French Onion Soup - simple to make + rich in flavor

French Onion Soup - rich and full of flavor

French Onion Soup - rich and full of flavor

The secret to a rich French onion soup is caramelized onions. By taking the time to caramelize the onions you will be rewarded with sweet rich brown flavors. This recipe uses simple ingredients that you probably have in your pantry.

Slice the onions about 1/4 inch thick

Slice the onions about 1/4 inch thick

The onions need to be cooked until they are golden brown

The onions need to be cooked until they are golden brown

Serves 6

Ingredients

Butter – 4 tbsp
Onions – 5 medium onions – slice thin about 1/4” thick
Sugar - ½ tsp
Salt ¼ tsp
Flour - 2 tbsp – or gluten free - substitute a slurry of 1 tbsp cornstarch and 1tbsp water
Beef broth – 4 cups or 1 box – vegans can substitute with vegetable broth
Bay Leaf – 2 leaves
Thyme - 2 tsp
Salt + Pepper – to taste
Sherry – ½ cup or substitute with brandy, sake or a dry white wine
French bread – about ½ baguette
Gruyere Cheese – 4 oz grated
Parmesan – 4 oz grated   

Directions

Melt the butter in a heavy bottom pan, add onions. Cook on medium-low for about 25 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the sugar and salt and stir often until are golden brown and caramelized, about 15 minutes. They will be very soft and sticky. Sprinkle the flour over the caramelize onions and cook it for a couple of minutes – or add the slurry. Add sherry, Nutmeg and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for another 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Slice the bread about ½” thick, top with mixture of Parmesan and Gruyere cheese and lightly toast under the broiler then top with cheese and continue to broil until it is bubbling and melted.

Remove the bay leaves, ladle the hot soup into bowls, place the bread on top and serve.

brown the bread before adding the cheeses

brown the bread before adding the cheeses

Mushroom Soup - Quick + Earthy

I can make this soup in about 30 minutes. It’s rich and filling. It is a vegetarian recipe that is gluten free with vegan options.

I use organic whenever possible

I use organic whenever possible

It’s all about the mushrooms -

I use fresh frozen and dried and whatever I have on hand. Any combination always comes out delicious.

Frozen mushrooms don’t need to thaw.

Dried mushrooms - soak in water for about 15 minutes. I forage morel’s and dry them.

Fresh mushrooms - simply wipe any dirt off fresh mushrooms with a soft cloth. You don’t need to thaw frozen mushrooms.

Tips

You can use Better Than Bouillon Mushroom Base. It’s saltier than most box broths, so adjust salt to taste.

Vegan’s can add vegetable broth, omit the butter and use your favorite plain nut milk.

Add a little sherry to liven up the flavors

Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, creme fraiche or chopped chives

Serve with a crisp green salad or grilled cheese sandwich.

My friend Lynn says “Every soup begins with leeks.” This soup starts with leeks and then I add celery

My friend Lynn says “Every soup begins with leeks.” This soup starts with leeks and then I add celery

Rich and Creamy Mushroom Soup

Ingredients

Mushrooms - 2 cups - any combination of fresh, frozen and/or dried - chopped
Celery -2-6 ribs - I like celery so go for 6 ribs and include some of the leaves - sliced
Leeks -  1-2 stalks - washed and chopped
Garlic - 3-6 cloves - peeled and minced
Thyme - 1 tsp dry fresh or 1 tbsp dried
Olive oil -1 tablespoon
Butter - 1 tablespoon (omit for vegan and add another tablespoon of olive oil)
Mushroom broth - 1 box
Heavy cream - 1 pint (omit for vegan or use your favorite unsweetened nut milk)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Saute leeks, celery and garlic in oil and butter until translucent. Add thyme and mushrooms and cook until soft. Add mushroom broth and heavy cream. Heat and serve.

Beautiful mushroom soup!

Beautiful mushroom soup!

I add my herbs when sauteing. I thinks they infuse their flavors into the veggies.

I add my herbs when sauteing. I thinks they infuse their flavors into the veggies.

Tips

I stock up on mushroom broth, but you can substitute chicken or vegetable broth.

Milk: I rarely have fresh milk, but keep a supply of canned evaporated milk, boxed unsweetened nut or hemp milks. I even a boxed whipped cream. I use what works for the recipe and more importantly my taste.

Butter: I keep a back up pound of butter in my freezer.

Vegetables: I almost always have fresh carrots, celery, onions and garlic in the refrigerator. Add a minced carrot for color and sweet

Mushrooms: I forage morels that I dry and store in quart jars. I buy portabella and cremini when they are on sale and I know I'll have time to process them. Wipe the mushroom free of dirt, slice and place on parchment paper is a cool dry location. Turn every 12 hours (or so) until dry. Store in canning jars. Rehydrate in water or broth until soft and ready to use.  Or slice and freeze.

