it’s november, so of course we need soup…french onion mushroom soup….

I have a slight obsession with French Onion Soup. I’ve written about it before and my quest to find and develop a recipe I really liked and I think that was in 2015. I have been fiddling and fiddling with the way I make it, and I think this is the best batch so far.

My friend Karen‘s mother made the best French Onion Soup I’ve ever had anywhere. It was even better than the H.A. Winston soup that we all loved growing up. But I’ve kind of developed my own now which isn’t bad if I do say so myself. But I definitely have a memory of being in Karen‘s mother’s kitchen when she had that soup cooking. The aroma and the fragrance of it just filled the room.

I start my soup the day before with roasting my beef bones in the oven for beef stock. Then I throw everything into a stockpot with wine, water, and a 32 oz. container of low salt beef broth. To that I had a couple of carrots, celery or Celeriac (celery root), onion, fresh herbs, and that’s how I make my beef broth. This time I made my beef bone broth with Celeriac, because that is what I had. I cook this for a few hours. I let it simmer and cook down and condense. If I do it in the instant pot it takes a lot less time for the broth component.

I prepare the beef bone broth the day before because I like to fish the bones out of the broth and dispose of them, and then put the broth in the refrigerator overnight because then as you can see from the photo I shared above, I can skim the fat off the top very easily. This bone broth I made this time was truly gorgeous. This morning it was totally gelatinous like a consommé. That’s what you want.

Also, people always ask me how many beef bones I use. Honestly? It varies and this time I had 10 beef bones.

I line a big sheet pan with aluminum foil. Then I sprinkle them with just a smidge of olive oil and add salt pepper, Herbes de Provence, and garlic. When I roast them I do it at a 375° oven. I just keep an eye on the oven I think they were roasted through in about 35 to 40 minutes. Then I just turned the oven off and let everything cool down a bit before I bring them out of the oven and throw them into the stockpot as indicated above.

These bones were actually a surprise I did not know I still had in the bottom of our chest freezer they had come with a meat order from our local butcher, Worrell’s. Truthfully, you really do have to go to a local farmers market meat purveyor, or a local butcher shop to get good bones. And ask before you want to make the soup, because it’s not like the good old days and they don’t always have the bones.

The next day I start with caramelizing my onions, and today’s onions are the last I will ever get at Pete’s Produce Farm in Westtown which makes me sad. I use a combination of red and white onions. I add a little salt, a couple of tablespoons of butter, and a couple of dashes of balsamic vinegar to the bottom of the pot. You do want to caramelize your onions, but pay attention or they will burn. I almost killed them today because I was on the phone when I was doing this.

I also add mushrooms now to my recipe and that is pretty much because my husband loves mushrooms. The mushrooms, Cremini, came from Pete’s as well. I am so going to miss the produce and that store because these mushrooms were the prettiest I’ve had all year to cook with. But I have to admit that adding mushrooms especially this kind to soup add another layer of flavor that is just wonderful.

When I’m putting it all together after the onions have cooked down and caramelized, if I feel there is not enough liquid, then I will use a little additional bone broth or Better Than Bouillon to help it along. And you also cannot forget your healthy dash of Flavor Master’s Gravy Master. Why? Because that is something they put in the H.A. Winston soup when they were making it.

Today I did add an 8 ounce container additionally of bone broth. I also added a good half a bottle of wine

I wish I had a more exact and proportionate recipe written down, but I don’t a lot of times I cook things by the way I think they feel.

I will serve my French onion soup in a few minutes with a little shredded Gruyère on top but I don’t do the whole thing with the big hunk of bread and put it in the broiler. That’s too much work for me. The soup is work enough on its own. Besides it’s something I always eat around French onion soup when I get it at a restaurant, anyway.

We are also having an arugula and spinach salad with elite seasoning tomato and a honey mustard vinaigrette.

Bon appétit 👩‍🍳

different slaw

My vegetable box today had a couple things I was not sure would go together, but actually have quite nicely!

