Riesling Onion Soup

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It’s brutally cold out there.

Tonight I’m thankful for a car that started today, a heater that is working (although it is having a hard time keeping up since the outside thermostat reads -11 degrees right now) and a fridge full of healthy-ish food (subtract the frozen pizza and burrito-those are for emergencies only.  Ha.)  I’m thankful for comfortable sweat pants, thick socks, and a soft, worn-out sweatshirt.  And a DVR full of missed episodes of mindless television.

I worry about people out there who may not have these things.  And, of course, I worry about animals who don’t have “their people” to take care of them.  Scout’s paws bother her if I take her out for less than two minutes-she cries and holds her paw up, shaking, not wanting to move any further.  I rub my hands over her paws to warm her up a bit and then hurry back inside.  I worry about the ducks that have been swimming in between the “icebergs” in the river as I watch the wind blow a lot of steam (at least I hope it’s steam) off of the river.  Yesterday when I woke up, it was eery.  The cars are followed by billowing semi-frozen exhaust particles.  I’ve seen Facebook videos of my friends throwing boiling water into the air to demonstrate the Mpemba effect which pretty much blew my mind.

I hope you are able to stay warm during this wintry blast.

And, now, as I (once again) awkwardly segue into a recipe, let me just say that this soup does do a great job of doing all of the things a soup is supposed to do: taste good, warm you up, make you feel all cozy, etc.  It was something to look forward to after a cold commute home, and the flavors taste even better the day after making it.  Of course, the cheese is optional here, but you can use any kind that you like if you decide you want some (I used Fontina).  The original recipe calls for some homemade herbed croutons to go with the soup, but I just sliced a day-old baguette that I needed to use up instead.

Stay warm, my friends.

 

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Riesling Onion Soup

Servings: about 6-8

 

Ingredients

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 large yellow onions, sliced thinly

2 leeks, sliced (including the pale green parts)

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons tarragon leaves, chopped

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups Riesling (use a drier rather than a sweeter Riesling here)

6 cups vegetable broth

Salt and pepper, to taste

For garnish: Cheese, sliced bread (optional)

 

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Instructions

1. In a large Dutch oven or sauce pot over medium heat, melt the butter.

2. Add the onions, leeks, garlic and tarragon and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and golden, about 15-20 minutes.

3. Add the flour and cook, stirring to completely coat the onions with the flour, for 3 minutes.

4. Add the wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

5. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until reduced by half, about 10 minutes.

6. Add the vegetable stock and  return the mixture to a simmer.

7. Reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, about 45 minutes.

8. Season with salt and pepper.  Serve with cheese and bread.   **If you’d like, you can (if you use oven-proof bowls) broil the soups with the cheese on top until the cheese is bubbly and golden.  Alternatively,  you can use a brûlée torch (which I did, because honestly? Why would I ever pass up the opportunity to use a brûlée torch if I could have an excuse to use one?)

 

Source:  Slightly adapted from Williams-Sonoma.

January 7, 2014 - 9:44 am

Shelly @ Pastry Shells - This is perfect to warm me up! I’m still working in this freezing weather but you made me realize I have a lot to be grateful for… a heater, etc. Thanks for such a great perspective!

January 7, 2014 - 10:31 am

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar - It’s crazy cold here too and all I can think about is soup – this looks perfect!

January 7, 2014 - 11:26 am

Philia (from sweetphi.com) - This soup look sooooo yummy and best of all … warm! Isn’t this weather insane? My dog too hates going out in the cold and her poor little paws get cold-it’s heartbreaking!! Thanks for posting this delicious looking recipe!

January 7, 2014 - 10:01 pm

Joanne - This cold has seriously been unreal. I will never complain about 30 degree temps again!! I’m glad to hear you’re staying warm! This soup is the perfect thing to cuddle up with. I have a feeling I’ll be making it very soon since i’ve been craving French onion soup lately!

January 9, 2014 - 2:12 pm

Coleen @ The Redhead Baker - Our weather only hit -2 degrees at its coldest — and I thought *that* was unbearably cold. I can’t imagine what it was like where you are. This soup sounds amazing, though! Riesling is my favorite type of white wine.

January 10, 2014 - 5:03 am

Audrey @ Little Rose Book - I love onion soup. My husband always makes it to cheer me up! I might give him your recipe so he tries something new!

January 25, 2014 - 6:57 pm

marie - Yum this combines our two favorites reisling wine and onions. On the stove now. Cant wait.

