Julia Child’s French Onion Soup

From Mastering The Art of French Cooking, which my father gave me in 1982! This soup is an all time favorite-especially when it is snowing and cold outside! It takes time to caramelize the onions but it is well worth it!

2.5# yellow onions, thinly sliced
3 T. olive oil
3 T. butter
1 t. salt
1/2 t. sugar
3 T. flour
2 quarts boiling brown stock, beef stock or combination
1 c. dry white wine
salt and pepper
3 T. cognac
rounds of toasted French bread or croutons,bake at 325 degree oven for 30 minutes.
1-2 c. grated Parmesan and or Swiss cheese

Melt oil and butter in a heavy bottomed covered saucepan over medium low to medium heat and add onions. Stir well until evenly coated with the oil/butter mixture. Cook onions slowly for 20 minutes.
Uncover and raise heat to moderate and stir in salt and sugar. Cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring often, until the onion have turned a deep, golden brown. This is the most important step in the whole recipe so be patient-it may take longer to get the deep golden brown color! I cooked my onions an extra 20 minutes.
Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 3 minutes.
Slowly whisk in the wine and boiling stock/liquid, scraping up all of the browned bits. Season to taste. Simmer partially covered for 30-40 minutes. Set aside uncovered until ready to serve. Reheat to a simmer.
Just before serving, stir in the cognac. Pour into a soup tureen or soup bowls over the rounds of bread and pass the cheese separately.

Afternoon Holiday Cheer

My friend Laurie Smith and I have been getting together for champagne and Christmas celebration for years and it is always a special time. I love making the food for a late afternoon celebration.

Smoked salmon deviled eggs garnished with salmon roe
Tuna mousse and crostini
Caviar with creme fraîche and toast
Caviar with Potato Chips and Lemon Cream
Langres cheese with artisan crackers
Champagne of your choice-I love Taittinger!

Holiday cheer

Smoked Salmon deviled eggs garnished with salmon roe

Caviar secret
I love caviar and discovered that Costco has a seasonal sale of Plaza de Caviar’s farmed Bulgarian Osetra Sturgeon caviar that is delicious! Watch for it in November or December and stock up. I usually buy the package of three and it has a shelf life of at least a month, unopened of course, but often longer.

Tuna Mousse from Food and Wine
One 6-ounce can Italian tuna packed in olive oil, drained, 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, 3 tablespoons heavy cream
In a food processor, combine the tuna with the vinegar, lemon juice and soy sauce. Add the butter and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cream and pulse to blend. Scrape into a bowl and serve.

Caviar with Potato Chips and Lemon Cream

¼ cup crème fraîche or sour cream
¾ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
4 ounces Salmon roe or other caviar
Potato chips
In a small bowl, whisk together crème fraîche and zest. Top each potato chip with a small dollop of crème fraîche and a spoonful of caviar.

Langres cheese

This cheese was new to me and I discovered it at Trader Joe’s. It is made in France in the Champagne region and has an orange rind on the outside with an indentation in the top. The tradition (according to TJ’s) is to make a vertical slit in the indentation and fill it with champagne! We let it settle and the cheese poofed into luxurious smoothness and was delicious!

Butterscotch Thumbprint Cookie

From the LA Times-a simple thumbprint cookie with a delicious butterscotch filling. I used rum in the recipe instead of whiskey or brandy but if you are making them to serve to kids I would skip the alcohol. I remember as a child, never liking anything sweet that had liquor in it. Vanilla only! If you have the space to refrigerate or freeze the cookies before baking, do it. I unfortunately have no space so I made the dough a day ahead and scooped the cookies out cold. I used the end of a wooden spoon to make the indentation for the filling. The filling recipe makes a lot and you can make it ahead of baking the cookies (my husband is dying to try it on ice cream). I didn’t think the cookies needed the salt garnish on top of the filling as it was salty enough. The thumbprint cookies are in the lower left of my Christmas cookie platter.