I had some beautiful young fresh red cabbage, and a couple of heads of fresh fennel. So I thought what could I do with them? Then I thought why not a kind of coleslaw? I’m out of carrots so I could use the fennel in place of the carrots.

Well it worked! I also added half of a red onion and a couple of apples.

Here’s what I did:

1. Grate a small to medium size head of red cabbage.

2. Clean a large fennel bulb and grate. Or two smaller bulbs. Save some of the frilly green frond tops for the dressing .

3. Grate 1/2 of a red onion,

4. Grate 2 medium apples with skin ON.

Toss everything together that you have grated into a bowl. Add a little salt to taste. I like Crazy Jane’s Mixed Up Salt.

In a separate little bowl whisk together a little handful of the fennel fronds minced, a quarter cup of mayonnaise, 4 tablespoons of maple syrup, 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, three or 4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.

Add the dressing to the grated everything bowl and mix together. Put it into the refrigerator to chill up and then taste again before serving to see if you need to adjust the salt or pepper.

Enjoy!

tastes of summer

I had a grandmother who was Pennsylvania German. We called her Mumma. When I think of summer salads I often think of her.

I made homemade coleslaw because my vegetable box this week had a lovely fresh head of cabbage. I minced up the cabbage, grated a couple of carrots, added 1/3 cup minced sweet onion.

Next I made the dressing:

2/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sweet relish
2 tablespoons pickle brine
2 tablespoons distilled cider vinegar
1 teaspoon prepared white horseradish
1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

You whisk the dressing together and add the cabbage, carrots, and onion to it and mix it all together. Chill.

The second summer salad I made was a three bean salad. I use whatever cans of 3 different beans I have at the time. This time it was one can cannellini beans, one can pink beans, one can great northern beans.

To the beans I add a diced red onion (or yellow onion depending on what’s in the fridge) and a simple vinaigrette with extra garlic. Salt and pepper to taste, a few tablespoons of minced up fresh dill. Chill.

And that’s it! Enjoy!

what are you doing for lunch?

Tasty Table Market & Catering is one of my favorite food gems. Located at 10 Leopard Rd, Berwyn, PA 19312 they are a delight to deal with and their food is amazing! They are breakfast, lunch, take home dinner, corporate events, private events, weddings, any kind of catering you can think of.

I stopped in to pick up lunch and discovered all sorts of new things on the menu, as well as a slightly new look inside. You can go and eat your breakfast and lunch. The seating is limited but it’s very socially distanced. Oh and they serve La Colombe coffee!

Today I am having one of their Vietnamese hoagies which is a really good sandwich. I also checked out something new on the menu which is a vegetarian broccoli rabe quesadilla. Some of that is coming home for heating up at another time along with their famous crab cakes which are absolutely delicious.

Anyway check out Tasty Table. You’ll be glad you did!

And I will note that I am not being compensated in any way, shape, or form for writing this post. I am a happy customer and paying it forward and supporting gladly a local business.

#shoplocal #shopsmall

snow day = sauce day

Yes I make sauce not gravy. All of the sauce I make is based off of the way I learned to make it from my father and my Great Aunt Millie.

Millie lived at 11th and Ritner with my Great Aunt Josie and Great Uncle Pat (who we called PJ). In the early 2000s I won this awesome basket of Italian things courtesy of bon appétit and Epicurious. I came in second in this Italian cooking recipe contest. I did reload that recipe to the Epicurious website again in 2015.

But you don’t always have all the ingredients for any particular recipe and with all the snow outside, it was a snow day = sauce day but it was with what I had to cook with.

I started with sautéing two chopped red onions with six chopped cloves of garlic in a little olive oil. To that I added a tomato that came in a vegetable box that was getting a little disreputable looking and three bay leaves and some red wine vinegar (just a couple of good dashes.) Salt and pepper to taste. And 1 grated carrot. My father always did this.

