Posts Tagged ‘French Onion soup’

Several years ago we dined in a lovely bistro in the heart of the financial district downtown Toronto called Forte Bistro and Lounge. JT had read about Chef Greg Argent in one of our foodie magazines and he knew right away we had to experience his cooking! Sadly, the restaurant is no longer around but the delicious memories of Chef Argent’s cuisine still lingers on.

A delightful combination of rich broth and caramelized onions in a perfectly bite-sized pillow.

A delightful combination of rich broth and caramelized onions in a perfectly bite-sized pillow.

One such dish was the unique French Onion Soup Dumplings ($11): a tender pasta dumpling filled with braised veal broth and gruyère cheese; what made this tasty dumpling so unusual was the surprise of the explosion of veal glacé that would fill you mouth with flavour after biting into the tender pasta, immediately reminding you of French Onion Soup! I have tried many times to recreate this wonderful dish without success and then Chef Argent revealed his ‘secret’ when I asked how he does it. Today I will share with you the secret of the tasty, unassuming little dumpling, but you must swear never to speak of it again! Although the recipe is laborious, I urge you to make a batch to serve as an amuse bouche or little hors d’œuvres at your next Super Bowl party (you may freeze uncooked dumplings on a parchment lined sheet lightly dusted with flour and then put them into a zip-lock bag), you will not only thank me for the wonderful compliments your lucky guests bestow upon you, you may even wish to send me gifts! 😉

Did you figure out the 'secret'?

Did you figure out the ‘secret’?

French Onion Soup Pillows

makes 60 single bite pillows

Ingredients for the broth:

  • 0.5 kg (about 1 pound) Beef bones or oxtail bones
  • 130 g (about 4.5 oz) sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp merlot salt (from my friend Kristy at Eat, play, love; our family food adventures)
  • 600 mL water, divided
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp cooking sherry
  • 3 g (a scant teaspoon) powdered gelatine (agar agar will not work here)
  • 1 cup caramelized onions (please click here for a great recipe)
  • Home made pasta dough or 60 square won ton wrappers (for a great pasta dough recipe, please check out Chicago John’s kitchen)
  • Gruyère cheese to garnish

Directions for the broth:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F 177°C. Put a 11.5 cm x 21.5 cm (4 1/2″ x 8 1/2″) metal loaf pan into the freezer.
  2. Sear the beef bones well on high heat. Remove from pan and set aside. Deglaze the pan with 1 tbsp cooking sherry or port. Add the onions to the pan and sauté for a minute or so on the residual heat from searing. Spread the onions out evenly on the bottom of the pan. Return the beef bones to the pan and nestle into the onions, add the merlot salt, bay leaf and 300 mL water. Cover with tin foil and roast in the oven for about 1 hour, checking occasionally to make sure the water hasn’t evaporated, top up as needed.
  3. Remove pan from oven and remove tin foil. Add an additional 200 mL water and boil on the stove top until liquid is reduced to about 150 mL (about 5 oz). Strain through a fine sieve and press as much liquid out of the cooked onions as possible.
  4. Set aside about 60 mL (1/4 cup) of the stock and cool. Keep the remainder stock on a soft boil.
  5. Stir the gelatine into the cooled stock until melted. Add the boiling stock and stir well. Allow to cool to room temperature and pour into the super cooled loaf pan. Refrigerate until set.

You can develop a little assembly line to speed up the process!

An unexpected, rich, delicious soup explodes in your mouth when you bite into each pillow.

An unexpected, rich, delicious broth explodes in your mouth when you bite into each pillow.

Directions for assembling the pillows:

  1. Roll out the pasta dough to #4 thickness on the Kitchenaid Pasta roller (less than 1 mm or 0.125 inch). Using a 6-7cm (2.5″ -2.75″) oval cookie cutter, cut out the ovals to make both sides of the pillows.
  2. Remove the jelled broth from the fridge and cut into 0.5-1cm (0.25″-0.5″) rectangles.
  3. Onto each oval, more or less centred, add one jelled broth rectangle and about 1/4 tsp caramelized onion. Wet your finger and run a wet bead along the outer edge of the pasta oval. Turn up both sides of the oval and squeeze the edges together to bind — you don’t want these pillows to burst open when boiling.
  4. Lightly flour a parchment lined baking sheet and add each finished pillow to it so as not to touch each other. Freeze and bag frozen pillows into a zip lock bag or container. Use as many as needed.
  5. Bring an appropriate  amount of salted water to a boil. Add frozen pillows and boil until they float to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a clean dish cloth to drain off water. Present on a Chinese soup spoon and garnish with a small amount of finely grated gruyère cheese. Brûlée the cheese until it is golden and crispy. Serve immediately.

