sweets

Tart Cherry Clafoutis

Alright folks, I’m here to talk to you about clafoutis. If you’re not familiar with what that is, it’s a type of baked French dessert with a thin, eggy batter that bakes into a custard-y cake studded with the fruit of your choice. This was my first attempt at clafoutis and let me tell you, I am a changed woman. The recipe I followed, which you can find here, used pitted sweet cherries, but because I had 2 jars of tart cherries I decided to try those out instead and let me tell you I was not disappointed. A generous sprinkling of sugar caramelizes into a crisp, top layer, while the vanilla-almond scented batter is perfectly offset by the slight sourness of the cherries.


It reminds me slightly of a more substantial Dutch Baby, and I am not joking when I say this was the easiest baking project I have ever undertaken. You have 50 minutes total? You can make this, and 45 of those minutes are spent baking anyway. It’s crucial that the batter is completely mixed without lumps, so the entire thing should be blended before baking, preferably with an immersion blender, but it can also be done in a regular blender as well, never fear!

I know this picture doesn’t do it justice, but i needed everyone to see how thin it baked up and the LAYER of custard it produces.

I think I’m finally off my rhubarb kick, so thank you all for sticking with me! I also realized that it’s been ages since I’ve posted a savory recipe and for that I apologize, I find myself cooking the same meals lately (I’ve been in a bit of a dinner rut), and branching out more into baked goods. The good news is that with the warm months comes fresh produce, so some new dishes will be coming soon, never fear! But until then, I really suggest that you bake this dish up at your earliest convenience, most fruits can be substituted for the tart cherries, and it becomes the easiest (but also still impressive) dessert.
Let’s get baking!

Makes: 10-12 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50-60 minutes

Ingredients
Adapted from “David Lebovit’s Cherry Clafoutis” on Food52
2¼ cups (1¼ lbs) pitted cherries, I used tart, but sweet will also do! (Can also be done with berries, pears, peaches, etc.)
3 eggs, room temperature
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
½ cup + 3 tbsp white sugar, divided- ½ cup is in the batter, remaining tablespoons go on top for baking
1 1/3 cups milk
Softened salted butter, for greasing the dish

Steps

1. Preheat your oven to 375ºF and generously grease a 2 quart baking dish (mine was roughly 9″x13″). When I say generously I really do mean it, I thought I had done enough and there was still some sticking in the corners.

2. If your cherries are fresh, wash and pit them, or if they are jarred in juice, drain. Spread the pitted cherries on the bottom of the dish evenly, but don’t obsess over it because they will shift when the batter is poured in.

As a side-note, look at this fun summer tablecloth!!!!

3. In a large mixing bowl, add eggs, flour, vanilla and almond extracts, white sugar, and milk. Using the aforementioned immersion blender (or regular blender), blend this batter thoroughly until smooth, so that all the ingredients are fully incorporated.

4. Pour the batter over the cherries and sprinkle the top with the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar.

5. Bake for 45 minutes until the top is brown and crisp, and a knife comes out ~mostly~ clean.

This can be served warm, room temperature, or cold, with ice cream, whipped cream, but it’s also perfect on its own!
xoxoxoxoD

 

 

sweets

Creme Brûlée with Rhubarb Coulis

Hello! Let me start of this post by wishing all the moms a very happy belated Mother’s Day, I hope your days were full of flowers and good food! It was a gloomy day here, I’m talking chilly and on/off rainy all afternoon, so it was a perfect day to stay in and take on some big cooking endeavors. My mom does so much for me and my family that the least I could do was make a fancy dinner, right? That’s how I best express my love, in slow-cooked french stew and desserts. Our menu was Beef Bourguignon, a recipe that can be found here, and these gorgeous creme brûlées. For those of you know have been keeping tabs (I know everyone is SO interested), I finally got some butane for my kitchen torch and this was the first recipe on my list.


Now I have ALSO been awaiting the arrival of rhubarb at the local farm for ages, and yesterday morning I showed up prepared to fight off anyone who tried to take more than me. As luck would have it, there was a table FULL of it and I confidently grabbed two large bunches, some for this recipe, and some for a pie later this week- I am on rhubarb lockdown here you guys!! So anyway, when brainstorming how to somehow use rhubarb and also make creme brûlée, I came across a recipe that used raspberry coulis on the bottom and custard on top, and I knew immediately that this was it. Substitute the raspberry for rhubarb, and the tartness is a perfect compliment to the richly sweet custard.