Once the onion was starting to get translucent I added 10 oz of sliced up baby Bella mushrooms. I slice the mushrooms, I don’t buy sliced mushrooms.

Next comes 2 pounds of Italian sausage. 1 pound of hot and 1 pound of sweet. The sausage I had in I had gotten from the Artisan’s Exchange in West Chester. I had tried it on a whim and I have ordered it again. It’s really nice sausage. Yes it’s a little pricey but once in a while it’s OK to treat yourself and your family. The sausage is made by Mangia Famiglia. Usually my sausage comes from Cappuccio’s or the Shop Rite in West Chester. Shop Rites have great butcher sections and a wide selection of ethnic foods.

Next I added about 2/3 of a cup of milk. Today it was actually buttermilk because I had it left over. I don’t do as well with acid he foods as I used to so you do this with a Bolognese sauce and it also cuts the acid a little.

After the milk mostly cooked off I added 2 28 ounce cans of tomatoes. One can was crushed with purée, and one can or whole plum tomatoes that I then squished up by hand into the sauce. Then I added a 6 ounce can of tomato paste.

Next I added some shredded fresh basil and dried oregano. And that’s pretty much it. I don’t have any fresh flat leaf parsley so I didn’t add any parsley. I simmer it on the stove and let everything come together and cook through. I am going to serve it with spaghetti and a nice salad on the side.

Snow day dinners. It’s homemade. Thanks for stopping by!

mmmm, that smells good!

I have never had the flu eight or nine days before… before now, that is. And I have had enough chicken soup to cluck. And yes, I make my own soup and bone broth (thanks Instant Pot!) so I know what is in it. Needless to say, I have made a serious dent in my freezer soup supply.

I need to eat something different for dinner, so since the Giant Peapod delivery got through yesterday’s snow and this morning’s roads (yes I do treat myself to this once in a while, no judging), my version of beef stew/ boeuf bourguignon is in the oven now doing the low and slow for a couple of hours.

This recipe will probably seem a little disjointed to some because it’s more like a guide to creating your own version versus a hard and fast recipe that is written down with precise measurements. Sorry, but it’s like when I am making fresh pasta – the measurements of flour I use depends on how the dough feels to me as I put it together.

It’s not hard to make this. It’s a 2 lb pack of stew meat, veggies, one can of crushed tomatoes, half a container of cooking broth, wine, herbs, spices, garlic salt and pepper. I used Herbes de Provence primarily. The fresh vegetables I used this time were mushrooms, two onions (one red and one sweet white), parsnips, small red potatoes, carrots, celery.

I tossed the beef cubes in a bowl with Wondra flour (yes the stuff that is the trick to a less lumpy gravy is also tremendous when you need to toss meat or chicken in flour for browning), Herbes de Provence, garlic, and a little kosher salt.

For this recipe I brown the meat in a combination of olive oil with a little added walnut oil. You go lightly on the walnut oil or the taste will overwhelm your dish. It’s just a couple small dashes and it adds a different flavor layer when you’re cooking.

I browned the beef for like 10 minutes in my big vintage Dansk stew pot or Dutch oven whatever you want to call it, and then added herbs and spices. The additional spices I added included cumin, sweet Hungarian or Spanish paprika (I keep both in my spice rack so it really just depends which I grab at the time), fresh black pepper, a little additional dried rosemary, and a nice pinch of the red chili pepper blend I get from Los Poblanos in New Mexico.

Then I add the onions, followed by the celery, parsnips, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms. I add a little more salt and pepper to the vegetables. Everything browns together for a little bit (like 10 more minutes) and then I add the tomatoes (1 28 ounce can of crushed) and a half of a bottle of wine. Only a couple of gifted and too upscale reds for stew were in the wine rack so today I used the Rioja Rose I keep in as a Sangria base. And a couple of dashes of Worcestershire Sauce. (I almost forgot!)

I let the alcohol cook off the wine slightly and then I added half a container of Swanson cooking broth. I also add a couple of pieces of orange peel (2″-3″ each- no white.)

