Thursday, January 27, 2011

Food For Our Future

With my belief that eating onions (and garlic) is a great preventer (and cure) of colds, today am giving a recipe for onions soup made the French way. Home made beef stock of course is preferable, otherwise use a stock cube and don't add more salt. The toasted cheese is optional, but a classic topping for this dish, so worth it.
French Onion Soup: serves 4 or more
2 oz (50g) beef dripping or butter
1 lb (450g) large onions, thickly sliced
1 oz (25g) brown sugar
1 oz (25g) plain flour
1 1/2 pints (900ml) beef stock (see above)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
brandy (opt)
French bread,
grated hard cheese (pref Gruyere)
Dijon mustard
Melt the fat in a large pan over low heat, then saute the onions until softened but not brown. Stir in the sugar, turn up the heat and cook until the onions are just beginning to caramelise, then stir in the flour, cook for 2 minutes before slowing adding the stock. Stir gently until beginning to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes. Add seasoning to taste (pepper only if using a stock cube). If you wish, serve it at this stage, adding a dash of brandy before ladling out, and/or add the toasted cheese (see below).
toasted cheese: slice the bread and toast on one side only. Spread the mustard on the untoasted side and sprinkle cheese on top then brown under the grill until the cheese is bubbling, and then float a slice on each bowl of soup before serving.

Another onion 'dish' that appeals to me is crispy onion rings, mainly because this is a good way to use up the broken bits of savoury 'cheese' biscuits that collect at the bottom of the tin. Preferably the dry water biscuits/cream crackers. Alternatively use crushed cornflakes.
Called 'Irish-style' as the beer used is Guinness, but any sort of ale would do. Or use lemonade or soda water for those that prefer not to use alcohol. Think it is 'the bubbles' that help make the batter so crispy. The ale just adds extra flavour.
'Irish' Onion Rings:
7 oz (200g) cream cracker crumbs (or see above)
half tsp garlic powder
pinch cayenne pepper or black pepper
9 fl oz (225ml) Guinness (or see above)
1 egg
5 oz (150g) plain flour
2 large onions
oil for frying
Mix together the crumbs, garlic powder and pepper. Put the egg into a bowl, beat lightly then whisk in the flour and beer.
Slice the onions into quarter inch (6mm) rings, then dip first into the batter then into the crumbs. Fry in batches in pre-heated oil (360C) until golden (takes about 2 minutes). Drain on kitchen paper, and serve a.s.a.p.

Removing myself firmly from my onion basket, am ending today's recipe selection with yet another that uses porridge oats. An easy recipe to make, ending up as a type of flapjack. A chewy treacle 'biscuit' is just the sort of thing to munch during the cold winter days.
Oaties: makes 8
4 oz (100g) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
half tsp salt
4 oz (100g) porridge oats
2 oz (50g) sugar
3 oz (75g) black treacle
4 oz (100g) margarine or butter
coarse oatmeal for sprinkling (opt)
Sieve together the flour, baking powder and salt then stir in the oats. In a small pan heat the sugar, treacle and marg/butter. When melted add to the dry ingredients and mix well. Tip into a greased 7" sandwich tin and mark into 8 wedges. Sprinkle with coarse oatmeal and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for about 20 minutes. Cool in the tin, then turn out and cut through the markings to divide up into portions.