Xmas cookie assortment

1 cup gold sparkling sugar or turbinado sugar, such as Sugar in the Raw
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (10 1/8 ounces; see Baker’s Note)

½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
½ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons whiskey or bourbon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Flaky sea salt and gold dragées (optional), to garnish

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the gold sparkling sugar in a medium bowl.
In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, butter, vanilla, salt and baking powder and beat with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until creamy, about 1 minute (see Baker’s Note). Add the egg and beat until smooth. Add the flour and beat on low speed until just combined.
Using a half-ounce ice cream scoop or 1 tablespoon, portion the dough and roll into balls then coat in the gold sugar. Arrange the balls 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Using the end of a wooden spoon (half-inch diameter) or your index finger, press each dough ball straight down in the center to create a deep divot. Refrigerate the dough on the baking sheets for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the chilled cookies, rotating the baking sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through, until light golden brown on the bottom, 10 to 12 minutes. Let the cookies cool for 1 minute on the baking sheets, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the filling: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the brown sugar and cream, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until bubbly and thick, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the whiskey, vanilla and kosher salt.
While the filling is still hot, use a quarter-teaspoon to fill the divot in each cookie with the warm butterscotch sauce. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and gold dragées, if you like, while warm, then let cool to set, at least 30 minutes.
Make ahead: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Cookies on my blog from 2011-2019

I love to make cookies and bake at least once a week for my volunteer group at Project Angel Heart and to share with neighbors. This is a list of 8 years of cookies and also my top 15. My chiropractor’s wife won her holiday cookie party with my chocolate peppermint cookie!
Dirty Chai cookie
Cookie List from my blog 2011-2019
Dirty Chai Earthquake Cookie
Peanut Butter Miso
Hazelnut Shortbread Bars
Ginger Spice
Oatmeal Walnut Chocolate Chunk
Rosemary Shortbread
Double Chocolate
Milk chocolate hazelnut
Chocolate Mousse bars
Nanaimo Bars
Chocolate chip
Belgian chocolate brownie cakelets
Raspberry Granola bars
World Peace cookie
Thin and crispy Black Sesame Oatmeal
Toasted Coconut Shortbread
Lemon Bars
Orange and Star Anise Shortbread
Sugar Cookies
Salted Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip
Chocolate Pecans Bars
Molasses Cookies
Double Ginger Molasses with Bittersweet Chocolate
Salted Chocolate chunk
Citrus Caramel Blondies
Crisp Toffee Bars
Pistachio Lemon Bars
Chocolate Caramel Walnut Bars
Salted Tahini Chocolate Chip
Spicy Brownie
Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Bars
Coffee and Cardamom shortbread
Pecan Thumbprint Cookie with Jam
Chocolate Crinkle cookie
Lemon Zest Shortbread
White Chocolate Brownies
English Toffee Shortbread
Caramel Pretzel Bars
Meyer Lemon Raspberry Squares
Blondies with Cherries, Chocolate, Cashews and Pecans
Salty Sweet Peanut Butter Cookies
Nutella Shortbread Brownies
Mexican Wedding Cookies
Salted Butter Pecan Shortbread with Rosemary
Compost Cookies from Momofuku
Lavender Shortbread
Mocha Shortbread
Toffee Pecan Cookies
Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
Carmelita Bars
Salted Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Graham Cracker Chewy Bars
Crunchy Toffee Triangles
Vermont Maple Pecan cookies
Raspberry Crumble Bars
The Best Oatmeal raisin dried cranberry cookies
Ginger Molasses cookies
Binx’s Christmas cookies
Chocolate Peppermint cookies
Tartine’s decadent Brownies
Kiss cookies
Tiny shortbread cookies with chocolate chunks and toffee bits

Top 15 favorite cookies
Peanut Butter Miso
Ginger Spice
Oatmeal Walnut Chocolate Chunk
Raspberry Granola Bars
Toasted Coconut Shortbread
Salted Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip
Salted Tahini Chocolate Chip
Pecan Thumbprint with Jam
Chocolate Crinkle Cookie
English Toffee Shortbread
Caramel Pretzel Bars
Salty Sweet Peanut Butter cookies
Vermont Maple Pecan Cookies
Kiss Cookies (family favorite)
Tiny Shortbread cookies with chocolate chunks and toffee bits
Chocolate Peppermint