In all seriousness, I was crazy proud of how these came out, and they’re surprisingly easy to do. It’s mostly assembling the parts, and the hardest part will be using the kitchen torch. I found that some came out better than others, but it’s a learning process and you’ll soon be able to tell what amounts of sugar feel right and the height of the flames, etc. But I believe in you and this is going to go great! Let’s get to it!

*Recipe adapted from this recipe from Food Network*

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes- 1 hour
Total Time: ~1 hour 30 minutes

Rhubarb Coulis Ingredients

Approximately 4 cups (about 6 stalks) rhubarb, chopped
½ cup water
2/3 cup sugar

 

Rhubarb Coulis Steps

1. In a heavy-bottom saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Add in the rhubarb and turn the heat down to medium-high.

2. Cook until the rhubarb softens and the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

3. Transfer to a glass bowl and allow to cool completely. While this is cooling, let’s make the custard!

 
Vanilla Bean Custard Ingredients

4 cups heavy cream
2 cups half-and-half
½ tsp kosher salt
1 tbs vanilla bean paste (or 2 vanilla beans, scraped + the pods, or 1 tbs vanilla extract)
16 egg yolks (I know, I’m sorry- make sure to save the egg whites for THESE!)
1 cup granulated sugar

Vanilla Bean Custard Steps

1. In a large saucepan, add the cream, half and half, salt, and vanilla (plus the pods if you’re using whole vanilla beans). Bring this mixture to a boil over medium heat, then remove and cover while you prepare the eggs.

2. In a large glass bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar until the mixture is pale yellow in color.

3. Slowly drizzle the hot cream into the egg mixture, whisking the whole time to make sure the eggs don’t cook! Strain the mixture through a sieve into another glass bowl.

 

Creme Brûlée Assembly

1.  Begin by preheating your oven to 300ºF, and make sure you position the rack in the center position. Place your ramekins in a large tray or roasting pan with sides.

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2. Start by filling each ramekin with 2 tablespoons of the rhubarb coulis (or enough to evenly cover the bottom). Carefully ladle the custard on top, filling almost to the top.

3. Next, create a bain-marie by filling the roasting pan around the ramekins with boiling water, but be careful not to get the custards wet! The water should reach about two-thirds of the way up on each.

4. Bake the custards for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until the custard is set but still slightly jiggly. When finished, remove from the roasting pan and allow to cool completely, at least 3 hours.

5. When the time comes to brûlée them, evenly coat the top of each custard with a scant tablespoon of white sugar- you don’t want too much sugar on top because it will burn more easily, but you do want enough to make that classic crunchy top.

6. Using a kitchen torch, brûlée the sugared top of each custard until it turns an even golden brown. Allow to cool for a minute so that the sugar can harden completely before eating. When the time comes, prepare your spoons and crack those perfect shells.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxD

 

sweets

Lemon Meringue Pie (with a broiled top because my dumb torch didn’t have butane)

Welcome friends! Once again I find myself writing posts a whole week late because my concept of time management is just ridiculous. The weekends come and go in such a flash that I never seem to get anything done. (Also, time really flies when you accidentally sleep until 11:30 on Saturdays.)

ANYWAYS, today’s recipe is the classic Lemon Meringue Pie, something that I was hesitant to make after a disastrous attempt several years ago made me too afraid to try again. But after buying a fancy new blowtorch I was excited to see how it carefully toasted the peaks to perfection. Well. Of course things didn’t go to plan. BECAUSE after finishing the whole pie and taking out my torch to begin, I discovered to my dismay that it didn’t come with the butane I needed to get going. As you can see based on the title of this recipe, I’m DEFINITELY not still bitter about it and have clearly moved on. In hindsight, it probably should’ve been obvious that it wasn’t in there, and this could all have been prevented by be opening the packaging more than 30 seconds before I was planning to use it, but I’m not perfect so I made do!

Look at those clean cut lines!!!

In the end, I used the tried and true oven broiler to get the meringue top brown and toasty and, while this isn’t my preferred method (it starts to make the lemon filling too liquid if it heats up too much), it’s how I always remember my grandma making it, so that’s got to count for something! But I digress, let’s get baking!

