great! You’ve made it this far! Ramping up the difficulty in 3… 2… 1…

Lightly flour your work surface and dump your dough onto the surface. Knead the dough for a while (check out the youtube video if you need some assistance on how to knead. You are essentially pushing the dough out a little bit with the heel of your hand, folding the dough back in on itself, and rotating the dough to repeat the process). The dough should be fairly easy to work with right now. It might stick to your hands a bit. Refrain from adding any more flour, just go with the flow and keep kneading until the dough is somewhat smooth and elastic, about 5-6 minutes. Bring out your butter now.

Why have bread and butter when you can just have bread, with an ass-ton of butter already mixed in.

Roll out, with a rolling pin or your hands, your dough until it is an oval roughly 5 inches by 8 inches, or ~13 cm x 20 cm. Unwrap your cold butter and beat it to flatten and soften it with a rolling pin or some other blunt object.

What happened to your butter? It…. it fell.

Place the pieces of butter on top of your flat dough. Fold the dough in half around the butter, encasing the butter completely around the dough, and start kneading. Push the dough out (about half an inch to an inch or so at first, so as not to tear the dough), fold the dough back on itself, rotate, fold again, push dough out, and so on. Now is the time to bring out your dough scraper. It is [i]extremely[/i] useful at this point in time, so if you do not have a dough scraper, look for a flat piece of plastic or metal that you can use as a substitute.

As you are kneading, bits of butter will inevitably seep out of your dough, start melting, get sticky, etc. Do not worry about it. Keep kneading, occasionally bringing bits of butter back into your dough as you go along. As time goes on, the butter will melt more and more, and goop up around your work surface. That’s fine, keep kneading. Now is the time to use the scraper to scrap the goopy butter back into your dough as you knead.

After about 5-10 minutes, the butter will have been completely incorporated into your dough. You should have a very sticky, un-dough-like mass. Well done! You are exactly where you should be! Now continue to knead to the best of your ability, scraping often to gather the muck that has stuck to your work surface. Do not use any flour, do not add water or oil. Simply keep kneading and scraping. After 10-15 minutes, the dough will start becoming more coherent, and no longer stick to your work surface or your hands as much (but it will always be a bit sticky).

The dough will also become increasingly elastic, so you can pull it out about 3-5 inches before having to fold it back on itself. When you get to this point, the dough is pretty much done. The test that many bakers like to use for the dough is to stretch a bit of it out. If you can stretch a bit of dough out so that part if it looks translucent (partially lets light in from the other side) and not tear the dough, your dough is done. Fold it in on itself and shape the dough into a nice soft ball.

He’s got big balls, and she’s got big balls, but we’ve got the biggest balls of them all.

Lightly oil a large pot and deposit your ball of dough into the pot. Refrigerate overnight, or for at least eight hours. The most difficult part of making brioche is done!

Eight hours later, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Fold the dough on itself a couple of times, then divide it equally into at least three pieces. You will notice that the cold dough is considerably less sticky and easier to work with,

Don’t dread the kneading. Have a sip of mead, get relaxed instead, tread lightly but don’t stop making bread until you’re dead.

Fold the pieces in on themselves a bit- this increases the surface tension and improves the quality of the crust. Then, shape your pieces into balls. This will allow you to create large ball-shaped loaves of brioche bread, which can be consumed either as-is or be used as parts of other recipes (future blog nudge nudge wink wink? maybe).

Shape each piece of dough into a ball and place them, evenly spaced, onto a piece of parchment paper. Leave them in a warm place for 2-3 hours to rise.

So you see, the dough has doubled in size. And you can double in size too, from eating this bread.

Now you are almost ready to bake. Pre-heat the oven to 350F (175C) Beat an egg in a small bowl, and brush the egg wash over each ball. If you do not have a brush, just use a paper towel. Crumple it up into a rod-like shape and use one end to soak up the egg wash. Brush the loaves once, wait for the layer to dry, then brush them a second time. Cut a cross shape on the top of the loaf. You should make your cross shape larger than I made mine, since mine did not prevent the loaf from splitting elsewhere due to expansion during the baking process.

You should also space the loaves further apart than I did to avoid making Siamese brioche twins.

Bake the loaves for about 30 minutes, depending on your oven, rotating the pan once during the baking process. Start checking in as early as 20 minutes to make sure you do not burn the egg wash.

I love the smell of brioche at 1 AM in the morning. It smells like… victory.

Wait at least five minutes to cool before consuming.

The Result

I heard that bread always lands butter side down, so I dropped a slice of brioche. It couldn’t decide which side had more butter so it just spun around in mid-air.

You can probably see that I need to work on getting a better oven and probably finding a more attractive way to shape my loaves. But I was very satisfied with the way the brioche turned out. First, the smell of fresh baked bread, of eggs and butter, permeated the entire house. Second, the crust had a gentle crunch to it, while the inside was fluffy and soft, somewhere between a bread and a cake. Brioche is great eaten as is (or as part of a sandwich), but it can also be used as a component in various other dishes both sweet and savory.

Conclusion

Bread, despite being a staple food, is surprisingly time consuming and complicated to make. Good bread is tricky. It requires thorough understanding of how the ingredients work in relation to each other. It requires repeated failures to build up experience on how to handle and knead dough.

But god damn is it satisfying to make. Every time you make bread you learn something new, and you unravel more of the secrets of bread making. And even if it does not come out absolutely perfect, it still tastes pretty damned good. If you enjoy learning new things with ample rewards during the learning process, bread making is for you.

Oh, and fuck bread machines.

French Onion Soup


Every francophile I’ve ever met has sung praises about French onion soup. THE French onion soup, because you have to assume that there’s more than one type of onion soup in French cuisine (and there is). But it’s just called French onion soup in the United States. Even before I had any idea what the soup might look or taste like, it has carried some kind of mystique about it, like it was the ambrosia of soups.

