Sunday, May 4, 2008

That Cookbook Thing II: Julia's French Onion Soup

Back in January, after a group of us finished our review for Where Flavor Was Born, one of us decided that it wasn't time to let go. That a special group had been formed, full of highly trained tasters with an uncanny ability to get right at a recipe and then raise a ton of question about it. Questions that must be answered with many emails.

That person was Mike. And he knew there were still many questioned to be raised.

So, not being the sort to let a thing like that pass him by, he decided we needed another project. This time, we set our sights on an icon.

Try this on for size:

Yes, my friends, we are now tackling Julia Child's The Art of French Cooking. Because we aren't completely insane, we're sticking with volume 1.

The Chosen Bloggers are:
Mike from Mel's Diner
Sara from iliketocook
Mary the Breadchick from The Sour Dough
Ruth from Once Upon A Feast
Mary from Cooking For Five

First Challenge: Julia's French Onion Soup.

But even that wasn't enough - we decided to go all out with one of the variations and cooked "Soupe a l’Oignon Gratinee des Trois Gourmandes" (click for the recipe at Mike's place). That's basically "Really-Extra-Special Onion Soup With Multiple Forms of Alcohol" for those of you (like me) who don't speak French.

We were allowed by our gracious dictator to make some variations. I was scared enough of the recipe not to try. I did (*gasp*) use half canned beef stock, because I didn't have enough of the homemade variety. Which probably makes me unworthy to cook a Julia Child recipe, but... you know what? I don't care. Because the soup was freaking good.

Well, it was freaking good the second day. The first day it had too much of a "soup that will make you an alocoholic" taste for my tastebuds. The first day it was just extremely good.

But any day I get to broil cheese and yummy bread that is soaking up a cognac-infused broth is a good day.

Now, this recipe is not something you just throw together to impress someone. You have to work at it a little - and that means reading the recipe ahead of time, which is sooo not my forte.

My humble suggestion: Do the last step (the cognac-egg yolk-worcestershire step) as the second to last step, and let it hum along for a while before putting the bread and cheese on top and putting it in the oven. I think the cognac needs some time to really meld with the beef stock. But that could be because I'm not a huge fan of cognac.

And really - who am I to question Julia Child?


Ruth Daniels said...

Great post. I wonder how Julia would be cooking this today. Would she be taking any shortcuts, or is that just wishful thinking on my part.

Mike said...

As my hero, Frank Barone, would say - "Holy Crap!". That mass of cheesy, oniony, soupy bit of Heaven looks great - it's a good thing you don't live in New Hampshire, or it would look great in my belly!

You may be right about cooking the cognac a bit - it might be the right thing to do, but I didn't find it to be a problem. Of couse, I was sampling the cognac for a while, too.....


Sara said...

Hee hee! How many questions can Mike ask, do you think? Wait! That was a question! Seriously, isn't this the best soup ever???