(recipe adapted from The Fearless Baker + my grandma’s recipe cards!)


Pie Crust Ingredients

1¼ cups All-Purpose Flour
¼ tsp kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, very cold and cubed
3+ tablespoons ice water
1 egg white, beaten

Pie Ingredient Steps

1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with your hands or a pastry blender until it’s evenly distributed and roughly the size of peas.

2. In the center of the flour mixture, add the 3 tablespoons of ice water to start and begin kneading with your hands until it comes together as a dough, sparsely adding water if necessary. You know it’s done when it can be gathered into a ball but still feels slightly dry- never wet or sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

3. When ready to blind bake, roll out the crust on a well floured surface until it’s a few inches wider than your desired pie plate on all sides, making sure to check that it isn’t sticking anywhere. Carefully transfer to your pie plate; I like to fold mine in half and then in half again, then unfold in the plate, but some people like to roll the dough around the rolling pin and transfer that way.

Okay but this is the neatest pie crust I have EVER made

4. Trim and crimp the edges as desired (I like a fluted crust myself), and prick holes in the bottom of the crust with a fork. Place a square of parchment paper larger than your crust in the middle and fill with pie weights, dried beans, or rice and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the crust is just golden.

It’s high time I buy myself some pie weights I think, I waste a LOT of rice doing this

5. Remove the parchment paper and weights and brush the whole crust with one beaten egg white, then return to the oven. Bake for another 12-15 minutes- watch your edges and cover if they begin to brown too fast! Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before filling.

Lemon Curd Filling Ingredients

12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) salted butter
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1¼ cups lemon juice (fresh squeezed, about 5 to 6 lemons)
10 egg yolks (save 6 of the whites for the meringue!!)

Lemon Curd Filling Steps

1. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and sugar, eliminating all lumps. Add this mixture to the melted butter, along with the lemon juice and the egg yolks, mixing until everything is combined.

2. Turn the heat to medium-low and mix constantly, this time with a silicone spatula so that nothing on the bottom of the pan starts to burn. The mixture will begin to thicken in 5-10 minutes, and is finished when it looks like it’s just about to start bubbling.

3. Strain this mixture through a sieve to get rid of any accidental cooked egg, and cool in the fridge with plastic wrap pressed directly to the surface to prevent a skin forming. While this chills, make the meringue.

That YELLOW! So fresh! So summery!

 


Meringue Ingredients

6 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup white sugar

Meringue + Pie Assembly Steps

1. Before you start, make sure the bowl of your mixer and it’s whisk attachment are grease-free. Whip the whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks begin to form.

2. Gradually add in the sugar, allowing it to dissolve and be incorporated, then beat the mixture on high until medium-stiff peaks form.

3. Fill your cooled pie crust with the chilled lemon curd spread evenly. Generously dollop the meringue on top and spread to the edges. I like mine piled high up and swirled so that when it toasts, the peaks and swirls are highlighted golden brown.

Obviously with a torch you’ll get a more controlled, even color, but all things considered I’d say this looks pretty delicious!

4. Once you’re satisfied with the look, you can use a kitchen torch to toast the meringue, or you can place the pie on a high rack in your oven and broil on low for 2-3 minutes- do NOT take your eyes off it, it can go from barely toasted to burnt in two seconds in the oven!

Now go bask in the glow of the compliments from your friends and family because this pie deserves them! xoxoxoxox

ALSO while we’re here, it is my dearest mom’s birthday today, so while we won’t be having this pie to celebrate, this post is dedicated to you. YAY!

Some pretty epic meringue height here!
sweets

Passionfruit Macarons

So something BIG happened this week, and that big thing was that someone was brave enough to pay me to bake for them! A few weeks ago after a tough work week, I brought in a batch of these passionfruit macarons as a morale booster, and my sweet sweet coworker then asked me to make some this weekend for a party she’s having. So the pressure was on because macarons are notoriously temperamental, but the gods of french baking were smiling down on me because these cookies went off largely without a hitch.

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Still some cracks, but it’s okay to be perfectly imperfect because the taste is remarkable!

