Sunday, September 18, 2011

Heirloom Tomato Salad, French Onion Soup and Figs with Goat Cheese, Walnuts and Honey Port Drizzle

So tonight was my night to make dinner.  I really struggled with what to make because I hate the in between season time.  I love summer foods, tomatoes, light pastas, avocados, light and refreshing whereas fall and winter foods are heavy and meat based.
We went to Whole Foods last night(GREAT GROUPON, btw!) and of course, my eyes landed on the
heirloom tomatoes.  Knowing that this will probably be the last time that I get my fix this year, I scooped them up along with some Stilton and made the best salad in all of the world!  I also decided to go a little fall-ish with French Onion Soup. I wanted to veer away from the traditional Gruyere so I went with a french Gruyere called Comte.  It has the same nuttiness as Swiss Gruyere but it a bit sweeter.  As is standard for me, I perused several different recipes and picked and chose what I liked from each one.  I used a Cabernet for a little something different but when I make this again, I will not be adding the wine.  I felt like the wine flavor overpowered the sweet caramelized onions.  To finish, I went with a non traditional dessert.  I LOVE cheese plates.  If cakes did not exist, cheese would be my dessert of choice every night. These goat cheese stuffed figs,while good on their own, would be better as part of a grand cheese plate. Ahhhhhh, next time.

Here is the recipe for the French Onion Soup

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 pounds sweet onions, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 quarts beef stock
1 loaf Italian bread, sliced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3c Gruyere, grated.

  1. Melt the butter in a large heavy casserole. Add the onions and bay leaves, cover and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft, about 15 minutes. Uncover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are deeply browned, about 1 1/2 hours longer. Add water as necessary if the onions dry out.
  2. Add the flour to the onions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until evaporated, another 2 minutes. Add the beef stock and thyme and simmer over  low heat for about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°. Brush the bread slices with olive oil and toast for 10 minutes, or until golden and crisp.  Preheat the broiler. Ladle the hot soup into oven safe bowls. Top with the toast and scatter the cheese on top.  Broil for about 2 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

Matt's Note: This was a really good light menu. The nice thing about eating it was that a)It was delicious and even though it was better than you could expect at even a good restaurant, it was inevitably much cheaper having been made by my wife Jessica. But b) It was something different (except for the tomato salad which was exquisite) than what we're used to eating. The techniques Jessica did, we saw the upside and down side. Like for example we have leftover soup and when we serve it tomorrow there will be 3x as much cheese on my crouton:-) Secondly the figs in their own right were delicious but eating an entire plate was totally monotone. If we served them with some salty ham like a nice Serrano, and a couple different heady or spicy cheeses then along with the port syrup it would really be a dynamic five star cheese plate...

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