Triple Chocolate Scones

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This is an impromptu post.  In honor of the season premier of the fourth season of Downton Abbey tonight.  Hooray!

After the (shall I say, abrupt and completely horrific?) finale of last season, I was left on my couch, swearing/screaming/crying and attempting to throw a pillow at the TV because I couldn’t stand the way that the season ended.  Talk about a roller coaster ride (ah, but that’s what makes it so worth watching, right?).  I’ve waited to see where this season would pick up with the cast of such multi-dimensional characters like my own family (minus a few major favorites, but I’ll forgive them).  It’s a great show.

I wanted to make something English-ish(?) in honor of the show tonight.  I thought about crumpets (well, to be honest, I had to google what a crumpet actually was, and while they look delicious, I decided to pass on them this time in order to make something a little more indulgent.) I thought about some sort of little tea cakes.  But then I just decided to try out these triple chocolate scones instead.  Made with dark chocolate chunks on the inside, dark cocoa batter, white chocolate drizzle, and mini semisweet chocolate chips sprinkled on top, they probably technically should be called “Quadruple Chocolate Scones”, but you catch my drift.  They are actually more like mini desserts than a traditional scone.

If you aren’t a Downton fan, you can still enjoy these scones.;)

 

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Triple Chocolate Scones

Servings: about 12 scones

 

Ingredients

For the scones:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cut into 1-tablespooon pieces

1 and 1/2 cups dark chocolate chunks (or whatever kind of chocolate you like)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 large egg

3/4 cup milk

 

For your baking sheet: 

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon cocoa powder

 

For the white chocolate glaze:

2/3 cup white chocolate chips

1/4 cup half & half

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Instructions

1. For the scones: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

2) In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flours, cocoa, espresso powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, mixing until thoroughly combined.

3) With a pastry blender or with the mixer speed set to low, add the butter, one piece at a time, mixing until the dough is unevenly crumbly.

4) Add in the chocolate chunks.

5) In a small separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, egg, and milk.

6) Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until the dough comes together, adding a little bit more milk if the dough is too dry.

7) To prepare your baking sheets: In a small bowl, mix together the 3 tablespoons of sugar with the 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder, and sprinkle it evenly on your parchment-lined baking sheet. (This helps the scones to not stick to the paper and adds a touch of extra sweetness.  You can omit this step if you want.)

8) Divide the dough in half, and shape each piece into a 6″ circle, about 3/4″ thick.

9) Cut each circle into 6 wedge-shaped pieces with a sharp knife.

10) Bake the scones for 18 to 23 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean; or with just a smear of chocolate from a melting chip.

11) Remove the scones from the oven, and let cool completely before glazing.

12) For the glaze: Place the white chocolate chips and half & half in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat until the cream is very hot, about 3-4 minutes or so.

13. Remove from the heat, and stir until the chips melt.

14.) Drizzle the glaze over the cooled scones.

 

Source:  Slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour Company.

January 5, 2014 - 3:47 pm

Kelly Mitchem - I love Downton! I can’t wait to see the new season but I usually don’t watch until it comes out on Amazon Prime!
These scones look amazing, enjoy watching and snacking!

January 5, 2014 - 4:09 pm

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar - Soooo excited for the new season!! And these scones! Delish!

January 5, 2014 - 4:37 pm

Elizabeth - These look delicious but they are nothing like English scones which are totally different to American scones and are served with jam and cream or butter. In the interests of authenticity here’s a link to buttermilk scones they are a bit similar to American biscuits.
http://thebackyardlemontree.com/2012/11/23/buttermilk-scones-with-jam-and-cream/

January 5, 2014 - 8:24 pm

Joanne - If there’s one thing I am, it is DEFINITELY a Downton fan! I’m so excited. I just wish I had seen these in time to make them for the show!

January 5, 2014 - 10:37 pm

Crystal - These look delicious! I will be making them soon.

January 10, 2014 - 6:29 pm

Rachel @LittleChefBigAppetite - These look simply outstanding!

Vegetable Lo Mein

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I spent the majority of New Year’s Day cleaning out my “junk room/cat litter room/throw as many random boxes in a room and kinda sorta shut the door so I don’t see how incredibly disgusting it is” room.  Which meant breaking down close to 50-60 cardboard boxes that I had conveniently stuffed into one another over the course of the previous year, making at least three trips down to the cardboard-designated dumpster in the parking garage (which also meant a series of acrobatic-style maneuvers to unlock my apartment door, open it, press the “down” button for the elevator, and then take as many large steps as possible to get to the bin itself) holding an awkward pile of large fragments of cardboard. I remembered why I had procrastinated doing this for an entire year.  I vaccummed and scrubbed the floor.  Clogged the vaccumm cleaner in the process and then fixed it (sort of).  I was sweaty and gross and kept thinking I had cat litter in my hair.