Something that I’ve been noticing when I make macarons sometimes is their tendency to crack on the tops, and for so long I couldn’t figure out why. After some research and many MANY trials, it seems that the batter cracks for a few reasons, like a batter with too much liquid, a batter that’s under-mixed, or an environment that’s too humid. But never fear, there are solutions for all of these problems! To keep a batter from getting too wet, switch to gel food colorings instead of liquid. Not only will you get a more vibrant color, but you’ll be using way less food coloring while you’re at it. Next, when mixing your final batter (after the flour mixture is added to the whipped eggs), you’d be surprised how much mixing you actually have to do. I always used to be afraid of mixing too much and deflating the egg whites, BUT it turns out you have to mix the batter until it’s thin enough that when you lift up your spatula, the batter flows off in a v-shape like lava. Lastly, the humidity is a little tricky. If you desperately need to make these on a humid day, keep all the windows closed and crank the air conditioner way up to keep it cool and dry. If this isn’t possible, you may just have to postpone your macaron adventures until a less-humid day. Who knew cookies could be so high maintenance?

It’s important to remember that no matter what happens, these cookies will taste SO good that no one who eats one will even notice if there are some cracks. The passionfruit is tart and summery and a perfect compliment to the delicate sweetness of the almond cookie base and the rich buttercream. Feel free to make your own passionfruit curd if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, but since the cookies are labor intensive on their own, I figured I’d give myself a break and use store bought passionfruit curd (which, btw, I could eat with a spoon out of the jar). Anywho, let’s get started, happy baking!

Makes: About 50 2-inch complete macarons (depending on how big you pipe them)
Prep Time: 45 minutes – 1 hour
Bake Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1.5 hours

Macaron Ingredients: (adapted from Ladurée Sucré: The Recipes)

2¾ cups + 1 tbs almond flour (ground almonds)
2 cups + 1 tbs confectioners sugar
6 egg whites + ½ an additional egg white, separated and lightly whipped until foamy
1 cup + 1 tbs granulated sugar
Yellow gel food coloring

Macaron Steps:

1. Begin by prepping your baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat. Do NOT grease your pans for this type of cookie.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the ground almonds and confectioners sugar to remove all lumps. Set aside.

3. In the (CLEAN, GREASE-FREE) bowl of your mixer, whip the 6 egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add in a third of the granulated sugar and beat until it has dissolved. Add in another third, beat until dissolved, and then add the last third. Add the food coloring at this point to achieve the desired yellow color. I went for a lighter one this time, but it’s totally up to you! Whip this mixture until the egg whites are pure white and can stand up on their own when the beater is removed, it should be about 5-7 minutes total.

4. Fold the almond flour mixture into the egg white mixture, continuously mixing until all the flour is incorporated and, when the spatula is lifted out of the batter, the batter flows like lava in a v-shape back into the bowl. If your batter seems too thick, slowly add a little of the extra ½ egg white, a little at a time, mixing until the right consistency is reached.

5. Pour this mixture into a piping bag fitted with a wide circle tip (or just cut the tip of the piping bag into a 1 inch wide circle or so). Pipe the macarons about 2 inches in diameter, leaving about an inch of space in between each one- they don’t spread very much but you wouldn’t want any to bake together. If you get a little “Hershey Kiss” looking swirl on top, dip your finger in a cup of water and gently smooth it down. Tap your baking sheets on the counter to release any trapped air bubbles.

6. Preheat your oven to 300ºF now. Let the macarons sit on the baking sheets for 10-30 minutes until a sort of skin forms on the tops of the cookies- when you touch the tops, they should feel smooth and no cookie batter should come off on your hands.

7. Bake the macarons for 15 minutes and allow them to cool completely on the baking sheets before removing. If you pull them off when they’re still warm, they are more likely to break or fall apart. When they’re cool, gently peel them from the parchment paper and match up your pairs so that they’re ready for filling.
Passionfruit Buttercream (and Filling) Ingredients:

3 cups confectioners sugar
½ cup salted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 tbs whole milk
¼ cup passionfruit curd, plus about ¼ cup more for filling

Passionfruit Buttercream (and Filling) Steps:

1. In the bowl of your mixer, cream together the butter, vanilla, and confectioners sugar. Slowly add the milk, tablespoon by tablespoon, until you reach the desired smooth consistency.