Dirty Chai Earthquake Cookie

From Susan Sprungen of The NY Times-a perfect holiday cookie. The espresso in the dough is what makes it ‘dirty’. I chilled the dough several days in the refrigerator. The ‘earthquake’ effect comes from rolling the dough rounds into sugar and powdered sugar before baking. The cookie is spicy and delicious!
Dirty Chai cookie
1 tablespoon finely ground espresso (not instant espresso) or finely ground coffee
½ cup/115 grams cold unsalted butter (1 stick)
2 cups/255 grams all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons malted milk powder, such as Carnation brand
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
2 large eggs
¾ cup/165 grams light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or paste
¼ cup/50 grams granulated sugar, for rolling
½ cup/50 grams confectioners’ sugar, sifted, for rolling

Put espresso or coffee in a small metal bowl. Put butter in a small saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, swirling and stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, until nutty brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the butter to the bowl with the espresso and stir to combine. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the rest of the cookie.
Combine the flour, malted milk powder, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine thoroughly and set aside.
Combine eggs and light brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until well combined and slightly paler, about 3 minutes, scraping bowl as needed.
Add the vanilla and the butter mixture, then mix on low speed until combined. Add the flour mixture, then mix again on low until combined. Transfer dough to a resealable glass or plastic container, and chill thoroughly, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar into two separate bowls. Use a small cookie scoop to portion dough into heaping tablespoons (about 25 grams each). Roll into smooth balls and drop a few at a time into the bowl of granulated sugar, rolling to coat. Transfer to the bowl with the confectioners’ sugar. Roll gently, coating well, then transfer to a parchment- or silicone mat-lined baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between cookies. If you have not made your dough a day ahead you may need to place in freezer until firm, about 10 minutes.
Bake until golden underneath, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool a few minutes on the baking sheets and transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week.

Vietnamese Braised Beef

From the wonderful David Tanis of The NY Times. The smells from the stew as it cooks perfumes the house with wonderful scents. You can serve it with carrots, potatoes and bok choy, over rice or with a crispy baguette. It would be great for a dinner party as you can easily make it ahead and reheat. The herb garnishes are gorgeous and delicious. I processed the ginger, garlic and lemon grass together.
Vietnamese beef
2 tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce, such as Red Boat
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 large shallots or 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped tomato, fresh or canned
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger (from a 2-inch piece)
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons finely chopped lemongrass, tender center only
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon annatto powder (optional)
4 star anise pods
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick, or substitute cassia bark
1 or 2 Serrano or Thai chiles, stem on, split lengthwise
1 ½ pounds medium carrots, peeled, cut into 2-inch chunks
½ cup thinly sliced scallions
1 cup cilantro sprigs, for garnish
½ cup mint leaves, for garnish
½ cup small basil leaves, preferably Thai, for garnish
bowl of beef stew, herbs

Make the marinade: Stir together fish sauce, sugar, ginger, 5-spice powder and pepper.
Put beef in a large bowl, add marinade and massage into meat. Let marinate for at least 15 minutes, or longer if time permits (may be wrapped and refrigerated overnight if desired).
Put oil in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, fry the beef cubes in small batches, taking care not to crowd them, until nicely browned. When all beef is browned, return chunks to pot. Add shallots, stir to combine and continue cooking for 4 to 5 minutes, or until softened.
Add tomato, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, salt and annatto, if using, and stir well to coat, then add star anise, cinnamon and chile. Cover with 4 cups water and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer, cover with lid ajar and cook for about 1 hour 15 minutes, or until fork-tender.
Add carrots to pot and cook 15 minutes more. Skim fat from surface of broth as necessary (or refrigerate overnight and remove congealed fat before reheating).
To serve, ladle into individual bowls. Garnish with scallions, cilantro, mint and basil.