Monday, 21 January 2013

It's Snowing! - French Onion Soup time

I love snow. Yes it can be a pain in many, many ways but I am still to be convinced that it isn't great. Facebook is full of photos of people going out and having fun in the show with their friends and families. Now something that does that can't be all bad. I informed my Matey that Saturday was Snowman making day. So here is our capitalist snowman on his way to work.

This kind of weather calls for warming, comforting food. Soup time methinks.

Between A-Levels and joining the realish world of student life I spent the summer working at Spaghetti Factory, a now defunct chain of restaurants, in Canterbury. Like most jobs of this ilk it varied between fantastic (SOOO grown up!) and just plain nasty. Ultimately I had just upgraded from working in a Fish & Chip shop so my aspirations were fairly simple.

As with most 19 year olds one of the main perks of the job was the free food. One meal of my choice from the menu, no steak! This was then eaten upstairs in the staff area, this was in reality a corridor with a table at the end as close to the open fire escape as possible to get some freshish air in what was an achingly hot summer. Having tried just about everything else on the menu I sampled my first French Onion Soup. Naturally I was a fussy child so all those gorgeous onions at the bottom were left uneaten. Having since had the dish in more salubrious surrounding I am aware, looking back, it probably wasn't all that great. But I thought it was fab.

I have always failed miserably to make it at home. All recipes seem to call for hours of slow cooking over a hot stove and frankly I just don't have the time. But my Matey and I were given a slow cooker as a wedding present so it occurred to me that it might just be time to have another go.

As with the majority of my cooking  I started off with a google and constructed a recipe as I went along based on number of choices that sounded nice and the restrictions of my cupboard. The Delia recipe should probably get a significant nod for being the most referred to.

So! I had about 1kg of onions chopped in half and sliced into to nice thinnish slices. These got thicker as I started to cry.

The onions went into my frying pan with a slug of oil to slowly soften. I also added a slosh of water to help the process along. I am well aware that most cooks would cry in horror at this but I find it works and means I don't have to add too much oil.

I then finely chopped up  4 cloves of garlic, twice as much as Delia suggests, but I like garlic. (Top Tip: Squish the clove on the chopping with the blade of a big knife. It makes peeling them so much easier.) It all went in the pan with a tablespoon of white sugar  and was slow cooked until they looked like this:

I could eat the lot at this stage.Seriously yummy. But I resisted and put the lot into my slow cooker with about 1 1/2 pints of water, a slosh of white wine, ground pepper and some beef stock cubes. (Don't put salt in f you are using stock cubes they have loads in already.) Some recipes say it needs to be cooked for 1 hour, other recipes call for 9 hours. I switched it on for about 2 hours as that's when my Matey would be home.

A note about Slow Cookers. GET ONE! They take the cheaper cuts and make them yummy. You go to work, get home and there is a hot meal all ready and wait for you.

Time for supper! I did sort of do the cheese on toast but the grill on my oven is broken so it was melty but not really golden and bubbling.

Time taken. About 35mins plus cooking time in the slow cooker.

Cost: Around £2.50 including the slug of wine (which you could leave out) Enough for 4 servings.

The verdict

Extra points for being able to take it to work next day for lunch. It would probably be better with a real stock rather than a stock cube but most things would. More trials needed.

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