2. Add in the passionfruit curd and whip the frosting until it’s light and spreadable.

3. On one cookie from each pair of macarons, pipe a wide circle of buttercream along the edge. Fill another small piping bag or ziplock bag with passionfruit curd, and pipe a small dot in the center of the buttercream for a little surprise bite! Place the second macaron on top and voila!

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The passionfruit curd is the perfect surprise in the middle!

These cookies are best enjoyed after a night in the fridge so that the flavors can fully develop, but if you simply can’t wait, they’ll be delicious immediately as well. Enjoy!!!

xoxoxoxoD

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savories

Beef Bourguignon

This past week, all but 1 of my siblings were home from college for break (we miss you Clare!), so what better way to welcome everyone home than with a pot of this cozy, warming, perfectly filling french stew? For so long I watched my mom make this stew for special occasions or snow days, and was always intimidated by it, until I realized that the work is very front heavy, and then, since it simmers for about 3 hours, you’re free to do other things. I myself am typing this as I watch it bubble happily on the stove with a glass of the leftover red wine- waste not!! It’s become one of my favorite decadent meals, with tender pieces of beef, buttery sautéed mushrooms, and and a heaping pile of egg noodles to carry it all. As a side note, don’t overlook the sprinkling of chopped parsley at the end, this stew has lots of (delicious) heaviness that really benefits from its bright and fresh flavor.

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We’ve had a lot of strange weather on the East Coast recently, and I’m always pleasantly surprised when I get snow days from work just like at school. Apparently it’s still not even over, and I’m definitely not complaining if it gives me a snow day, I just hope there’s some of this stew still left for me to eat in my PJs all day.

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This is the last time I cook with this many cookbooks and notes!!

This recipe comes from a combination of cookbooks, common sense, and wise words from my mom, that I finally wrote down in one place so that I wouldn’t have to keep checking between 2 cookbooks at all times, which gets risky because I am notoriously forgetful when reading recipes. The cookbooks used are Woman’s Day Famous French Cookery, and The New Basics Cookbook, both well loved books in my mom’s arsenal. They each make some excellent points, but I’ve taken the best parts (personal opinion only) of both and created this recipe that I will continue to make for years and years to come. Pro-tip: make this for future in-laws or important guests because it tastes and looks SO fancy, and they’ll think you were standing over the stove all day. Without further ado, go forth and get cooking!!

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Makes: 8-10 generous servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Time: ~3 hours
Total Time: approximately 3½ to 4 hours

Ingredients

12 oz. (8 strips) thick cut bacon, diced
5 lbs. beef chuck (also called stew beef), cubed
1½ cups onion, diced
1 tbs kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
3 cloves garlic, miced
3 cups dry red wine (I used burgundy, I also know barely anything about wine so)
2 cups beef stock
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
2 tbs tomato paste
3 tbs salted butter
1 lb. mushrooms, washed and sliced
4 tbs all-purpose flour
24 oz. (2 bags) egg noodles

Steps

1. Sauté the bacon on medium-high heat in a deep, heavy pot (this is the same pot you’ll be using to make the whole stew), until crisp. Remove from the pot and place on a paper towel lined plate to absorb the grease. At this point, dry your beef so that it gets a nice sear. Drain out all but 2 tbs of the bacon grease (but save it in a cup for later) and brown the beef in batches, searing on both sides, about 3 minutes on each side.

2. Once the last of the meat is browned and removed, add 2-3 tbs more of the bacon grease and add the diced onion. Cook on medium heat until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the bacon and the beef back into the pot, along with salt, pepper, garlic, bay leaves, red wine, beef stock, thyme, and tomato paste. Cover and turn the heat down to low, simmering for about 3 hours, or until the beef is tender.

4. Towards the end of the stew simmering process, melt 3 tablespoons of salted butter in a skillet on medium heat, and sauté sliced mushrooms until golden and soft, around 10-15 minutes. Add to the stew and mix until evenly distributed.

5. In a small bowl, mix together the flour with just enough water to form a thick paste, and stir this into the stew. Allow to cook for another 15 minutes or so until the stew has thickened. Make sure to remove the bay leaves now!!

6. While the stew is in it’s last 15 minute stage, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt generously, and cook egg noodles according to package instructions.