Now I finally have a chance to make the soup and taste for myself what all the fuss is about. French onion soup, like many French dishes, can take either a really, really long time to make or not that long at all, depending on how thorough you feel like proceeding. It can also be quite cheap to make, or quite expensive. For this blog, I have chosen the “very thorough and long” route, and a “middle of the road” budget. Along the way I will point out where you can make cheaper or more expensive substitutions as appropriate. Of course, you can always use store-bought shortcuts for any step you feel necessary.

Ingredients

Note to self: napalm flamethrower not a viable cooking utensil.

Prep time: 1.25 – 3 hours
Serves 4-5

4 yellow onions, thinly sliced (about 5 cups of sliced onions)
5 cups beef stock[1]
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp cooking oil
salt
pepper
pinch of sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 medium baguette[2]
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp oil (preferably olive)
1/2 cups Swiss cheese[3]
2-3 tablespoons chopped parsley or scallions (optional)

[1]You can make your own from beef bones or buy beef stock or use bouillon, which is significantly cheaper and faster.
[2]This is to make the croutons. Of course, you can always make your own baguettes too, like I do 🙂
[3]Most recipes call for Gruyere, which is quite expensive. Use generic Swiss as a substitute.

Cooking

French onion soup has three base components which must be assembled before the soup itself can come together: the baguette, the beef stock, and the caramelized onion.

Baguettes can be bought or made. I have made my own baguettes ahead of time for this recipe. If you have never made baguettes before and are unsure on whether or not you wish to make them, try reading through a few recipes online. Baguettes are cheap but rather tricky to make, and are one of those things that require repeated attempts to understand and improve upon. You will need one medium-sized baguette to make about 3-4 cups of croutons.

I see your baguette is as big as mine. Now let’s see how well you use it.

Next up is beef stock. Beef stock is not difficult to make, but costs significantly more than a few blocks of bouillon. You can make it by browning a couple pounds of beef bones and scraps along with some chopped carrot and onion, and covering with 6 cups of water to simmer for about 90 minutes. Remove the bones and strain the vegetables from the stock when ready.

Slick product placement on the lower left corner.

When you have both the baguette and the beef stock, you are ready to start making the soup! Begin by thinly slicing about 4-5 yellow onions. You want about 5-6 cups of the stuff. And yes, that shit will make you weep.

No woman no cry? Bob Marley never chopped any fuckin’ onions.

Melt two tablespoons of butter and a tablespoon of oil on high heat in a pot. When the butter foam has subsided, add your onions and cook with a lid on the pot for about 5 minutes. This will steam and wilt the onions to prepare them for caramelization. After 5 minutes, uncover the pot and switch heat down to medium (medium-low on gas stoves). Add 1 teaspoon of salt and just a pinch of sugar to help the onions brown. Cook the onions, stirring with a spatula every 2 minutes or so, for about 40 minutes to caramelize the onions.

This isn’t something you can hurry along. Fast equals premature.

While your onions are cooking, you can start working on your croutons. Chop your baguette into 3/4 inch (2 cm) medallions, then cut them into approximately 1 inch pieces. In a separate bowl or container, add 1 minced clove of garlic, 2 tablespoons of oil (olive oil is best), and about half a teaspoon of salt and pepper. Dump all of your bread pieces into this and shake around to coat.

Make precise cuts. Think premeditated murder, not crime of passion.

Bake your croutons in a 275F (135C) oven, turning them every 10 minutes for about 40-50 minutes. These croutons need to be dryer than regular croutons because they need to withstand being placed in onion soup without falling apart.

While your croutons are in the oven, your onions should caramelizing nicely, and look something like this:

Interestingly enough this is also an effective dog poison.

Cook for about five more minutes. At this point in time, the caramelizing process will give significantly diminishing returns the longer you cook it. Sprinkle in two tablespoons of flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. Pour in about 5 cups of hot stock to cover, and 1/3 cup of white wine. Season well with salt and pepper- you will need approximately an entire tablespoon of salt to counter the sweetness of onion. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Not that I’ve ever poisoned any dogs with this. Really.

Sometime during when your soup is simmering, your croutons should be done. Taste a crouton to make sure that it is completely dry throughout. It should not be moist or soft in any part.

If you have bad teeth you should probably not chew these without soaking in the soup first, or without first stealing granny’s dentures.

When the soup is almost done, turn the broiler on in your oven. Prepare as many bowls as you are prepared to serve. Ladle your soup into the bowls, then top with croutons and Swiss cheese. Stick the bowls into the oven under the red-hot broiler for 30 seconds to melt the cheese. I left mine to broil for a full minute, and the croutons burned. Top with your herb of choice and serve immediately.

The Result

The title of this soup has French, onion, and soup. The soup itself has two out of those three things. Oh well.

How wazzit? Wouldn’t you like to know? Well, the soup has an interesting dynamic. The first bite is delicious. There is the crunchy, aromatic croutons (which are slightly soggy on the bottom), the rich beef broth, the sweet caramelized onions, an entire symphony of flavors and textures. Then the next bite isn’t quite as good, and the next is a bit less good, and by the fifth bite you’re wanting to finish the soup and move on to something else. So, I wouldn’t recommend serving more than 1 cup’s worth to anyone for any one meal.

Conclusion

Fuck. I’m fairly certain that hearing all these people talk about how great French onion soup is has ruined French onion soup for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good (for the first bite especially), but it’s not the mind-blowing epiphany that I was expecting. Long story short is, don’t let people tell you how great some food is. It’s far better to just assume that something is “pretty good” in a modest sort of way, so you can always leave more impressed than you were prepared to be.

How is French onion soup? It’s pretty good. You should give it a try some time.