For more information on drying mushrooms the Mushroom Appreciation has several methods.  https://www.mushroom-appreciation.com/drying-mushrooms.html

Re-hydrating Dried Mushrooms only takes 15 Minutes

Put dried mushroom in a bowl of water to rehydrate.

Put dried mushroom in a bowl of water to rehydrate.

Morels after about 15 minutes. Plump and ready to use.

Morels after about 15 minutes. Plump and ready to use.

Miso Soup - quick + healthy

Miso Soup - according to Japanese mythology, miso is a gift to mankind from the gods to assure health, longevity and happiness.

Miso Soup - according to Japanese mythology, miso is a gift to mankind from the gods to assure health, longevity and happiness.

Miso Soup - The basics

The only thing you really need to make miso soup is hot water and miso. Below are some suggestions and directions you can use to make a heartier soup.

Ingredients

Vegetables - Use what you have raw, cooked, or frozen. Cut raw veggies into bite size pieces. Cabbage, peas, mushrooms and green beans all work well with a quick Miso Soup.

Protein - Tofu is traditional, cut into small cubes. This is a good use for leftover chicken, just cut into bite side cubes.

Noodles - Udon (buckwheat noodles). Thai Rice noodles are good choices. They are available in the International aisle of most markets.

Miso - White miso is milder in flavor and is often served in the summer and for breakfast. Red miso has a stronger richer flavor that is welcome in the cooler months. Do not boil miso.

Garnish - Green onions, shredded raw carrots or chives.

Directions

Your goal is to have a bowlful of perfectly cooked vegetables, noodles in a pot of hot water. That’s when you add the miso, mix well, garnish and serve.

Cook raw vegetables in boiling water. Don’t add salt. Cook noodles and heat any tofu, left overs, etc. Add miso. You don’t want to miso to boil.

I put my miso in my serving bowl and ladle a tablespoon or two of hot water into the bowl and begin to dilute the miso. Then add it back into the hot water. It can take some stirring to melt the miso into the hot water. Do not boil the miso.

What is Miso?

There are days when I want something warm and healthy and I want it quickly. Miso soup is a go-to meal for me. it’s warming and makes me feel like I’ve done something healthy for myself.

Doing research on miso I came across www.Soya.be a website that, “offers general information about soy and recipes with soy and explains how to make your own soy products. We search the market, mainly Belgium and the Netherlands, for newly launched soy products and provide reviews.”

Soya.be states that Miso “can be traced to China as far back as the 4th century BC. A seasoning, called Hisio, was a paste resulting from the fermenting a mixture of soybeans, wheat, alcohol and salt. The written word, miso, first appeared around 800.

In Japan, miso was introduced the 7th century by Buddhist monks. The process of making miso was furher refined and it became a necessary part of the samurai diet. With the widespread cultivation of rice, miso has become a staple food for Japanese people. Over the centuries, different types of miso were developed, often named after the province where it originated.”

Red and White Miso - I purchased these at Berryvale Grocery in Mount Shasta.

Red and White Miso - I purchased these at Berryvale Grocery in Mount Shasta.

There are many variations of miso, which are basically all made from koji mixed with either rice, barley or soy beans. The ingredients are fermented and aged in wooden kegs. Some of the lighter sweet miso is aged for only a few months, while the darker miso may be aged for up to 2 years.

Miso is paste made of fermented soy beans. The fermentation process turns soy beans into amino acids, fatty acids, and simple sugars. Miso can be made with other grains, but soy miso is the most readily available. I recommend trying different miso varieties…so far I haven’t found one I don’t like. White miso is milder in flavor with the dark reds being the strongest flavor.

The Wheel House - The Best Hand Cut French Fries in the County

The Wheelhouse - Order at the counter - dine in or take your food to go

The Wheelhouse - Order at the counter - dine in or take your food to go

My friend Lindsay Hanley (link to my interview with Lindsay) and I arrived at The Wheelhouse at 2:55 they close at 3:00 pm on Thursdays. (In our defense we couldn't remember if they closed at 3 or 4 o'clock on Thursdays, but we took a chance. I don't recommend doing this to tired restaurant staff who think they are about to go enjoy the rest of their day, but in this case it worked out well.) The Wheelhouse is following the latest model of ordering at the counter and then delivering your food to the table. Since labor costs can take down a eatery. it's a cash-flow business, wherever owners can save a little bit of cash they will. I don't mind ordering at the counter, if it means the restaurant can keep it's prices reasonably, pay it's staff a living wage and stay in business. Win-Win!

