two skinny jenkins


100120 – Birthday Dinner – Big Salad + French Onion Soup
100124, 8:59 am
Filed under: DINNER | Tags: , , , ,

My Birthday

Joe gets all the credit for this fantastic meal.  All I did was drive my wonderful husband crazy by taking pictures the whole time.  He asked me a few days ago what i wanted him to cook for my birthday dinner, and I responded completely out of character and requested his french onion soup.  It has become one of Joe’s specialties over the past couple years, but my memories of the soup date back to early childhood.  For special dinners when I was little, my family would go to a restaurant called Checkers – what is now the Kitchen Table Bistro – in Richmond, VT.  Now every time i eat the soup, I picture the cozy inside of that old restaurant.

Joe’s french onion soup recipe:

  • 6T butter
  • 2 T evoo
  • 1 lb onions, sliced thin
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 1/2T flour
  • 2 1/2 C hot beef stock/ broth
  • 4 T brandy
  • 4 1/2 oz Gruyere cheese (expensive, but SOOOO worth it)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Croutes (toasts on top)

  • 8 slices of french bread, 1/2″ thick
  • 1 large clove garlic, halved
  1. Melt butter with the oil in a large, heavy bottom pot over medium high heat.  Stir in the onions, sugar, salt and reduce heat to low.  Cover and cook for 20-30 min, until the onions are a rich, dark brown.  Uncover and stir constantly so they do not burn.
  2. Sprinkle flour over the onions and keep stirring for about 2 minutes.  Add the stock/broth and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. To make the croutes preheat the broiler to high, and the oven to 400F (for later).  Arrange the bread on a broiler rack and toast about 1-2 min on each side.  Rub with garlic while the bread is still hot, and set aside.
  4. Stir the brandy into the soup and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Ladle the soup into separate bowls, or ramekins and distribute the bread slices on top.  Top each with 1/4 of the cheese and place the bowls in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is gold and bubbling.

And here is our salad:

Ingredients:

  • Romaine
  • Grapefruit
  • Spiced Walnuts (coriander, cumin, sugar, honey, and cayenne pepper)
  • Blue Cheese
  • Grape Tomatoes

Joe also made a batch of BEAUTIFUL carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for dessert.   Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo.  The recipe came from Smitten Kitchen, but substituting a little applesauce for the oil.


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091028 – Panettone | BBA #24
091029, 10:15 pm
Filed under: BBA Challenge, BREAKFAST, DESSERT, SNACK | Tags: , , , ,

Baby Panetonne

FINALLY!  I got back in the kitchen and made some bread!  It feels like ages.  I have been away the last two (three?) weekends and just couldn’t wait till this weekend to get back into it.  I have been doing more cooking than the blog suggests, but it takes more than i have these days to post every good thing i eat.  Maybe this weekend i will get around to retro-posting some highlights.

This was not a good recipe to choose to make during the week after work.  Especially not while making dinner, trying to bike on the trainer for an hour, and getting up at 6 to run before work the next morning.  I think the bread came out pretty well, but I sacrificed the run.

My experience of this bread was ruined from the start by the perfectly delicious Panettone that I ate last Christmas.  It was my first ever panettone experience.  One of our consultants shelled out hundreds of dollars to ship us (us = the architecture firm i was working in) – a REAL Milanese Panettone.  Despite it’s massive size, the crumb was as airy like a croissant with a perfect distribution of candied fruits and nuts.

My first panettone probably weighed 20 lbs. and I can only imagine that it had baked for hours.  My petit panettone on the other hand, took roughly 40 minutes.   I checked at 20, 25, and 30 waiting for the tops to be golden brown, and i think 40 minutes was a bit too long and dried them out too much.  The big one (below) took about 1:20 and seems just right (texture-wise, i know it isn’t pretty).  I don’t have a thermometer for it yet, but I know my oven is on the cool side.    I was VERY glad i chose to use my mixer for the whole kneading process on this one.  It was sticky, tacky dough (I may have been heavy handed with the rum) and i would have added too much flour had i kneaded by hand.

Panetonne Grande

This bread in particular has made me appreciate the amount of quality control that goes into professional baking.  To make this bread come out consistently good WHILE making a profit on the effort must be a real challenge.