Just recently I bought this AMAZING cookbook, The Lost Art of Real Cooking. It's really interesting reading; I read it from cover to cover--I may have skimmed some of the bits about making sausage--which I don't normally do. The funny thing is, it's not really like a cookbook at all. It's more like "a little of this, a little of that," and most of what it gives directions for I've never tried: wild yeast bread, koji pickles, and so on. I've bought the groceries to try several of the recipes (going to do three versions of the sourdough starter), and last night I actually used the book for the first time. I made French onion soup. The best French onion soup I have had IN MY LIFE. My ugh-I-really-really-don't-like-French-onion-soup-don't-bother-giving-me-a-bowl husband ate every last drop of his. I did two versions, actually, one with chicken stock and one with water, and although they were both delicious, I slightly preferred the one made with water; the flavor was so sweet and pure. I'll post the recipe. (Yes, I know it's usually made with beef. Trust me on this one: chicken stock or water, water being my personal preference.)
French Onion Soup
Adapted* from the fine cookbook The Lost Art of Real Cooking by Ken Albala and Rosanna Nafziger
yellow onions, one per person
chicken stock (not broth) or water (I tried both, and both were wonderful, but I slightly preferred the water version)
Gruyere or some other stringy, fun, flavorful cheese you like, coarsely grated
Bisect your onions from root to top, then remove top, bottom, and skins. Lay each half face down on a cutting board and slice as thinly as possible; they'll of course fall apart into shreds. Place the onions in a saucepan with butter (a pat or so for each onion) and a few pinches of salt and thyme. Cook slowly for an hour or so, until the onions are brown and sweet smelling. (Don't rush this part; it's what makes the soup.)
Cover with water or chicken stock to a few inches. If you want thicker soup, use less. (I did about an inch, and it was fabulous.) Cook an additional half hour, then add salt to taste.
Ladle into oven-proof bowls with narrow tops (think chili bowl, not soup bowl), top with buttered toast slices made from your baguette, and on top of that, add a good handful of the cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with a robust red wine if desired. (I used a Merlot, and it was perfect.)
*By adapted, I of course mean blatantly and unrepentantly stolen.
I'll post about some other cookbooks I love, but I didn't want this initial post to be 100 miles long. (I know, I know: when has that ever stopped me before?) Some of you must have favorites too. Spill it!