So... we arrive 5 minutes before closing and ask if it's too late to order food. Cheerfully Siobhan says it's fine and she'll be happy to take our order. I can see they are scrubbing down the flat grill she says, "they can clean it again." We both appreciated this customer service

The Wheelhouse on the Avenue of the Arts has outdoor seating.

The Wheelhouse on the Avenue of the Arts has outdoor seating.

The Wheel House is located at 5841 Sacramento Ave., Dunsmuir. Breakfast is served all a day and they serve North Bound Coffee Roasters ,  coffee that is roasted in Mount Shasta. They have an espresso bar, and have a nice selection of regional craft beers and wines. They recently expanded the restaurant next door into the old Brown Trout space. The Brown Trout is always remembered because you can see through the floor grate to the water that runs under the building.

The Wheelhouse Wings substituting chicken for the Seitan option tossed in spicy Buffalo Sauce, blue cheese dressing and crispy celery stalks.

The Wheelhouse Wings substituting chicken for the Seitan option tossed in spicy Buffalo Sauce, blue cheese dressing and crispy celery stalks.

I ordered a BLT with fries and Lindsay got the The Wheelhouse Wings substituting chicken for the Seitan option. The Wheelhouse fries are hand cut and the best fries in the county! Served with organic ketchup. The Wheelhouse is a favorite Lindsay and her fiance Martin for their vegetarian options that go beyond the token cheese sandwich and nut burger.

When we left The Wheelhouse we walk right next  door to The Dough Hook so I could check out the new bakery. Link here to my review of cupcakes and crusty bread

BLT with apple wood smoked bacon and hand cut French fries. Just the right amount of bread ratio to crispy lettuce, ripe tomato and mayo.

BLT with apple wood smoked bacon and hand cut French fries. Just the right amount of bread ratio to crispy lettuce, ripe tomato and mayo.

There is a lot to say about the uniqueness of the restaurant. It's got a quirky funky vibe being located in one of the old brick building in the historical railroad town of Dunsmuir. There is view is of the Union Pacific Railroad yard and expect to hear a train roll down the tracks. The flooring consists of well worn old wide plank wood and tall ceiling add to the sense of history. If walls could talk! The owners want this to be a place you can hang out and enjoy good food in a family friendly environment. I think they have achieved that vibe. The menu has something for everyone with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.

The Wheelhouse want you and your friends to have fun. They have two bookcases of games; one case is free the other you can "Pay to Play"

Thai Tom Kha Gai Soup

tOM kHA gAI sOUP TASTES AS GOOD AS IT LOOKS!

tOM kHA gAI sOUP TASTES AS GOOD AS IT LOOKS!

 

Thai Tom Kha Gai Soup

Easy to Make Yummy Soup

This has always been one of my favorite soups to order when I eat at Thai restaurants. My granddaughter had to have braces, that means we spent a lot of time in waiting and treatment rooms. Luckily for me her orthodontist had a good supply of magazines. I found this recipe in Family Circle February 2012.

My local grocery stores are limited in international ingredients, so I made a list and went right to a large grocery store that was next to the orthodontists office. I had to make another stop at an Asian market that was in the area. I came home and made it that night. It has been a go-to delicious soup ever since.

This soup is really easy to make. It's all about having the ingredients ready to cook. My daughter is a vegetarian so I simply substitute the chicken with firm tofu and use vegetable broth.

Tom Kha Gai Recipe

Serves 6

1 quart box chicken broth - low sodium
2 4” pieces of lemon grass - crushed
2” of ginger root - peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic -  minced
8 oz. Cremini  mushrooms - sliced
2 tsp Thai chili-garlic paste adjust to taste
1 lb. broccoli florets
½ lb. chicken breast or thigh cut into ¾” pieces
1 red bell pepper - cut into matchsticks
1 - 14 oz. can coconut milk
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 tbsp fish sauce

4 green onions - sliced

In a large pot heat bring chicken broth to a simmer. Add  lemongrass and ginger simmer on medium high for 5 minutes to release the aromatics.  Reduce heat, simmer, add garlic, mushrooms and chili paste. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in broccoli, chicken, red peppers and coconut milk. Simmer 5 minutes until chicken is fully cooked. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice and fish sauce. Serve in bowls, garnish with scallions.  

Tips:

  • Prep all ingredients before you begin cooking. Once you begin cooking it goes quickly. 15 minutes cook time.
  • To reduce calories substitute low fat coconut milk.
  • Substitute with chicken ingredients for vegetable broth and tofu for a delicious vegetarian soup.