French onion soup is one of the great pleasures of my life; rich beefy broth, sweet soft onions, buttery bread, and gooey crusty cheese, Really, how could you not like this? It is ultimate comfort food, if you can get someone else to make it for you that is. Because if you want to make this for yourself to comfort you on a cold night or after a long day, by the time this recipe is ready you will have forgotten why you wanted to make it for yourself in the first place. Don’t let that scare you away though. All I am saying really is that this recipe requires some planning and forethought. If you can muster that up, this soup is totally worth the effort and you will be so pleased with yourself as soon as you taste that first spoonful.

This recipe comes from my good friend Tommy; that would be Thomas Keller to you all. Okay, he’s not really my friend, but this is my blog and that means that I can type anything I want and pass it off as truth. So, in imafoodblog land Tommy Keller is our friend. :yes:

Image from Amazon

I have owned the Bouchon cookbook by Thomas Keller for quite a while but Nick and I have only cooked one or two recipes from it. His recipes are not very figure friendly so I don’t have too many occasions to use the book. And when I volunteered to host Recipes to Rival for October, I did not have a particular recipe in mind. Though I had been thinking about making some real French onion soup for a few weeks, and that seemed like a perfect fall weather R2R challenge.

Bouchon and the accompanying Bouchon Cookbook features French bistro food. I don’t think you can get more French bistro than onion soup, and I know that Thomas Keller does not do anything half-assed. So I figured his recipe for onion soup would be delicious and authentic, which is exactly what I wanted to accomplish with my first attempt at this soup.

I made this soup twice. The first attempt came out wonderfully. However, I knew I could do better. The first time I made this I did not read ahead enough to see that Keller calls for homemade beef stock in his recipe and pretty much says that he would rather you use water than substitute canned stock for the homemade stuff. I was worried if I used only water the broth would not be rich enough, so I met Tommy halfway and used half water and half store bought stock. I think this compromise produced a very good end result, and I would make it this way again for sure.

But I kept thinking about the homemade beef stock. I had never made my own before, we have made plenty of chicken stock in our little kitchen, but never beef stock. So I decided that I had to make it again and go all out and make Keller’s homemade beef stock as well. I got myself some meaty leg bones from my butcher and made my very first homemade beef stock. It came out great! The aroma that wafted through our apartment as it simmered for 6 hours let me know that canned beef broth should not even be in the same category as the real stuff. The smell was amazing. I definitely won’t make it every time I need beef stock, but I will whenever beef stock will be one of the main flavors in my dish, like this soup!

The second batch of soup with the homemade stock was AMAZING. Right now it is Sunday and I finished the soup today and had a taste so I could write about it. It had a depth of flavor that the first batch lacked. I am “aging” the finished soup in the fridge until Tuesday since Keller says it gets even better if left to sit for a day or so. I did this so I could get the total full effect of what Keller expects this soup to be, and also for scheduling reasons I need a dinner on Tuesday that I can pull together really quickly. I will update the post once I have a full bowl with cheese and all. I know it’s going to be great though! I am excited to eat it.

The recipe for both the beef stock and the onion soup are after the jump, along with some process photos. Take a deep breath and tell yourself it will be worth it in the end, because this is a long one folks. It is truly not complicated, but I am not going to lie and say it’s a cinch to make. It requires some effort, tender love and care, but you will be rewarded in the end.

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Do you know that the Irish would carve turnips into jack-o-lanterns instead of pumpkins on Halloween? I just heard that on the History channel.

Pumpkin is not one of my favorite ingredients, I don’t hate it, I just don’t love it. Though I have been more open to using and trying things with pumpkin lately. So I was excited to make these muffins. Although I am always be happy to try a new muffin recipe, especially an Ellie Krieger one. This recipe is a pretty standard low fat muffin recipe. The fats are canola oil, eggs, and low fat buttermilk. And the actual flavor of the muffin is very much like a spice cake with a hint of pumpkin.

I did make a few changes to the original recipe, which can be found here.

  • I used 100% all-purpose flour
  • I added 50% more of all the spices since some were saying these were bland
  • I only used 2 tbsp of molasses since that is all I had left
  • I left out the pumpkin seeds because I did not want to buy them just for this
  • I added in a handful of ground flax seed to the batter

Overall I really enjoyed these muffins. Ellie’s muffin recipes have not disappointed me yet. There was a nice flavor to the muffin with the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg, though I think there is room to improve by changing the amounts. It was also pretty moist and did not have the gross gummy dense texture that some low fat muffins can have.

I think that some golden raisins in the muffin might be good, I will try that next time. I also loved 24carrots idea on the Tell All to substitute maple syrup for the molasses. I may also try replacing one of the eggs with another cup of pumpkin and see how that goes. This would make it healthier as well as allow me to use up a whole small can of pumpkin instead of only half a can.

Bottom line: These muffins were very good, I will definitely make them again and try different variations.

Great pick by Amanda of Oddball Oven Mitt for this week’s Craving Ellie in My Belly.

So at 2:15 AM EST someone using Google Pakistan found our blog by searching “italyin family sex pron". Interestingly enough, it was about 12:15 PM in Pakistan. A little naughty lunchtime internet surfing? ;)

Google thought that this post of ours would be a match. I think this Pakistani gentleman was probably disappointed, unless he was looking for a silly video with singing puppets, which ironically validates what he appeared to be searching for in the first place.

