French Favorites

This week I thought I would do a light dinner of soup & salad.  I have planned the next few weekends with some pretty ambitious recipes and thought I’d keep it simple today.  I decided to make French Onion Soup and the classic French Frisée Salad with Lardons and Poached Eggs.  Then I decided to make the broth and bread for the soup from scratch, because why not?!

Week: 12 of 52

Cookbooks: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, Bistro Cooking at Home, and the Simply Recipes website.

The bread, though not perfect, was fairly simple.  This cookbook really makes the process easy.  In a nutshell, you mix yeast, salt, water, and flour into a wet dough and let it rise for a couple hours. The wet dough is easier to work with if refrigerated for a few hours.

Once cold, quickly stretch the dough to create what the authors call a “gluten cloak” (I’m not going to pretend to understand the science here). To make a baguette, the dough is manipulated into a long shape and laid to rest for 20 minutes more.

Prior to baking, it is brushed with water, slashed and then slid into the oven onto a baking stone.  (As you can see, I used a slightly different method with unglazed quarry tiles from Home Depot instead of a pricey stone.  Total price: $3.00.)  Just before closing the door, you pour water into a hot broiler pan on a different shelf.  The steam created helps create an environment in your oven similar to a baker’s oven.

The bread is cooked for about 25 minutes until browned and crisp.  Admittedly, I need to do some work on my loaf forming, but it still tasted great! While I cooked all of the dough I made today, the book says the dough will keep for two weeks – so you can make a batch of dough and then have a fresh loaf in 45 minutes, whenever you want!

Meanwhile, I simmered beef bones with onions, carrots, celery and herbs for a homemade stock. (Bonus: when the bones were done, we scraped out the marrow and served it on toasted slices of the fresh bread!)

This stock was for the soup, which was fairly simple as well. A bunch of onions were caramelized, then simmered with the stock, garlic, white wine, bay leaf, thyme, and seasoned to taste.

Once the flavors have simmered for about 30 minutes, the soup is ladled into bowls, topped with toasted slices of the bread, and sprinkled with Gruyère and Parmigiano cheeses.  Pop these under the broiler for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and browned.  Then try not to burn you tongue while eating it!

Finally, and mostly just because I love this salad, I made a frisée salad.  I made the croutons from the bread and tossed these with the frisée in a simple Dijon vinaigrette.  The frisée mixture was topped with a poached egg from Allandale Farm in Brookline and big chunks, or lardons, of thick bacon from Vermont Smoke & Cure.


Ingredients:

  • Yeast
  • Flour
  • Kosher Salt
  • Onions
  • Beef Stock
  • White Wine
  • Garlic
  • Bay Leaf
  • Thyme
  • Gruyère
  • Parmigiano
  • Frisée
  • Thick-cut bacon
  • Eggs
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Shallot
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
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