The Brûléed Gruyère cheese taste just like the burnt bits on a French Onion soup bowl.

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We had a great time Saturday night at Nuit Blanche, walking about 5+km, stopping to see the great exhibits along the way. We headed out around 7:15 and ended up at La Société at 10; we had a light supper of French Onion Soup at 10:30 at their wonderful bar. This evening is such a massive undertaking that the city completely closes down some of the major streets for the installations to happen — you really need to plan your evening, so you’re not back tracking and you’re seeing the most you can see within the time you’ve allowed (this is our fourth year seeing it, so we’ve learned a few things along the way). I’ll just highlight the installations we enjoyed the most — we saw about 20 installations all together.

The first thing we saw was a memorial exhibit in the middle of Yonge Street the longest street in the world, called Memorias an exhibit which invites the audience to light a candle in commemoration of the lost lives of Ontario-based migrant workers (I didn’t even know we had migrant workers!).

About 10 metres by 54 metres on Bay Street

Sensational was the next thing we saw. This is a very large installation that occupied the park area between 4 major Bank Towers. What drew us to this (other than the planning) was that it was loud, and there were search lights beaming on the towers, and lasers. It was very compelling, in a happy kind of way — it actually made me smile. As I looked around, I noticed at the faces of the others, I noticed that they too were smiling.

Tie Break ESPN called it “the most riveting episode in the sport’s history.” (from Nuit Blanche website) the 1980 Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Singles Finals between Björn Borg and John McEnroe. The guys actually LOOKED like them, talk about flashback to the 80’s!! Here is one of our photos

Did guys really have hair like that? I know I did, but...

Infra a light show projected on a large building, controlled by the audience. It was very cool, but difficult to photograph.

A banquet of flavours for all of the senses

Through the Gorilla Glass was on the roof top garden of New City Hall. It was quite cool, impossible to photo. It’s a series of mechanical arms that move in sequence when disturbed (interactive) the arms have gorilla glass at each end that change colour depending on how they are disturbed.

Heart Machine is an installation we stumbled upon, but by far the coolest one we saw. Actual HUGE flames were initiated by audience interaction. We felt the heat while we were walking toward it about 50 metres away! It was a chilly night, so the heat was welcomed! We made a little movie of it, but I cannot figure out how to get it into a format for wordpress:-(

Coevality. This was interesting to watch. A video projected on a wall depicting two generations of three artists (you only see the brushes) changing up an existing piece of art of Victorian buildings. The transformations were fun to watch.

Slow Falls Rising. A video of Niagara Falls turned upside down. By this time we were a little tired, chilled and hungry, so the we didn’t hang around the exhibit long. It was interesting but not ‘wow’!

Dinner. We finally arrived on Bloor Street to one of our favourite French Restaurants, La Société at 10 pm (their kitchen is open until 2am, so we figured we were safe at 10pm). It was PACKED! We didn’t have reservations but fortunately they were able to squeeze us in at the Bar. We weren’t starving but needed a glass of wine and something warm: French Onion Soup. I must say, I have had many FOS but this one, by far, ROCKED. The stock had the most amazing flavour and NOT TOO SALTY either. I will give this dish 5/5! Please see my previous review of La Société.

We got home around midnight (this is when the Nuit Blanche is just starting to get crazy crowded, but I turn into a pumpkin at midnight, and with Thanksgiving next weekend, I was a little frightened someone might make a pie out of me! ;-).)

Another year done, and October is upon us. Soon the leaves will begin to change colour and fall to the ground, and then the snow will cover them for another 6 months! I have only one thing to say: “I’M NOT READY YET!”

PS. Sawsan, I’m on my second batch of croissants. The first turned out fine, but not leafy enough. I am going to persevere until I get it right!

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