Tuesday, May 19, 2015

French Onion Soup Gratineé (Margaret Fulton)

Remember those days in the early 90s... when the word "internet" hardly exists. These days, we are over-loaded with all sorts of information via the internet.

Remember those days that we were relying on encyclopedia, dictionary, thesaurus, travel books like lonely planet, textbooks, journals, newspapers and any books for all sorts of knowledge and information... To find these books or any publications, library was always the place to go. These days, most of us don't go to library for information anymore... I have to admit that I'm also one of us who conveniently search for any information via the internet.

Does this means that we don't need books anymore?

In the book, Margaret and Me by Kate Gibbs, Kate says,

"A cookbook is visual and physical: you hold it, browse it, touch it, come back to to it... We want to feel things in our hands."

Despite of the arising internet era, I have to agree with Kate to certain extent. Reading stories from a book is different from reading an article on an ipad. When I held a book like hers, I can physically feel the compilation of stories and feel the thickness of warmth that she wrote... Relatively, it feels like the feeling of appreciating a picture from a gallery. You know that it is never the same as viewing the same picture on an ipad.

Talking about books, this French onion soup recipe from Margaret and Me originates from the cookbook, The Garrulous Gourmet by William Wallace Irwin which a special book that Margaret bought for her sister, Jean at the Christmas in 1952. Reading this book is like transporting Margaret and Jean to France... and this is the classic French recipe that Margaret has practiced again and again and eventually decided that this is the most divine version.

Most divine? I have to say my French onion soup gratineé is as comforting and divine as what Kate has described but I have to say that mine wasn't as perfect as Margaret's because...

... I didn't use homemade beef stock and home-baked sourdough... Not home made enough? I'm sorry that I have taken these shortcuts.

... I didn't manage to grill the cheese on my bread to be golden brown enough. Maybe I have not been "Margaret" enough... I need to practice, practice and practice as practice makes perfect!

French onion soup gratineé
French onion soup gratineé

To cook this extremely divine soup to serve 3 persons, I need to sauté these onions into deep golden colour...

These 3 large onions weigh about 1/2 kg.
This is an important step and can take about 40 mins with occasional stirring to reach this stage.
Meanwhile, heat 1 litre of this beef stock in another saucepan until it is very hot.
This is the dry white wine that I used.
When the onions are golden brown enough, I did this...

Sorry that I have to side-track a little from the cooking... If you need to simmer liquid in the pot with a lid and without worrying about over boiling, you might wish to consider using these...

These cute Tovolo pot lid lifters are fantastic! They keep your lid propped slightly open for perfect air circulation without having any messy over-boiling.

Blah blah blah... These Tovolo pot lid lifters said that they want to be used to cook this onion soup!
Alright... No arguing!!! You will all get a chance to fit onto my pot.
See how they are securely fits the rim of the pot.
When the soup is well simmered, turn off the heat and stir in the brandy.
I'm having a little break from bread baking today and I'm using this store bought sourdough bread to serve.
For the most ultimate taste, I prefer not to skimp and use only gruyère cheese to serve with the soup.

To serve, you can either:

- Spoon the soup into oven proof bowls. Divide the toasts between bowls and push the toasts into the soup like the part of it is soaking the soup. Scatter over the cheese and grill until the cheese melt and turn golden.

- If you don't have oven proof soup bowls... divide the cheese between bread slices, grill until melted and golden, then slip a slice or two into each bowl of soup. And this is what I did...

Unfortunately, I didn't manage to get the cheese to grilled into beautifully deep golden colour.
The next time, I have to be brave by setting my oven to grill at really high temperature!
dip dip and slurp slurp...

I'm happy that the Singaporean me can cook this lovely French food in my Australian home... All thanks to this fantastic book and many reasons that we are learning so much from blogging, reading and travelling today.

Unlike the past, we are enjoying a wide diversity of food with no boundaries these days. Like I can cook French food today and it can be Italian or Lebanese tomorrow. I like to learn new things everyday and like to read about others who experiences the joy of learning too.

I'm deeply engaged with the food that Margaret and Kate ate and cooked. It's like that they have been cooking around the world. Here's a glimpse of their delicious journey...

First, the Scottish shortbread and Scotch broth introduce the stories about Margaret's Scottish heritage.
Then, Kate elaborated how she explored and enjoyed pork ribs with Sichuan salt in China.
Here is Margaret's perfecting French onion soup gratineé which is the recipe that I have cooked.
Followed by a flavoursome experience from this Indian spiced kedgeree.
More beautiful Asian flavours...
How nice! To complete an ultimate degustation journey with an imagination that you are in New York.

I wish that I can tell everything that I read from this book but I guess the best experience that you can get is of course to read the book yourself...

I'm sorry that I have agreed to the publisher that I can't publish the recipes in this book in this book review. However, if you really wish to cook this French onion soup, please read my post in details, you will see that you can actually cook this without a written recipe as I have fully illustrated the cooking process very thoroughly to you. *Hint*

If you really like this book, I would strongly encourage you to buy this newly published book at any book shops and it is selling at a retail price of AUD$39.99.

I like to thank Murdoch Books for giving me this opportunity to do this review. I like to make a disclaimer here that I'm not paid to do this and like to share my most honest opinions with everyone who read this review.

Happy Cooking
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  1. i love your blog.. i love your post.. i love your kitchen gadgets and the ingredients you use... the soup sounds very homey... and it looks like a good book to invest in

  2. French onion soup is one of my favourite soup on earth! Those stringy cheese and the sweet caramelized onion strips are the best combo ever! I love the way you make it into cheese toasted croutons, easy serving!

  3. Hi Zoe! I have to agree with you that reading and holding a physical book can never replace the internet! This French Onions soup must be very tasty as browned onions + good stock makes very delicious soup. I really love the Tovolo pot lid lifters, they are so cute! Especially the piggy :)

  4. Zoe, onion soup is one of my favourite comfort food.
    Thanks for sharing

  5. The piggy lid lifters are so cute! Your onion soup looks so good, so warm in a bowl.. Onions, beef soup, flour and wine, ingredients are simple, maybe I can omit the wine.. Overall, nice !!

  6. A lot of info I get via internet but I prefer to read from a book rather than an e-book. Today's post is very very tasty and it looks so yummy!

  7. Gorgeous soup Zoe! Onions takes so much longer to brown than most people realize! I totally need to make this, I've done it before sometime ago and it's not hard! And the gratinated toast is SUCH A MUST.

  8. French onion soup is one of my favorites Zoe, this look delicious!!
    Love the book too!!

  9. Hi Zoe , love French Onion soup and this is a must try . With my first slurp , I will smile and think of you . Nee :)

  10. You did a wonderful job! Higgins, me and my husband's favorite restaurant in Portland serves delicious french onion soup....I would like to try this recipe.
    I'm a Kindle reader now, love to hold a book and read though, for Kindle, I don't need any more space for books. I love to check out 'Margaret and me' Ah, those lid lifters. so adorable!

  11. Li'l Daisy & I have been sick w a cold since the w/end and yday, for my mom's birthday, we gave her our colds!
    Onion soup is a brilliant cure for the cold. I will have to whip some up tonight.
    Thanks, Z!

  12. Your reviews are very interesting and the soup looks good!

  13. I like your food photography presentation. It's totally an ART!!! Awesome!!

  14. I love these! I'm forever having problems with the lids falling back on my pots, especially pasta or rice

  15. This sounds lovely and really tasty. Thank you for sharing this.