Sunday, 14 October 2012

And then I made vegetarian French onion soup and gluten free bread because I'm the best housemate ever.

Me again. Zosia's alive and cooking (see what I did there?), honest, but she's currently in Cheshire for Alex's Dad's wedding and is running around like a running-around-person being busy. Also her blogger may be broken. I'm not entirely sure but she promises to sort it all when she has time.

In the meantime, I'm doing more cooking than ever and loving it. And I'm particularly proud of this recipe.

As I mentioned last month in my apple pie post, Fraser took me to Paris in September. Cue being surrounded by endless beautiful food, but also feeling sad because I can't eat it. Being vegetarian sucks in France. I ended up having French onion soup a couple of times - anxiously asking the waiters if it was vegetarian, and being assured that it was - but I'm not sure I'm convinced. Ever since I discovered that the onion soup in a cafe at home was made with beef stock, I'm permanently suspicious. So, I decided that the only way to avoid this conflict and still get the yum-factor was to make my own.

Ingredients (serves 4):
- 50g butter
- 6 onions
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp caster sugar
- 3tbsp plain flour
- 1/2 cup white wine (approx 120ml)
- 1500ml veg stock
- 1tsp smooth French mustard
- approx 200g cheese - jarlsberg or gruyère (or a strong cheddar if you have none)

1. Begin by heating some olive oil in a large pot and then melting the butter. Chop the onions into strips, crush the garlic and add along with the salt.

2. Using a low-medium heat, these now need about 50 minutes to caramelise - thought you need to add the sugar after the first 15. Stir every 10 minutes or so, just to make sure everything gets an even blast at the heat and that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot and burns.

3. When the onions are soft and golden and you just can't stand waiting any longer, add the flour. Stir to coat and cook for about three minutes before adding the wine. Let this bubble, and use it to get all the bits off the bottom of the pot that got there stuck no matter how much you stirred (the chefs call this 'deglazing the pan').

4. Add the vegetable stock and mustard, and cook with the lid on for a further 40-50 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Season to taste.

And as for the bread... 

This was the first time I'd made gluten-free bread, so I thought I'd keep it simple and follow the recipe on the back of the Dove's Farm gluten-free bread flour packet. It wasn't bad. And it probably would have worked better if we'd discovered at that point that the oven in our new house is a fan oven and so all the cooking times need to be altered. Also we don't have a bread tin so it was freestyle...

Don't judge me.

Despite its aesthetically-questionable appearance, it worked really well with the soup. Mix it all up before you start, then let it rise while the onions are doing their thing. Whap it in the oven about the time you add the flour and everything should be ready at about the same time.

5. To serve, slice up the bread and stick it under the grill for a couple of minutes until it's going hard. Then grate your cheese (I only had cheddar) and sprinkle over, before putting back under the grill. If you have posh oven-proof soup bowls you can put the bread and cheese in there, but I don't so I used my trusty baking tray and then transferred them. If you have any around then sprinkle with a little herb de provence for a finishing touch, and enjoy.

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