After a long (very long) hot shower and a change into forgiving sweat pants and a comfortable hoodie sweater, I returned to the room and just stood there, feeling accomplished and completely satisfied.

There are a lot of really amazing feelings in this world, but one that tops my personal list of favorites is the one that I feel when I finally finish something like this.

Now, I want to get a small bookshelf and a comfy chair and make it a quiet reading room.  I also had the momentum going and started the consuming process of organizing my closet.  I’m purging.  It’s all good.

This Vegetable Lo Mein is another kind of purging kind of dish.  Yes, it’s mostly clean eating.  There’s lots of fresh vegetables in here, and you can modify this recipe as you see fit.  But it’s warm and comforting and totally good for you (P.S. the leftovers are even better, in my opinion.)  Perfect after a lot of really hard work.

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 Vegetable Lo Mein

Servings: about 4

 

Ingredients

1/2 lb. fresh Chinese egg noodles (**I used these, from Annie Chun.  In my opinion, they are way easier and more convenient to use than trying to hunt down freshly made noodles.  I found them in the refrigerated meat alternative section of my grocery store, next to all the tofu. And I used an entire bag-which was two packets of noodles.)  If you choose to use fresh egg noodles, visit the recipe source at the bottom of this page for further instructions.

4 tablespoons peanut oil

3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons tamari

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced lengthwise

8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps thinly sliced

1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise thinly

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, minced

 

Instructions

 1. In a small bowl, whisk together the water, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and sugar.  Set aside.

2. Heat a large sauté pan or wok until very hot (over high heat) and add 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil.

3. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook just until tender, about 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

4. Add the mushrooms and zucchini and continue to stir-fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes.

5. Carefully transfer the vegetables to a separate plate.

6. Return the pan to high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of peanut oil.

7. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for about 5 seconds.

8. Add the noodles and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

9. Return the vegetables to the pan, add the sauce, and continue to stir and toss until all the ingredients are heated through, about 1 minute. 

Source:  Barely adapted from Williams-Sonoma.

January 3, 2014 - 8:12 am

Karis - I’ve been justifying keeping cardboard boxes around by telling myself the cats like playing with them, but I’m reaching the point now where I too need to start making trips to the cardboard recycling area at my apartment complex.

I ordered vegetable lo mein for the first time at a restaurant recently and was wondering what type of noodles to use in an at-home recreation. I like the look of the Annie Chun noodles and am hoping I can find them here in Miami.

January 3, 2014 - 12:04 pm

Katrina @ WVS - I am sooooo with you on the whole “I just cleaned a really messy room and am totally awesome” feeling. It’s the best. Annnnnd this soup looks killer! Yum!

January 3, 2014 - 1:19 pm

Kelly Mitchem - This looks delicious, I absolutely love Chinese food. Lo mein being pretty much my favorite!
I love the feeling of cleaning, organizing and finally accomplishing something that has been on your to do list for too long! Just in time for a new year!

January 3, 2014 - 3:29 pm

Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough - Oh man, purging crap from the house is the best feeling, ever. A close second, I’m sure, is diving into a big bowl of this lo mein. Looks amazing!

January 3, 2014 - 10:32 pm

Joanne - WOOHOO!! You earned that bowl, girl! I had a similar feeling when I cleaned out my winter and summer clothes and got rid of a lot of stuff. It felt SO good to organize!

January 4, 2014 - 3:41 pm

Joy // For the Love of Leaves - This sounds perfect right now. I wish I had a bowl in front of me. And I agree, there’s something wonderful about looking at a finished project, the feeling of accomplishment is hard to beat.

January 4, 2014 - 6:57 pm

Annie @ Annie's Cooking Lab - Ah, I have one of those rooms too (minus the kitty litter and insert dog beds and a dog crate) I just did a deep clean in there last week and then felt motivated enough to clean out my closet. I felt SO good after it was finished. Each time I walk past that room it makes me happy to see it clean- though I do have to admit that there are now two abandoned cardboard boxes in there again…

The lo mein looks delicious!