Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Showing Some Restraint

A representative from the Nichada corporation contacted me on Sunday and asked if I would allow them to take photos of the interior of our home to be used in the new sales/rental brochure. Of course I was thrilled to say, "yes" and we scheduled a time for them to come on Monday afternoon. The team that came to do the shoot was the same team that took the photographs for the 2013 Nichada calendar that Sonder posed for with our neighbors. The team remembered Sonder (not sure if that is a good or a bad thing) and didn't seem to mind that he followed them around and tried to photo-bomb several shots. 

The photos were taken to show show our living, dining and family rooms as well as the kitchen and guest bedroom. Contrary to what my  dear husband and children believe, I do have some restraint when it comes to taking photos for this blog and resisted the temptation to take pictures of the photographer taking his photos. I didn't think I could explain it all to him because of the language barrier and it would have been just too weird to pull out my camera and start taking pictures of him and his team. Especially when his camera was top of the line and mine stinks.

The brochure is scheduled to be published sometime this summer and the woman who organized the photo shoot promised me that she would send me a few copies if we moved before its release. The photographer showed me the photos he took and it is amazing what a good camera can do! His shots were so much better than anything I could ever hope to take with my camera. 

Christopher had asked me to make French Onion soup last week and I finally got around to it yesterday evening. I followed this recipe for French Onion Soup Gratinee and was quite pleased with how it turned out.

The worst part was cutting the onions...lots of tears in the kitchen! The recipe called for two sweet onions and two red onions but I used whatever was available at the Nichada market. Beggars can't be choosers. I added an onion because they weren't very large.
 Sauteing the onions in butter and salt.
The recipe said to cook the onions for 30 minutes until they were caramelized and "almost syrupy". I wasn't sure exactly what "almost syrupy "meant but I cooked them until they were very soft and a beautiful brown color. Yum!
After the onions were sauteed, I added the liquids. I modified the recipe and added 4 1/2 cups of chicken broth and 3 cups of beef broth as well as increasing the wine by about 1/4 of cup. I changed the amounts really just for my personal preference for a more savory broth. I might try to substitute sherry for the red wine the next time I make it. It is also important to use a good red wine for better flavor.
I prepped the herbs by tying several sprigs of fresh thyme and parsley together and added bay leaves. The bay leaves had to be added on the sly because - don't laugh - Christopher is petrified of them. I don't know if it is an old wive's tale or not but...I read somewhere that a bay leaf, if ingested, can cut the inside of your esophagus, stomach and/or intestines as it works its way through and can cause you to bleed to death. I made the (big) mistake of mentioning that once to Christopher (years ago) and it stuck with him. Now, every time he sees something green and leafy in a sauce, he panics and I get the inevitable, "is that a bay leaf?". Two bay leaves in...
Simmering Soup. 
After the soup simmered for about 20 minutes, I removed the herbs. 

Two bay leaves out.

I then added salt and pepper to taste as well as a healthy tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. In addition to adding savory flavor to the broth, the vinegar counteracts *something* in the onions that turns the soup grey. I added very little salt to taste - between the beef & chicken broths, the butter and the salt used to caramelize the onions, the soup was salty enough for my taste. 
 I sliced two slices of baguette and toasted under the broiler.
I filled a bowl 1/2 full with the hot soup, placed the toasted bread on top and topped that with a slice of baby Swiss cheese, shredded mozzarella and a light sprinkle of smoked paprika before putting the bowl back under the broiler to brown.  
With the addition of a green salad dressed with balsamic vinegar & olive oil and a glass of wine, dinner was ready!
This is a recipe I would certainly make again but only if there are more people than just Christopher and I to eat it. (Caitlynne doesn't do onions). A little onion soup goes a long way and I probably satisfied our cravings for a few months with this pot. 

Have a great Wednesday!

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