I then turned off the stove and put into the pre-heated oven (covered and at 300°.)

It’s now in the oven for a couple of hours on a cook time timer which will shut the oven off completely when it hits two hours. This dish cooked covered in a slow oven, means flavors will meld together nicely.

I love stews and hearty soups in winter. Thanks for stopping by!

corn bread….with fresh corn 🌽

Corn Bread made with fresh corn.

Yum.

It’s an easy solution to not wasting corn on the cob that you may have cooked but not buttered and eaten. It also makes your cornbread not as dry as normal cornbread can be and adds a layer of flavor/texture.

It could not be simpler to make:

1 cup of white all purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal (Mine came from Anselma Mill)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

Dash of powdered ginger or cinnamon (but not together)

1 cup whole milk

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup melted butter with 2 tablespoons bacon grease

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup fresh sweet corn cooked and drained

** The wildcard if you want to spice it up is to mince one fresh jalapeño pepper and add it to the batter

Preheat oven to 400° F and really grease a 9″ x 9″ baking pan (I use butter.)

If your fresh cooked corn is still on the cob use a knife and take it off the cob. Let it sit in a strainer over a bowl so any additional liquid drains out.

Mix together all dry ingredients.

Stir in all wet ingredients.

Stir in fresh corn, and if you are using the wildcard minced jalapeño this is where you add that as well.

Do not over mix or your corn bread batter will be tough.

Before you add your batter to your pan put the greased pan in the oven for 2 or 3 minutes.

Pour batter into the pan, and bake at 400° F for 25 to 28 minutes.

It might be baked sooner — so you might want to check it with a toothpick or a skewer and see if it comes out clean from the center of the pan. I have gotten pretty good at eyeballing it over the years, so if the edge of the cornbread has kind of separated from the pan and it’s a nice goldeny color— it’s done.

Cool enough to serve warm, or eat at room temperature. Make sure you wrap leftovers tightly or it will dry out.

Enjoy!

savoring summer

Summer always means fresh pesto sauce. And fresh pesto is totally easy to make.

All it is is olive oil, huge bunches of fresh basil, salt to taste, fresh garlic cloves, a pinch of thyme, a sweet onion, a dash or two of balsamic vinegar,and a red bell pepper if you have one laying around.

Today I probably used about a cup and a half of olive oil. I easily used four cups of fresh basil because my plants need it to be pruned.

You blend it all together in a food processor or blender and you let it sit in the refrigerator to chill so the flavors meld. When you go to heat it up with pasta you can add pine nuts and grated fresh Parmesan cheese. I also like to sauté chicken tenders and add that to a pesto and pasta dish.

People also use pesto sauce in vegetable soups like tomato in particular. Some people also like to add anchovies and sun-dried tomatoes, but I don't really care for that taste combination with pesto sauces .

Often homemade pesto will not be as thick and gummy as store-bought pesto sauces but those sauces have thickeners and / or preservatives in them. I love homemade pesto sauce, store-bought not so much.

I will also note that I saw the "West Chester Food Co-Op" is advertising a Gazpacho Adaluz (I put them in air quotes because they aren't a real bricks and mortar store they are just a booth I don't understand at the West Chester Growers Market. ) So I thought I would remind my dear readers that I shared such a recipe with you five years ago. It is called Kendall's Gazpacho as it is named after my late mother in law who bought the recipe back from Spain many decades ago.

Click here for the recipe to Kendall's Gazpacho. and the photo you see below is a batch of the gazpacho I made recently. The color of the soup is determined by the color of your vegetables. So when I use green bell pepper it stays green. When I use an orange or red bell pepper, the soup takes a red or orange hue. This is different from other gazpachos and doesn't actually have as many tomatoes as you would put in one of those.