7. For each serving, start with a generous helping of egg noodles, ladle the stew on top, and finish with some of the parsley. Best enjoyed with bread and a glass of wine. YUM!

xoxoxoxoD

savories

French Onion Soup with Gruyere Toasts

About a month ago, my grandpa (one of the smartest cooks I know), gifted me his copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, and wow I have never been more excited or honored. I’ve been steadily building an arsenal of cookbooks, because there’s something really special about flipping through them (as opposed to constantly scrolling through my phone), turning to the same splattered pages to find an especially loved recipe covered in notes and annotations. As I was reading through this particular cookbook, it became more and more clear to me that these recipes were HARD. Like several hours and countless steps and French everywhere hard. BUT, then I came across the recipe for Soup À L’Oignon, and I knew it was the perfect first try. If you’re nervous about taking on a large cooking venture, soup is always the way to start- its recipes often allow for more wiggle room, which means that you’re free to experiment and less likely to make a meal-ruining mistake, plus the options are literally ENDLESS.

Traditionally, French Onion Soup is served “gratinee” with a lid of melted cheese on top and a circle of bread soaking up the liquid inside, but my lack of oven-safe soup crocks made this impossible. Instead, I give you these mini crostinis, brushed with olive oil and toasted, rubbed with a clove of garlic, and piled high with gruyere melted to perfection.

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The more bread the merrier am I right!!

The beauty of this soup is how the flavors develop in the slow 2 hour cooking process, and there just is no way to rush that kind of goodness. The key is the caramelizing of the onions, because obviously that’s the star of this dish and every other ingredient is there to enhance it’s rich, warm flavor. It’s also important to note that aside from the slicing of said onions, watch your eyes btw because I was CRYING, the hardest part about making this soup is opening the bottle of wine (and helping yourself to an obligatory while-I’m-cooking glass).

This is the perfect warming winter soup, and I’m pretty sure it’s magical because almost as soon as we had finished our bowls, we looked outside to see the most beautiful dusting of powdery snow illuminated by the street lamps.

Now, it’s worth mentioning that no matter how many people are actually home, I always cook for at least 10 people, so I was skeptical when the recipe claimed to serve 6-8 but only called for 2 quarts of stock, so I started messing around with the proportions of liquid. In the end, I’d say that Julia Child’s original recipe would probably serve 6-8 in small appetizer portions, but if you are looking to eat this for dinner as I was, this recipe will serve about the same number in larger portions. Let’s go!

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My favorite cooking companions- a good cookbook and yet another episode of The Office…anyone else??

Makes: 6-8 dinner portions
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: ~2.5 hours
Total Time: 3 hours

Soup Ingredients:

6 cups yellow onions, sliced (it seems like a lot, but they shrink a ton)
4 tbs salted butter
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp sugar (to help with caramelization)
¼ tsp ground thyme
4 tbs flour
8 cups beef stock + 2 cups water
¾ dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
3 tbs Cognac (a little goes a long way)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Grated gruyere or swiss cheese (to top)

Steps:

1. In a heavy-bottom soup pot, heat the butter and oil, and add in the sliced onions. Cook slowly with the pot covered for 15 minutes.

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I need to invest in a pair of goggles to chop this many onions again.

2. Uncover and raise the heat to medium. Add in the salt, sugar, and thyme, then stir. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even caramelization. While the onions are cooking, heat the stock and water in a separate pot to steaming, not quite boiling. Once the onions have turned a deep golden brown (to resemble the color of brown sugar), move to step 3.

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This is about halfway there! LOOK how much they shrink as they cook!!

3. At this point, add in the flour and cook for about 3 minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste, stirring constantly.

4. Remove the soup pot from the heat and add in the heated stock, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot with your spoon to incorporate all the delicious bits stuck to the bottom. Taste test here and adjust your salt and pepper as you see fit. (Tip: though I’ve never tried it personally, APPARENTLY if you find your soup over-salted, toss in a few halved potatoes, and they will naturally soak up some of the salt. The more you know!!)

5. Add the wine, and then simmer the soup partially uncovered for another 30 to 40 minutes. Just before you serve, stir in the cognac. When serving, I like to put some shredded cheese in the bowl before pouring in the soup so that it gets melty, and then top with several of the gruyere toasts (recipe below). Once the toast soaks up some of the broth it gets soft enough for you to break with your spoon and get some excellent cheese pulls. If you want a pop of green as well, you can always sprinkle some chopped parsley on top.