I think I am the last person to jump on this bandwagon, though this is certainly a good bandwagon to jump on. I have read so many accounts of bloggers making this famed Baked brownie, even one including thinly sliced bacon on top. (yes my friends, bacon.) For those of you who live under a rock, Baked is a well known bakery in Brooklyn who took the food world by storm with their critically acclaimed brownie recipe, among other delicious looking confections. I believe it was named best brownie or something of that ilk by America’s Test Kitchen, and it was one of Oprah’s favorite things. So you get the point.

I finally received the Baked: New Frontiers in Baking book for my birthday this year from Nick’s sister and her husband (thanks Peter and Andi :D), and the first thing I made was of course the brownie.

I decided to wait to make these with my official brownie taste tester and lover of all things chocolate, Nick’s 8 year old son. I may have mentioned before that he is an infuriatingly picky eater, however, he will scarf down any brownie or chocolate baked good I can produce. And even better, he truly enjoys and wants to bake with me.

Even before these were baked, the rich chocolaty batter got 2 thumbs up. And really, how could this not be good, what with 2 sticks of butter, 11 ounces of chocolate, and 2 cups of sugar. Additionally, this was the first use of my batch of homemade vanilla extract, which I will post about eventually.

The verdict from the brownie expert: This was definitely in the top 3 brownies we have ever made and the rest of our family and friends really seemed to enjoy them. However, I will have to say that Dorie Greenspan’s French Brownies are still my favorite and, in my opinion, top these. Though the comparison may not be fair since these recipes yield two very different brownies.

The only problem that I had with this recipe was that I had to bake it almost double the amount of time called for until I got the moist crumb I was looking for. After the 30 minutes per the recipe, my tester was just plain moist and just not cooked at all in the middle. Not sure what happened here.

So does the Baked brownie deserve all the acclaim that it gets? I will say yes. It is a quality recipe that produces a very traditional tasting brownie. I would be interested to actually taste one from the bakery to see if mine differed much from one made by the masters.

You can find the recipe here or buy the book.

Well, nowhere really.

My head just has not really been in food blog land as of late.

I have been spending a lot of free time at the gym. Nick, who used to have to harass me about getting off my butt and going to the gym, actually said to me last night that it was annoying how much time I spend there and that I need to go less! I will take that under advisement honey.

I have also been enjoying some free time shopping. I have apparently decided to singlehandedly stimulate our economy by spending all my money on clothing and shoes.

We have also had some exciting news from our family and friends recently:

One of our closest friends Dianna just got engaged to her adorable Italian boyfriend while on a trip in Italy. I couldn’t be more excited for her and for their wedding, which will most likely be in Italy!! Yay!

Nick and I also learned that we will soon become an Aunt and Uncle, so we are definitely excited about that as well. However, I don’t think that a new baby will help curb my shopping addiciton :)

And of course, I have been cooking. I have actually made the last 3 Craving Ellie in My Belly recipes, but just did not have the energy to take a decent picture and write a post. I feel like a bit of a slacker, so here is my attempt at redemption:

Chicken Chop Suey - this was a great choice by our one and only Healthy Hostess, Ali. I did think that the flavor of this was very similar to a lot of Ellie’s other Asian inspired recipes, but it was definitely tasty and filling. I loved the crispy baked wontons!

Tuscan Vegetable Soup
- I can’t rave enough about this soup and I have to thank Pam of Lobster and Fishsticks for choosing it. It is so hearty and filled with yummy veggies. I loved that the broth has just a hint of redness from the tomatoes, and I also simmered mine with a parmigianno rind which gave it tons of flavor. I always keep my leftover cheese rinds in the fridge for things like this. I made this on Saturday night after it had literally been raining in DC nonstop for days, and it was so perfect.

And this week’s pick was Chicken & Mushroom Quesadilla and was chosen by Marthe of Culinary Delights. I have actually made these before, and they were really good. So this time I changed it up a bit, mainly to use up some stuff I already had in the fridge/freezer. I stuffed them with some leftover roasted veggies that I had on hand from roasted veggie lasagna I made the night before. I sauteed up some extra mushrooms to add to that, and I added some cooked shredded turkey to Nick’s that I had in the freezer. Topped with a generous helping of reduced fat colby/jack cheese mix, these were sooooo good, and easy. Although, I had a good laugh at Ellie’s suggested serving size of a half a quesadilla! Nick and I both had our own whole one, and it was a perfect dinner portion for me.

I also made the Allspice Crumb Muffins, which was a Tuesdays with Dorie pick a week or so ago. This was chosen by one of my Craving Ellie girls, Kayte of Grandma’s Kitchen Table. I was so happy that she chose these because I have been eyeing them for quite a while. And I will pretty much try any muffin recipe under the sun. These got two thumbs up from me. I made some with and some without the buttery crumble topping, and both versions were delicious. I loved the surprising flavor of the allspice, this was a nice change up for me as far as muffins go. Great pick Kayte!

I am really going to try to get back into posting and reading all your blogs regularly, since it is something that I truly enjoy doing!


for us, of course. *insert additional lame Generation X marketing mantra speak here <---* Our friend Jacqueline Pham of Pham Fatale is hosting a bread baking contest, and I submitted Sara’s 5 braid Challah. The winner gets a pretty knife that is destined to one day sever (at least) one of my fingers. Please help us make this happen by heading over there and giving Imafoodblog a big fat, wet, juicy, passionate, er um, vote…

Do it for the children!

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