Thursday, February 21, 2008

When Life Gives You Onions, Make Onion Soup

A bag of (Sale! Super low price!) organic onions have been sitting in my cabinet begging to be used before they go bad. This onion soup from one of my favorite diet books, Slenderella, turned out to be perfect for a day like this. What is a day like this? One in which my husband is home sick. One in which there is a nice snow on the ground, but icy weather is threatening to keep me homebound even longer with aforementioned sick husband.

This soup really could not be easier. Slice some onions. Brown some onions. Add some stock. Easy peasy. I do recommend using a mandolin (or a food processor if you are fancy), to slice the onions because it makes the job faster and the thin, uniform onions cook evenly and are nicer in a soup than thick onions that slide off a spoon. I left off the cheese and made it a complete meal by serving it with a spinach-roasted pepper tart I made with Trader Joe's awesome transfat free puff pastry.

Onion Soup
Adapted from Slenderella Cookbook, 1957. The recipe calls for beef stock; I used a vegetarian beef broth powder that I bought last summer from Butterfly Herbs a neat little store in Missoula, Montana. The recipe is so basic that it seems to be begging for modifications, maybe wine or a little thyme, but it really is just fine as is.

2 Tbs butter or margarine
4 cups thinly sliced onion
2 Tbs flour
1/2 tsp black pepper
6 cups beef-flavored stock
6 Tbs grated Sap Sago cheese

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Saute the onions over low heat until brown. Sprinkle with the flour and pepper, stirring until brown. Gradually add the stock, stirring constantly to the boiling point. Cover and cook over low heat 45 minutes. Add salt as necessary. Serve with grated cheese.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

This is a bit of two decades: Rogers, Astaire, and the Beatles.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Easy Oatmeal Cookies

Alternate titles for this post:

Oatmeal Cookies Now
Just a Few Oatmeal Cookies
I Want an Easy, Small Batch of Oatmeal Cookies Now

Get it? This is a quick and easy recipe and it makes a nice small batch of cookies perfect for after dinner or when someone stops by unexpectedly. You probably have everything you need to make these and they make a good base for additions like nuts, chocolate chips, coconut, or currants.

This recipe for Oatmeal Crisps comes from the Rumford Complete Cookbook, Revised, 1940. This cookbook belonged to my husband's grandmother and it was given to me rather unceremoniously by my mother-in-law. During our holiday visit she pointed to it on the kitchen island and said, "Do you want that? It was my mom's."

I was very lucky to have met my husband's grandmother and I loved her brutal honesty: she adored my husband but wasn't afraid to point out--over and over and over--how big his head was when he was a little boy. She was charming and sharp, and I have great memories of her on a long car trip buying surfer sunglasses at a gas station and wearing them all the way home.

This cookbook is really straightforward with standard recipes for the kinds of food that can be cooked day to day. This cookie recipe is the simplest recipe I've ever seen without fancy ingredients like fancy shmancy vanilla extract or spices or anything. It's fat and flour and oatmeal and a couple other things to hold it all together. You can fiddle with the recipe a bit depending on what you have around or what you like, but I think this is evidence that you can strip away all but the essential ingredients and turn out a fine dessert.

Oatmeal Crisps

Adapted from the Rumford Complete Cookbook, Revised, 1940. I added cinnamon and used about half whole wheat flour and half all purpose flour. The cookies I made are not crispy at all so either I didn't cook them long enough or they just soaked up the moisture from all the rain we're getting. The recipe calls for a little milk if needed and I did end up adding about a tablespoon or so to hold the dough together. I can't emphasize enough that you need to use aluminum free baking powder like this one because with the 2 tsps in this cookie it may not taste right with standard baking powder.

3/4 cup flour
1/3 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 small egg
A little milk, if needed

Heat oven to 350. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Stir in the butter; the batter may be a little crumbly like biscuit dough. Add the sugar and oatmeal. Mix in the egg and a little milk, if necessary to hold the dough together. Drop dough by the teaspoonful onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake about 12 minutes.