YUM!

Gruyere Toast Ingredients:

1 loaf french bread
2 cups shredded gruyere (or swiss if you’d prefer)
Olive Oil (for brushing)
Clove of garlic, peeled but whole

Steps: 

1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Slice the loaf into thin rounds and brush with olive oil. Spread evenly on a baking sheet, and toast until they begin to get golden on the tops, about 10 minutes.

2. Remove from the oven and rub the top of each piece of bread with the garlic clove (very carefully, the bread is SO hot). Top each toast with a generous amount of shredded cheese, and return to the oven. Broil on high for a few minutes, watching very carefully because the cheese can go from melty to burnt in a second.

3. Top your soup with as many of these as you like, and marvel at how such simple ingredients can taste so magical.

Enjoy!! xoxoxoD

This post is dedicated to Jake, I can only hope to be half the cook you are, thank you for your wisdom and cookbooks!!

sweets

Maple Macarons

Nothing was more exciting to me than the day that I realized I could make these exquisite little beauties in my own kitchen. I mean, why wouldn’t I when a single macaron is like $4 otherwise…it’s ROBBERY I tell you. The wonderful thing about macarons is that basically any flavor combination you can think of- it works! Peanut Butter and Jelly? Heck yeah! Toasted marshmallow? SO good. Or literally any fruit- my favorites tend to be raspberry and passion fruit.

A word of caution, the first time I made macarons, it did NOT go well. Not having any reference to measure my success, I didn’t know what the consistency of the batter should be, how much they would spread, etc. BUT, the more I made them, the easier it became, and now I’m here to make sure you don’t have the same troubles that I did. The key is actually piping out your meringue circles, and then letting them sit for at least 20 minutes until they form a “skin” of sorts on the outside, which allows them to bake properly.

Today’s batch of macarons were filled with maple buttercream; now I know ~technically~ the season for maple treats is over, but is it ever really over? I certainly don’t think so. This filling is rich and buttery, the cookies are crisp on the outside and chewy inside, and together, it’s like eating a stack of pancakes in a single cookie, so really, this is me giving you permission to have cookies for breakfast. Without further ado, let’s get to it!

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Makes: around 2 dozen macarons
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Inactive Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 10-12 minutes
Total: 50 minutes to 1 hour

Ingredients:

Macarons:
2¾ cups ground almonds
2 cups powdered sugar
6 egg whites (+ 1 extra egg white)
1 cup granulated sugar

Maple Buttercream:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Steps:

1. Sift together the ground almonds and powdered sugar, making sure there are no lumps.

2. Clean a mixing bowl, making sure there is no trace of grease (a greasy bowl will keep your egg whites from whipping), and beat egg whites until they’re frothy, about 2 minutes. Add in a third of the granulated sugar, and beat until the sugar is dissolved. Repeat until all the sugar has been added, and continue to mix until soft peaks form.

3. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the sifted flour and powdered sugar into the meringue until the mixture is smooth. If the mixture isn’t thin enough, beat the extra egg white until frothy and add sparingly until the desired consistency is achieved. It should be thick enough that a piped circle retains its shape, but thin enough that you can smooth out the top.

4. Pipe the macarons into 2-inch circles with about an inch in between them on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Tap the sheets on the counter several times to pop any air bubbles, and then let the cookies sit on the counter for 20 minutes, or until you can touch the tops and the batter stays put.

5. Bake the macarons for 15 minutes, until a crust forms. Allow the cookies to mostly cool on the sheets, and then peel away from the parchment paper gently. *If you pull away a cookie and the bottom remains stuck to the paper, it means they haven’t dried out enough, try putting them back in the oven for a minute and then pull away when they have cooled again.*

6. To make the frosting, cream the softened butter and sugar together until smooth, then add in maple syrup, vanilla, and salt, beating until the frosting is thick and spreadable.

7. Match up the cookies so that they are paired with a cookie of the same size. Pipe a small amount of frosting onto one cookie, then sandwich with the second cookie.

Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee, preferably on a fancy plate because you deserve it! xoxoxD