Anyway I hope you make yourselves a batch of pesto and/or gazpacho before the end of the summer. The flavors of fresh vegetables this time of year can't be beat!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen.

summer recipe back to basics: purple coleslaw


I have been remiss. I haven’t blogged any recipes lately. This evening for dinner we were grilling marinated chicken thighs and my neighbor had given me a beautiful head of purple cabbage so I decided to make coleslaw.

Here is the recipe:

Purple Cabbage Coleslaw

Ingredients

4 cups grated purple cabbage 

1 cup grated carrots

1/2 grated large vidalia onion 

6 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoon prepared Dijon mustard

5 tablespoons organic cane sugar (Turbinado)

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar 

2 tablespoons fresh minced dill

Freshly ground salt pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Directions

I read somewhere once that purple cabbage is really good for you. A super food full of antibiotics, vitamins, fiber, and other good stuff. I think it also makes a tastier coleslaw. I also add vidalia onion to my coleslaw and fresh dill to the dressing, which I think keeps it fresh and different.

First finely grate cabbage, carrots, and onion. My “Pro Tip” here is I put these vegetables into a fine mesh strainer after grating and set them over a bowl and press gently for some of the extra liquid to drain out.

Mix the cider vinegar, sugar, cumin together. Unless you want a grainy dressing, make sure the sugar is fully dissolved before proceeding and adding the mayonnaise, dijon mustard, olive oil, and fresh dill. Whisk the dressing together briskly and refrigerate for a few minutes.

Next put your veggies in a clean bowl and pour the dressing on top of it. Mix well and then use a little spoon to taste and adjust for salt and pepper as needed. I like fresh ground pepper in coleslaw.

Refrigerate at least an hour before serving.

Enjoy!

brandywine in black is april 2nd!

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Time to get out those picnic baskets and find the perfect black black tie outfit! It is time for Brandywine in Black!!!

Fabulous and fun doesn’t even begin to describe it!

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Ok so the details: guests wear black and pack picnic baskets and coolers with their favorite foods and drinks, along with table settings  (don’t forget the candles and flowers!) and go to a fabulous Brandywine Valley location, which is kept secret until the day before the event.  There is dinner, dancing, and prizes for best tables. 10897956_1534592770140358_3460803892338082119_n

It’s an indoor pop up event…In black….in black tie and this year the accent color is yellow, but be careful lest you end up a bumble bee!

There are so many black tie events that are ho hum. This is not one of them. This is a wonderful group of people who are as nice as they are elegantly dressed.

So this year’s event:

Brandywine In Black 2016
Welcome to the Third Annual Brandywine In Black – the Brandywine Valley’s most sought after Pop-Up BYO dinner every year as Spring commences.

This year’s event will be held on Saturday, April 2 beginning at 6pm and ending promptly at 11pm. In keeping things ‘secret’ we’ll announce the location of the event on the morning of Friday, April 1. The event will be indoors.

We’re very excited about this year’s event and spectacular venue but most important our beneficiary organization.

10985616_1534593863473582_3655846880359217771_nThis year’s beneficiary is The Young Friends of the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art. We’re happy to support this local group promoting our open spaces, conservation and an appreciation for the local arts. The group holds several functions each year reaching out into the community to raise funds for various operating programs. You can learn more at http://www.youngfriends.org.

Also this year, we’ve expanded our ticket capacity. 10985616_1534591926807109_8366187536680059867_nAnd, although the dominant color is Black, this year we’ve added the accent color “Yellow” commensurate with Spring. Last, additions to the Silent Auction will bring some exciting new items for individuals and families.

Stay tuned to our Facebook Page for more information and future announcements!

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Tickets can be purchased through Brown Paper Tickets. Put together a table or join the community table! I suggest if you put together your own table add the extra service table. And it’s not paper plates and plastic glasses, either. Much like Brandywine in White and Diner en Blanc, it’s fine table linens and real dishes, glasses, and decor. The top secret location will be revealed to event subscribers April 1st!

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This is one event you will love.  The photos seen in this post have been graciously provided by the fine folks at Brandywine in Black/Brandywine in White.

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