My French Heaven

ALL ABOUT FOOD, FRANCE AND JOIE DE VIVRE

Category: Recipes

My Legendary French Onion Soup

French-onion-soup

Here is a dish that is a true pillar of the French culinary tradition! One would even say an icon of traditional French cuisine. I had posted about this years ago, but I thought we were due for a refresher post. Plus it’s so darn cold outside :0)

Try the recipe and tell me how it was. For the anecdote, the onion soup was called the soup of the drunks, because it hides very well the smell of red wine: 0) My recipe seems so simple that you could be tempted to add beer, wine or beef/chicken broth. DO NOT DO IT! I myself was tempted the first time and I did well to resist!

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For 3 bowls:

- Cut 9 small yellow onions into thin strips (small onions have more flavor and less water) and sauté them in butter. This is the most important step and it took me about 30 minutes over medium heat. The goal is to sauté the onions until you get a uniform caramel color. If you burn them, you will have to start all over again as it will make your soup bitter. YOU WILL REMAIN BY YOUR STOVE AT ALL TIMES. The taste of your soup will depend on this step (The photos here will show you the exact color you need to get).

- Sprinkle a small tablespoon of flour and mix well

- Add 1.5 liters of water and let simmer for about 15mn. Salt, pepper and voila! Taste and add water or salt as necessary.

- Put the soup into ovenproof bowls up to half a centimeter from the top (the pictures show that I was about a quarter of an inch too low)

- Place a slice of toasted baguette on top and then a layer of grated Comté 

- Place under the grill for a few minutes. Take it out and sprinkle chopped parsley for color. Serve very hot.

A great thing about this dish is that everything can be done the day before, except for the last 3 steps which you’ll have to follow on the day. It is less stressful if you have guests: 0)

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Stéphane’s salmon and hash brown club

Salmon and hash brown sandwich

I’ve always enjoyed people with multiple layers. Multiple layers of goodness that is. I feel the same about food. Taste constitutes the character of a dish, its DNA. But I feel that color and texture make up its personality; the reason why it may stand out.

One of my top five favorite dishes of all times is Peking Duck. The way the crunchy savory duck skin contrasts with the softness of the pancake and the sweetness of the hoisin sauce… I mean come on. If that’s not food porn at its best…

I wanted to find a way to achieve the same complexity in taste and texture last week for my Sunday lunch (or maybe it was the week before. Is salmon like pot? Does it kill your brain cells? I’m getting worried). So, yes, smoked salmon was the main ingredient. I went for a salmon and potato club sandwich and it was every bit as delicious (in it’s own way of course) as any great Peking Duck I had ever had on Stockton Street or in Soho (London) :0)

Salmon and hash brown sandwich

1. Peel, wash and grate raw potatoes. Do not wash them once grated.
2. Form a ball in your hands the size of a golf ball and flatten it. You need to end up with 1/3 of an inch patties
3. Sauté the potato patties i a little bit of oil over medium heat until they are golden brown on both sides
4. Wait for these hash browns type pancakes to cool down (on a grid so they don’t become soft) and build your sandwiches with one layer of hash browns, one layer of red onions, one layer of smoked salmon and so on. You can also add lettuce for color if you want. Avocado would hurt either.
5. Top the sandwich with heavy cream and salmon or trout eggs and maybe some fresh dill

Salmon and hash brown sandwich

It is really easy, not that expensive and looks very fancy… ENJOY!

Note: you may add black pepper for seasoning, but avoid adding salt as the salmon and trout eggs are already quite salty.

 

Of eggs, black truffles and my family tree…

Eggs with truffles

It seems that with every new recipe, I introduce yet another one of my grandmothers; and so today, I want to dedicate this post to my great-great-grandmother Petronille. She was born in our family farm in Dordogne in 1865. Funny to think that we had had the farm for 2 centuries already when she was born. Petronille and her husband (with her in the photo) had a few cows as well as sheep. The farm was (still is) surrounded by deep woods in which truffles grew below the centennial oaks and the chestnut trees. I don’t know if Petronille used a hog or a dog to find her truffles, that part of the story has been lost, but she was famous for making all sorts of fantastic truffle dishes. My great-grandfather whom I had the chance to know well (he passed when I was 10 at the age of 98), would tell wonderful tales of Petronille’s soft-boiled eggs with truffles. We called my great-grandfather “Papy”. He’s the man with the white hair and the beret in the photo. With him are my great-grandmother Manée who you already know and my grandmother on the right who passed 4 years ago at the tender age of 101…

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Pierre (my cheesemonger) and I were talking about truffles the other day. I was telling him that I wish I had access to fresh truffles year round. Indeed, truffles are harvested in December, January and February. After that, you can only get them in jars. They taste very good, but it is nothing like the fresh stuff. Pierre told me that he keeps a few for himself  every year and freezes them. When he needs some for pasta or eggs or even a home-made paté, he takes one of them out, shaves what he needs off of the mushroom and places it back in the freezer. That’s what I’ll do next year! Pierre will save me some.

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I think this is my favorite way to enjoy eggs: soft-boiled. I don’t always add truffles (I don’t have that kind of money), but once in a while, I treat myself. It reminds me of my roots and of our farm in the woods…

Wherever she is, Petronille is smiling down on me. I am certain of it!

Note: I put my eggs in cold water and set the stove on high heat. 5 minutes and they’re out. I mostly use my induction stove though, which brings water to a boil quite fast. Cooking time depends on so many variables. Only you know your stove well enough…

Note: You don’t need to put a lot of truffle. They are VERY fragrant.

Note: You can put a few truffles (when they are fresh) in your egg basket. Their fragrance is so strong that your egg will pick up the taste of them…

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